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The Riddle of the Satmar The Riddle of the Satmar
Thursday, May 23, 2013 by Allan Nadler | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

In this review of an adulatory biography of the Satmar rebbe, first published February 17, 2011, Allan Nadler considers Judaism's most traditional—and most alienated—community. 
Where Did the Gaon Go? Where Did the Gaon Go?
Tuesday, December 18, 2012 by Lawrence Grossman | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Eliyahu Stern's new book portrays the Vilna Gaon as Eastern Europe's Moses Mendelssohn.  But can the ascetic, who backed the persecution of Hasidim, seriously be associated with individualism and democracy?
Max Lilienthal’s Aborted Return Max Lilienthal’s Aborted Return
Wednesday, October 31, 2012 by Allan Arkush | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

In Bruce L. Ruben’s new biography Max Lilienthal: The Making of the American Rabbinate, about one of the pioneers of the American Reform movement, I was surprised to learn that Lilienthal almost made a second trip to Tsarist Russia.
Promises, Promises Promises, Promises
Thursday, October 25, 2012 by Lawrence Grossman | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

City of Promises, a new three-volume history of Jewish New York, is remarkable for the complex metamorphoses it explains—and for the 21st century transformation it doesn't mention.
Spinoza in Shtreimels Spinoza in Shtreimels
Tuesday, September 4, 2012 by Carlos Fraenkel | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Philosophy professor Carlos Fraenkel wrote that “the cultural relativism that often underlies Western multicultural agendas [is] a much greater obstacle to a culture of debate than religion.”  Today, in an exclusive preview from the Jewish Review of Books, Fraenkel relates how his theory fared among a group of Hasidim.
Eastern Europe Eastern Europe
Friday, February 12, 2010 by | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

The rediscovery—and recovery—of Eastern Europe are central elements in contemporary Jewish culture. Ultra-Orthodoxy tries to maintain versions of Eastern European dress, speech, and mores. The theology of Abraham Joshua Heschel, the melodies of Shlomo Carlebach, the sound of klezmer, the literary productions of authors as disparate as S.Y. Agnon and Jonathan Safran Foer: all in their distinct ways seek to find, in the murdered world of Eastern Europe, a source of living energy for the present.  Not all succeed, and only the best display a grasp of the sheer complexity of the civilization they mean to retrieve and/or to reconstruct. In one impressive recent study, large swathes of...
Editors' Picks
Rage against the Rebbe Baruch Sterman, Huffington Post. The Pshiskhe Hasidim challenged the establishment belief that "only the great and holy Rebbe could bring salvation," maintaining instead that spirituality comes from within.
Orthodox Surging in America . . . David Brooks, New York Times. "The families stuffing their groceries into their Honda Odyssey minivans in the Pomegranate parking lot represent a challenging counterculture. Mostly, I notice how incredibly self-confident they are."
The Underside of Uman Cnaan Liphshiz, JTA. Every Rosh Hashanah, thousands of Hasidim make a pilgrimage to the grave of Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav in Uman, Ukraine—and many end up in the hospital.
Chabad: The Operation Steven Windmueller, eJewish Philanthropy. Many leadership experts focus on the Hasidic sect’s organizing model, but can it be copied and reproduced elsewhere? 
Why Do Hasidim Dress Like That? Joseph Berger, New York Times.  “Does anybody ask a congressman why he walks into Congress with a suit or a Wall Street executive why he goes to work in a suit?”