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Retrieving American Jewish Fiction: Myron Brinig Retrieving American Jewish Fiction: Myron Brinig
Friday, July 2, 2010 by D.G. Myers | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

"For Jews," the historian Jerry Z. Muller said recently, "Jewish economic success has long been a source of both pride and embarrassment." Very few Jewish writers have risen to even this level of ambivalence. The ground note of Jewish fiction has been hostility to business—the prooftext is The Rise of David Levinsky—and the story of Jewish success in establishing banks, department stores, and clothing lines has fallen to strangers (including anti-Semites) to tell.
Typography Typography
Thursday, July 1, 2010 by Yehudah Mirsky | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

In the Book of Genesis, the Hebrew language is the very stuff of creation. The Talmud tells us (Menahot 29b) that Rabbi Akiva would derive new laws from the "crowns" of Hebrew letters.  In the Kabbalah, the shape of the letters is said to reflect the shape of God's own inner being.  What type of type can do justice to any of this?
An Umbrella for British Jewry An Umbrella for British Jewry
Wednesday, June 30, 2010 by Elliot Jager | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

The Board of Deputies of British Jews, now celebrating its 250th anniversary, is almost certainly the oldest continuously functioning representative body of Jewry in the world. Its first meeting, held at London's Bevis Marks Synagogue in 1760, was recorded in Portuguese, the language of its Sephardi founders. The first complete history of the Board, by Raphael Langham, has just been published—at a moment when neither the Board nor the community it represents is in robust health.
Constitutions Constitutions
Monday, June 28, 2010 by Yehudah Mirsky | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Among the issues brought to the fore by the recent crisis in Israel over ultra-Orthodox (haredi) schools is the unresolved role of the state's judiciary. Israel has no written constitution. To some, the absence invites disaster. To others, it is what holds Israel together as a Jewish and democratic state.
The Museum Life The Museum Life
Thursday, June 24, 2010 by Yehudah Mirsky | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Once consisting of simple repositories of objects, museums today have become educational, cultural, and—some say—spiritual places of their own, pendant somewhere between houses of worship and spaces of entertainment and commerce. And Jewish museums?
Photographic Memory Photographic Memory
Friday, June 18, 2010 by Yehudah Mirsky | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Several months ago, an article in the New York Times revealed that a much-venerated collection of images of pre-war East European Jewry, shot in the 1930's by the photographer Roman Vishniac, constituted a tendentious slice out of a much larger and more variegated body of work. In a 1947 book and later in the 1983 album A Vanished World, Vishniac himself, it seems, selected and captioned his images in such a way as to put forward a highly sentimentalized picture, retroactively suppressing the rich human diversity of his subjects and depicting them instead as uniformly poor, pious, and persecuted.
Why Was Moses Punished? Why Was Moses Punished?
Wednesday, June 16, 2010 by David Hazony | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

It comes in the Torah portion read this Saturday (Hukat, Numbers 19:1 - 22:1), and it is unquestionably the lowest point in Moses' career. After dragging the Hebrew slaves out of Egypt, giving them the Ten Commandments, overthrowing the Golden Calf, and braving their never-ending backsliding, complaints, and pleas to return to Egypt, Moses is asked by God to perform one more miracle in response to the Israelites' evidently unquenchable thirst. "And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Take the rod, and gather the assembly together . . . and speak to the rock before their eyes; and it shall give...
World Zionist Congress World Zionist Congress
Tuesday, June 15, 2010 by Elliot Jager | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

The 36th congress of the World Zionist Organization (WZO) opens in Jerusalem today, bringing together hundreds of delegates drawn from political parties in Israel's Knesset as well as from Zionist and Jewish organizations in the Diaspora. On the agenda are subjects ranging from the condition of Zionism in Israeli society and worldwide, to settlement in Judea and Samaria, to Israel-Diaspora relations. Unfortunately, no matter how stimulating the speeches may be, no one anticipates any fateful decisions or even any serious grappling with existential questions.
What Israel Ta-Shma Saw What Israel Ta-Shma Saw
Monday, June 14, 2010 by Yehudah Mirsky | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Among the 7,000 new titles featured in Israel's annual  book festival last week was the fourth, final, and—sadly—posthumous  volume of studies by Israel Ta-Shma (1936–2004), one of the great rabbinic scholars of modern times.
Psychoanalysis:  A Jewish Science? Psychoanalysis: A Jewish Science?
Friday, June 11, 2010 by Yehudah Mirsky | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

How Jewish was your childhood home? To this query, Anna Freud responded: "more than people think, and less than I remember."  Her quip does double duty: illustrating the porous boundaries of memory, fact, and interpretation that psychoanalysis has sought to clarify and disturb, and highlighting a question surrounding the enterprise since its inception. How Jewish is it?
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Editors' Picks
Religion as a Chain of Memory Alan Brill, Book of Doctrines and Opinions. The medieval Ashkenazic memory of many 20th-century Jews thinkers is fading. What will take its place?
The Truth Game Efraim Karsh, Hudson New York. The discovery of a key historical document lays to rest one of the longest running debates on the 1948 war. So why has Haaretz tried to distort its contents and suppress it?
The Meaning of Hanukkah Jon D. Levenson, Wall Street Journal. In some ways, Christians preserved the story of Hanukkah better than the Jews did.
What's Under the Bridge Shmuel Rosner, New York Times. The bureaucratic brouhaha over the unsound Mughrabi bridge was really about the attempt by some Muslim leaders to deny Jewish ties to the Temple Mount.
Neither/Nor M.G. Piety, Piety on Kierkegaard. One Danish writer's idiosyncratic understanding of what constitutes anti-Semitism has yielded a bizarre apologia for Kierkegaard and Luther.
Sound Tracks Haim O. Rechnitzer, H-Net. The so-called authentic Hebrew pronunciation that prevailed in Israel's schools was simply a version of the Ashkenazic speakers' attempt to sound more Sephardic.
Elephants and Homo erectus Arieh O‚ÄôSullivan, Media Line. A cave near Tel Aviv may offer up evidence that modern man first emerged not in Africa but in the Middle East—because of a scarcity of elephant meat.
Rabbi-Chaplains of the Civil War Karen Abbott, New York Times. Could a member of the Union Army "despise and reject the Savior of men . . . and yet be a fit minister of religion"?
The Jordanian Option Mudar Zahran, Middle East Quarterly. As they watch the rebellions in Egypt, Libya, and Syria unfold, how much longer will the Palestinians in Jordan stand for their mistreatment at the hands of the Hashemite regime?
Choose Your Poison Philologos, Forward. Why do some say l'chaim when blessing wine: to confirm that the drink hasn't been poisoned, to dispel grim associations, or simply to make sure that all present are ready for the blessing?