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Religious Life


Skeletons in the Closet of Hasidism Skeletons in the Closet of Hasidism
Friday, February 11, 2011 by Lawrence Grossman | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Popular demands for transparency in our institutions and the availability of technological means to achieve it have made it hard to keep secrets. This has affected the conduct not only of government and business but also of religion.
Of Calendars and Controversy Of Calendars and Controversy
Thursday, February 10, 2011 by Michael Carasik | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

It's the month of Adar, and in Jewish tradition, the beginning of Adar always means an "increase in joy."  After all, the festive holiday of Purim, on Adar 15, is just two weeks away—or would be in a normal year.
The Old New Jews The Old New Jews
Wednesday, February 9, 2011 by Yehudah Mirsky | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

It has been 40 years since the publication of a slim but memorable volume of essays by young American Jewish radicals and intellectuals. The New Jews, edited by James Sleeper and Alan Mintz, sought to give voice to a small cohort at once deeply alienated from organized Jewish life and deeply attached to Jewish history and culture.
Cyrus, Ahmadinejad, and the Politics of Purim Cyrus, Ahmadinejad, and the Politics of Purim
Tuesday, February 1, 2011 by Alex Joffe | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Anyone who deplores the politicization of the past should have been apoplectic in September 2010 at the sight of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad receiving the loan of the "Cyrus Cylinder" from officials of the British Museum.
The Seed of Israel The Seed of Israel
Wednesday, January 26, 2011 by Aryeh Tepper | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Until modern times, the boundaries of Jewish identity were cut and dried. If you were born to a Jewish mother, or if you were a convert according to Jewish religious law (halakhah), you were Jewish. If not, you weren't.
Lost & Found Lost & Found
Tuesday, January 4, 2011 by Aryeh Tepper | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

In 1974, a strange letter from northeastern India landed on the desk of Israel's then Prime Minister Golda Meir. It was sent by a group of Indians claiming to be descendants of the biblical tribe of Menashe.
Secularism and Its Discontents Secularism and Its Discontents
Friday, December 17, 2010 by Yehudah Mirsky | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

The transformations of Jewish life in the last two-and-a-half centuries still boggle the mind. Deep ruptures opened to separate the present from the past, modernity from tradition, setting terms that have defined the contours of Jewish life until today. How did people try to think their way through the change?
Soulmate Wanted Soulmate Wanted
Wednesday, December 8, 2010 by Yehudah Mirsky | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Slowly but surely, the divide between Ashkenazim and Sephardim in Israeli society is ebbing. But in one sector it continues to stand fast.
A Jewish Renaissance? A Jewish Renaissance?
Monday, November 15, 2010 by Yehudah Mirsky | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

In recent years Israel has become a vast open-air laboratory for experiments in Judaism, re-fashioning rituals, reading old texts through new lenses, scrambling and fracturing familiar dichotomies between secular and religious. Secular yeshivot, mainstream performers singing medieval Hebrew hymns, non-denominational "prayer communities" in hip Tel Aviv, kabbalistic therapy movements, Judaism festivals on once-socialist kibbutzim—something is going on here, but what?
Religion and the IDF Religion and the IDF
Monday, October 4, 2010 by Aryeh Tepper | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Profound changes have been occurring in the officer ranks of the Israel Defense Force, and not everybody is happy about them; some, in fact, are downright alarmed. The figures tell the story: back in 1990, kippah-wearing soldiers from the country's "national-religious" community—that is, religious Jews distinguished by their deep attachment to Zionism, Israeli nationalism, and, in many cases, the settlement enterprise—comprised a mere 2.5 percent of graduates from the army's course for infantry officers. In 2007, the figure peaked at more than 31 percent, a number totally out of proportion with the number of religious-national soldiers serving in IDF infantry...
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Editors' Picks
To Life, To Life . . . L'Chaim? Philologos, Forward. Does the classic Jewish toast contain a grammatical error?
Long Trip Home Jane Eisner, Forward. How the first African-American to head a national news magazine found the family and community that he desperately missed—among Jews.
Identity Cleft James Hyman, eJewish Philanthropy. While Israeli Jews are fully enveloped in a Jewish identity which embraces religion, culture, education, land, and history, American Jews have a much more limited self-definition.
Minnesota Fats Andrew Muchin, The Jew and the Carrot. Borekas filled with dried Michigan cherries, pumpernickel sprinkled with Iowa sunflower seeds, gefilte fish from Minnesota's 10,000 lakes, and other Jewish foodways of the American heartland.
Something Rotten? Fred MacDowell, On the Main Line. A visitor to Denmark describes the local Jewish community's struggles over mixed seating, kosher butter, and carrying umbrellas on Shabbat. The year? 1909.
Changing Jewish Liturgy Aryeh A. Frimer, Torah Musings. Over the millennia, changes to Jewish prayers have been introduced by printing errors, or forced upon Jews by censors. Now, changes are proposed to correct an "androcentric bias."
The Ger Mandolin Orchestra Agence France Presse. The red brick walls of a Polish synagogue are reverberating anew with the music of a Jewish band that played there in the 1930's. (Watch video here.)  
Why Joshua? Meir Soloveichik, Jewish Ideas Daily. What is truly celebrated on Simhat Torah: the fact that the Torah has been completed, or that its reading begins again? The choice of the day's Haftarah, and the history of that choice, offer a clue. (PDF, 2010)
Evil Urge Amit Gevaryahu, Talmud Blog. A new work tackles one of the most entrenched myths in the academic study of Jewish sources: namely, that Judaism has historically been a sex-positive religion.
Shaken, Not Stirred David Rosenberg, Media Line. In developing innovative storage techniques for lulavim (palm fronds), Israel's technological prowess went head-to-head against an Egyptian embargo, and won.