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Religious Life


The <i>Mona Lisa</i> of Vienna The Mona Lisa of Vienna
Wednesday, May 30, 2012 by Susan Hertog | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

In 1857, when Emperor Franz-Joseph pulled down the ancient stone wall encompassing Vienna, the social and cultural traditions of the country seemed to tumble with it. Impoverished immigrants, many of them Jews, flooded in from the east.
Sleepless on Shavuot Sleepless on Shavuot
Thursday, May 24, 2012 by Moshe Sokolow | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Two practices long associated with Shavuot, the "time of the revelation of the Law" (z'man matan Torateinu), are the enrolling of children in religious school and the marathon all-night study vigil (tikkun leyl Shavuot).
(F)rum Runners (F)rum Runners
Wednesday, May 23, 2012 by Lawrence J. Epstein | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Prohibition is perennially making a comeback, at least in the media; and this is one of those revival times. It began with the HBO TV series Boardwalk Empire, now in its second season, set in Prohibition-era Atlantic City and priding itself on its historical accuracy.
Abuse Among the Orthodox: Bad News, Good News Abuse Among the Orthodox: Bad News, Good News
Monday, May 21, 2012 by Yoel Finkelman | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

First, the bad news: Sexual, physical, and emotional abuse occurs in Orthodox Jewish communities. Next, the worse news: Two recent New York Times stories are just the latest piece of evidence that Orthodox communities are often in denial and worse.
The Moral Costs of Jewish Day School The Moral Costs of Jewish Day School
Monday, May 14, 2012 by Aryeh Klapper | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

There is a lot of hand-wringing these days about whether the rising costs of Jewish day schools are sustainable. The discussion has been about money: How can we get more? How can we spend less? These questions miss the point.
Mumbai Wedding Mumbai Wedding
Friday, May 4, 2012 by Joseph Mayton | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

As the afternoon sun hit its peak, Haran and I pulled up to his small one-and-a-half-bedroom flat on the outskirts of East Mumbai, India, some 20 minutes from the airport. The building's shiny tin roof showed that money was in short supply. But inside the apartment, with Indian hospitality, Haran's wife Geeta served me perfectly spiced hot tea.
Back From Heaven Back From Heaven
Wednesday, April 25, 2012 by Micah Stein | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

In May 2011, Gallup conducted its annual "Values and Beliefs" poll, seeking to quantify religious demographics and beliefs in America. One question struck a national nerve, eliciting a consensus that defied religious or cultural distinctions. The question: Do you believe in heaven? The answer: Yes, overwhelmingly.
Among the Mourners of Zion Among the Mourners of Zion
Wednesday, April 11, 2012 by Micah Stein | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

We are a nation of mourners this month, collectively observing the Jewish rituals of grief in memory of . . . well, something or other. The occasion for mourning is the Omer, which began on Saturday night; the reason for mourning is more mysterious.
Not Everything is Illuminated Not Everything is Illuminated
Tuesday, April 10, 2012 by Ben Greenfield | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Judaism is famously infatuated with text; and the New American Haggadah, with contemporary authors Jonathan Safran Foer and Nathan Englander listed as editor and translator, respectively, is the latest in a long line of love letters by Jews to their object of adoration.
Reading between the Lists Reading between the Lists
Wednesday, April 4, 2012 by Alex Joffe | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

As long as humans have been writing, humans have been making lists and ranking things. The new Daily Beast/Newsweek list of "America's Top 50 Rabbis for 2012" is, like most American lists, whether of rabbis, cars, or colleges, designed to shape reality as much as reflect it.
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Editors' Picks
New York’s First—and Last—Chief Rabbi Avraham Kelman, Jewish Press. In the 1880’s, New York’s Jewish community was lax in practice and lacking in direction. Nor did it want to change—as Yaakov Yosef discovered to his detriment.
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?” 
Turn On, Tune In, Cop Out Shalom Carmy, Avi Woolf, Yitzchak Blau, Tradition. When the Beatles sang "fun is the one thing that money can't buy," they meant something beyond the passive absorption of an inexhaustible stream of mass-produced sights and sounds. (PDF)
Keep Religion out of Israeli Adoptions Jerusalem Post. When conversion becomes a condition for adoption, the process is easily distorted—by pressures on rabbinical conversion court judges and prospective parents.    
"Rabbi, do we Jews believe in reincarnation?" Hyim Shafner, Institute for Jewish Ideas. "Knowing full well that much of Kabbalah, philosophy, and even Midrash does accept the notion of reincarnation, I tried to muster a definitive 'No!'"  
Reform Has Mandate to Change Rick Jacobs, Presidential Installation Sermon, Union for Reform Judaism. "Come survive with us" is hardly an inspiring call to Jewish commitment. We can do better.
We Failed Zuckerberg Dana Evan Kaplan, Forward. A Reform rabbi argues that his movement's pluralistic theology is to blame for the detachment of young Jews from their faith.
The Benefactors of Breslau Malgorzata Stolarska-Fronia, H-Net. A new book cataloging Jewish welfare institutions in Breslau, Germany (now Poland) shows how philanthropy was central to the cultural exchange that followed the Emancipation.
For Better or for Purse Michael J. Broyde, Jewish Press. The "Halakhic Prenup" is a real solution to the agunah problem. Now it needs to be adopted beyond Modern Orthodoxy.
The Hermeneutics of Hasidism Zackary Sholem Berger, Tablet. Although writers who reject the Hasidic world capture public attention, the really interesting literature comes from writers who struggle with Hasidism but love it too much to leave.