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Religious Life


Getting Birthright Wrong Getting Birthright Wrong
Wednesday, July 6, 2011 by Philip Getz | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

In mid-June, The Nation magazine, which for decades has provided a special platform for Jewish critics of Zionism, published an article by a young alumna of Birthright Israel, the organization that since 1999 has sent 260,000 young Diaspora Jews (including this writer) on free ten-day tours of the Holy Land.
Montreal, a Love Story Montreal, a Love Story
Tuesday, June 28, 2011 by Allan Nadler | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

The second International Yiddish Theater Festival, an elaborate ten-day fete whose program ranges from carnavalesque performances to academic symposia, just wrapped up last week in Montreal. What is especially surprising about this celebrationĀ is that Montreal is a city with a Jewish population of less than 80,000.
One Woman Army One Woman Army
Monday, June 27, 2011 by Daniel Johnson | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Andrei Sakharov, the great nuclear physicist and human-rights campaigner, had been dead for two years by the time I came to his Moscow apartment in the early summer of 1991. Elena Bonner, his widow, was there, still defiantly at war with the faceless foe that had slaughtered her family, exiled her and her husband, slandered her Jewish name, and lied about it all.
Hebrew School Hebrew School
Wednesday, June 22, 2011 by Allan Arkush | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Samson Benderly, one might say, had crusading in his blood. A direct descendant of Jacob Emden, the zealous 18th-century European battler against Sabbateanism, he spent his youth in Palestine before coming to the United States in 1898 with the aim of becoming a physician.
Jesus for Jews Jesus for Jews
Wednesday, June 15, 2011 by Eve Levavi Feinstein | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

That Jesus lived and died a Jew would hardly be regarded as news by most educated Jews and Christians today.  Still, while the historical Jesus is ever-elusive, the figure of Jesus, for Jews, has become more accessible.
The Forgotten Festival The Forgotten Festival
Monday, June 6, 2011 by Michael Carasik | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

The holiday of Shavuot, which begins this year on Tuesday evening, is the orphan among Jewish holidays; it is the forgotten festival. Let me count the ways.
Remember the Farhud Remember the Farhud
Monday, May 30, 2011 by Aryeh Tepper | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

The end of 2,500 years of Jewish life in Iraq began during two days in June 1941. For 30 terrifying hours, mobs of marauding Iraqi Arabs, soldiers and civilians alike, killed 137 Jews and injured thousands more, pillaged scores of homes, and destroyed more than 600 Jewish-owned businesses.
American Orthodoxy and Its Discontents American Orthodoxy and Its Discontents
Friday, May 27, 2011 by Lawrence Grossman | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

A "case study in institutional decay": that description of Orthodox Judaism in America was offered in 1955 by the late sociologist Marshall Sklare. It has long since entered the gallery of scholarly misjudgments, acknowledged as such by Sklare when events turned out to belie his assessment.
Sympathy for the Devil Sympathy for the Devil
Monday, May 23, 2011 by Allan Nadler | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Occupying a place of particular infamy in Jewish collective memory is an 18th-century serial apostate, sexual deviant, messianic pretender, and chameleonic charlatan. His name was Jacob Frank.
The Life of Prayer The Life of Prayer
Tuesday, May 17, 2011 by Yehudah Mirsky | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Prayer has never been easy, as the Psalmist well knew: "For there is no word on my tongue; You, O Lord, know them all" (139: 4). And even if there are words on the tongue, the results can be distressingly uncertain, or worse: "My God, I call out by day and You do not answer; by night, there is no respite for me" (22:2). It hasn’t gotten easier since then.
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Editors' Picks
A Separate Peace Tamar Rotem, Haaretz. A Gur Hasid, who practices a strict sexual separation, will not walk with his wife on the street. He will not call her by name. To address her, he will knock on the table. Or hum.
Disjecta Membra Benjamin Balint, Los Angeles Review of Books. Not for nothing was the Cairo Genizah called "the Living Sea Scrolls": its discoverers revolutionized the study of Mediterranean Jewish life at the very moment that it was drawing to a close.
Creaming the Competition Elli Fischer, Jerusalem Post. Ruling Haagen Dazs ice cream to be non-kosher, the Israeli chief rabbinate misconstrues Moshe Feinstein's position and once again demonstrates its contempt for Diaspora Judaism.
Cancelling Conversion Gil Student, Torah Musings. While many Orthodox rabbis have become too willing to annul conversions, even the non-Orthodox world recognizes that there are some circumstances in which a conversion must be overturned.
"Subbotniks" Eli Ashkenazi, Haaretz. In 1876, a community of converts left their native Russia to settle in the Galilee, forsaking their Christian past. Now their descendants are rediscovering their roots.
Blurring the Issue Hadassah Levy, Torah Musings. Blurring or removing photographs of women might be understandable in the ultra-Orthodox world, but it should have no place in Modern Orthodoxy.
Bugged by Kashrut Jonah Lowenfeld, Jewish Journal. Whereas fifty years ago Jews rarely worried about bugs in vegetables, today there is a growing market for bug-free produce which is certified kosher. But stricter observance comes at a price.
The Seed of Israel David Ellenson, Jewish Review of Books. He has been accused of heresy and expelled from Shas, but Haim Amsalem's lenient approach to conversion in Israel may yet be a blueprint for a more unified nation.
A Stunning Discovery Judy Siegel-Itzkovich, Jerusalem Post. As Holland, among other countries in Europe, seeks to ban Jewish ritual slaughter, new research demonstrating that stunning animals does not minimize their suffering has come not a moment too soon.
Digital Davening Michael J. Broyde, Torah Musings. Smartphones have already begun to supplant traditional siddurim; but the potential of the digital revolution to transform the experience of prayer has barely been realized.