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Sabbath & Holidays

Vayigash: Wagons Ho!
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 | Jewish Ideas Daily » Weekly Portions

 After Joseph reveals his identity to his brothers, he instructs them to return to Canaan and bring Jacob down to Egypt. When they inform Jacob that Joseph is not merely alive but the vice-regent of Egypt, "his heart became numb because he could not believe them" (45:26).
The First War of National Liberation The First War of National Liberation
Wednesday, December 21, 2011 by Diana Muir Appelbaum | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

This is the 2,179th anniversary of the world's first war of national liberation. There have been many since. To a surprising extent, such wars have followed the pattern first established by the Maccabees. They, like later heads of independence movements, were leaders of a people conquered and occupied by a great empire.
Mikeitz: Joseph’s Torture
Wednesday, December 21, 2011 by David Hazony | Jewish Ideas Daily » Weekly Portions

How to make sense of Joseph? This week we learn of his nearly pathological efforts to ensnare, baffle, accuse, imprison, and shame his brothers—the same brothers who, decades earlier, sold him into slavery. Now he is Grand Vizier of Egypt, and he gets a chance to show them who's boss.
Vayeishev: “They went that-a-way!”
Wednesday, December 14, 2011 by Michael Carasik | Jewish Ideas Daily » Weekly Portions

  Arlo Guthrie, the Jewish folk singer, likes to call him "the 'they-went-that-a-way' guy."  He is the man who tells Joseph where to find his brothers. If Joseph did not find them, Guthrie points out, his brothers would have no opportunity to throw him into a pit and he would not have been sold down to Egypt.
Vayeitzei: Jacob, Rembrandt, and the Rolling Stones
Wednesday, November 30, 2011 by Moshe Sokolow | Jewish Ideas Daily » Weekly Portions

As Jacob prepared to bed down for the night at Beth El, he selected "among the rocks of the place" (me'avnei ha-makom; Genesis 28:11) to set by his head. He awoke in the morning having dreamt of a ladder reaching heavenwards and angels ascending and descending it.
Toldot: The Blinding of Isaac
Wednesday, November 23, 2011 by David Hazony | Jewish Ideas Daily » Weekly Portions

If you take a fresh, unadorned look at the life of Isaac, son of Abraham, you might feel like you've walked into a bad remake of a great film. Many of the same plot lines are there, but without much of the magic.
Hayei Sarah: This Land is My Land . . .
Wednesday, November 16, 2011 by Moshe Sokolow | Jewish Ideas Daily » Weekly Portions

This weekend, as in years past, thousands of visitors from around the world will spend Shabbat among the Jewish community of Hebron, marking the occasion of the liturgical reading of Abraham's purchase of me'arat ha-makhpelah, the "double cave," as Sarah's burial vault.
Vayera: The Binding of Abraham
Wednesday, November 9, 2011 by David Hazony | Jewish Ideas Daily » Weekly Portions

Our weekly reading gives us two radically different stories about Abraham—with two contradictory messages.  First, God decides to destroy the evil cities of Sodom and Gomorrah with fire and brimstone.
Eating Your Values Eating Your Values
Friday, November 4, 2011 | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

The many Jewish laws regarding food—how it gets from the ground and into our mouths in a kosher manner—are central to Jewish life.  But what ethical framework underlies the system of kashrut? Maimonides' justifications for kashrut range from avoiding cruelty to animals and eschewing the idolatrous practices of antiquity to considerations of health.
America’s Holy Haunted Houses America’s Holy Haunted Houses
Monday, October 31, 2011 by Allan Nadler | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Halloween is most certainly no Jewish holiday; yet its spooky mood is curiously congruent with the ambience that overcomes American synagogues this time of year.
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Editors' Picks
For Israelis, a Two-Day Weekend? William Kolbrener, Washington Post. In addition to synchronizing Israeli businesses with the world's markets, an American-style Sunday might allow for a welcome catching of the collective breath.
Where are the Men? Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow, Slate. In the liberal branches of American Judaism, sexual egalitarianism has led to male disengagement, leading to the creation of exclusively male-centered activities, leading to . . . segregation?
Who is the Wicked Child? Jeffrey Goldberg, Atlantic. Responding to an essay by a Village Voice editor on the loss of her Zionist "innocence."
Toward the Multiplex Shul Reuven Spolter, Chopping Wood. More and more congregants prefer to pray in more intimate surroundings and for shorter periods of time; herewith, a modest proposal for their (increasingly abandoned) rabbis.
Digging the First Shuls Eric M. Meyers, Jewish Week. Excavations in Israel over the past decades suggest that the synagogue may be a considerably older institution than once thought.
Religious Macho Yair Ettinger, Haaretz. A rabbi and mystic wants his followers to visit Joseph's Tomb in Nablus, where a student was shot to death by Palestinian police, precisely because it is dangerous.
Paradoxes of Commitment Erica Brown, Torah Musings. In Judaism, marriage bonds are like tefillin: restrictive and confining, liberating and redemptive.
The Kugel-Kimchi Complex Kathy Seal, Forward. A study based on a sample of 37 intermarried Asian-Jewish couples found that overwhelmingly the children are being raised Jewish.
Cut Flowers Steve Lipman, Jewish Week. Four in every ten self-identified American Jews call themselves "secular." But without the soil of religion, how can a commitment to Judaism grow or sustain itself?
Treasures from the Vault Ilana Tahan, British Library. Hundreds of digitized images from splendidly illuminated and decorated Hebrew manuscripts in London's British Library are due to go live at the end of June.