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The Americas

Israel Studies 101 Israel Studies 101
Monday, October 3, 2011 by Alex Joffe | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

The modern American research university is a house of many rooms. The field of Israel Studies, which has emerged in the past decade, occupies one of the newest—and smallest—of those rooms.
Pay to Pray? Pay to Pray?
Wednesday, September 28, 2011 by Jack Wertheimer | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

In the middle decades of the 20th century they were called "mushroom synagogues." They popped up in the waning days of summer to provide High Holiday services, then disappeared at the conclusion of Yom Kippur. Today, "mushroom synagogues" are once again in vogue—but with a critical difference.
Mel and the Maccabee Mel and the Maccabee
Thursday, September 22, 2011 by Alex Joffe | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Australian-American actor and director Mel Gibson—he of the anti-Semitic outbursts, the abused girlfriend, The Passion of the Christ—has just closed a deal to make a film for Warner Bros. with screenwriter Joe Eszterhas about the life of Judah Maccabee.
The Wages of Durban The Wages of Durban
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 by Arch Puddington | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

In the days just prior to the assault on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the World Conference Against Racism (WCAR) was very much in the news, and for reasons that are altogether relevant to the mass murder that took place on September 11, 2001.
Spying for Zion Spying for Zion
Tuesday, September 13, 2011 by Alex Joffe | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Spying goes on everywhere, all the time, 24/7.  But the way spying is treated—when it is discovered, when it is publicized, when spies are arrested, tried, and jailed—is highly variable, especially in the United States.  The timing is almost never a matter of chance.
Enmity; or, Yiddish in America Enmity; or, Yiddish in America
Monday, September 12, 2011 by Allan Nadler | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

He was irascible, neurotic, self-obsessed, and socially inept; a brilliant misfit and misanthropic dilettante. Upon his death in July 2010, Harvey Pekar's few close friends insisted that the underground comic-book writer was also a gem in the rough, an out-of-date socialist naïf.
Israel, America, and the Lessons of 9/11 Israel, America, and the Lessons of 9/11
Friday, September 9, 2011 by Abe Greenwald | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Two heads belonging to the same monster: This is the way a significant portion of the world saw America and Israel on September 11, 2001. On television that day, we watched people jump to their deaths to escape the flames engulfing the World Trade Center.
Frisco Kids Frisco Kids
Friday, September 2, 2011 by Hannah Elka Meyers | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Everyone knows the caricature of a New York Jew: intellectual, neurotic, reflexively liberal. In recent years, the reach of the caricature has expanded to cover not just New York Jews but urban Jews on America's "left coast." But a new book comprehensively and compellingly describes a Jewish population whose liveliness belies any stereotype.
Retrieving American Jewish Fiction Retrieving American Jewish Fiction
Thursday, September 1, 2011 by D.G. Myers | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

The Jewish "boom" in American writing in the 60's was ignited by Bellow, Roth, and Malamud—reeled off in that order as if they were a firm of Jewish accountants.  The roots of American Jewish literature go much further back, though. 
Jews against Zionism Jews against Zionism
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 by Lawrence Grossman | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

It will come as a surprise to many that the current adamant Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state was once American policy. An even greater surprise is that an American rabbi and the Jewish organization he headed played a major role in the government's articulation of that policy.
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Editors' Picks
Dovecoattails Alex Klein, Tablet. "Can you build an organization which is an alternative and not attract all the haters of Israel?"  Forty years ago, the pressure group Breira tried it—and J Street's director is hoping the comparison works in his organization's favor.       
The Writing on the Synagogue Wall Shmuly Yanklowitz, Forward. James Kugel warned of the "Ceremonial Hall Synagogue," the "Nostalgia Center," and the "Davening Club." Are we witnessing the demise of the synagogue—and should we try to save it?
Toeing the Church-State Line Julie Wiener, Jewish Week. Hebrew charter schools offer the chance to educate large numbers of American Jewish children in Hebrew and Israeli culture—at taxpayers' expense—and thus are making many inside and outside the Jewish world nervous.
Diaspora Divided (Sneak Preview of JRB Spring Issue!) Jordan Chandler Hirsch, Jewish Review of Books. Peter Beinart tries to show how one-dimensional support for Israel is alienating young liberal Jews. The trouble is that his own one-dimensional criticism of Israel alienates everyone else.
Boom or Bust? Peter Thiel, George Gilder, Intercollegiate Studies Institute. In a debate, Silicon Valley venture capitalist Peter Thiel argues that technological progress is decelerating, while author George Gilder says that progress marches ever onward—with Israel as a case in point. (Video)
Reading Weak Liel Leibovitz, Tablet. The People of the Book recognized the importance of a shared canon long ago. But we've foolishly squandered that birthright for the mess of pottage that is identity politics and cheap opinions.
Nesting Dolls Alina Dain Sharon, Jewish Journal. Twenty years after their Russian exodus, the lives of Jews who emigrated to the U.S., Israel, and Germany differ markedly from those who stayed in Russia.
Architecture and Apologetics Ann Marlowe, Tablet. While the world has been transfixed by popular uprisings in the Middle East, a new exhibition of architecture from the region glorifies the fascist monuments of authoritarian dictatorships.
Lethal Gene Jeff Wheelwright, Discover. The discovery of the world's most studied piece of DNA in the Southwest's Hispano community confirms events of half a millennium before in Spain.      
Look Out Bellow! Evan Hughes, Awl. After Saul Bellow was cuckolded, he was murderously angry and spoke of getting a gun. Instead, he got to work—and the result in no small way helped him win the Nobel Prize.