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American Judaism

Loving Jews, Hating Jews Loving Jews, Hating Jews
Monday, January 10, 2011 by Alex Joffe | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

In their new book, American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us, the sociologists Robert Putnam and David Campbell advance the striking claim that "Jews are the most broadly popular religious group in America today."
In the Portable Homeland In the Portable Homeland
Wednesday, December 29, 2010 by Alex Joffe | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Heinrich Heine described the Bible as the Jews' portable homeland. Both it and its various and proliferating extensions through history have been the objects of intense exploration by modern Jewish scholars. What do the numerous books and articles published by these scholars have to tell us, and how much of their scholarship is relevant to daily life, or of interest beyond the circle of their fellow academics?
The DNA Speaks The DNA Speaks
Monday, December 20, 2010 by Alex Joffe | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Are Jews a "nation" or a "people"? The Hebrew term ‘am means both.  Both terms, moreover, have been subjected to disapprobation in our time—although not nearly to the extent of "race," a term that Jews themselves stopped using nearly a century ago. How, then, are we to think about the mounting genetic evidence that points to Jewish biological continuity over time?
Christopher Hitchens’s Jewish Problem Christopher Hitchens’s Jewish Problem
Monday, December 13, 2010 by Benjamin Kerstein | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

It has been an open secret for years that the celebrated columnist and author Christopher Hitchens has a problem with the Jews. No one much likes to talk about it, and for various reasons his journalistic peers have remained silent on the subject. But it is nonetheless the case.
Counting Jews Counting Jews
Wednesday, December 1, 2010 by Elliot Jager | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

A newly-released World Jewish Population Report has been making waves. Some critics, especially in Israel, charge that the report, in claiming the existence of a non-Jewish majority between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, is both slanted and unduly pessimistic. Other critics, especially in the Diaspora, complain that the report is too old-fashioned in its definition of Jewishness.
Taking Sides Taking Sides
Tuesday, November 23, 2010 by D.G. Myers | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

In the publisher's materials that accompany her new book, the novelist Cynthia Ozick is described as having written a "photographic negative" of Henry James's great 1903 masterpiece, The Ambassadors. Her Foreign Bodies is said to offer a "reversal of [James's] meaning." But what is her meaning?
Obama and Israel: What Now? Obama and Israel: What Now?
Tuesday, November 16, 2010 by Benjamin Kerstein | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Since the Obama administration's major defeat in the American midterm elections, commentators have been wondering how the new constellation of forces in Washington will affect the president's Middle East peace initiative.
Class Divide Class Divide
Thursday, November 11, 2010 by Yehudah Mirsky | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

The world's two largest Jewish communities differ in many ways. Class is one of them. That fact was made painfully clear this week as 4,000 communal professionals, activists, and donors met in New Orleans for the general assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America—at the same time that, in Israel, the National Insurance Institute (equivalent to the U.S. Social Security Administration) issued its annual report on "poverty and social gaps" in the Jewish state.
The Jewish Saul Bellow The Jewish Saul Bellow
Wednesday, November 3, 2010 by Sam Munson | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Does Saul Bellow (1915-2005) need an introduction? Nobel laureate, three-time National Book Award winner, famed for his capacious mind and his profoundly idiosyncratic, sky-reaching prose, a lifelong generator of personal and public controversy, Bellow was also the unrivaled paragon, during his life and after his death, of American Jewish letters. But readers of the massive new collection of the novelist's letters might be forgiven for wondering in what sense Bellow was a Jewish writer at all.
Who Needs Denominations? Who Needs Denominations?
Wednesday, October 20, 2010 by Yehudah Mirsky | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Several weeks ago, an American law professor who serves on his synagogue's search committee for a new rabbi put forward the provocative argument that the process was not only stifling but illegal. The culprit, he wrote, was the highly restrictive role played by national rabbinic bodies.
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Editors' Picks
The Big Lie Returns Ben Cohen, Commentary. As long as the enemies of the Jews control the meaning of the term 'anti-Semitism,' Jews will remain vulnerable to the calumny that they alone are the authors of their own misfortune.
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.
Reb Shlomo, Superstar Mary Jane Fine, Forward. If Fiddler on the Roof is about tradition, a new musical about Shlomo Carlebach is about breaking with tradition—even if that means, as in Carlebach's case, breaking one's father's heart.
Rules for Revisionists Jonathan S. Tobin, Contentions. By brandishing the name of Saul Alinsky, does Newt Gingrich intend to send out anti-Semitic dog whistles to the Right? Nonsense.
Are Jews Trending Republican? Shmuel Rosner, Jewish Journal. Conservatives have often tried to convince the public that a new wave of Jewish Republicans was just around the corner. So far, they've only been disappointed—but should now watch the independents.
A Different Look at Day School Data Jack Wertheimer, Foward. Without the right perspective, it's easy to misread the non-Orthodox day school enrollment figures and miss the larger significance of the trends they portend.
Who's on First? James Kirchick, Haaretz. So-called progressives should stop mimicking the far Right and refrain from using terms like "Israel-firster" that question the allegiance of their fellow Americans.
The Last Resort Jordana Horn, Forward. Jews may have deserted the Catskills for the Vineyard and the Hamptons. But one of the great resorts, Kutsher's, refuses to go quietly. Meet Kutsher's Tribeca.
Silent Majority Matthew Ackerman, Contentions. Everyone says young American Jews are increasingly hostile to Israel. But is it true? A new poll cautions us not to mistake a vocal minority for the majority.
Shnorrers Simon Yisrael Feuerman, Tablet. One dollar buys you a torrent of blessings from the elderly Russians who sit in the synagogue literally with their hands out: A gut yahr, na zdrovie, they say. Spraznikom.  And those are just the regulars.