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Arts & Culture

Manger’s M’gilah, and Ours Manger’s M’gilah, and Ours
Wednesday, March 16, 2011 by Yehudah Mirsky | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Part of the strangeness of the biblical book of Esther lies, oddly, in its very familiarity. It takes place in a world where God hardly figures, where prophecy is but a memory, where lust, vanity, and arrogance call the tunes, and where flat-out redemption is too much to hope for.
Beyond Tanks Beyond Tanks
Monday, March 14, 2011 by Alex Joffe | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Israel in the past has fought large-scale conventional wars in which infantry and tanks have squared off. It has also faced down terrorists who cross borders to blow up buses or hide themselves among civilians. The next wave is called hybrid warfare, blending (in the words of the military theorist Frank Hoffman) "the lethality of state conflict with the fanatical and protracted fervor of irregular warfare."
Purim Puzzles Purim Puzzles
Friday, March 11, 2011 by Lawrence Grossman | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Purim, Judaism's strangest holiday (which this year falls on March 20), is prescribed by what may be the strangest book in the Hebrew Bible, the scroll (m'gilah) of Esther. Two public readings of the book, one at night and the other in the morning, tell a story of Persian palace intrigue in the fifth century B.C.E., a recitation accompanied by the holiday's decidedly unspiritual noisemaking, tippling, and masquerade.
Identity = ? Identity = ?
Thursday, March 10, 2011 by Yehudah Mirsky | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

In discussions of that elusive entity known as "Jewishness," few terms have become so ubiquitous, and as a consequence so elusive, as "Jewish identity." The phrase regularly serves as the name of a communal dream: the wished-for end product that vast apparatuses of education, institution-building, and programming aim to instill and perpetuate. But what is it?
The Last of the Red-Hots? The Last of the Red-Hots?
Tuesday, March 8, 2011 by Sam Munson | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

The past decade has witnessed a seeming revival in the fortunes of America's old, new, and newest Left. Some elders, notably including Bill Ayers, have enjoyed career recrudescences. One of the better-known spokesmen and avatars of this revitalized political culture is the veteran writer and activist Todd Gitlin.
The Old Young Guard The Old Young Guard
Monday, March 7, 2011 by Aryeh Tepper | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

One of the most significant movements of Jewish renewal in the 20th century was Hashomer Hatzair: the Young Guard.  Founded as a youth group in Vienna in 1916, the movement set itself in opposition to what it regarded as the emaciated character of Jewish life.
The Odessa File The Odessa File
Friday, March 4, 2011 by Allan Nadler | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Undoubtedly the most searing image of the port city of Odessa on the Black Sea is Sergei Eisenstein's reconstruction of a bloody massacre on its famed "Potemkin Steps" in his epic silent film, Battleship Potemkin (1925).
The Virtuoso of Judaism The Virtuoso of Judaism
Thursday, March 3, 2011 by Yehudah Mirsky | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Religious virtuosity comes in many forms. One of them is the ability to reconcile seeming irreconcilables, like faith and freedom, piety and intellect, revelation and science. The dream of synthesis has lured many in the past two centuries. One who seemed to live it was Joseph B. Soloveitchik.
J Street’s Last Hurrah? J Street’s Last Hurrah?
Tuesday, March 1, 2011 by Elliot Jager | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

In a little over three years, a liberal lobby calling itself "passionately and unapologetically pro-Israel" appears to have either supplanted or co-opted other likeminded groups on the Jewish Left—among them, Americans for Peace Now, the Israel Policy Forum, and the New Israel Fund.
Writing American Hebrew Writing American Hebrew
Friday, February 25, 2011 by Yehudah Mirsky | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Once upon a time, and not so long ago at that, Hebrew literature was written and read in the United States. That is no longer the case, but there is no reason why today this fascinating body of work should remain "one of the best-kept secrets of Jewish American cultural history."
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Editors' Picks
Foolish, but Consistent Elli Fischer, Times of Israel. There are groups that advocate for allowing Jews to pray on the Temple Mount and there are groups that advocate for freedom of worship at the Kotel. But each group views these "rights" selectively.
TV and the War on Terror Tom Streithorst, Prospect. Homeland is a hit not only with the press but with the president—though unlike the Israeli show on which it is based, it doesn't have a clue about terrorism, national security, Iraq, or the CIA.
Is There Such a Thing as Jewish Fiction? , Moment. Howard Jacobson, Geraldine Brooks, A.B. Yehoshua, Shalom Auslander, Walter Mosley, Etgar Keret, André Aciman, Nathan Englander, Nadia Kalman, and others answer.
Debate: Zionism and American Jews Peter Beinart, Daniel Gordis, Tablet/The Current. The proposition: Zionism is failing and American Jews are hastening its decline. (Video)
Paranoid or Realist? Jeffrey Goldberg, Bloomberg. Benzion Netanyahu gave his son, Israel's prime minister, a dark view of the Middle East—and, therefore, the ability to negotiate a realistic peace.
When a Cantor Can't Debra Rubin, JTA. What's the difference between an "ordained" and an "invested" cantor? Plenty, say Reform officials.
Alma, Tell Us Ilan Stavans, Forward. Did Isaac Bashevis Singer's long-suffering wife write a memoir?
In Defense of Jewish Nationalism Robert Wolfe, New English Review. The Jewish national movement is now composed of religious nationalists, secular nationalists, and Jewish loyalists. What it lacks is a conception of Jewish nationalism that can appeal to non-Jews.
"Kinat Sofrim" Laurent Binet, Garth Risk Hallberg, The Millions. One writer at work on the (false) memoirs of an old SS veteran reads another's bestselling, prize-accruing (false) memoirs of another SS veteran.
What Kind of Jewish Name is Shylock? Fred MacDowell, On the Main Line. The question has engaged scholars since the 18th century, leading to some very creative theories.