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Arts & Culture

Englishing the Talmud Englishing the Talmud
Tuesday, June 26, 2012 by Yehudah Mirsky | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

According to a rabbinic tradition recorded in the Talmud (Shabbat 12b), God’s angels do not understand the Aramaic language in which the Talmud itself is mainly composed. As many a modern reader can testify, they’re hardly alone.
The Last Holy Rebel The Last Holy Rebel
Thursday, June 21, 2012 by Yehudah Mirsky | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Some years ago, a friend asked what I thought was the more impressive title: "Rabbi," "Doctor," or (the often unwittingly self-parodying) "Rabbi Dr."  You know, I said, there's a man in Israel who's one of the most impressive talmidei hakhamim I've ever known—and he's not "Rabbi" or "Doctor."  
Steal This Siddur Steal This Siddur
Wednesday, June 13, 2012 | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

If anyone might be poised to understand how a project of decentralized authority and radically distributive ownership could operate in a market-based economy, it would be the treasurer of a kibbutz.
The Jewish Left, between History and Revelation The Jewish Left, between History and Revelation
Monday, June 11, 2012 by Alex Joffe | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

The association of Jews with leftist ideas and movements has been a fixture of Western politics for the past 150 years. But is the relationship logical and necessary, or is it historical and contingent?
The Baron-Cohens and the Problem of Evil The Baron-Cohens and the Problem of Evil
Thursday, May 31, 2012 by Allan Nadler | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

The pervasiveness of evil and the suffering of innocents have confounded religious believers throughout history. Jews have produced a vast literature that attempts to reconcile God's justice with evil's apparent dominion.
The <i>Mona Lisa</i> of Vienna The Mona Lisa of Vienna
Wednesday, May 30, 2012 by Susan Hertog | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

In 1857, when Emperor Franz-Joseph pulled down the ancient stone wall encompassing Vienna, the social and cultural traditions of the country seemed to tumble with it. Impoverished immigrants, many of them Jews, flooded in from the east.
Faces and Hands Faces and Hands
Friday, May 18, 2012 by William Meyers | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Mindla Diament was a beautiful woman. We know that from the portrait her older sister Julia Pirotte took of her in Marseille in 1942. In Julia's picture Mindla's face emerges from darkness, classically Semitic, with large eyes, a full mouth, slender neck, and imposing spiritual depth.
Aquarius in Zion Aquarius in Zion
Thursday, May 17, 2012 by Yehudah Mirsky | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

In the great crazy quilt of Israeli religious and spiritual life, the cluster of ideas and practices called "New Age" (in Hebrew, 'Idan Hadash) is increasingly visible. Love it or hate it, it's around, in books, festivals, newspapers, the pronouncements of tycoons, and growing networks of popular Kabbalah.
Sendak’s Chelm Sendak’s Chelm
Friday, May 11, 2012 by Isaac Bashevis Singer and Maurice Sendak | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

After the publication of Where the Wild Things Are established Maurice Sendak as a force to be reckoned with in children's literature, he had the opportunity to illustrate Isaac Bashevis Singer's first children's book, Zlateh the Goat and Other Stories.
The Case of American Religious Zionism The Case of American Religious Zionism
Thursday, May 10, 2012 by Alex Joffe | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Few things divide and provoke American Jews like the question of Zionism. Though many wish to remember otherwise, this was also the case before the founding of Israel in 1948.
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Editors' Picks
Did Sondheim Destroy the Musical? Kate Wakeling, Jewish Quarterly. Broadway musicals were once the bastion of Jewish acculturation in America.  But, in his musicals, Jewish composer Stephen Sondheim swapped assimilation for alienation.
Der Hobit Ezra Glinter, Paris Review. "For every Yiddish reader piecing together a difficult 19th-century text, there’s a language enthusiast trying to translate Tolkien.  Often, they are the same person."
The Ambassador's Wife Jeffrey Goldberg, Atlantic. "Scholars of Middle East politics and students of psychedelic-rock have for years asked the same vexing question: How many degrees of separation exist between Benjamin Netanyahu and Jerry Garcia?"
America's New Jewish Secularism Barry A. Kosmin, Ariela Keysar, Washington Post. A new book says that American Jews, free of previous generations’ pressure to assimilate, are producing a vibrant secular Jewish culture whose continued growth "seems assured."
Speaking Jewish Sarah Bunin Benor, Kavvanah. "American Jews speak a Jewish language comparable to Judeo-Persian, Judeo-Arabic, Judeo-Greek, and many other Diaspora languages." (Interview by Alan Brill)
The Godless Delusion Neilson MacKay, New Criterion. By "making a 'god out of man,'" artists like Schoenberg, Goethe, and Matisse thought that "in the wake of religious disbelief, art could give us meaning again."
Does Harvard Favor Jews? Andrew Gelman, Commentators hailed Ron Unz's recent article claiming that today’s Ivy League universities underrepresent Asian-Americans and overrepresent Jews.  But his calculations don't add up.
Mahler: A Musical Messiah? Robert R. Reilly, Claremont Review of Books. Born Jewish, but converted to Christianity, Gustav Mahler was never a true believer in either.  But did he believe in the divinity of his music itself?
At Home with Mickey Cohen Ben Cosgrove, LIFE. Jewish gangster Mickey Cohen was a celebrity as well as a thug.  When he posed for the cameras, though, he was just a family guy. (Photographs by Ed Clark)
Returning to Eden Brennan Breed, Marginalia. Biblical critics have long insisted that we view the Bible only in its original, "authentic" context.  But there was never a single original context, as the critical approach to Genesis itself testifies.