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People & Places

Out of the Well of the Past Out of the Well of the Past
Monday, August 2, 2010 by Yehudah Mirsky | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Jewish history was once regularly portrayed as a march from pre-modern stasis to modern revolution and change. This picture held its attractions, offering clearly marked battle lines for later proponents on either side of the ongoing ideological struggles between traditionalists and modernizers. By now, however, we have been well instructed in the deceptive simplicity of all such efforts to impress order on the relentless flux of history, which so often dissolves the closer we look at it.
Loving and Leaving Europe Loving and Leaving Europe
Friday, July 30, 2010 by Allan Nadler | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

According to a recent report in the European press, dozens of French Jews who, in the aftermath of World War II, were compelled to adopt Gallic-sounding names are now demanding to be allowed to revert to their Jewish originals. There is a deep irony here: the supposedly Jewish names being reclaimed are in fact the artificial and often arbitrary ones originally imposed in 1787 by the Austrian emperor, Joseph II, as part of his larger aim of integrating the Jews of Central Europe into Germanic society and culture.
In the Cage of Feeling In the Cage of Feeling
Tuesday, July 27, 2010 by Yehudah Mirsky | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Last week marked the hundredth birthday of Natan Alterman, one of the greatest and most dramatic of modern Hebrew poets and, in another aspect of his persona, a compelling and strong-minded commentator on contemporary events.
The Lone Wolf The Lone Wolf
Friday, July 23, 2010 by Elliot Jager | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

The 70th yahrzeit of Vladimir Ze'ev Jabotinsky (1880-1940) was marked on July 11, at Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem, by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres. There was nary a mention of it in the Israeli media—an extraordinary omission given that Jabotinsky was not only a founder of the Haganah and the supreme commander of the Irgun but also a towering Zionist theoretician and leader.
All That (Israeli) Jazz All That (Israeli) Jazz
Thursday, July 22, 2010 by Aryeh Tepper | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Add jazz to the growing list of fields in which Israelis are taking their place among the international elite.  As the American magazine JazzTimes gushed in May 2008, "When it comes to jazz, Israel is the source of an almost miraculous outpouring of talent."
The Other Talmud The Other Talmud
Friday, July 16, 2010 by Yehudah Mirsky | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

A Jewish classic known as much for its obscurity as for its great significance took another step into the light this spring with the online publication of its oldest and most reliable version. The classic is the Jerusalem Talmud, and the version is a parchment manuscript, known as the Leiden manuscript, written in 1289 by a Jewish scholar and copyist in Rome.
UNIFIL: Peacekeepers or Enablers? UNIFIL: Peacekeepers or Enablers?
Thursday, July 15, 2010 by Elliot Jager | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

The response of the civilized world to events in southern Lebanon—where Hizballah, in preparation for its next act of aggression, is reportedly digging tunnels at the border with northern Israel—is doubly revealing. It says much about the non-enforcement of international law in an area dominated by Islamist irregular forces. And it is a reliable indicator of what might happen if, in the event of an agreement between the Palestinian leadership and Israel, international peacekeepers were to be stationed in the West Bank and Gaza.
In the Garden of Eden In the Garden of Eden
Wednesday, July 14, 2010 by Aryeh Tepper | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

The history of Israeli visual art begins, long before the establishment of the state, with the 1903 opening of Bezalel, an undersized but ambitious art and design school in Jerusalem. A little over a century later, Israel is bursting with academies, museums, galleries, architectural sites, and artists of all kinds. Or almost all kinds.
“A Simple Jew” “A Simple Jew”
Tuesday, July 13, 2010 by Yehudah Mirsky | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Last Friday, several thousand people gathered in Jerusalem for the funeral of Rabbi Yehuda Amital, an extraordinarily complex figure whose journey took him from prewar Hungary, via the Holocaust and the 1948 War of Independence, to the elite of the rabbinic world, the heart of Israel's military, the hilltops of Judea, and eventually the Israeli cabinet. Throughout, the yeshiva he founded and led, and the ideal of Torah study it embodied, were central to his life and teaching.
The Arab Peace Initiative The Arab Peace Initiative
Monday, July 12, 2010 by Elliot Jager | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Among the things remaining unclear in the aftermath of the visit to Washington last week of Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the next negotiating move of the Palestinians.  President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority has warned that if his objectives in the "proximity talks" mediated by the U.S. are not achieved by mid-September, he will ask the Arab League to press harder with its 2002 Arab Peace Initiative. This document has become part of the verbiage of international declarations on the Arab-Israel conflict. According to the American envoy George Mitchell, it has also been incorporated into the Obama...
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Editors' Picks
Majority Rule Abraham Cooper, Fox News. As Western leaders and human rights activists fete democracy in Egypt, they turn a blind eye to the increasing restrictions being placed on Egypt's Jewish and Christian minorities.
Then They Came for the Jews Matthew Fishbane, Tablet. With his latest assault on the upper classes and persistent attacks on Israel, President Hugo Chavez has left Venezuela's Jewish community facing a choice between emigration and persecution. (With photos)
A Stunning Discovery Judy Siegel-Itzkovich, Jerusalem Post. As Holland, among other countries in Europe, seeks to ban Jewish ritual slaughter, new research demonstrating that stunning animals does not minimize their suffering has come not a moment too soon.
The Seed of Israel David Ellenson, Jewish Review of Books. He has been accused of heresy and expelled from Shas, but Haim Amsalem's lenient approach to conversion in Israel may yet be a blueprint for a more unified nation.
Courting China Jerusalem Post. Given its erstwhile alliance with the Arab nations and current support for Iran, China is not Israel's most likely partner. Yet economic ties between Israel and China have never been stronger.
Bringing Darkness to Light Eva Fogelman, Forward. Agnieszka Holland's Oscar-nominated In Darkness is a vivid and nuanced portrayal of Jews escaping wartime Poland and an important testament to the righteousness of their rescuer.
The New Normal Jackson Diehl, Washington Post. In spite of the Islamist ideology of Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government, Turkey may prove to be a key U.S. ally in the Middle East during the coming decades.
A Mind Alone Stefany Anne Golberg, Smart Set. In a collection of the Austrian novelist Joseph Roth's correspondence, there aren't any letters written to his parents, or to those who were perhaps his closest friends. There are no love letters—or any letters at all—to his wife.
Dividing the Waters Susan Hattis Rolef, Jerusalem Post. A new French report on water usage in the Jordan Valley allows political bias against Israel to mask the real challenges of water conservation facing every country in the region.
Revisiting the Reich Ron Rosenbaum, Smithsonian. William L. Shirer's 1960 history of the Third Reich remains the seminal account of the philosophical roots of Nazism and a stark warning of the dangers of mass political movements.