By Jeffrey Salkin on Martini Judaism
I was a college freshman, and I was in a psychology class. The subject of religion came up, and I publicly admitted that I believed in God and was a committed Jew.
The professor grew pale. I will never forget what he said to me. “This makes me very sad. I am hoping that as you become more educated, you will, at the very least, question your faith.”
I had not thought of that professor (who was Jewish) and that experience for several decades – until this week with the release of a Pew study on the correlation between religious attachment and educational levels.
Martin Kramer for Mosaic
For 100 years the British statement, which inaugurated Zionism’s legitimation in the eyes of the world, has been seen as the isolated act of a single nation. The truth is much different.
On November 2, 1917, a century ago, Arthur James Balfour, the British foreign secretary, conveyed the following pledge in a public letter to a prominent British Zionist, Lord Walter Rothschild:
His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.
At the time, as World War I raged, British forces were fighting deep in Palestine against the Ottomans, and were poised to take Jerusalem.
by ELAD NEHORAI for PopChassid
Okay, let’s be real. Most of the world, and especially America, when it imagines what Jews look like, usually has an image like this sticking out in their mind: (picture of Woody Allen)
Yep, thanks to Woody Allen, Hollywood, and plenty of other reasons that have no connection to reality, the majority of the world likes to think Jews are all white, nerdy, and short. And have been like that since day one.
By Rabbi Jonathan Miller, Temple Emanu-El, Birmingham, Alabama
In May of 1967, Gamal Abdel Nasser, the President of Egypt, who had joined in a military alliance with Syrian President Hafez el Assad, began to give speeches which galvanized the Arab world. Daily, he proclaimed to the Arab world that he promised to "drive Israel into the sea". He expelled the United Nations' Peacekeepers from the Sinai Peninsula. Syrian armies advanced on the Golan ready to attack Israel from their commanding heights.
By Ross Arbes for The New Yorker
About an hour’s drive north of Seoul, in the Gwangju Mountains, nearly fifty South Korean children pore over a book. The text is an unlikely choice: the Talmud, the fifteen-hundred-year-old book of Jewish laws. The students are not Jewish, nor are their teachers, and they have no interest in converting. Most have never met a Jew before. But, according to the founder of their school, the students enrolled with the goal of receiving a “Jewish education” in addition to a Korean one.
Meir Soloveichik for Mosaic
Not only strikingly beautiful, his painting of Moses holding the Ten Commandments also happens to be one of the most authentically Jewish works of art ever created.
As Jews the world over prepare to celebrate Shavuot, the anniversary of the giving of the Law, few biblical scenes are more appropriate to contemplate than the spectacle of Moses bringing the tablets of the Ten Commandments down from Mount Sinai. And, incongruous though this may seem to many Jews, no more appropriate image of the scene exists than Rembrandt van Rijn’s depiction of the prophet holding aloft the two tablets bearing their Hebrew inscriptions (1659). Not only strikingly beautiful, the painting also happens to be one of the most authentically Jewish works of art ever created.
BY TEAM BE'CHOL LASHON for myjewishlearning.com
The heroes who endured torture and risked their lives to save Ethiopian Jews.
When he was 10 years old, filmmaker Avishai Mekonen walked from Ethiopia to Sudan and was eventually taken to Israel. As an adult, he began to wonder how that journey came to be and his research led to his newest project.
BL: Your first film focused on your own journey to Israel, how does this project differ?
Lag B'Omer is celebrated this year on Sunday, May 14
Lag B’Omer literally means the 33rd day of the Omer. The Omer is counted for 49 days between the end of Passover and the holiday of Shavuot (derived from the practice of counting the days from the barley offering at the Temple to the day of the wheat offering on Shavuot, in the Torah). The holiday celebrates a break in a plague that is said to have occurred during the days of Rabbi Akiva. The Talmud states that the great teacher of Jewish mysticism Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai died on Lag B’Omer, and in modern times the holiday has come to symbolize the resilience of the Jewish spirit.
BY CATHRYN J. PRINCE for The Times of Israel
Award-winning comedienne Monica Piper tickles audiences until they cry with the bittersweet story of her life
Some may laugh in the face of danger; Monica Piper laughs in the face of the “the dark stuff.” And right now she thinks America needs to laugh more.
“It’s getting harder and harder, that’s for sure — but a funny way of looking at things is important, no matter how dire the situation is. And in our current political situation, if you can’t find the funny it can be even more stressful,” said Piper, who is currently starring in the one-woman show “Not That Jewish.”
By Ephraim Kanarfogel for Tablet Magazine
Opposing rabbinic conceptions of marriage and matchmaking in Ashkenaz and Sepharad
Recent studies have traced the parameters of matchmaking in medieval European Jewish society, seeking as well to identify attitudes toward marriage more broadly in both the northern and southern regions (Ashkenaz and Sepharad). Based on the many texts that have been published or are still in manuscript, it is possible to propose an overarching theory that accounts for differences between the two regions, encompassing both those that have been noted heretofore and others that have not yet received attention.
Gil Troy for The Daily Best
There would have been no Tom Brady or Johnny Unitas if it hadn’t been for one determined son of Orthodox Jews from Cleveland, Ohio.
Originally, football was all scrimmage in a no-pass zone, with rules and machismo sensibilities dismissing passing as wimpy. The game was a grinding ground war, a smash-up derby for big galoots, with occasional breakaway survivors fleeing the pack.
The revolutionary who gave football an air war, who freed it from being all-Blitz-all-the-time, the disruptor who spawned the Hail Mary Pass and the Bomb, Joe Namath and Johnny Unitas, John Elway and Tom Brady, was a now-forgotten all-American with the body of a Greek God but the name of a Jewish accountant: Benny Friedman.
by Ilana Strauss for FromtheGrapevine
Discover the area's largest archaeological dig in the last half-century.
Currently, researchers are excavating Tzeelim Canyon, an area near Israel's Dead Sea. These archaeologists, who consist of Israeli and foreign volunteers, are searching for ancient artifacts hidden in the cave.
They're hoping to find 2,000-year-old writings and other objects in a spot that yielded abundant archaeological wealth in the past, and the project looks something like this:
By MaNishtana for Tablet Magazine
Five Seder Traditions From Around the Globe to Spice Up Your Own
Jews are not monolithic, and nowhere is that clearer than when it comes to one of Judaism’s oldest rituals
My Jews, the seder is nigh upon us. Clocking in at over 1,500 years, it is not only among the most universally practiced Jewish rituals, it is also currently the oldest continuously practiced ritual service on the planet. True story.
With a resume like that, the seder was bound to have picked up a few tricks and variants over the centuries, something a little bit more robust than you generally see in your standard Haggadah from Artscroll–or, if you’re from a truly venerable Jewish family, Maxwell House–and something a little more nuanced than the Ashkenaz/Sephardic binary of kitniyot/non-kitniyot, Slivovitz/Arak, and salt/actual seasonings besides salt.
Here are five seder traditions swiped from across the globe to possibly liven up your own:
Passover is coming, check out our Passover Resource Kit.
By Shira Hanau for The Forward
A new addition to the Harry Potter saga is about to hit the shelves — this time in the form of a Haggadah.
Rabbi Moshe Rosenberg of Queens, New York is set to release his “Unofficial Hogwarts Haggadah” within the next two weeks.
“The entire Harry Potter series, and each book, contains many of the key elements and lessons of the Exodus story,” says Rosenberg. “Uplifting the downtrodden, sharing our current wealth and prosperity with others, education” and the list goes on. “The enthusiasm for ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ really assured me that there’s still an enormous appetite out there for Harry Potter.”
By Lawrence H. Schiffman for MyJewishLearning.com
Three views of the Jewish-Christian schism.
The split between Judaism and Christianity did not come about simply or quickly. It was a complex process which took some one hundred years, starting from the crucifixion [of Jesus], and which had different causes and effects depending on whether it is looked at from the point of view of Judaism or Christianity. Further, the question of legal status as seen through Roman eyes also had some relationship to the issue.
The Christian View
Sue Eisenfeld for The Forward
There are 51 names on the list of the dead and the dying. They range in condition from having been diagnosed with a fatal disease, to being in the throes of death, to having already passed from this world, nothing left but a memory. They are in Auburn, Maine, and Niagara Falls, New York, and Lake Charles, Louisiana, and Sumter, South Carolina, and for all of them, they have exhausted all hope of survival.
They are some of the once-thriving small-town Jewish communities of America — places that many Northerners and Southerners, Jews and non-Jews alike, never even knew existed, now or throughout history. They were the places where Jewish people — merchants, often — settled in large numbers as early as the 1700s and were thriving contributors to civic life; places where Jews fought in the Revolution, the War of 1812, and on both sides of the Civil War.
By Noah Lederman for Tablet Magazine
How does it feel to live next to a concentration camp? I visited the Polish village next to Majdanek—where my great-grandfather was murdered, and my grandparents were imprisoned—to find out.
I grew up in a family with secrets; most of the mysteries were centered around the Holocaust. While stories of Auschwitz and the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising occasionally slipped through tight lips, my grandparents kept the lid on Majdanek. It was one of the two concentration camps where they had both been imprisoned and survived. But in comparison to Auschwitz (their other shared prison) and Treblinka (the camp that had turned 8,000 of their neighbors into human smoke), Majdanek haunted them most. They told me nothing of the camp when I was a kid.