Many are sure that one of Judaism's central events never happened. Evidence, some published in this Mosaic essay for the first time, suggests otherwise. Joshua Berman, Was There an Exodus? [more inside]
"I was a nervous wreck because I was about to betray my beloved grandmother and visit her darkest secret. Her secret had a name, and I was going to see him." (SLNYTimes: Modern Love)
Women are finally allowed to pray aloud at the Wall in Israel. Women of the Wall have been fighting to be allowed to pray and sing in their tallitot at the women's section of the Western Wall. The first day ended peacefully. They were not allowed to bring a Torah.
"Trading Faith for Wonder: On Judaism's Literary Legacy". The LARB reviews Jews And Words, by Amos Oz and Fania Oz-Salzberger. [more inside]
A brilliant young Harvard Ph.D. faces jail for impersonating a Bible scholar—and rival of his father [more inside]
"The Ideology of Hatred": An interview with Niza Yanay - "Once we understand how hatred operates as an apparatus of power relations, and particularly how the discourse of hatred is motivated and mobilised in national conflicts, serious questions about misrecognition, veiled desires and symptomatic expressions arise. These questions have, to a large extent, been left unaddressed in studies of hatred between groups in conflict." [more inside]
The Ben-Zvi Institute in Jerusalem houses the Aleppo Codex, considered the oldest and most authoritative text of the Hebrew Bible. Written in the 10th century AD and annotated by Maimonides himself, it was safeguarded by the Jewish diaspora and revered for its linguistic precision and its beauty. "The story of how some 200 pages of the codex went missing — and to this day remain the object of searches carried out around the globe by biblical scholars, private investigators, shadowy businessmen and the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency — is one of the great mysteries in Jewish history." [more inside]
The Dealers is a new Israeli crime comedy, released here this weekend. The poster features the film's central players sitting around a table loaded with booze, weed, bongs, joints and other drug paraphernalia. For the stricter populace of Jerusalem, a modified version of the poster was prepared, one which removes all trace of... You guessed it: Women. The pot and booze? Untouched. [more inside]
The Netanyahu government has paid for US TV ads saying US Israelis will never understand what it means to be Israeli, and American Jews will lose their religion
"We pray to God that this will not happen to the Jewish people or to any people anymore." -- a group of American imams visits Dauchau and Auschwitz.
A women's prayer group was expelled from the area of Jerusalem's Western Wall on Wednesday for wearing tallitot and reading from the Torah, in violation of an Israeli Supreme Court ruling that restricts these activities to men in the area directly in front of the wall. Meanwhile, in the U.S., the majority of non-Orthodox rabbinical students are female, with the Reform movement being the most female-dominated, leaving some communities struggling to revitalize men's participation in the religion.
The End of the Affair. Like many followers of Judaism around the world, Sir Gerald Kaufman, a British MP and friend of Golda Meir, has gone through an internal battle over their views regarding the State of Israel. Kaufman rejected the Sharon government and later made a remarkably prescient 2002 documentary (.ram) on Israel. Though he has been targeted by zionist webistes, and has repeatedly received death threats, hate mail, and has even been harassed during worship, Kaufman remains outspoken about Israel's attack on Gaza: "My grandmother was ill in bed when the Nazis came to her home town of Staszów. A German soldier shot her dead in her bed. Madam Deputy Speaker, My grandmother did not die to provide cover for Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza . . . they're not simply war criminals, they're fools."
Chanukkah is the story of a group of warriors (the Maccabees, later the Hasmoneans, led by Mattathias) who rose up against the Greeks (the Seleucids), united the Jews, reclaimed the Temple (Beit HaMikdash), and then lit one day's supply of oil which miraculously lasted for eight days, started a brand new holiday called Chanukkah, and brought Jewish sovereignty and peace to the land of Israel. Except that almost every part of that story is either wrong or completely misleading. [more inside]
Birthright Israel, funded by the Israeli government and Jewish philanthropists, provides free all-inclusive 10-day trips to Israel for Jewish young adults. The program's goal is to promote Israel along with general Jewish unity and engagement. The blog Jewlicious has a category about these trips. (Scroll down past many promotional entries for the interesting stuff.) Some question its efficacy and results, while some Jews subvert the program. The trips end with a "Mega Rally" featuring entertainment, giant inflatable Stars of David, and speeches by dignitaries including PM Ehud Olmert. Here is video coverage (FLV) of the most recent rally. There is also a satirical Something Awful report.
Beautiful early Zionist propaganda posters, courtesy of the Swann Galleries. The first 73 items in this large batch of vintage posters up for auction are related to Israel, Jews or anti-Semitism. [via Paperholic]
Nazi's relative turns Israel lover. Matias Goering is a direct descendant of Hitler's right-hand man. He also keeps Shabbat, wears a kippa, and identifies with the Greater Israel vision of West Bank settlers. (via jewlicious)
Philo-Semitism: Just another form of Anti-Semitism? Interesting Wash Post article on Evangelicals turning away from supersessionism -- the centuries-old belief that with the coming of Jesus, God ended his covenant with the Jews and transferred it to the Christian church, and the concerns it is raising. ..."That hope is felt and expressed by Christians as a kind, benevolent hope," ... "But believing that someday Jews will stop being Jews and become Christians is still a form of hoping that someday there will be no more Jews." ... Is it that philosemitism is just as dehumanizing as antisemitism and, because it masquerades as its opposite, more insidious, or just the most recent manifestation of the longstanding appropriation of us Jews as symbols, whether it helps or hurts us?
The return of the Bnei menashe : Israel's Chief Rabbi has decided to recognize the members of India's Bnei Menashe community as descendants of the ancient Israelites. Previous discussion.
Apocalypse Cow! In the most bizarre collaboration between the American Christian Right and ultraorthodox Jewish Zionists in Israel, Pentecostal minister and Georgia cattle farmer Clyde Lott has collaborated with the Temple Mount Institute of Jerusalem to breed a red heifer suitable for purifying the foundation of a rebuilt version of Solomon's Temple, which ultraorthodox Jews hope will lead to the coming of the Messiah. The problem is that the proposed site for the rebuilt temple is on the same site as the al-Aqsa mosque, the holiest site in Islam after Mecca and Medina. Some Zionist extremists in Israel have attempted to "solve" this problem by plotting to blow up the mosque, which doesn't exactly promote peace in the Middle East. And to think all of this could have been started by a cow that looks like it should have belonged in "the Horse of a Different Color" sequence in the Wizard of Oz!
The Guardian isn't so good at letting you link to their articles anymore. But if you use this link then click on "printable version" you might get to the site I want you to link to. My title being: If you're Jewish and American its hard to know whose side your on these days.
Is Current Israeli Policy Incompatible With Judaism? Jonathan Sacks, Britain's Chief Rabbi and arguably the outstanding Jewish intellectual of his generation, has apparently broken away from the established stance of Orthodox Judaism and made public a series of worries and reservations that rabbis have been making privately ever since Sharon took power. It's not so much politics (though everything is) that is at stake but the dissonance between the highly peaceful (indeed anti-military) and human character of Judaism and the hard, secular realism of present-day Israeli politics. Are they becoming irreconcilable? Were they always so?[Jonathan Freedland, who interviewed Professor Sacks, had this to say about the bigger picture.]
Zionism - Outspoken criticism from the unlikeliest of places. Neturei Karta, members of this orthodox clique condemn zionism, claiming there is no place in the modern world for a jewish state.
Very important article about Israel, says Jorn An article published on Arab web site, with intro by Gore Vidal, and re-issued with intro by Edward Said, is written by highly credentialled Israeli professor. Well, the opening intro para by Vidal is just plain contrary to facts. The Russian leader, Stalin, was violently anti-semitic and yet his country (33-13) also voted for the State of Israel. Did the "Jewish Lobby" give Joe a few million too? Jorn. This stuff is getting tiresome. Be anti-Israel if you will. But please do not become a bore.