featured-articles

How to Judge Robert Alter's Landmark Translation of the Hebrew Bible

Mon, 02/18/2019 - 12:00am
By Hillel Halkin for Mosaic

 

Finished after decades of labor, this one-man English translation is a stupendous achievement. How does it hold up against the masterpieces (and follies) that have come before?

 

However you look at it, Robert Alter’s The Hebrew Bible is a stupendous achievement. The result of decades of work, consisting of over 3,000 pages of translated text and commentary, it includes every one of the 35 books from Genesis to Chronicles that constitute Jewish scripture. One might call it the translator’s equivalent of a solo circumnavigation of the globe were it not that sailing a boat around the globe takes far less time.

Continue reading.

The Black Cohens

Mon, 02/11/2019 - 12:00am
By Rich Cohen for Tablet Magazine

The scattering of African-Americans named Cohen in the NFL is just the tip of a deeper American Cohen tale

In my house, we are forever on the lookout for outstanding athletes named Cohen. We believe such figures will open our minds to alternate futures and possibilities. We have enough lawyers and endocrinologists, enough journalists and accountants. We have plenty of criminals, but they tend to be of the white-collar variety. We want people who can advance the ball, play the body, work above the rim. Which is why I was so pleased when the Chicago Bears, my favorite football team, selected, with a fourth-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, its second “Cohen” in five years. There’d been Landon Cohen, who’d played 13 games as defensive tackle for the Bears in 2013. Now there’d be Tarik Cohen, a fleet running back. He was ours and we’d take him—“Tarik Cohen Had Some Bears Fans Searching for Jewish Connection,” is how the Chicago Tribune headlined it—though he did not fit the profile of a typical congregant of North Shore Congregation Israel.

Continue reading.

From ‘Y’ to ‘J’: The History of Jewish Community Centers

Mon, 02/04/2019 - 12:00am
By Jenna Weissman Joselit for Tablet Magazine

 

How YMHAs, followed by synagogue-centers, and finally JCCs have tried—in different ways—to balance Judaism and Jewishness, by bringing Jews together in intellectual, spiritual, and physical pursuits

If there’s one thing the American Jewish community has in abundance, it’s critics. “There are no colors gloomy enough to paint too morbidly” the present condition of the Jews, notes one of their number. A “baleful fog of indifference hover[s] over Judaism,” chimes in another. The synagogues are empty, more “grand vacuum” than grand house of worship, and young people today are “loud in dress, louder in commonplace and empty words,” or, worse still, apt to be “atheists, agnostics, or nothingarians,” adds a third and then a fourth naysayer.

Sound familiar? You’ve heard it all before, I’m sure. Even so, it might come as a bit of a surprise to learn that every single one of these observations dates from the late 19th century.

Continue reading.
 

All The European Countries Where Kosher and Halal Meat Production Are Now Forbidden

Mon, 01/28/2019 - 12:00am
by Shira Feder for The Forward 


A ban on the Jewish and Muslim methods of ritual slaughter of animals in Belgium’s northern Flemish region went into effect on January 1. The region’s capital is Antwerp, home to approximately 20,000 Jews.

This is just another step in a larger trend across Europe — which we’ve mapped out below, with individual restrictions and Jewish population numbers:

 

Read more: 

Why They Stay - The Jews of Iran

Mon, 01/21/2019 - 12:00am
By Roya Hakakian


The horror and hope undergirding Jewish life in post-Revolution Iran


Among the world’s endangered minorities, Iranian Jews are an anomaly. Like their counterparts, their conditions categorically refute all the efforts their nation makes at seeming civilized and egalitarian—and so they embody, often without wanting to, all that is ugly and unjust about their native land.

But Iran’s Jewish community does something more. It also embodies the nation’s hope, the narrative of its resistance and struggle for a better future—one that has been on the brink of arriving ever since the revolution in 1979. To understand why Jews continue to remain in Iran is to understand the tortured tale of Iran. Nowhere else can the stubborn continuity of a minority stand as a metaphor in the elegy of a nation’s downfall.

Continue reading.

Why We Eat the 7 Fruits on Tu B’Shvat

Mon, 01/14/2019 - 12:00am

This article is featured in Jvillage Network's Tu B'Shevat Guide. For more articles, recipes, crafts, and ideas, 


By Jo Ann Gardner for The Forward


The seven species are pomegranate, grapes, dates, figs, olives, wheat and barley.

Why do we eat fruit of the Seven Species on Tu B’Shvat?

The Seven Species of the Bible are a central feature of the celebration of Tu B’Shvat, which this year occurs in late January. The reason usually given for eating foods from this group, especially its fruits, is that they are symbols of God’s creation, and that by eating them we give thanks to Him and reaffirm our ties to the Land of Israel.

Read more: 

Top 10 Jewish stories of 2018

Mon, 01/07/2019 - 12:00am
From religionnews.com


(RNS) — The brutality of anti-Semitism in several forms dominated the top 10 news stories related to Jews and Judaism this year. But there were important and even happy developments as well.

 

1. The Tree of Life synagogue shooting


The “slaughter of the innocents” in a Pittsburgh synagogue in October was the single worst anti-Jewish attack in U.S. history, with 11 worshippers killed (among them were two of my cousins, Cecil and David Rosenthal). The swift public revulsion and denunciation of the massacre cut across all religious, ethnic and racial boundaries and resulted in a vast outpouring of support for the American Jewish community.

Continue reading.

The Mysterious Childhood of King David

Mon, 12/31/2018 - 12:00am
By Ushi Derman for Beit Hatfutsot, Museum of the Jewish People


You can tell a lot about religions by their archetypal protagonist. Generally speaking, Christianity is fond of pure, untarnished guys, those who turn their other cheek. The Muslims adore men who sacrifice their lives to reach paradise, whereas the Buddhists respect he who can live an entire life doing one thing – avoiding. Avoiding over eating, uninhibited sex, alcohol and drugs, and life in general.

And Judaism? Well, it certainly resents the character of the agonized martyr. Jewish protagonists are deliberately portrayed full of flaws, bursting with drives and passions, just the opposite of saints. Abraham is manipulative, Isaac is limp, Jacob is hypocritical, Moses stutters, Joseph is arrogant and vindictive, Samson is impulsive and Salomon is a hedonist.

Continue reading.