I know what happened with those three women in Cleveland, how one man was able to imprison and torture them in the middle of a residential neighborhood for 10 years, even though he had grown children, brothers, cousins who visited the house for hours at a time. It’s not a pretty tale, but we’ve all heard it, although to a lesser degree, countless times before.
For the last couple of years - and especially the last couple of days - my Jewish friends all over the world have expressed their concern over whether anti-Semitism is on the rise in Turkey. First of all Turkey has a population over 70 million.
Purim is an extraordinary festival in the Jewish calendar. It can be distinguished from all the other festivals by the character that it was granted in later generations, but mainly by its most primary source - Megillat Esther itself.
With President Obama having just taken the oath for his second term in office, we can allow ourselves the luxury of thinking about substantive issues in ways that transcend party affiliations and divisions.
In a speech about the relationship between Israel and the United States delivered in Los Angeles on Tuesday evening, Jan. 15, Michael Oren, Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S., drew on his expertise as a historian of the Middle East to illustrate the strength of the alliance between the two countries.
In our age of Facebook and Twitter, we know all too well how fast words can spread. When I was a kid, we played the game telephone, passing a word or phrase around the circle by whispering it into each other’s ear, knowing that by the time it went all the way around, it would probably be transformed into something completely different — that was funny!
With the run-up to the first-ever internal primaries for the Jewish Home Party (Ha-Bayit Ha-Yehudi) in full steam, one of the most hotly discussed issues is the candidacy of 36-year old Ayelet Shaked.
Michael Walzer frankly announces at the outset of “In God’s Shadow: Politics in the Hebrew Bible” (Yale University Press: $28.00) that he is approaching the Scriptures not as a biblical scholar but as a political thinker. “The Bible is, above all, a religious book,” he argues, “but it is also a political book.”
Israeli lawmaker Michael Ben Ari ripped up a copy of the New Testament and threw it in the garbage.
It's common knowledge that the Bible is the “greatest book ever written.” No other book can match its power or wide appeal; no other book has been as studied, analyzed or debated. It’s the literary gift that keeps on giving, the book of books, the book for all eternity.
At the ripe age of 8, I learned the Peter Allen song “Everything Old Is New Again.” It may have been an unusual choice for an 8-year-old to crave hearing over and over. But for me, this song was synonymous with dance class, doing the soft shoe that landed me on stage for the annual spring recital: “Don’t throw the past away, you might need it some rainy day, dreams can come true again, when everything old is new again.”
Even if you’re a serious student of the Bible, you might not know what the Book of Esther is doing there, in the Bible. Don’t worry though, nobody else knows either. Although it tells of near-tragedy, it is written melodramatically, almost as a farce; and it is very hard to read with a straight face.
On Valentine's Day, for a people tasked in the Bible with being fruitful and multiplying, what goods are good for the Jews? Perhaps sex toys from an Orthodox-oriented website that are not supposed to make you blush? Or maybe your pleasure for these long winter nights is a new bed made in Israel that is as flexible and modern as you are?
It’s a new year and we are beginning a new book of the Torah — Exodus. Unfortunately, we are dealing with the same old problem. Anti-Semitism, the oldest hatred, rears its ugly head.
There are places in the Torah where many of us moderns have a hard time relating to our ancestors and the societies in which they lived. Oppression of women, slavery, animal sacrifice, a God that intervenes and directs our lives in a forceful and immediate way, to name a few. This parasha, however, is not really one of these moments. In fact, as I read through Noach again and again this year, I couldn’t help but think how much hasn’t changed since those fateful days, in primordial time, when the first humans brought about the destruction of the Earth.
“Remember the long way that YHVH your God made you travel in the wilderness these past 40 years, that he might test you, by hardships, to learn what is in your hearts: whether you would keep his commandments or not” (Deuteronomy 8:2).
Having just come off Tisha B’Av, not only do we focus on the parasha, Va’etchanan, but this is also Shabbat Nachamu, the healing Shabbat of Comfort, so named because we read the words of Isaiah, “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God” (Isaiah 40:1).
We ended last week’s parasha with the Jewish nation crying as quasi-leaders sinned publicly with Midianite women, who had come into our camp at the Moabites’ behest.
Now that another presidential campaign season is upon us, you can count on a fair amount of Bible-thumping between now and election day. But if you wonder what the Bible really says about abortion, homosexuality, capital punishment and other contemporary concerns, the real answers are to be found in “The Bible Now” by Richard Elliott Friedman and Shawna Dolansky (Oxford University Press: $27.95).
Plenty of Bible scholars have attempted to explain what they know and what they do to a general readership. But only a few of them do it quite as well as Bart D. Ehrman, a professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina. His books on the Bible, including such bestsellers as “Misquoting Jesus,” “God’s Problem,” and “Jesus, Interrupted,” are like a cool drink of water — clear and bracing.
With the introduction of photography in 1839, pioneer practitioners of the nascent medium flocked to the Holy Land, expecting the glorious biblical scenes imagined by Renaissance painters, but finding instead mainly dusty villages and a largely ramshackle Jerusalem.
Author Hillel Halkin, reviewing the Koren Sacks Siddur in the spring 2010 Jewish Review of Books, recounts a charming story that he heard from his father:
Timothy Beal is a religion professor at Case Western Reserve University and the author of 11 books about the Bible and religion. Raised as an Evangelical Christian, he came to realize that the Bible is not quite what it seems and certainly not what it is advertised to be in certain strict religious circles. His revelations about the Bible, so to speak, are at the core of “The Rise and Fall of the Bible: The Unexpected History of an Accidental Book” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25), an engaging but also challenging re-reading of the sacred texts in the full light of history.
The Dead Sea Scrolls will go online in a project launched by the Israel Antiquities Authority.
As the population of Israel grows, so do the requests for building and expansion within the small country. Unfettered growth and expansion has nature conservationists throwing up their arms.
[UPDATE] The newsletter sent out last month by Temple Israel of New Rochelle contained the usual sort of announcements, including a reminder about the synagogue’s upcoming Purim carnival, mazal tovs and condolences, and information about a social event at a local steakhouse.