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The Supreme Court Matters Like Never Before

Is it now a legislature?

by Michael Lind
Who Goes Trump?

What ultimately determines support for the GOP nominee isn’t race, class, or political ideology. It’s character.

by James Kirchick
Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram Censor COVID-19 News From China

The tech monopolies and other U.S. elites are too heavily invested in the CCP to allow Trump’s ‘decoupling’

by Lee Smith
Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram Censor COVID-19 News From China

The tech monopolies and other U.S. elites are too heavily invested in the CCP to allow Trump’s ‘decoupling’

by Lee Smith
3,000 Hasidic Cossacks Congregate on Ukrainian Border

Is Rebbe Nachman playing a practical joke from beyond the grave, or is this Eastern Europe’s version of normal during a pandemic? And who paid for the shirts?

by Vladislav Davidzon
How the Media Led the Great Racial Awakening

Years before Trump’s election the media dramatically increased coverage of racism and embraced new theories of racial consciousness that set the stage for the latest unrest

by Zach Goldberg
The New American Blindness

How the data-driven political journalism of Ezra Klein, Nate Silver, and others, applies the techno-elitist values of Silicon Valley to flatten political reality

by Sean Cooper
A Popular Revolt Against a Pro-Russian Dictator, in Belarus

Dispatch from the protests where, unlike in Western Europe, tattooed demonstrators with purple hair and skinny jeans also wear large crosses

by Vladislav Davidzon
The Tablet Ten

Jews running for Congress this fall who are worth keeping an eye on, whether or not you’re Jewish

by Armin Rosen
Wake Up America, and Smell the Anti-Semitism

Americans of all races and political outlooks revile and attack Jews with unprecedented glee, while American Jews would rather talk about anything else

by Eve Barlow
Left Heretics and the New Media Collective

Campus Week: The one-party journalism system suffers no dissent from within. Here are some who do it anyway.

by Jacob Siegel
The Academic Origins of the American Revolution

Campus Week: The intersectional monster has risen up against its white progressive boomer creators, and there’s little they, or anyone else, can do about it

by Lama Abu-Odeh
Bard College Sells Out

Campus Week: Does George Soros’ new educational initiative rent out universities as vehicles for politics?

by Gennady Shkliarevsky
The Sickness of Higher Ed

Campus Week: What college faculty and administrations should have done over the plague summer, and why we’re still not doing it

by Mordechai Levy-Eichel
Identity Theft

The practice of claiming undeserved victimhood status is shameful and harms those who are actually in need

by Zaid Jilani
Israel Was Ground Zero for the New Woke Religion

How coverage of the Jewish state became a signifier of the ideological activism that now permeates Western culture

by Matti Friedman
The American Soviet Mentality

Collective demonization invades our culture

by Izabella Tabarovsky
Woke Inc.

A seemingly socially conscious corporate America is not a new phenomenon. It’s a revival of an old one.

by Michael Lind
The New American Blindness

How the data-driven political journalism of Ezra Klein, Nate Silver, and others, applies the techno-elitist values of Silicon Valley to flatten political reality

by Sean Cooper
The ‘Diversity’ Trap

Progressive ideas about diversity have taken over the corporate world but they offer a skin-deep version obsessed only with color and conformity

by Zaid Jilani
Our Deathwish

How we got to the new normal

by Jacob Siegel
A Rabbi in Riyadh

The first Jewish faith leader received by a Saudi monarch recounts his visit with King Salman

by David Rosen
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The Great Stanley Crouch

An American immigrant jazz buff expresses his gratitude to a supremely gifted critic who loved the music and loathed bullshit

by Tony Badran
The Marxist Who Became the World’s Most Influential Talmudic Scholar

And the rabbi who helped to guide him

by Reuven Leigh
Opening the Gates of Jewish Study in the Soviet Union

In Memory of R. Adin Even Israel Steinsaltz

by David Rozenson
Free Black Thought

Campus Week: The case for heterodoxy in views on race

by Brittany Talissa King
The Lamonby Case

Campus Week: The troubling dismissal of a teacher at Solent University in the U.K. reflects the dangers of lack of due process in accusations of racism

by Richard Landes, Jonathan Hoffman
A Fatal Inconsistency in the Work of Yuval Noah Harari

Campus Week: The bestselling historian, philosopher, and darling of Silicon Valley is missing something about our scholarly search for truth

by Shawn Vandor
Judith Butler’s Veil

Campus Week: How a toxic postcolonial, postmodern discourse essentializes Muslim women into only their covering

by Elham Manea
Don’t Go to College. Do This Instead.

Five alternatives to wasting your time and money on a worthless degree

by Liel Leibovitz
Keeper of the Flame

Experimental-fiction king Ben Marcus, the son of a Jewish father and an Irish Catholic mother, may be the best Jewish writer in America

by David Samuels
Tablet’s COVID Summer Zoom Bar Mitzvah New Music Playlist

10 songs to get you through

by Will Schube
Rap Talmud

Tablet’s resident East Coast and West Coast hip-hop heads discuss the sounds of a hot, angry, sickening summer

by Jeff Weiss, Armin Rosen
Q&A: The Passions of the Weiss

The LA music writer who took down Post Malone talks about Baton Rouge rap, the pillaging of the ‘LA Weekly,’ and what Philip Roth has in common with Drakeo

by David Samuels
The Lie of Viktor Frankl

The author of the strangely misleading ‘Man’s Search for Meaning,’ repackaged as a psychotropic New Age guru, in the newly translated ‘Yes to Life: In Spite of Everything’

by David Mikics
John Coplans’ Jewish Body

A surprising find among the late photographer’s few papers reveals a man in search of a synagogue

by Joe Fyfe
Tom Stoppard and Tony Kushner Wander Around Mitteleuropa

Suspended productions of ‘Leopoldstadt’ and ‘The Visit’ try to update the traumas that broke families in World War II

by A.J. Goldmann
Who Wore ‘Faust’ Best?

Thomas Mann and his son Klaus Mann both wrote novels that updated Goethe’s ‘Faust’ for the horrors of the 20th century. Whose version will be remembered?

by David P. Goldman
A Ljubljana Fairy Tale

Before the plague, in the Slovenian art-world destination with a Cyanometer, Rambo Amadeus, and Slavoj Žižek

by Vladislav Davidzon
Bullies, Inc.

How CNN head Jeff Zucker’s Miami high school days explain the bizarro alt-reality world of his future frenemy, Donald Trump

by Andrew Fox
J.M. Coetzee’s Jesus Novels

In ‘The Death of Jesus,’ which closes a remarkable trilogy, the Nobel Prize-winning author recasts familiar parables, challenging the Western tradition to recognize its own demise

by Adam Kirsch
On the Etymology of ‘Shyster’

What does the insult mean, and to whom can it be applied?

by Bryan A. Garner
The Harvard Jesus Hoax

Ariel Sabar, in ‘Veritas,’ turns the true story of an academic con into a gripping thriller starring an overzealous feminist history prof, a wily forger, and Jesus’ wife

by David Mikics
The Great Riffer

ABC’s and P’s & Q’s, in Jeremy Sigler’s latest book of poetry, ‘Goodbye Letter’

by Marjorie Perloff
A Conversation With Marjorie Perloff

The fearlessly outspoken critic and Stanford titan on the contemporary poetry canon, the complexities of O.J. Simpson, and the non-Zen of John Cage

by Jeremy Sigler
Tell Me a Story

Who was Arnaldo Dante Momigliano, other than perhaps one of the greatest shapers of how we understand history? A former pupil investigates.

by Anthony Grafton
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Orthodoxy and Liberalism

Isaiah’s challenge to Halachic life, then and now

by Bernard Avishai
‘Let Justice Roll Down Like Waters’

Lessons for 2020 from Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel’s 1963 address on religion and race

by Micah Streiffer
Ashes to Ashes

My mother and I had different ideas about our Jewish identity. After she died, I had one more compromise to make.

by Ellen Blum Barish
Civil Rights: The View From an Orthodox Yeshiva

Halachic thoughts on the present unrest

by Cole S. Aronson
‘We Must Engage the World Right Now’

Rabbi Norman Lamm—theologian, orator, and my grandfather—believed that in the struggle against racism, Jews should both teach and listen

by Ari Lamm
Coronaspection: Introspections 1-13

Cardinal Cristoph Schonborn, Elder Jeffrey Holland, Rabbi Dov Singer

by Alon Goshen-Gottstein
Coronaspection: World Religious Leaders Look Inward During a Time of Global Hardship

One of the most important insights of the Coronaspection project, which brings together 40 world religious leaders for their insights on faith during the time of the coronavirus, has to do with the sense of solidarity and interconnectedness of humanity. Unity is one outcome that almost all participants recognize, and this unity extends also to some significant dimension of unity across religions. United in their struggle with the spiritual challenges of one virus, religious leaders of different traditions share their particular vision across religious boundaries.

by Alon Goshen-Gottstein
Eating Our Way to Holiness

The spirit and the letter of keeping kosher

by Mary Lane Potter
Why We Didn’t Circumcise Our Second Son

Our first son got the traditional brit. But not this time around.

by Yagi Morris
Choosing Life

After giving birth to a stillborn baby, finding comfort in Jewish ritual and scripture

by Kate McGee
What My Kippah Means to Me

As a butch lesbian, wearing a yarmulke connects me to my people—and to myself

by Olivia Swasey
The Battle of the Baal Shem Tov

What I learned as a child, listening to my father and grandfather argue over the founder of Hasidic Judaism

by Alter Yisrael Shimon Feuerman
Learning Hebrew—at Last

Without knowing the language, there was no way to fully participate in my community—not in the way I wanted to

by Roseanne Benjamin
Becoming a Man

How expectations around gender and sexuality led me to embrace Orthodoxy—and then leave it

by Lance Tukell
Secular Synagogues Take Root in Israel

A new kind of spiritual community blossoms

by Paula Jacobs
The Orthodox Jew and the Atheist

How I learned that righteousness and morality are a question of behavior, not belief

by Rebecca Klempner
Pants, Pants Revolution: How My First Pair of Jeans Redefined Modesty for Me

When I bought jeans recently, I redefined what ‘tzniut’ means to me as an Orthodox woman

by Simi Lampert
Lost and Found

How I lost my Mormonism and came to embrace the Jewish way

by Nathan Steiger
Why a Conservative Female Rabbi Decided To Pull Away From Her Male Friends

‘I had to dial back my friendships with men, for the sake of my marriage’

by Rachel Miller Solomin
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The Emperor’s New Clothes

The Abraham Accords prove that Trump’s majestic robes are real—at least in the Middle East

by Michael Doran
Inside the Struggle Between Israel and Hezbollah

With ongoing Iranian backing, the Lebanese terror group is more determined than ever to deliver offensive blows inside Israeli territory

by Shimon Shapira
How Denmark, Sweden, the U.N., and the EU Got Suckered Into Funding a Terror Organization

The PFLP’s grotesque hybrid of a terror arm and an NGO network murders innocent people while raking in millions from the West

by Yosef Kuperwasser
The Abraham Accords!

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks at the White House upon the signing of the amazing and unexpected peace treaty between Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain

by Benjamin Netanyahu
China’s Emerging Middle Eastern Kingdom

China’s drive for supremacy is now underway in the Middle East—and it won’t end there

by Michael Doran, Peter Rough
Bringing the Middle East Back Home

The American Orientalist Class attempts to paint a fantasy Middle Eastern landscape on the American canvas

by Tony Badran
A Rabbi in Riyadh

The first Jewish faith leader received by a Saudi monarch recounts his visit with King Salman

by David Rosen
Lebanon’s Interwoven Fantasy Worlds All Lead to War With Israel

How much should America pay to maintain the fraying fabric?

by Tony Badran
Qatar’s State-of-the-Art Foreign Lobbying Campaign

Think tanks, universities, museums, newspapers, and key congressional committees are all pieces in a game of 3D chess that the tiny Gulf state is playing with its rivals, using Washington, D.C., as its game board

by Lee Smith
Annexing the Jordan Valley

Israel’s coalition government contemplates redrawing the country’s borders, with America’s blessing. Senior ex-diplomat Dore Gold gives the inside scoop on how and why the status quo may not last long.

by Armin Rosen
Inside an Israeli Coronavirus Hospital

How Galilee Medical Center in the northern town of Nahariya is tackling COVID-19

by Hillel Kuttler
How Iran Became a Global Vector of Infection for COVID-19

The authoritarian theocracy faces specific challenges in dealing with the coronavirus

by Noam Blum
When May Day Was a Major Event in Israel

In some Israeli communities, the international workers holiday was just as important as the Jewish holidays

by Armin Rosen
A Q&A With Dorit Rabinyan, the Wonder Woman of New Israeli Lit

In a landscape vacated of the two literary giants Aharon Appelfeld and Amos Oz, Israeli fiction ushers in the rise of a new generation of women writers. The author of ‘All the Rivers’ talks about sabras in New York, American Jewry’s allure, and learning to listen for the perfect watermelon.

by David Samuels
The New MMA Hotbed: Israel

A father passes the fighting torch to his prodigal son, and a new generation of combat athletes makes a name for the Promised Land

by Hillel Kuttler
How Osama Bin Laden Outsmarted the U.S. and Got What He Wanted

The point of Sept. 11 wasn’t to terrorize the West. It was to get the U.S. out of the Muslim world—and it worked.

by David Samuels
Bibi, King of Israel

The most talented politician in Israeli history cracks his demented foes like walnuts

by Liel Leibovitz
Q&A With Israel’s Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak

A conversation with the Israeli leader on the cusp of an election that he hopes will restore his center-left political coalition to power and once again put him in charge of Israel’s future

by David Samuels
Obama Passed the Buck. Trump Refused to Play.

The Iran deal was never meant to stop Iran from building a bomb—it was supposed to delay it until disaster happened on someone else’s watch

by Lee Smith
One Last Interview

Three weeks before his death in 2016, Shimon Peres sat for what he intended to be a Rosh Hashanah-timed discussion about the state of the world. It was also his final one.

by David Samuels
The Jews Make it to the Moon

But not without misfortunes

by Armin Rosen
Malley in Wonderland

How Obama’s ‘progressive’ foreign policy vision—to backpedal away from the Middle East, fast, while kicking our former allies in the region to the curb—became consensus in D.C.

by Tony Badran
Spies in the Basement

The extraordinary true cloak-and-dagger tale of how a chance encounter in a London bookstore made peace possible, on the 25th anniversary of the Israel-Jordan accords

by Haim Be’er
Arafat and the Ayatollahs

The PLO’s greatest single contribution to the Iranian Revolution was the formation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, but the Palestinian leader’s involvement with Iran didn’t end there

by Tony Badran
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Preserving Our Heritage, One Recipe at a Time

The Jewish Food Society delves into the people and the stories behind the dishes it hopes to pass down to a new generation

by Leah Koenig
Tel Aviv’s Original Culinary Scene

A century before the city became the trendy ‘bubble’ that it is today, pioneering restaurants and cafes set a cosmopolitan tone

by Janna Gur
The Best Mail-Order Kosher Food You’ve Never Heard Of

From bacon challah and beef jerky to artisanal herring and designer chocolate, these treats are guaranteed to spice up any High Holiday meal at home

by Yair Rosenberg
Saying Goodbye to Seafood

When I converted to Judaism, I left behind part of my Norwegian heritage

by Nina Lichtenstein
How Mustard Became the King of Jewish Condiments

Its delicious legacy stretches from the corner deli all the way back to Abraham

by Edie Jarolim
The Ashkenazi Version of Mac and Cheese

While holiday and Shabbat specialties fill Jewish cookbooks, we often forget the pleasures of seemingly ordinary, everyday food—like egg noodles with cottage cheese

by Leah Koenig
The Trouble With Tsimmes—and How to Fix It

This stew of root vegetables and dried fruit is a staple of Ashkenazi cooking, but it doesn’t have to be the bland, gloppy mess we’ve come to know

by Leah Koenig
How to Make Kosher Prosciutto

The Jews of Italy used goose instead of pork to make their distinctive charcuterie

by Benedetta Jasmine Guetta
Saying Goodbye to Bacon

Deciding to keep kosher really meant grappling with one meaty addiction

by Liel Leibovitz
Searching for Babka’s Soul

This ‘traditional’ Ashkenazi favorite has evolved many times over the years—and it continues to change with the times

by Leah Koenig
A Prescription for Sauerkraut

Exploring the health benefits of fermented foods

by Erik Ofgang
Eating Our Way to Holiness

The spirit and the letter of keeping kosher

by Mary Lane Potter
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Where to Stream High Holiday Services

Synagogues ring in the Jewish New Year with online services for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur

by Tablet Magazine
Books for Kids With Anxiety

A recent spate of titles can help children struggling in our scary world

by Marjorie Ingall
A New Year Like No Other

As the High Holidays approach in the midst of an ongoing pandemic, synagogues rethink their offerings

by Paula Jacobs
Not Just a Justice, but Also a Mensch

What I learned about Ruth Bader Ginsburg in writing two children’s books about her

by Debbie Levy
Big Bird

The rise of the kosher chicken business in America

by Jenna Weissman Joselit
Zoom Mitzvahs

As parents plan bar and bat mitzvahs during the pandemic, a rite of passage is reimagined with new priorities to fit a new reality

by Paula Jacobs
How to Talk to Your Kids About Police Brutality

And how to talk to them about anti-racist protesting

by Marjorie Ingall
Our True Colors

Coming face-to-face with racism in the Jewish community

by Marra B. Gad
Civil Rights: The View From an Orthodox Yeshiva

Halachic thoughts on the present unrest

by Cole S. Aronson
What It Feels Like to Sit Shiva Alone

I wanted to be comforted by friends, and to hear stories about my dad. The COVID pandemic made that impossible.

by Jamie Betesh Carter
The Resilience of Rituals

Attending a virtual shiva, I saw how Jewish traditions still hold up under the most extraordinary circumstances

by Alanna E. Cooper
Missing My Dad’s Yahrzeit

When my shul closed during the pandemic, I lost the place where I usually commemorate my father’s death and say Kaddish for him

by Leonard Felson
Shul in the Time of Coronavirus

With COVID-19 pushing synagogues to consider virtual gatherings, we should understand what it means to come together physically

by David Zvi Kalman
The Ethics of Takeout

How do we balance the seemingly contradictory virtues of supporting our local businesses and protecting workers during the pandemic?

by Marjorie Ingall
A Jew Named Christine

People say the darnedest things to us converts. Please stop.

by Christine Beresniova
Lessons From Jewish Sexual Law (in a Sexless Pandemic)

Judaism has something to say about enforced sexual separation, and not just for the Orthodox

by Merissa Nathan Gerson
Day School Bullies

I was ridiculed and physically abused for being the wrong kind of Jewish boy. As a result, it took decades to come to terms with my identity.

by Aaron Hamburger
My Crushes on Rabbis

My youthful admiration for religious teachers, and my desire to please and even emulate them, ultimately helped me connect with myself as a Jewish adult

by Alter Yisrael Shimon Feuerman
Among the Mourners

As a woman, I felt left out of Jewish mourning rituals after my father died. Thirty years later, I found a new place where I finally feel like I count.

by Anna El-Eini
Sex and the Religious Girl

Growing up in a religious family where premarital sex was forbidden and sex wasn’t discussed, I wasn’t taught how to deal with the dangers I’d face

by Yona Rose
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Cancel Culture

Who’s worked up about it, and why

by Marjorie Ingall
The Best Jewish Children’s Books of 2019

This year’s list features culinary espionage, dragons, and a purse shaped like a french-fry takeout box

by Marjorie Ingall
Judaism During—and After—the Pandemic

Social distancing has, in a way, allowed us into each other’s homes more than ever. Will being apart end up bringing Jews together?

by Micah Streiffer
My Nonbinary Journey

After years of confusion around my gender identity and sexuality, I realized I wasn’t gay or bisexual, or a man or a woman. And as I led my congregation through Yom Kippur services, I finally showed up as myself.

by JB Levine
The Boys of Summer

When my father disappeared, I was left with questions. Decades later, I found some answers—in a book about baseball.

by Debby Waldman
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Inventing the Karaites

A story of historical forgery and fraud that saved a Jewish community from conscription and death, at the price of their authentic history and faith

by Daniel J. Lasker
About Time

How early modern European calendars changed Jewish conceptions of time

by Anthony Grafton
The Dagger of Faith in the Digital Age

by Ryan Szpiech
Smuggling Jewish Refugees in Key West

How the Caribbean became a stopping point for the American journey of so many Jews

by Arlo Haskell
Jewish Self-Government in Europe Was Not Just a Dream—It Was a Failure

The Council of Four Lands was the central body of Jewish autonomy in Poland for nearly two centuries. What went wrong?

by Moshe Rosman
The Rebellion Against Rashi

New scholarship captures the fierce but failed attempt to dethrone Judaism’s preeminent biblical commentator

by Eric Lawee
The Jewish Exiles Return to Germany

by Jürgen Habermas
Jan Gross’ Order of Merit

The groundbreaking scholar of Polish anti-Semitism is caught up in a toxic new nationalism that seeks to edit shameful persecution of Jews out of history

by Anna Bikont
A Mighty Empire Brought Down by Plague

We have seen this story before, says Kyle Harper’s brilliant ‘The Fate of Rome’

by Edward N. Luttwak
Regaining Jerusalem

Jewish slaveowners celebrate Passover in 17th-century Suriname

by Natalie Zemon Davis
Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Who Cares About a Matchmaker, Anyway?

by Ephraim Kanarfogel
Q&A: Noam Chomsky

The world’s most important leftist intellectual talks about his Zionist childhood and his time with Hezbollah

by David Samuels
Is It Permitted to Flee the City?

The coronavirus creates an unsettling tunnel in time between 21st-century New York and the world of 16th-century rabbis

by Tamara Morsel-Eisenberg
‘Yeah, Yeah’: Eulogy for Sidney Morgenbesser, Philosopher With a Yiddish Accent

by David Shatz
How Think Tanks Became Engines of Royal Propaganda

What their French origins, and their waning and rising relevance to the power structures over the centuries, say about the new Washington

by Jacob Soll
The Jewish Jesus Story

In the mysterious and controversial ancient Hebrew text ‘Toledot Yeshu,’ a counterlife of the Nazarene ‘bastard, son of a menstruant’ that criticizes Jews as much as Christians

by Eli Yassif
Safed Kabbalah and Renaissance Italy

How Lurianic mysticism made its way to Europe—and back to the Middle East

by Moshe Idel
The State of Emergency as a Paradigm of Government

Is the ‘state of exception’ now the rule?

by Giorgio Agamben
A Beast of Unknown Origins

The surprising Jewish origins of the animated character who taught a generation of Soviet children to be good communists

by Maya Balakirsky Katz
Urban Sephardic Culture in the Ottoman Empire

by Yaron Ben-Naeh
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Hydroxychloroquine: A Morality Tale

A startling investigation into how a cheap, well-known drug became a political football in the midst of a pandemic

by Norman Doidge
Medicine’s Fundamentalists

The randomized control trial controversy: Why one size doesn’t fit all and why we need observational studies, case histories, and even anecdotes if we are to have personalized medicine

by Norman Doidge
What Hasidic Communities Can Teach Us About Fighting the Coronavirus

For Hasidic residents of Brooklyn’s Crown Heights, having a doctor who understands their culture can be a matter of life and death—especially in the age of COVID-19

by Eli Reiter
Diabetes, the Jewish Disease

Did turn-of-the-century Jews suffer disproportionately from diabetes, or was the early research anti-Semitic? An excerpt from a new history.

by Arleen Marcia Tuchman
Human Sacrifice and the Digital Business Model

Debates over free speech ignore the deeper problem: The tech monopolies that control social media have built their profit model on burnt offerings to the digital platform god

by Geoff Shullenberger
Plague as Punishment

On the eve of Tisha B’Av, a rumination on how we experience our worst misfortunes as punishments, and how some move from that to self-punishment and then to punishing others

by Norman Doidge
Will Fast, Cheap, and Plentiful Energy Be a Legacy of Los Alamos?

The atomic bombing over Japan 75 years ago today marked the beginning of an era we are only now fully coming into

by Khaled Talaat
Vera Rubin, Astronomer

The influential Jewish scientist, who would have been 92 today, now has an observatory named after her

by John Tuttle
Koshering Your IVF Embryo

How a ‘mashgicha’ religious fertility supervisor watches over lab eggs and sperm to make sure there are no mix-ups

by Amy Klein
Google Censorship Is a Danger to Public Health

The monopoly platform’s new policy of disappearing documents at odds with the expert opinion of the moment is both sinister and stupid

by Jacob Siegel
The Science of Risk

Who knows best how to avoid harm?

by Steven Landsburg
Viral Math

For hundreds of years, mathematical epidemiology has helped us understand how diseases spread and what treatments will be effective against them

by Fred Brauer
Do Jews Carry Trauma in Our Genes? A Conversation With Rachel Yehuda.

by David Samuels
→︎
Up next
Yom Kippur
Sundown: 10:44 PM
3 days, 21 hours, 1 minute until sundown

What is Yom Kippur? Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is when Jews fast and ask forgiveness for the sins they committed in the past year and for ones they’ll inadvertently commit in the new year to come.

When is Yom Kippur? In 2020, Yom Kippur begins at sundown on Sunday, September 27, ending at sundown on Monday, September 28.

What's it all about? Yom Kippur is the most awesome of all Jewish holidays. We mean that literally: The very last of the Days of Awe, the 10-day period beginning with Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur marks the sealing of the Book of Life and with it our fates for the coming year. Jews—even some who cheerfully ignore other holidays—fast, repent, confess, and do their best to unload themselves of their sins and get on the Almighty’s merciful side. Yom Kippur occurs on the 10th day of the seventh month.

Any dos and don'ts? The Mishnah, in tractate Yoma 8:1, is very clear on the don’ts: no eating or drinking. No wearing leather shoes. No bathing. No anointing oneself with perfumes or lotions. And no sex. The Bible itself, interestingly, mentions nothing about these prohibitions. Leviticus 23 only forbids us from doing work and tells us to afflict our souls, not our bodies. After the destruction of the Temple, the exile from Zion, and the writing of the Talmud, the holiday’s focus shifted from the High Priest and his purification rituals to the responsibility of each and every Jew to atone for his or her own sins. And while the connection between a gurgling stomach and a reflective mind may be lost on some, it is worth noticing that Yom Kippur is the only fast day on the Jewish calendar that is not observed in commemoration of some historical tragedy, but rather designed purely to allow us to take leave of earthly distractions and focus on our sinful souls. On the do side, it’s customary to wear white to symbolize one’s purity. To the same end, many Orthodox men dip in the mikveh the day before Yom Kippur for extra cleansing, which is probably not a bad idea given the prohibition on baths.

The holiday’s liturgical highlight is perhaps the most fascinating, controversial, and thrilling of all Jewish prayers, the Kol Nidre, which is recited to usher in Yom Kippur. Aramaic for “all vows,” Kol Nidre releases those who recite it from all of the vows they will make from the current Yom Kippur service until the same service in the next year. (This, by the way, wasn’t always the case: It was Rashi’s son-in-law, Rabbi Meir Ben Samuel, who changed the prayer from the past to the future tense, wishing to stress that its potency was not in retroactively releasing us from our past vows, but rather from future ones, a much more powerful proposition.) It, too, has its beginnings in ancient Israel, where the making of vows was so much the trend that the Torah made a point of warning people against making God a promise they couldn’t keep: “When thou shalt vow a vow unto the Lord thy God,” says Deuteronomy 23, “thou shalt not be slack to pay it; for the Lord thy God will surely require it of thee.” What, however, of those who made a vow and couldn’t keep it? They required a special rite of absolution freeing them from their word. Such a vow—called hattarat nedarim, or the undoing of vows—finally came into being. The other major prayer is the Ne’ilah. Hebrew for locking, it is recited at the end of Yom Kippur and concludes with a long blowing of the shofar. With this, tradition has it, the Gates of Heaven are locked, our opportunity to atone over, and our fate determined.

Learn more about Yom Kippur →︎
Sukkot
October 2, 2020Sundown: 10:36 PM
Shemini Atzeret Simchat Torah
October 9, 2020Sundown: 10:24 PM
Hanukkah
December 10, 2020Sundown: 9:29 PM
Christmas
December 25, 2020Sundown: 9:34 PM
Tu B’Shevat
January 27, 2021Sundown: 10:08 PM
Purim
February 26, 2021Sundown: 10:43 PM
Passover
March 27, 2021Sundown: 11:19 PM
Shavuot
May 17, 2021Sundown: 12:18 AM
Tisha B’Av
July 18, 2021Sundown: 12:31 AM
Rosh Hashanah
September 6, 2021Sundown: 10:59 PM

Our True Colors

Coming face-to-face with racism in the Jewish community

by
Marra B. Gad
May 05, 2020
Chloe Cushman
Chloe Cushman

In April 1970 I was adopted as a 3-day-old infant by a white Jewish couple from Chicago. My biological mother was unwed, white, and Jewish; my biological father was black. For my new parents, it was love at first sight, despite not knowing at that moment what the world had in store for them and me. Growing up, I was told I was not “black enough” in black spaces; in Jewish spaces, I was often mistaken for the help, asked to leave, and worse. Eventually, my parents had two biological children and together, our nuclear family drove away the racism that not only came from the outside, but also from within our extended family, which is something that I wrote about in my recently published memoir.

As a part of my book tour, I was invited to speak at the Union for Reform Judaism Biennial Conference in my hometown of Chicago. As a longtime member of the Reform movement, I considered the invitation a great honor and gladly accepted, knowing that I’d be going home. Literally and figuratively.

Being raised in Chicago in the 1970s was an adventure for everyone in my city. Chicago is a deeply segregated city to this day, and our neighborhood was almost exclusively white. My brown face stuck out so much that people would often stop my parents on the street to ask if I “was theirs.” At our synagogue it was certainly no different. Mine was the lone brown face in a sea of Ashkenazi faces for years. But in spite of the twisted spotlight clearly on me, I grew up as engaged as a Jewish child could be.

I was president of the synagogue youth group. Vice president of the Chicago Federation of Temple Youth. President of my confirmation class. I was a camper and on staff at OSRUI, the URJ’s camp in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. But that did not stop the whispering. The rumors. The disdainful question of “what I was” asked so constantly that it led to rumors so painful that they still sting when I recount them. Perhaps the worst was that my mother had been raped by a black man, and that’s why I “look this way.” I heard that rumor for the first time at religious school on a Sunday morning when I was 7 years old. And it remains with me to this day.

Everywhere I went, I remained conspicuously brown. But I was as “in” as an outsider could be, and I did my best to ignore the whispers about my Afro, and the fact that no one would dance with me at bar and bat mitzvah parties, and I threw myself into being the ultimate Reform Jewish overachiever—right down to considering both rabbinical and cantorial school toward the end of college.

If in the 1970s and ’80s people talked about my family and me behind our backs—although often loudly enough for us to hear them—in my adult years people have become directly confrontational in their racism and ignorance. That has only increased with the advent of filterless social media posting and in our current climate, where people seem to feel free to say absolutely anything that is on their minds at all times.

Even in very liberal Los Angeles, where I now live, I have had a series of horrific experiences, most often when I try to attend synagogue. Many assume that people are so “liberal” in L.A. that I would not have a problem. But each time that I have ventured into a Jewish space in L.A., including on Rosh Hashanah morning this past year, I have been treated like an alien—right down to being told to my face that I am viewed as a threat at this time of increased and violent anti-Semitism because people don’t know me. When I point out that 99% of the time, those who violently attack synagogues are white men, and then ask why I, as a biracial woman, would be viewed in the same light, I am met with silence. Because the racist answer is one that no one wants to volunteer.

With all of that said, in the last few years the Reform movement has been at the forefront of talking about the need to make sure that we are both behaving in the most welcoming way to everyone who spends time in the community, and in speaking openly about racism. And so, I truly believed that, as an honored guest at the Biennial, whose photograph was featured prominently on the event homepage, I would not have to worry. I believed that, this time it would be different.

But, from moment one, things did not go as any of us had hoped they would.

When I went to pick up my credentials at the conference hotel, I was told that the “real” Marra Gad needed to pick up her badge. And when I replied that I was the real Marra Gad, I did not receive an apology. Instead, the person behind the desk said, “Really!?”

I was eventually given my very bright orange badge that clearly said PRESENTER across the bottom but that did nothing to prevent the avalanche of racist, intolerant, ignorant behavior that followed.

I was assumed to be hotel staff. Twice. While wearing my bright orange badge. And told that I needed to do more to get room service orders out faster.

I was repeatedly and incredulously asked, “What are you doing here!?” And when I replied that I was a featured speaker on Shabbat afternoon, I was then asked what I could possibly have to speak about.

I ended up in an elevator filled with attendees who whispered about me like I wasn’t there. What was I doing there? And, again, what could I possibly be presenting about?

And one of the main themes for the Biennial was about diversity, and how important it was to expand our tent to include everyone.

Stared at. Confronted. Whispered about. And assumed to work for the hotel. It all grew so uncomfortable for me to be out with the general population that I had to be escorted from place to place by URJ staff, who saw for themselves the looks that I received simply being in the hallways. When others were at Friday evening services, dinner, or a song session, I was in my hotel room alone. Crying. Because I did not feel comfortable and safe being out with my own people.

I shared these stories during my Shabbat afternoon session, and while most people asked very thoughtful questions and were empathic and supportive, as a final moment, a woman forcefully interrupted the discussion to share what she had been thinking about the entire hour. She used her time to turn everything around on me, stating clearly and without apology that I could have made it all better for myself had I chosen to confront the people in the elevator and explain myself. Create comfort for them. I should have made it a “teachable moment” and taught them that I was Jewish.

In the days that followed, I received hundreds of messages from well-intentioned people asking if rest had helped to “put it behind me.” And whether the many messages I received “erased what happened.” I also received notes saying that I should heal “quickly” so that I can “move on” because there is work to do.

I received private emails saying that the woman who believed that it was my job to have done better with the horrible people who I encountered was simply being ignorant. That she just “didn’t understand” and that I shouldn’t be so outraged.

And all of this further upset me. A lot. To spend time swimming in this level of racism, intolerance, and aggression was traumatic for me. For my family, who attended my session, to see me get attacked in the room was horrifying. And it felt like people just didn’t understand how tremendously painful all of this really was.

And then, two of my trusted friends who are rabbis and with whom I was discussing all of this suggested that most people really don’t understand what the experiences at Biennial felt like for me. Because they cannot. Because it would not happen to them. Because they are white. And I am not. And for a moment, that made sense.

But, as I continue to consider the question, I would offer that Jews should absolutely understand because of what it feels like to be on the receiving end of anti-Semitism.

Racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, anti-other-isms are all abuses of the soul. And to be on the receiving end of it is a trauma. One that Jews, and so many others, know very well.

Jews know what it feels like to be stared at. Whispered about. Not made to feel welcome. To feel unsafe.

If someone aggressively says that we Jews can do better in the face of anti-Semitism and puts it back on us—which, as we know, happens—we are outraged. We don’t chalk it up to them not understanding and let that soften the experience for us.

We do not “move on” and put anti-Semitism behind us. Ever. Nor should we with racism.

While the many supportive messages that are received after anti-Semitic attacks are wonderful, they do not erase the incidents because nothing can or will. It works the same way with racism.

While I will heal, the events of Biennial have been added to the already large canon of stories that I carry as a part of my human experience. They will never go away. And I carry tales of anti-Semitism and racism in my personal library every day.

Two weeks after the Biennial, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the URJ, posted a public statement on Facebook, in which he said he was “deeply sorry for each painful encounter” I had in Chicago, and urged Reform Jews to “commit to anti-racism and other active forms of fighting oppression.” He continued: “We must all acknowledge that racism isn’t only ‘out there somewhere.’ Racism lives as well in our Jewish communities, and it lives in each of us. We can’t work to dismantle structures of racism in our society until we acknowledge that. The change we are tackling requires our commitment to go very deep at the very moment when hate, bigotry, and racism are being fomented all around us. This change we desperately need will not happen quickly but what’s at stake is our integrity as a Jewish community.”

I believe that a big part of finding the solution to any problem lies first in fully acknowledging that the problem exists, and Rabbi Jacobs’ statement was terribly important because he did just that. And he did so publicly. That he also apologized was another very important moment for me and for every other person who has experienced the things that I did at the Biennial, because it is something that almost never happens. We who are marginalized do not receive acknowledgements. We do not receive apologies. And that, too, is a big part of perpetuating the pain and lifespan of racism in our community.

While this took place at a Jewish event, it could have happened anywhere. It is happening everywhere. I am one person and this is my story, and it is told through my lens of being biracial and Jewish, but there are many other decidedly similar stories just like mine out in the world. And that should unite us.

After posting about my Biennial experience on Facebook, I received dozens of phone calls and emails from friends and strangers alike sharing their stories of the trauma of being other-ed in the world today. For being LGBTQ. For being an immigrant. For being Muslim. For being a refugee. For their uniquely-abledness. Certainly for being of color.

I said in the room that, while we clearly have a profound intolerance problem both in the Jewish community and in the world at large, the discussion is about far more than people of color and how we are treated. It is about all of us and how we treat one another. The Torah teaches us that we are all created B’Tzelem Elohim—in the image of God, which speaks to the sacredness in one another simply because we are human and we are here. But we are clearly not treating one another as if that is something that we hold as true.

It should not be hard for any of us deemed “other” in today’s world to put ourselves in another’s shoes, for our stories all have the same resilient heartbeat. We are, in my mind, one community. Not other. And truly, the majority.

And if each of us individually takes a moment to see how very alike we are and how easily we can show empathy to our community at large because our stories are so very much the same, we will create a wave of civility that celebrates the humanity in us all. A wave that cannot be stopped by the few who simply don’t get it. If I could choose one good thing to happen because of the conversation that we have been having in the aftermath of my Biennial experience it would be this.

Marra B. Gad is a film and television producer, and the author of The Color of Love: A Story of a Mixed-Race Jewish Girl.