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Matt Drudge Logs Off

The Drudge Report has become a conformist shadow of its formerly bratty, oppositional self. Why?

by Armin Rosen
The Office Space Apocalypse

The era of massive densely packed urban office towers is over for good. What will take its place?

by Joel Kotkin
Muslims Not Only Survived, We Thrived

The last four years saw unprecedented civic participation by and social acceptance of American Muslims

by Zaid Jilani
Happy Thanksgiving, Auntie Besserwisser!

Forget talking politics, eat turkey

by Michael Lind
Joe Rogan Is the Aleph

The massively popular podcast host provides a glimpse into Borges’ ‘multitudes of America’

by Jacob Siegel
The Great Repair

Americans want life to feel normal again. It’s been a while.

by Peter Savodnik
Muslims Not Only Survived, We Thrived

The last four years saw unprecedented civic participation by and social acceptance of American Muslims

by Zaid Jilani
A Clown’s Funeral

The Odessa-born comedian Mikhail Zhvanetsky was the Seinfeld of everyday Soviet misery and humiliation. His last joke came from beyond the grave.

by Vladislav Davidzon
The Work-Pleasure-Surveillance Machine Threatens All of Us

What happens when our homes become our employers’ offices?

by Justin E.H. Smith
The Revenge of the Yankees

How Social Gospel became Social Justice

by Michael Lind
Israeli Oppression Comes to Durham

The city council’s 2018 vote on Israel left many local Jews feeling unwelcome. Is it the new normal across midsize-town America?

by Sean Cooper
Young Love

Thirty-year-old lawyers throwing bombs are ‘just kids,’ while 12-year-olds are prosecuted for ‘racism.’ How youth went from a stage of human development to a protected political class.

by Kat Rosenfield
The WASP Roots of the Social Justice Movement

The ideology is nothing less than the Anglosphere’s first modern authoritarian political movement

by B. Duncan Moench
Why the American Press Keeps Getting Terror in France Wrong

Who are the victims, and who the perpetrators?

by Caroline Fourest
Anti-Semitism in America

The new AJC report shows growing and broadening anti-Semitism, but also broad recognition of the trend

by Armin Rosen
Stop Being Shocked

American liberalism is in danger from a new ideology—one with dangerous implications for Jews

by Bari Weiss
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
The Loneliest Hatred

Why anti-Semitism and conspiratorial theories claiming that ‘Black people are the “real Jews”’ thrive in a time of racial reckoning

by John-Paul Pagano
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
Stop Being Shocked

American liberalism is in danger from a new ideology—one with dangerous implications for Jews

by Bari Weiss
The Supreme Court Matters Like Never Before

Is it now a legislature?

by Michael Lind
Empire of Emperors: What Is China, and Why You Should Worry About It

An excerpt from David Goldman’s new book: ‘You Will Be Assimilated: China’s Plan to Sino-Form the World’

by David P. Goldman
How China Is ‘Sino-Forming’ the Planet

David Goldman’s new book rings an urgent alarm on China’s plans for global takeover but misses the communist regime’s vulnerability

by Gordon G. Chang
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Year Zero

The age of the machines demands its own samizdat

by David Samuels
Hard & Hardardt

Thanksgiving Fiction: This is how Jack Warner celebrates in America

by Leslie Epstein
Some Childhood Memories of My Friend Danielle

Australia was as far from the horrors of Europe as she could get, and yet that wasn’t far enough

by Shira Nayman
It Takes a Village

A French television drama shows courage in depicting the true scope of the country’s crimes during the Holocaust, which it then washes away in a bizarre assertion of moral equivalence

by Michael Oren
My Emails About André

A conversation about André Gregory’s new memoir, ‘This Is Not My Memoir’

by Rachel Shteir, Matthew Fishbane
The Artist Formerly Known as Guston

The late painter, now mired in a controversy not of his own making, is remembered by Art Spiegelman and his old friend Archie Rand as an uncompromising Jewish artist

by Jake Marmer
The Dharma of David Ben-Gurion

Two European Jewish refugees helped remake the landscape of the possible through their friendship: One was the first prime minister of Israel, and the other was a Buddhist monk

by Shalom Goldman
The Virus and My Friend Bernard

Q&A with Bernard-Henri Lévy

by David Samuels
Dostoevsky’s Demonologies of Terror

What the Russian novel’s account of cosmic evil says about radical terrorism

by Val Vinokur
A Zek Remembers Stalin’s Camps

A new foreword to Julius Margolin’s stunning, recovered memoir of the gulag

by Timothy Snyder
The Language of Privilege

The jargon and weird abstractions are central to the birth of a new elite, which uses the language of wokese as a barrier to entry

by Nicholas Clairmont
The First Day I Was Happy in America

Tablet Original Fiction: An immigrant’s tale

by Julia Fermentto
The Flagellants of the Western World

Like God, colonialism is invisible and omnipresent, responsible for everything that happens on Earth

by Pascal Bruckner
The Golden HYFR

Drake comes of age

by Thomas Chatterton Williams
The Jewish Auden

The poet’s philo-Semitism and visit to Jerusalem had a profound influence on him, and on Yehuda Amichai

by Shalom Goldman
Will Self

The half-Jewish English writer’s new drug memoir, ‘Will,’ dives from Hampstead Garden Suburb into an underworld

by Mardean Isaac
An In-Person Report From a Virtual Film Festival

Binging documentaries while under quarantine in Haifa offers a much-needed window into a country that can feel unreal

by Izabella Tabarovsky
The Afterlife

Alexander ‘Sasha’ Pechersky led a successful prisoner revolt at the Sobibor death camp. His story of extraordinary courage was also the story of millions of Soviet Jews who lived and died in a country that refused to acknowledge their fate.

by David Bezmozgis
Double Exposure: Jean-Pierre Melville

The ambiguities and darkness of Nazi-occupied France propelled him to flee his country, take a new name, fight in the Resistance, and then invent film noir. But the past continued to haunt him.

by Adrien Bosc
Michel Houellebecq’s Toxic New Novel of an Islamist France

by Marc Weitzmann
Cruelty & Perversity: Postprandial Reflections on the PEN Protesters

by Paul Berman
The Charlie Cover

Slander, ridicule, and terror in post-1968 France

by Paul Berman
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Orthodox Women’s Groups Adapt to Pandemic Restrictions—and Thrive

Online offerings have driven up attendance for women’s religious services and Torah-learning sessions

by Nomi Kaltmann
Remembering Rabbi Jonathan Sacks (1948-2020)

One of world Jewry’s most influential leaders and communicators passed away over the weekend, leaving an incalculable void

by Yair Rosenberg
Make America an ‘Eruv’ Again

Why the Talmud’s most notoriously difficult tractate is a perfect guide to our contemporary political moment

by Dovid Bashevkin
‘Let Justice Roll Down Like Waters’

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

by Micah Streiffer
‘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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Growing Peace in the Middle East

American Jews can help Israel and the entire region by strengthening the Abraham Accord. And please, come visit us.

by Hend Al Otaiba
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 Emperor’s New Clothes

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

by Michael Doran
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
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
The Aboriginal Rights of the Jewish People

Do the Jewish people have legal ‘rights of entry, sojourn, and settlement’ to the land of Israel?

by Allen Z. Hertz
Are Jews Indigenous to the Land of Israel?

Yes.

by Ryan Bellerose
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
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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In Search of Lost Fish

Kapchunka was once a staple of Jewish appetizing stores. Today it has nearly vanished. So I set off on a journey across New York to taste what I’d been missing.

by Andrew Silverstein
New Ideas Pop Up on the Jewish Food Scene

As restaurants face an uncertain future, chefs get creative

by Flora Tsapovsky
The Lost Taste of Tiberias

The ancient Israeli city’s distinctive culinary heritage draws from Arabic, Sephardic, and Ashkenazi traditions

by Janna Gur
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
How Cranberries Found a Place at the Jewish Table

A New World fruit has been incorporated into Old World recipes, with sweet (and sour) results

by Leah Koenig
Green Bean Casserole’s Jewish Pedigree

This traditional Thanksgiving side dish was the creation of food writer Cecily Brownstone. With a small update, it’s perfect for your holiday table, even if you keep kosher.

by Leah Koenig
How To Make the Ultimate Turkey and Stuffing for Thanksgiving

Make a traditional American holiday feast, with a recipe for stuffing that brings Jewish flavors to the table

by Joan Nathan
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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The Necessity of Exile

What good is the Diaspora? Here are two important views, from unexpected places.

by Shaul Magid
Mourning RBG

Trying to learn life lessons from the Supreme Court justice

by Marjorie Ingall
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
Curtain Raisers

How attending live theater became an important part of the American Jewish communal experience

by Jenna Weissman Joselit
Will the Coronavirus Wedding Model Outlive the Coronavirus?

The pandemic turned 300-person hotel weddings into 10-person backyard affairs. Some newlyweds say it was for the best.

by Marie-Rose Sheinerman
BDS Without Campus

The landscape that nurtured a movement shuts down, leaving activists on both sides wondering whether the debate will cool down—or get hotter

by Max Krupnick
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
In Defense of Wokeness

Awaking to systemic racism is good for America, good for the Jews, and just plain good ethical behavior

by Carly Pildis
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
Why the Right Is Obsessed With Cancel Culture

Who’s worked up about it, and why

by Marjorie Ingall
Books for Kids With Anxiety

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

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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My Great-Grandfather, Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Lamport, Author of ‘Piskei ha-Gra’

With some of his writings being reprinted for an Orthodox audience, my relative’s scholarly achievements are revealed

by Natalie Zemon Davis
‘Piskei ha-Gra’

Published in the final years of Tzvi Hirsch Lamport’s life, the four-volume work is the culmination of his research into rabbinic literature, and puts in print the rulings and traditions of the Gaon of Vilna to the entire Shulchan Aruch

by Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Lamport
The Real History of the Mennonites and the Holocaust

The story of war refugee Heinrich Hamm’s anti-Semitic and anti-Bolshevik involvement with Nazism betrays the Christian denomination’s upstanding reputation for humanitarianism

by Ben Goossen
Recognizing Jewish Rescuers of Jews During the Holocaust

Memorial institutions are finally working to redress an imbalance in the numbers of Jews versus non-Jews hailed for their heroism in defense of victims of the Shoah

by Patrick Henry
The Politics of the Pale

Are Jewish politics as they exist today a result of our Russian past?

by Joshua Meyers
Four Scholars of Jewish Philosophy

The recent deaths of Michael Schneider, David Brézis, Michael Zvi Nehorai, and Gabriella Elgrably-Berzin signal the passing of an era of excellence

by Warren Zev Harvey
A Comforter and Friend on the Front Lines

How Rabbi Harry Richmond viewed his historic role as a chaplain in the U.S. Army

by Naomi Sandweiss
A Scholar of Kabbalah

How I left Romania for Israel and learned to study without preconceptions

by Moshe Idel
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
The American Jewish Soviet Experience

A conversation with Natan Sharansky, author of ‘Never Alone: Prison, Politics, and My People’

by Izabella Tabarovsky
How ‘The New York Times’ Helped Hide Stalin’s Mass Murders in Ukraine

Journalism doesn’t have to stifle the truth in the service of fashionable causes and personal narcissism. It’s a choice.

by Izabella Tabarovsky
About Time

How early modern European calendars changed Jewish conceptions of time

by Anthony Grafton
The Rebellion Against Rashi

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

by Eric Lawee
What Comes After Liberalism

An excerpt from Bruno Maçães’ new book, ‘History Has Begun,’ explores the emerging ‘virtualism’ of America's post-liberal society

by Bruno Maçães
Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Who Cares About a Matchmaker, Anyway?

Opposing rabbinic conceptions of marriage and matchmaking in Ashkenaz and Sepharad

by Ephraim Kanarfogel
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
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
An Erroneous Diagram in the Vilna Shas

A comparison of multiple Talmudic editions provides a bibliographical solution to an interpretive quandary

by Eli Genauer
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
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A 20th Century Jewish Life

Scientist, Zionist, man of nature: My father, the biologist Jacob Biale, represented all the possibilities of Jewish American life

by David Biale
The Hybrid Forest

A Q&A with Moshe Shtrauch, whose idea for a solar-powered farm system might make the deserts bloom

by David Samuels
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
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
Wuhan Denialism

Dismissing the possibility that COVID-19 escaped from a lab in China as ‘a conspiracy theory’ is bad science

by Khaled Talaat
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
Hanukkah
Sundown: 9:29 PM
12 days, 16 hours, 21 minutes until sundown

What is Hanukkah? Hanukkah, aka the Festival of Lights, celebrates the rededication of the Second Temple in the 2nd century BCE and the Maccabees’ uprising against the Greeks.

When is Hanukkah? Hanukkah 2020 begins at sundown on Thursday, December 10, ending at sundown on Friday, December 18.

What's it all about? Hebrew for “dedication,” Hanukkah is an eight-day-long celebration commemorates just that: the purging and rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem in the 2nd century BCE after the Jews’ successful uprising against the Greeks.

Any bad guys? Absolutely: Antiochus IV, one the best villains in all of Jewish history. As his nicknames—“the Illustrious” and “Bearer of Victory”—suggest, the ruler of the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire was fond of waging war. He was engaging in that pastime in Egypt when a rumor circulated in the region that he’d been killed. Meanwhile, Jason, a Hellenized Jew who’d been deposed as the Temple’s high priest, heard of Antiochus’ death and saw an opportunity to reclaim his position, so he marched on Jerusalem with 1,000 men. Antiochus interpreted the clash in the holy city as a full-fledged Jewish revolt against the foreign rulers, and, in 167 BCE, he attacked Judea and punished its population by outlawing all Jewish rites and practices and mandating the worship of Zeus.

By so doing, most modern scholars agree, the king was simply intervening in an existing civil war between those Hebrews who called for a strict adherence to tradition and those, like Jason, who preached assimilation to Hellenism. Antiochus’ involvement, however, aggravated the internecine struggle and prompted the traditionalists to launch a genuine anti-Greek revolt, led by an aged priest, Mattathias the Hasmonean, and his five sons—Jochanan, Simeon, Eleazar, Jonathan, and Judah—the latter nicknamed HaMakabi, or the hammer, for his combat skills. Followers of the fighting family eventually became known as Maccabees. Two years later, led by Judah, the Maccabees succeeded in defeating Antiochus’ troops, recaptured the Temple, and set out to purge it of idols.

According to the Talmud, the Maccabees wished to light the Temple’s menorah, a traditional candelabrum that customarily burned through the night in Judaism’s holiest place, but discovered just enough oil to last for one day. Miraculously, however, the oil burned for eight days, a wonder we commemorate by lighting candles for eight nights.

Given its themes of Jewish nationalism and rebellion, the rabbis downplayed Hanukkah’s importance throughout the centuries in exile, fearing it might inspire their flock to imitate the Maccabees and take up arms. More recently, however, the holiday has experienced a renaissance: Celebrated on the 25th day of Kislev—and therefore usually falling somewhere between late November and late December on the Gregorian calendar—Hanukkah has emerged as a Jewish equivalent to Christmas.

Any dos and don'ts? The major ritual of the holiday involves lighting the hanukkiah, the proper name for an eight-flamed menorah, which should be completed each night no later than half an hour after nightfall (except on Fridays). The Talmud, in Tractate Shabbat, specifies that unlike Shabbat candles, Hanukkah candles must serve not for illumination but for the sole purpose of reflecting on the Hanukkah miracle. This is why we light them with another candle, called the shamash, meaning servant, and why we place them on a windowsill so they advertise the holiday’s miracle to the world entire.

There’s the tradition of playing with a dreidel, the Hebrew letters on which stand for “a great miracle happened there” (or, in Israel, “a great miracle happened here”). There is also the habit of giving gelt, or money, to children and young adults. Although there are several explanations concerning the origins of this custom, the most commonly held one dates to the 17th century and explains that with miracles and the elation of the historic victory on everybody’s minds, young, impoverished students would visit the homes of wealthy Jews and receive a few coins in return. More recently, nimble chocolatiers presented their own gold-foil-covered alternatives. Whether cash or cocoa, however, giving gelt fits in nicely with the overall spirit of December’s gift-giving mania.

Anything good to eat? It’s traditional on Hanukkah to eat fried foods like latkes and sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts)—a natural choice for an oil-themed holiday.

Learn more about Hanukkah →︎
Christmas
December 25, 2020Sundown: 9:34 PM
Tu B’Shevat
January 27, 2021Sundown: 10:08 PM
Purim
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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.