The New Jerusalem Is Crumbling

From the Pilgrim founders to Donald Trump, ‘a belief in the exceptional role of an American nation’

by Bernard-Henri Lévy
John Kerry Was Right About Terrorism in 2004, and Donald Trump And His Generals Are Wrong

‘Afghanistan is the swamp and Trump now owns it’

by Lee Smith
Joe Biden Needs a Kshama Sawant Moment

Biden must show he can stand up to the toxic wokeness that dominates elite institutions—including a significant segment of his own party—in order to unite the country

by James Kirchick
Biden and the ‘Russiagate’ Theorists

Why Joe Biden is the perfect candidate to withstand mad Trumpian conspiracies

by Paul Berman
Missing You

by Jules Feiffer
There Is No Defense For Trump’s Remarks Covering for Neo-Nazis

Just compare what the neo-Nazis said in Charlottesville to what Trump said in response

by Yair Rosenberg
The Post-Pandemic Mind

Who will command the emerging new order: conservative nationalists, digital theoreticians, or social-democratic and liberal internationalists?

by Paul Berman
Jews Drinking Coffee and Watching the Republican Convention

Rolling commentary on the Republican National Convention, as it happens

by Tablet Magazine
Jews Drinking Coffee and Watching the Democratic Convention

Rolling commentary on the Democratic National Convention, as it happens

by Tablet Magazine
The Supreme Court Matters Like Never Before

Is it now a legislature?

by Michael Lind
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
The Woke and the Un-Woke

How American politics is fast becoming a religious conflict between a hegemonic new faith and its multifarious foes

by Matthew Schmitz
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Opening the Gates of Jewish Study in the Soviet Union

In Memory of R. Adin Even Israel Steinsaltz

by David Rozenson
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
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
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
Will Self

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

by Mardean Isaac
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
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
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
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
A Park Bench in Manchester Tells Me a Story

And I tell it one back

by Howard Jacobson
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
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
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
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
Mourning RBG

On Yom Kippur, 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
Book of Names

On Yom Kippur, learning to let go

by Joanne Jacobson
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
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
An Erroneous Diagram in the Vilna Shas

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

by Eli Genauer
The Remarkable Story of ‘Shtiler, Shtiler’

On the anniversary of the liquidation of the Vilna Ghetto, how one of the era’s most famous Jewish songs was written by an 11-year-old boy

by Aviad Te’eni
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
Smuggling Jewish Refugees in Key West

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

by Arlo Haskell
Regaining Jerusalem

Jewish slaveowners celebrate Passover in 17th-century Suriname

by Natalie Zemon Davis
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
Q&A: Noam Chomsky

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

by David Samuels
The Jewish Exiles Return to Germany

Jürgen Habermas recalls philosophers and sociologists of Jewish background as returnees in the early Federal Republic Of 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
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
‘Yeah, Yeah’: Eulogy for Sidney Morgenbesser, Philosopher With a Yiddish Accent

As his 10th yahrzeit nears, a remembrance of Sidney the teacher, Sidney the humorist, Sidney the arguer, Sidney the Jew

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
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
Urban Sephardic Culture in the Ottoman Empire

An overlooked golden age of Jewish culture flowered in the cities of Istanbul, Edirne, Salonica, Izmir, Aleppo, Damascus, Baghdad, Cairo, and Alexandria—where almost no Jews live today

by Yaron Ben-Naeh
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
Sundown: 10:36 PM
3 days, 7 hours, 38 minutes until sundown

What is Sukkot? The year’s first harvest holiday, Sukkot celebrates the pilgrimage Jews made to the Temple in Jerusalem, bearing fruits and sacrifices. Traditionally, people build temporary dwellings—sukkahs—eating and sleeping in them during the holiday.

When is Sukkot? In 2020, Sukkot begins at sundown on Friday, October 2 and ends at sundown on Friday, October 9.

What's it all about? Sukkot is without doubt the most action-packed of all Jewish holidays. We’re commanded to build a temporary dwelling, take our meals al fresco, shake special tree branches, and so on. This, in part, has to do with the fact that Sukkot (together with Shavuot and Passover) is one of shloshet ha’regalim, or the three festivals of pilgrimage, occasions on which the ancient Israelites traveled to Jerusalem and worshipped at the Temple. This means it’s both a religious and an agricultural celebration, calling for all manner of ritual.

The holiday, the Bible instructs us, is to be celebrated “at the end of the year when you gather in your labors out of the field,” after you’ve gathered your harvest “in from your threshing-floor and from your winepress.” Sukkot, then, is the time to survey—and give thanks for—the land’s bounty, a classic agricultural feast for a classic agricultural society.

But, Jews being Jews, the here-and-now of nature itself is nothing without history, and Leviticus makes it clear that the festival is also a time to commemorate the Israelites’ triumphant past: “You shall live in booths seven days,” it reads. “All citizens in Israel shall live in booths, in order that future generations may know that I made the Israelite people live in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt.” To hark back to our times of wandering, Jews are commanded to take all their meals in the sukkah, Hebrew for booth or hut.

This temporary reminder of our temporary dwelling in the desert, however, needn’t be just a solemn occasion to contemplate our historical hardships. Another key Sukkot tradition is welcoming ushpizin, or guests, into our sukkah. This custom, too, is not without its bit of religious significance: As the holiday lasts for seven days, we welcome in seven symbolic guests: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph, and David.

While the first two days of Sukkot are considered the holiday proper, the following five are referred to as Hol Hamoed, or the weekdays of the festival. During these days, none of the holiday’s religious restrictions apply, but Jews are forbidden from strenuous work and are commanded to use that time for enjoyment.

What do we eat? Unlike other holidays, there are no specific foods uniquely associated with the holiday. That said, because Sukkot celebrates the harvest, some people like to prepare seasonal vegetables and very often they decorate their sukkahs—in which it is a mitzvah to take meals—with gourds, strung popcorn, and other food stuffs.

Any dos and don't? Perhaps the best known Sukkot custom involves the Four Species, or arba minim, as they’re known in Hebrew: a palm frond (lulav), myrtle tree boughs (hadass), willow tree branches (aravah), and a citron (etrog). Throughout the holiday, the four are held together daily and waved around daily along with an accompanying prayer, a commemoration of a similar ceremony practiced by the Temple’s priests in the ancient days.

Learn more about Sukkot →︎
Shemini Atzeret Simchat Torah
October 9, 2020Sundown: 10:24 PM
December 10, 2020Sundown: 9:29 PM
December 25, 2020Sundown: 9:34 PM
Tu B’Shevat
January 27, 2021Sundown: 10:08 PM
February 26, 2021Sundown: 10:43 PM
March 27, 2021Sundown: 11:19 PM
May 17, 2021Sundown: 12:18 AM
Tisha B’Av
July 18, 2021Sundown: 12:31 AM
Rosh Hashanah
September 6, 2021Sundown: 10:59 PM
Yom Kippur
September 15, 2021Sundown: 10:44 PM
Minneapolis, May 28, 2020KEREM YUCEL/AFP via Getty Images

Hub City Riot Ninjas

A young overclass gets dressed up to join the burning

Michael Lind
June 02, 2020
Minneapolis, May 28, 2020KEREM YUCEL/AFP via Getty Images

What is behind the riots? The violent riots emerging from peaceful protests that have swept liberal, Democratic big cities across the United States in the aftermath of the horrifying death of George Floyd in the custody of the Minneapolis police on May 25 can only be understood in the context of the evolving class structure of American and Western European society. In my recent book The New Class War and the essays on which it was based in the journal American Affairs, I have explained that in the United States and other North Atlantic democracies, the greatest geographic divide is between high-density hub cities and low-density heartlands. The riots are a hub city phenomenon—and so are their most striking participants, affluent young white rioters dressed like ninjas.

Most factories, warehouses, distribution centers, and new industrial structures like server farms are located in the low-density heartlands, along with industrialized agriculture and energy and mining. The class system in the heartlands tends to be more egalitarian, if only by default, because these regions have relatively fewer rich and poor people as a share of the population than working-class residents. Native-born white citizens are the majority in the decentralized exurban heartlands. However, contrary to the outdated equation of “urban” and “minority” and “poor,” most African Americans and Hispanic Americans belong to the working class and live in the suburbs, exurbs, and small towns.

The hub cities have a radically different social structure than the heartlands. At the top are affluent members of the managerial-professional overclass, which includes well-educated immigrants as well as natives. Their incomes vary, but people with college or post-graduate educations dominate the upper rungs of corporate management, finance, business and professional services, government and the nonprofit sector in hub cities like New York, Washington, San Francisco, Atlanta, Seattle, and Austin.

As young adults, the children of the overclass often spend their 20s in the same few cities, living in gentrified bohemian neighborhoods that used to be factory or tenement districts. Often as they work their way up the cursus honorum of their class, they benefit from elite apprenticeships in the form of unpaid or underpaid internships, which are not available to young people whose parents cannot afford to subsidize them.

The greatest social divide in the United States is that between the overclass with at least a four-year college education, about a third of the national population, and the working class whose education ends with a high school diploma and perhaps a few more years of education or vocational training, regardless of income. These broad categories can be broken down further.

In hub cities like New York and San Francisco, the overclass is divided between what might be called the upper overclass—the well-paid managers and professionals in business and finance—and the lower overclass—made up of civil servants like public school teachers and government administrators who accept modest salaries in return for de facto job tenure and good benefits, including public pensions.

The hub city working class is even more fragmented. Foreign-born immigrant diasporas provide much of the low-wage workforce. In New York and Los Angeles and San Francisco, between 30% and 40% of the residents are foreign-born. Some of these immigrants are self-employed and own businesses, but many of them work as menial domestic servants, health aides or insecure gig workers without fixed schedules or employer-provided benefits.

Minneapolis, May 28, 2020KEREM YUCEL/AFP via Getty Images

In addition to immigrant diasporas, in many American cities there are pockets of concentrated African American poverty. Many of their residents are descendants of people who migrated from the rural South between WWI and the 1960s to work in industries that no longer exist or have been offshored to other regions of the United States or other countries. Following deindustrialization, many of these families have lacked the resources to move. Trapped in derelict neighborhoods, they suffer from a lack of employment, poor access to amenities like stores, and local organized crime, in addition to the effects of real but gradually diminishing racism in American society as a whole.

Finally, what might be called the “upper working class” in hub cities is dominated by a different group of public servants, particularly police, first responders, and jail and prison guards. This stratum of the working class increasingly is racially diverse. Law enforcement officers tend to be from working-class families, but are unionized and tend to earn more and have better benefits than low-income immigrant workers or the native urban poor. In some parts of the country the police and fire fighters can afford to live in low-end suburbs and commute to work in the cities.

The two groups that dominate the public sector—the lower overclass of civilian public servants and the upper working class of law enforcement personnel and first responders—form a kind of human barrier between the mostly nonwhite poor and the mostly white economic elite in American hub cities. Public school teachers interact on a daily basis with low-income urban student populations, while many affluent whites, including elite progressives, put their kids in private urban schools or suburban schools. Meanwhile, police and first responders are summoned on a daily basis to deal with crimes and disputes in the poor urban neighborhoods.

These interactions between the native and foreign-born urban poor and the frontline public sector employees in big cities can create suspicion and hostility on both sides. In order to qualify for means-tested programs like food stamps and Medicaid, poor people have to deal with civil servants in bureaucratic agencies who are often burned out and indifferent. Police forces and jails and prisons have always attracted some bullies and criminals, and the stress and danger of their jobs brutalizes others. The populations that are means-tested and policed often feel under siege while those doing the means-testing and policing can feel disrespected and endangered.

Thus the kindling accumulates until it is ignited by some incident at the interface between the urban public sector and the urban poor. Usually a police killing or beating triggers an eruption of protest in a hub city. Even if the protest is peaceful at first, it is often hijacked by criminal gangs for whom it is an opportunity for looting. This was the story of major U.S. urban riots between WWII and the 21st century. (Most so-called “race riots” in the United States between the Civil War and WWII were different; they were violent pogroms by working-class whites against black competitors for jobs and neighborhoods, who were sometimes brought up from the South by industrial corporations as strikebreakers.)

Beginning in the 1960s and the ’70s, with the Weather Underground terrorists, and continuing in the 1990s, with “black bloc” vandals traveling around the world to smash office and hotel windows at global financial meetings, there has been a violent subculture on the radical left in the United States and Europe. For the most part, the members of groups like Antifa, the latest incarnation of the violent left, have always been the pampered children of the white overclass. Twenty-somethings who are poor and working class lack the money to buy fancy black ninja outfits and the leisure to spend time plotting in advance of demonstrations. This is nothing new; as a veteran ’60s leftist told me, “Your Mom and Dad had to have a lot of money, for you to take part in the Summer of Love.”

What is new about the nationwide riots of the last week that have followed the death of George Floyd is the convergence of these two previously separate streams—traditional urban riots in poor neighborhoods triggered by police-related incidents, and the ideologically motivated vandalism by young white members of the overclass in downtown districts. This convergence is the result of hub city gentrification.

The deindustrialization of the cities and rising real estate prices have forced most of the working class of all races out of hub cities into low-income suburbs and exurbs. The children of the white urban elite—some of them downwardly mobile for life, some of them just going through the underpaid intern phase of professional careers—have colonized rowhouses where workers once lived and have converted former factories and warehouses into settings for la vie bohème.

This group of 20- and 30-somethings in the new urban bohemia are the constituency for the new progressive left. Children of the managerial overclass join the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and engage in purges and cancellations on Twitter and move to Brooklyn on allowances from their parents. They demand that the billionaires be soaked to pay for socialism (translation: Mom and Dad need to increase my allowance).

Gentrification explains why there are so many white young adults, both ordinary protesters and anarchist vandals, compared to African Americans in the videos we see of protests and riots in big cities across the United States, compared to images of urban riots in generations past. Thanks to rising rents, young white leftists and liberals have been displacing the nonwhite working class and poor, many of them social conservatives, in places like Brooklyn and Oakland and Austin. While the initial occasion of a protest may be the death of a member of a minority group in police custody, affluent young white leftists are more interested in symbolic violence against capitalism or patriarchy or whatever.

These children of the economic elite end up harming those on whose behalf they pretend to be speaking. Like the upper-middle-class hippies of the 1960s who called police officers “pigs,” today’s affluent hipsters despise the police, many of whom are their age but are more likely than leftist radicals to be from working-class backgrounds and to be nonwhite. Slogans of elite radicals like “Abolish the Police and Prisons” and comparisons of the Border Patrol to the Gestapo are insults to the unionized, working-class Americans of all races employed by those institutions.

Dressing up as revolutionaries like children on Halloween, the sociopathic heirs of the overclass, already living in neighborhoods from which the working class was forced out by economic privation, take part in the vandalization, looting, and burning of local businesses, many of them owned by immigrants or members of minority groups. If they get arrested, the fortunate among them can count on being bailed out after phone calls to their indulgent liberal or moderate conservative parents, who live in expensive, nearly all-white urban and suburban neighborhoods and denounce racism and fascism on their Facebook pages.

It will take years for the American hub cities damaged by the riots, along with the pandemic and the lockdown, to recover, if they ever recover. The black poor and working class first had their urban industrial jobs taken away from them by corporate executives in the white overclass who offshored them to Mexico or China. Then they were replaced in their former urban neighborhoods by the hipster children of the white overclass. Now even their grievances like protests against horrific police brutality are stolen from them by their supposed allies in the white overclass and turned into an occasion for virtue-signaling or vandalism by the elite.

Many of today’s big city riot ninjas will look back in the future with pride on their nights of prancing around in black leotards and spraypainting “BLM” and “Fuck Trump” on downtown buildings. A decade from now, the most successful will have well-paying jobs, many of them in the politically progressive sectors like the universities and NGOs. The unlucky ones may still be working at Starbucks—perhaps at the very stores whose plate glass windows they once spray-painted or smashed.

Michael Lind is a professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and a fellow at New America. His latest book is The New Class War: Saving Democracy from the Managerial Elite.