Winter 2015

Winter 2015
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Letters, Winter 2015

With Friends Like These, Protective Edge, Cobwebs Cleared, & More


POLIN: A Light Unto the Nations

How is it that the largest public building to go up in Poland since that country regained its freedom, the first museum to tell the story of Poland from beginning to end, goes by the name of POLIN?


Common Clay

Virtually nothing of Babylonian Jewry of the talmudic period, from the 3rd to the 6th century C.E., has survived beyond the Babylonian Talmud itself to help contextualize or confirm the many things the text tells its readers.

Silence of the Lambs

Sacrifice is both foreign and familiar. Actually sacrificing an animal is difficult to imagine, and yet we continue to speak freely of sacrifice in connection with political and moral obligations.

Revealer Revealed

Earlier this year, an email announcement of a publication made its rounds among scholars of Jewish studies. Written in the flowery Hebrew of the Eastern European Jewish Enlightenment, the advertisement proclaimed that the work would “reveal all secrets.”

Fateless: The Beilis Trial a Century Later

The fame of Mendel Beilis—falsely accused of murdering a Christian boy in Russia 100 years ago—was lavish, if bitter and short-lived.

Why the Germans?

Was Nazi hatred of the Jews driven by envy of their economic and social success or rather by a fear of a perceived threat to German culture and identity?

Mashed Potatoes and Meatloaf

From overly familiar ingredients, Joanna Hershon has concocted something that is both satisfying and unexpected.

And How Do You Like Israel?

The Six-Day War marked a critical turning point in the evolution of the Western world’s attitude toward Israel.

Shifting Sands

Shlomo Sand believes that nations are, in the nature of the case, modern inventions, and that Israel is a particularly bad one.


Yiddish Genius in America

The great Yiddish poet Jacob Glatstein wrote two autobiographical novels and envisioned a third, set in America. Why didn’t he write it?

The Argumentative Jew

The most common understanding of disagreement, in the private sphere and the public one, is that it represents a failure.

The Arts

Is Beauty Power?

With charm, business savvy, and determination Kracow-born Rubinstein transformed herself from Chaja to Helena to “Madame.”


Thoroughly Modern Maimonides?: A Response

Kaplan writes that “one key statement . . . I would have liked to see Stern contend” with is “‘For only truth pleases God and only falsehood angers Him,’ [Guide 2:47] which implies that only truth, not the search for truth, is of value.”

Thoroughly Modern Maimonides?: A Rejoinder

To sharpen Stern’s point, we may say that the person who believes God literally gets angry metaphorically angers God.

Last Word

Accounting for the Soul

Mussar Yoga makes for a surprising deli combo platter of the spirit, even in our easy-going mix-and-match America.

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