Fall 2011

Fall 2011
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Letters, Fall 2011

Hank Greenberg & Neo-Orthodoxy, or Non-Orthodoxy?


The Rebbe and the Yak

What do you do when your ancestor appears to you in a dream saying that he is trapped inside the body of a Tibetan yak? If you're the Ustiler Rebbe in Haim Be'er's new novel, you go to Tibet to find him, of course.

Drowning in the Red Sea

Gennady Estraikh said, "It is hardly an overstatement to define Yiddish literature of the 1920s as the most pro-Soviet literature in the world." When Arab riots killed 400 Jews in Palestine in late August 1929, the Yiddish communist press found itself torn between sympathy for the fallen and loyalty to the Revolution.


Kabbalah in 18th-Century Prague: A Response & Rejoinder.


Minhag America

Since the founding of the United States, the American "synagoguge" has survived as a flexible institution—some would argue, too flexible.

Next Year on the Rhine

Like Newport, Rhode Island, Worms, Germany is the quiet, waterside home to its country's most venerable synagogue—but the similarities stop there.

The Audacity of Faith

The career and life of Yehuda Amital—unconventional, unpredictable, and free of clichés.

King James: The Harold Bloom Version

  There may be a thousand facets to the Torah, but does Harold Bloom simply misunderstand the King James Bible?  

The Nation of Israel?

The case for an Israeli—not Jewish—republic.

Red Rosa

A newly published collection of letters shows a new, softer side of Rosa Luxemburg.

The Birthright Challenge

Eleven years and four books on, can Birthright Israel save diaspora Judaism?


At the Threshold of Forgiveness: A Study of Law and Narrative in the Talmud

In this season of repentance, it is not only the laws of the rabbis, but their stories as well, that teach us how—and how not—to forgive.

The Arts


Israeli director Joseph Cedar's new film Footnote was anything but that at the Cannes Film Festival, despite its setting in the Hebrew University Talmud department.

Freedom Riders

There is nothing subtle about the theme that runs throughout Philadelphia's National Museum of American Jewish History.

Yo's Blues

For Israeli artist Yoram Kaniuk, the bohemian world of Billie Holiday, Marlon Brando, and James Agee had a lot to offer, but not enough.

Lost & Found

What Is a Jew? The Answer of the Maccabees

In 1958, David Ben-Gurion sent a letter to fifty Jewish leaders around the world, asking, "Who is a Jew?" He had good political reasons to launch such an inquiry, and equally good reasons to expect answers or attempts at answers. Isaiah Berlin wrote back, and so did the Jewish scholar Alexander Altmann, the novelist S.Y. Agnon, and the Lubavitcher Rebbe, as well as many others. But Abba Hillel Silver, the prominent Reform rabbi and American Zionist leader who had represented the Jewish Agency before the United Nations a decade earlier, did not respond to Ben-Gurion's missive—not directly, anyhow.

Last Word


Harry Wolfson, Reinhold Niebuhr, and chutzpah.

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