Fall 2017

Fall 2017
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Letters, Fall 2017

Toxic Brew, Open And Shut?, Grudge Match, and Fundamental Principles


Is Repentance Possible?

And should we add a confession on Yom Kippur “for the sin of opening browser windows of distraction”? On Aristotle’s akrasia and Maimonides’s teshuvah.


Businesswomen Before Bar Kokhba

Why did a Jewish woman living 30 years (around 135 C.E.) after a set of real estate contracts were executed and with no obvious connection to the named parties have them in her satchel when she fled Ein Gedi?

What If Everyone Is Right?

What If Everyone Is Right?

From the Great War to the Cold War

The facts of Hans Kohn’s life are so extraordinary that it almost seems as if the first half of one remarkable figure’s biography had been spliced together with another’s in the second part.

Patriotism and Its Discontents

While many Jews embraced the Russian revolutionary cause from the very beginning—four of the seven members of the first Bolshevik Politburo were Jews—the revolution did not embrace them for long.

The Lowells and the Jews

Robert Lowell, the most famous poet in America, icon of the antiwar movement, consummate Boston Brahmin, was especially glad to speak with a Jewish group because, he drawled, “I’m an eighth, you know.” 

Swimming in an Inky Sea

Ilana Kurshan, a hyper-literary, ideologically egalitarian, hopeless romantic (in her words), doesn’t fit the typical profile of a Daf Yomi participant.

Perish the Thought

 Bruno Chaouat dares to ask whether, given the moral autism of so many of Theory’s luminaries when facing the basic political questions of our time, his own romance with it has been a similar waste.

Joseph the Righteous

But on the very night in 1737 that Joseph Süss Oppenheimer’s patron suddenly passed away, he, “his servants, and many other court officials were arrested, and soon a special inquisition committee was convened in order to investigate the court Jew’s ‘atrocious crimes.’”

Journeys Without End

For some three decades Lionel and Diana Trilling shared a limelight that was not quite identical but never entirely separate.

Straying from the Fold?

Are typical Jewish converts ensnared in the nets of Protestant missionaries “swindlers, thieves, drunkards, whores, schlemiels, schlemazels, nudniks, and no-goodniks”?


Afghan Treasure

Sometime in the 11th century, a distraught, young Jewish Afghan man named Yair sent a painful letter to his brother-in-law. Life had dealt Yair a tough hand, or maybe it was just his own bad choices.

“Where They Have Burned Books, They Will End Up Burning People”

The surprising source for Heine’s prophetic remark that “where they have burned books, they will end up burning people” is a play about the fate of Muslims in Christian Spain.

Upon Such Sacrifices: King Lear and the Binding of Isaac

How Shakespeare helps us think about the akedah, and vice versa.

The Arts

Like an Echo of Silence

Lea Goldberg’s poetic voice didn’t project outward; it drew the reader in, inviting intimate conversation.

Lost & Found

Power and the Voice of Conscience: A Lost Radio Talk

On January 19, 1947 a young rabbi named Emil Fackenheim got behind a microphone to give a searing radio address about the Jewish refugees from Europe. He himself had been one only four years earlier.

Last Word

Distant Cousins

None of these four novels by American Jewish writers is fully at home in Israel—they’re more like Mars orbiters than rovers.

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