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Shai Secunda

“Shai Secunda is the Jacob Neusner Professor of Judaism at Bard College and a contributing editor at the Jewish Review of Books.”

Facing Faces

Facing Faces

Shai Secunda

Nearly every morning since October 7, I open my phone and look at the faces of the war’s most recent victims. I gaze at these portraits fearfully, searching for a…

Ruby Sees Red

Ruby Sees Red

Shai Secunda, Ruby Namdar

"I’m still trying to wake up from this nightmare. I walk in the streets. I see parents with babies. I can’t look. I walk in Riverside Park, I see an older man hugging his granddaughter, and I almost start crying. We have been forced back into Jewish history, into the bloody raw part of Jewish history."

Not Rain

Not Rain

Shai Secunda

"In shul, the Torah reader suddenly picks up his ringing cellphone, nodding as he is told to be ready within half an hour. Something inexplicable, tremendous, and terrifying is taking place. Not rain; war."

Sephardi Soap

Sephardi Soap

Shai Secunda

With the runaway success of the novel The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem, a television adaptation was all but inevitable, and the decision of Yes Studios to invest record amounts of cash in the show, while eyebrow raising, is also unsurprising.

Life in Learning

Life in Learning

Shai Secunda

The special relationship between Jews and learning has been endlessly documented. Yet these investigations have largely overlooked the textual communion that transubstantiates books and learning into the body and blood of Jewish experience.

Our Lady in Tehran

Our Lady in Tehran

Shai Secunda

In Tehran, the Mossad has orchestrated a complex and brazen operation as part of a last-ditch effort to cut the capital’s power supply so that the Israeli Air Force can take out Iran’s nuclear program

Rocketmen

Rocketmen

Shai Secunda

A brilliant and moving exhibit at the Israel Museum pairs the Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon, who died in the space shuttle Columbia explosion, with the obscure biblical gure Enoch, who was also an astronaut of sorts.

Quarried in Air

Quarried in Air

Shai Secunda

Sefer Yeṣirah is the most influential Jewish book you never heard of. Indeed, it has been argued that early commentaries written on the book tilled the gnostic soil out of which sprouted the tree of Kabbalah.

Sacrificial Speech

Sacrificial Speech

Shai Secunda

Just a few years after the publication of her Purity, Body, and Self in Early Rabbinic Literature, Mira Balberg has somehow managed to write another path-breaking work on another formidable and arcane section of rabbinic literature—sacrificial law.

Shababshubap

Shai Secunda

Black hat chic: Shai Secunda's review of Shababnikim, the new television show about cool yeshiva students.

Purity and Obscurity

Shai Secunda

When contemporary Jews of priestly lineage avoid cemeteries, when ordinary Jews wash their hands before eating, or immerse themselves in ritual baths, they are acting according to the dictates of an ancient system.

Desert Wild

Desert Wild

Shai Secunda

Zornberg’s sessions are deeply informed by traditional Jewish sources, especially the interpretations of classic rabbinic midrash and the homilies of Hasidic masters.

Common Clay

Shai Secunda

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.