Ten Favorites from Five Years

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Introduction

 

Conservative Judaism: A Requiem

In 1971, 41 percent of American Jews were part of the Conservative movement. Today it’s 18 percent and falling fast. What happened? Maybe its leaders never knew what Conservative Judaism was really about.

Pro-Creation

Economist Bryan Caplan thinks parents “overcharge” themselves when it comes to investing in their children. Glückel of Hameln knew better.

Lincoln and the Jews

Lincoln encountered a surprising number of Jews in his life. Throughout, he seems to have treated them with the benevolence and absence of prejudice one would expect from the Great Emancipator.

A Stone for His Slingshot

In 1948 screenwriter Ben Hecht lectured “a thousand bookies, ex-prize fighters, gamblers, jockeys, touts,” and gangsters on the burdens and responsibilities of Jewish history. The night at Slapsy Maxie’s was a big success, but the speech was lost, until now.

With Words We Govern Men

In November 1975, US Ambassador to the UN Daniel Patrick Moynihan launched an empassioned battle against the “Zionism is Racism” resolution. A new book on the subject spurs memories of working with him at that historic moment.

Neither Friend Nor Enemy: Israel in the EU

After five years at the European Parliament, the author reflects on Israel’s place in the discourse of the EU’s chattering (and legislating) class.

The Poet from Vilna

Avrom Sutzkever and Max Weinreich, a memoir.

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.

A Tale of Two Synagogues

Frank Lloyd Wright built a dazzling temple outside Philadelphia. Too bad he didn’t look closely at the synagogue of Gwoździec, Poland, built two hundred years earlier.

Salsa and Sociology

When I was a child, eight or nine, I evolved a theory about different kinds of Jews, based, more or less, on the hot sauce we kept on our table.

 

Suggested Reading

Manufacturing Falsehoods

Manufacturing Falsehoods

Jeffrey Herf

An immense echo-chamber has been built, and the line is always the same: Israel is not allowed to be a country like any other.

A Golem in Argentina

A Golem in Argentina

Henry Gonshak

When an indigenous Argentine woman falls in love with a golem, her grandmother creates a love potion to win the golem’s (perhaps non-existent?) heart. What could possibly go wrong?

In Memory of Judah Maccabee

In Memory of Judah Maccabee

Allan Arkush

That Judah, the great victor of the Hanukkah story, ultimately died fighting the Seleucids is something that surprisingly few Jews know. And were the Maccabees actually underdogs?