Letters, Summer 2021

Mitzvot and the Modern Dilemma; Tzuris Spoiled?; Hill 24’s Answer; Vilna Gaon, Zionist?


The Court Jew Who Hated Kings

In July 1492, three months after Spain published its edict of expulsion, Abravanel sailed with tens of thousands of other refugee Jews to Italy, where the history of Sephardi Jewry and its most illustrious leader resumed on somewhat friendlier grounds.

Foundation Stone

The meshichists remove the covering from Schneerson's red velvet chair because he will be sitting on it during prayer; they gaze at the spot where he is believed to be stationed; and they call him up to the Torah for aliyot, parting ways to make room for him as he “walks” up to the bimah.


Neumann’s kibbutz identity was part of his personal brand to such an extent that when puzzled onlookers spotted him walking barefoot on a Manhattan street, raising questions about his mental health, one of his publicists explained, “He is a kibbutznik.”

Jerusalem in Albion

The inclusion of Hebrew manuscripts was a priority for Thomas Bodley in 1598, when he began turning the university’s library into the institution of international and historic renown that would bear his name.


Margot takes in the whats and wherefores of Judaism but is never quite able to grasp the why: why someone would wish to be Modern Orthodox and live a life according to the strictures of traditional Jewish law.

The Essence of Dignity

On Shabbos Nachamu in 1935, shortly before the Nuremberg Laws were promulgated, Rabbi Leo Baeck sent out a message of comfort to all Jewish communities and regional organizations throughout Germany,…

The Arts

Of Synagogues and Seinfeld

It's an interesting time to open a museum that argues for the interconnectedness of the Jewish world since it is virtually impossible for non-Israelis to enter the country.

Memory Palace

“Dust comes from something. It shows something has happened, shows what has been disturbed or changed in the world. It marks time,” Edmund de Waal writes to the long-dead Moïse de Camondo.

Last Word

Heart Work

As a successful young novelist, my father had literary friends who now included Angus Wilson, Frederic Raphael, John Wain, and Isaac Bashevis Singer. All came to tea in my nursery. Stanley Moss, my godfather, went on to make a fortune from art dealing.

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