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Burning Churches in Israel

Earlier this summer, in the spot on the Sea of Galilee traditionally hailed as the site of Christ’s feeding of the five thousand, the Roman Catholic Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes in Tabgha, Israel, was torched in an arson attack. And as of Thursday, three young right-wing Jewish men—Yinon Reuveni, twenty, Yehuda Asraf, nineteen, and Moshe Orbach, twenty-four—have been indicted on suspicion of responsibility. Continue Reading »

Walzer's Paradox

The Paradox of Liberation: Secular Revolutions and Religious Counterrevolutions by michael walzer yale, 192 pages, $26 Michael Walzer’s name is associated with the summons to undertake social criticism that is engaged: that is, rooted in actual circumstances; cognizant of real people’s wants, . . . . Continue Reading »

The Mantle of Elijah

Many think of Modern Orthodoxy as a tepid compromise, Orthodoxy Lite, an accommodation with the values of bourgeois culture, satisfied with mediocrity in the study of Torah and half-hearted about the demand for single-minded commitment to God and His commandments. From the 1930s through the 1980s Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik represented the alternative: an Orthodoxy centered on the service of God even while engaged with and concerned for the rest of humanity, deeply, almost obsessively devoted to the traditional study of Torah even while confronting and learning from the liberal arts. Until this week his son-in-law, Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein, was the most prominent exponent of that ideology in Israel, where he was Dean of Har-Etzion Yeshiva, and in the United States, where he frequently lectured and exercised influence via his many disciples. For all his admiration and faithfulness to his masters, R. Aharon fashioned his own distinctive intellectual agenda, while conducting his life with rigorous piety and an ethical sensitivity that had to be seen to be believed. I was a student of both, and now they are both gone. (Link: http://haretzion.org/about-us/rav-aharon-lichtenstein-ztl) Continue Reading »

#WeAreN

As a kid growing up in Evangelical churches, I would occasionally hear about the ultimate in Christian travel—the Holy Land tour. And the tour would be followed up some months later by a slide show showing where its members had gone. The slides featured ancient stone buildings, panoramic views of Jerusalem, and sunglass-wearing Americans standing atop of the Mount of Olives with the golden Dome of the Rock in the background. But I don’t remember anyone ever talking about the Christians living there. There were pictures of churches, sure, but did anyone actually go to church there? Continue Reading »

A King in Israel

Israel is a Jewish state but has not succeeded in defining just what that means in a national constitution. Although the 1948 Declaration of Independence called for the enactment of a constitution within months of the state’s inception, nothing has been achieved beyond a fragmentary “Basic . . . . Continue Reading »

Realigning Jewish Peoplehood

On July 22, 2007, the New York Times ran an article by Harvard law professor Noah Feldman on the repercussions of his marrying outside his Jewish faith. The article, entitled “Orthodox Paradox,” details how Feldman, a Yeshiva day-school graduate, Rhodes scholar, and all-around Jewish wunderkind . . . . Continue Reading »

Fighting the Good Fight

God’s War: A New History of the Crusades by christopher tyerman belknap, 1,040 pages, $35 Not too many years ago, single-volume histories of the Crusades were a rarity. Bookstores were crowded with volumes on the Civil War or World War II, but there was little on medieval battles fought in . . . . Continue Reading »

Letter from Jerusalem

To come to Jerusalem from Paris, or even Tel Aviv, is to succumb to the uncanny feeling that one has left the center of the West, or even its periphery, and delved into what used to be called the mysterious East. In part this is owing to the bar of the Sonesta Hotel, where I’m staying, while . . . . Continue Reading »

June/July Letters

The Question of Anti-Semitism  I enjoyed very much reading the editorial “Jews, Christians, and Anti-Semitism” (March), imbued as it is with a generosity of spirit and deep faith . . . . I appreciated the clarifying statement that to care about Jews and Judaism is to care about Israel. . . . . Continue Reading »

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