The Road to Nostra Aetate

Of all the documents of Vatican II, few have been more discussed and written about than Nostra Aetate. The official text, the shortest of the council’s documents, is only five paragraphs long, containing forty-one sentences. The fourth paragraph, on the Church’s relationship with the Jewish . . . . Continue Reading »

The Statute of Kalisz’s Great Legacy

During the Middle Ages and Renaissance, Christian rulers across Europe east and west persecuted and expelled Jews. While the papacy had denounced blood libel rumors, Christians from England to Crimea abused their Jewish neighbors, sometimes blaming them for the Black Death. In 1215, the Catholic Church decreed in the Fourth Lateran Council that Jews were to wear special clothing distinguishing them from Gentiles, and were to be segregated in ghettoes. In 1492, Queen Isabella the Catholic of Castile expelled the Jews from Spain. Seven hundred and fifty years ago today, the duke of Greater Poland, Boleslaw the Pious, issued one of the great exceptions to this pattern of persecution: the Statute of Kalisz. Continue Reading »

Reading Soloveitchik

The occasion of my first encounter with the theology of Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik was a reading group at my wife’s synagogue. We were then living in Lincoln, Nebraska, and Elihu Milder, the rabbi then serving at Tifereth Israel, organized a group to discuss Soloveitchik’s spiritual classic, Halakhic Man. 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 »

Is Jesus the Messiah?

It all depends what the meaning  of “is,” is.Is Jesus the Messiah now? Bloody unlikely. Whether your political rogue du jour is Obama or Palin, politicians lie, the elderly and sick die (panels or no panels), wars arise and end with predictable pace; how long does this ellipsis have . . . . Continue Reading »

Leviathan and the Jews

Sometimes it takes days, weeks, or even months for insight into the significance of an obscure text to gestate. And then sometimes it merely takes a serendipitous intersection of disparate sources. In The Star of Redemption, Franz Rosenzweig presented “Christianity” as a worldly . . . . Continue Reading »

A Kingdom of Priests; A Kingdom of Spirit

Rabbinical Judaism begins with three simple directives:  ”Be moderate in judgement, and raise up many students, and make a fence around the Torah.” The most difficult thing for a Christian to understand about Judaism is its concern with legal process, guided by a profound . . . . Continue Reading »

“Salvation is of the Jews”

...the sad thing is that you cannot be a Christian and take the Jews seriously at the same time. Or, if you can, it is a very very difficult thing to do… (Not Even the Rain, on Spengler’s Forum)The spiritual man is able to endure a duplication in himself; by his understanding he is able . . . . Continue Reading »