the Jewish Week

Journal Watch

Special to the Jewish Week
04/28/2010

The Talmud — and everybody else — ponders the puzzling discrepancy between the two formulations in the Chumash with respect to the Sabbath. One iteration of the Ten Commandments (or “Articles”) in the Chumash uses the word shamor (“keep, guard”), while another uses zachor (“remember”) to describe the broad Sabbath requirement. These two locutions have been midrashically interpreted in different ways, in the broad range of halachic details that the Torah places under rubric of Shabbat.

When Shabbes And Shabbesdik Collide

Does stone-throwing count as work? How about Dylan in Hebrew?

Special to the Jewish Week
04/28/2010

Shabbes! Shabbes!! Has it ever struck you as odd, those scenes in Jerusalem of fervently Orthodox Jews blocking cars and throwing stones on the holy day, to protest its desecration? To you, this may seem absurd and repellent, a blatant violation of the tranquility of Shabbat. To them, it’s a matter of life and death, not just a lifestyle choice. In short: what is or isn’t shabbesdik — in the spirit of the Sabbath, in Yiddish — is very much a subjective affair.

AMERICAN JEWISH JOINT DI STRIBUTION COMMITTEE. Shabbat held in one of the dormitories for Jewish refugees.  Shanghai, China 1940

A Lonely Levantine Shabbat

In Cairo, the once-crowded Shar Hashamaim is restored, but there are almost no Jews left to pray in it.

Special to the Jewish Week
04/28/2010

 I make it a point to go to shul on Saturday morning, and that wasn’t going to change when I found myself in Cairo last summer. Yes, it is in an Arab country, but it is my Arab country, where I was born and where of late I have found myself traveling again and again. There is no one there for me — the 80,000 Jews who once lived in Egypt are pretty much gone, as are all my relatives. Cairo, to paraphrase Janet Flanner, was yesterday.

  david cowles, Ark at Ben Ezra, Cairo,1994.

Rally Here Slams Obama, Jewish Democrats

Organizers of rightist protest say Rep. Weiner asked to speak but was nixed.

04/27/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

As the rain came down Sunday and a crowd estimated at about 1,000 people listened to speeches, the organizers of a right-wing rally opposed to President Barack Obama's policies on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict fielded a request from U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Brooklyn and Queens).

Scene at Sunday rally, which drew an estimated 1000 people. Photo: Michael Datikash

CITYarts Draws Kids To Peace

04/27/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

Tsipi Ben-Haim is a woman possessed with a mission to bring art to inner city youth. As the executive and artistic director of CITYarts, she has created 260 projects in 37 years in urban areas around the globe that bring people together to create murals and mosaics and unique “peace walls.”

At an awards dinner at the Ana Tzarev Gallery in Midtown, the Israeli-born dynamo told 300 supporters that her group has painted a peace wall in the Jacob Schiff Park at 138th St. and Amsterdam Ave. There is also a new one in Karachi, Pakistan.

CITYarts director Tsipi Ben-Haim pays tribute to Amir Dossal at a benefit to empower children through art. Photo:Tim Boxer

We Grieve as We Have Loved

04/22/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

Though it is now almost thirty years ago, I still remember the first time I heard my esteemed predecessor in the Forest Hills Jewish Center, the late Rabbi Ben Zion Bokser, deliver a eulogy. In his closing comments, he said to the grieving family members that grief is the mirror image of love. That is to say, people tend to grieve according to how they have loved. The greater the love they had for the person who died, the greater the pain they feel.

It sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But the truth is that it’s anything but…

Congressional Hearing Tackles Anti-Semitism In Social Media

04/20/2010

(JTA) – Social networking sites present a new and dangerous medium for spreading anti-Semitism, panelists told a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee.

The April 14 hearing looked at the proliferation of hate speech through social media alongside such concerns as anti-Semitism being masked as anti-Israelism or anti-Westernism.

The Choice Is Ours

04/20/2010

The Talmud teaches, “Everything is in the hands of heaven except reverence for heaven (Berachot 33b).” In other words, there is much we do not choose in this world, but we do choose our posture toward what we are given. For a characteristically wise and elegant formulation of this, listen to the words of the superlative essayist, Joseph Epstein:

Who Gets Religious Custody in an Interfaith Divorce?

04/20/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

The case of little Ela Reyes raises many thorny issues about church/state entanglement, parenting in a multicultural world, and the challenge of religious pluralism. Ela’s parents, Rebecca Reyes (born Jewish) and her now ex-husband Joseph Reyes (raised Catholic, converted to Judaism, and now returning to the Church) found themselves in court over the issue of his right to bring Ela to church. Cook County (Illinois) Judge Renee Goldfarb ruled that Mr. Reyes has the right to do so. 

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