History is being made! The first woman-written Torah scroll made its worldwide debut on campus last week. The Big Easy is getting ready for the biggest onslaught of Jewish college students in its history. Two Hillels have disappeared from the map and students want to know why. And students at two Israeli universities produced must-watch videos from Israeli universities that feature air-guitaring professors, Albert Einstein, underwater camera work, roller ballet and, yes, more. They’ll make you go Gaga.
Years ago, on a trip to Japan, I came across a swastika. Dozens of them, actually, in museums across the country. I was shocked, what Westerner wouldn't be?
No doubt this has happened to many Western travelers in Asia, and no doubt many have gotten the re-assuring answer from tour guides or friends: don't worry, it just means "good luck." Buddhists have been using it as a symbol for luck for more than 2,000 years.
Mario Vargos Llosa, the Peruvian writer who today won the Nobel Prize for Literature, was not Jewish. But he nevertheless often wrote about them: in "The Storyteller," (1989), about a Jewish anthropoligist in Lima who shacks up with a tribe deep in the Amazon; as a contributer to the Commentary; and, recently, as an outspoken critic of Israel.
Given his not infrequent association with Jews, it is worth asking what he actually thinks of them.
Google Images and YouTube videos are helping Jewish educators create new midrash and bring sacred meaning to age-old traditions. Rabbi Rachel Gurevitz created an innovative, interactive experience for the seven hakafot (circles) of Simchat Torah.
Her "Seven Dances for Simchat Torah in the YouTube Era" is available on the Sh'ma Koleinu website. Sh'ma Koleinu is an online center for spirituality and connection from Congregation B'nai Israel in Bridgeport, CT, which seeks to bring sacred meaning to convey something of the deeper meanings of the High Holy Day liturgy.
This past Sunday, the president of New York University issued a mass e-mail apology to students and staff. The day after Yom Kippur might sound like a sensible day for issuing apologies, but the question is whether John Sexton actually needed to make a Mea Culpa.
Robin Chotzinoff reflects in the August/September 2010 issue of Hadassah Magazine about how she observed the Aseret Yemei Teshuvah (the ten days of repentance) last year by answering a series of e-mail questions from 10Q. Ben Greeman, who launched the project in 2008 explains that "we tried to let people tap back into tradition, but without feeling like they have to pass an entrance exam."
In case you missed it, The New York Times snagged a quick but worthy Q&A with Woody Allen today, a week before his new film comes out. Allen told the Times' Dave Itzkoff that his film, titled "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger" and featuring Josh Brolin, Naomi Watts and Anthony Hopkins, was his way of exploring the nature of belief.
Reading the comments of many Jewish Week readers on the New York Islamic Center controversy, I can't help but wonder why so many fail to see the parallels between their views of Islam and traditional anti-Semitism.
A typical comment goes like this: “Don't you understand that Islam is not a religion, but a violent ideology bent on conquering the world and bringing its population under submission through Sharia law? Haven't you read the Koran?”