GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. (JTA) -- What’s Jewish about Valentine’s Day?
The day was first released from the purview of the Catholic Church in 1969, when Pope Paul VI declared that Valentine’s Day was no longer a saint’s day for universal liturgical veneration on the Catholic calendar. This restored Valentine’s Day to its original state, a traditional mating day of birds -- and humans -- in the English folk calendar.
Much has already been written about the letter signed by dozens of communal rabbis in Israel proscribing Jewish residents from renting or selling property to gentiles on halachic grounds. It is clear from the context of the controversy that the motivation behind this provocative step is the concern for the demographic makeup of neighborhoods in the north of Israel, fueled by the fear of a concerted effort to undermine Jewish majorities in those locales.
Israel is roiled once again in sad and needless moral controversy. Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu of Safed, son of former Israeli Chief Sephardic Rabbi Mordecai Eliyahu, and with the support of 49 other rabbis, has ruled that it is forbidden by Jewish law for Israeli Jews to sell land or rent property to an Arab.
‘Three Faiths: Judaism, Christianity, Islam’ at New York Public Library:
The joy, and the complexity, of text.
One approaches “Three Faiths: Judaism, Christianity, Islam,” a new exhibit of religious texts at The New York Public Library, with caution. The animating idea might cause you to roll your eyes at its surface naiveté: at a time of heightened tensions among Muslims, Jews and Christians, the curators suggest we should emphasize what we all share in common.
Q. While visiting a friend, I almost tripped on an expensive piece of electronics that was not where it was supposed to be - in fact, it was on the floor, sticking out into the hallway, posing a hazard. When I hit it, I heard an ominous "crack." Obviously I did it some real damage, although it was not immediately visible.
Just about a week ago, on Shmini Atzeret, many of us read in synagogue the book of Kohelet, known more widely to most as Ecclesiastes. People who know the book tend to regard it as more than a little cynical, and clearly, the author of the book- ascribed by tradition to King Solomon in his old age- had been around the proverbial block more than a few times. There was little that he hadn't seen, and he was sure that what he was yet to see would not be new to him. Ein hadash tahat hashamesh, he famously said- there is nothing new under the sun.
Jujubes once took center stage at Algerian Rosh HaShanah celebrations.
Special to the Jewish Week
The French-Algerian author Albert Bensoussan remembered a clear moment from his childhood during Rosh HaShanah. His mother, busily shopping in the Arab marketplace, let go of his hand for a brief moment. Little Albert was lost, with a cone-shaped news-paper filled with jujubes (pronounced juJOOB) in hand. To the young Algerian boy, jujubes were equivalent with Jews, right down to the alphabetical resonance.
The “prophet” Murray rails at the excesses of the Jewish community. The targets of the “prophet” Murray are garish bar mitzvah ceremonies, non-Jewish names stuck on Jewish children, and look-alike synagogue buildings. The “prophet” Murray also makes a case against the clannishness of Brooklyn.
The quotes around Murray’s title are more real than Murray is.
Two seemingly unrelated events that occurred recently made me think about how related they actually were. One was the death of the great Bible scholar Moshe Greenberg in Israel last month; the other was the publication of a new biography of the prominent American Zionist leader Abba Hillel Silver. Greenberg was born in 1928 and made aliyah in 1970; Silver was born in 1893, and though he helped found the State of Israel, he never settled there. Greenberg probably knew of Silver’s activities, but it’s unlikely the two ever met.