Talmud

A Feeling that Never Grows Old

01/07/2011
Special to the Jewish Week

There is an expression still used in modern Hebrew that is actually obsolete. I suspect that people still use it because it’s so wonderfully expressive. It is what Israelis say when someone finally “gets it,” when he/she actually understands what’s going on, and gets the point. The expression is “nafal ha’asimon:” the phone token has fallen.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

Folksbiene Connects To Tradition

12/29/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

The National Yiddish Theater/Folksbiene has come a long way in its 96th season. In fact, the highlight of its annual cabaret dinner on Dec. 8 at the Bohemian National Hall on the Upper East Side, were two African American actors who brought the house down with their versions of classical Yiddish medleys.

Elmore James, a veteran of five Broadway shows and the Metropolitan Opera, dazzled with “Es Brent” and “Ot Azoy.” Tony Perry, featured in the film “Mickey,” thrilled the audience with his rendition of “Vos Iz Gevorn.”

Marion and Elie Wiesel were honored by the Folksbiene at a cabaret dinner. Photo by Tim Boxer

Why LimmudUK Draws 2,000 People:A First-Hand Report

Coventry, England -- If you want to know why Limmud -- the grassroots, all-volunteer, non-denominational organization that fosters Jewish religious study, culture, history and more -- is now active in 55 communities around the world, come to LimmudUK, the granddaddy of them all.

The whole movement started here in England 30 years ago this week as an antidote for Jews who had little to do during Christmas week, when much of the country shuts down. Why not do Jewish together?

The Rental Controversy In Israel: A Time For Bold, Ethical Halachic Decision-Making

12/23/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

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.

‘Where There Is Wealth’

Ragtag Maccabees or conquerors with booty?
12/03/2010

Emma Lazarus, of Statue of Liberty fame, was an ardent Zionist. The second stanza of her “The Feast of Lights,” written for Chanukah, reads:

Remember how from wintry dawn till night,
Such songs were sung in Zion, when again
On the high altar flamed the sacred light,
And, purified from every Syrian stain,
The foam-white walls with golden shields were hung,
With crowns and silken spoils…

Antique Jewish coins, Bronze Prutah of the Procurator of Judea Antonius Felix, circa 52 to 60. Courtesy of Barakat Gallery.

My Shmooze With Rabbi Steinsaltz

I got the feeling that my extended hour with Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, late in the afternoon last Wednesday, was going to be more shmooze than interview when his assistant, on entering my office with him, asked if I would mind if the prolific scholar and author ate the chocolate rugelach she brought for him during our chat.

In that spirit, I prepared hot tea for them, and switched mental gears, relishing the opportunity to have a relaxing talk with one of the great Jewish minds of modern times rather than posing deep questions, especially since The Jewish Week’s Steve Lipman had written a major piece on the Jerusalem-based rabbi on the occasion of his having just completed a monumental, 45-year project to translate the entire Talmud into modern Hebrew, complete with vowels, punctuation and his own original commentary. (‘The Longest Translation,” Nov. 5)

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, JTA

Abraham’s Children: Alone, Together

‘Three Faiths: Judaism, Christianity, Islam’ at New York Public Library: The joy, and the complexity, of text.
10/26/2010
Staff Writer

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.

Or should we?

An Italian marriage contract, or ketubah, from 1782, featuring images of the Abraham’s Binding of Isaac.

The Long And The Short Of Conversation

10/19/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

Thousands of years from now, what will human conversation look like? Like the Talmud? A version of Wikipedia?

Last weekend I participated in two fascinating conversations that got me thinking about the future of conversation, and how both new technology and old Jewish ideas might give us a clue.

Daniel Schifrin

A Jewish Imperative to live in the Diaspora?

10/15/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

Living in caravans in a small settlement town during my years learning in Israel, my dream was always to settle the land. As a religious Zionist, I feel that living in Israel is a tremendous and miraculous opportunity, and all Jews can and must consider making this life transition as we are all very familiar with the halakhic obligation of yishuv ha’aretz, the religious obligation to settle the Land of Israel. I would like to suggest, however, that in addition to this well-known imperative, there is also a crucial duty to reside in the Diaspora.

Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz

Standing on One Foot

The Talmudic sage Hillel was more radical and welcoming than many realize.
Special to the Jewish Week
09/08/2010

I was sitting with a rabbinic friend swapping stories about our lives and our work. He started talking about an encounter he had recently had: “A Jewish man, probably in his early 30s, and his non-Jewish girlfriend came to speak with me. They want to marry, but his parents are dead-set against their only son marrying a gentile.

Photo by Allison Michael Orenstein
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