Special Sections

The Worst Case

On every front — from the Muslim Brotherhood to the White House — Israel’s back is against the wall, argues the author.
Special To The Jewish Week
05/31/2011 - 20:00

From an Israeli standpoint — and this is a non-partisan, across-the-board situation — the Middle East is heading toward crisis and disaster.

Just to list developments that are clearly happening is quite worrisome. The fact that the U.S. government doesn’t understand this long list of factors, nor do European governments, nor does almost all of the Western mass media, makes the problems far larger.

Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie. The group’s inclusion in the Egyptian parliament is of deep concern in Israel.

Nurturing Democracy

With so much hanging in the balance, an American Jewish leader weighs hopes and fears.
Special To The Jewish Week
05/31/2011 - 20:00

I want to be an optimist about the upheaval in the Arab world and where it’s headed. In fact, I desperately want to be hopeful.

After all, if things were to go in the right direction, then an entire region could at long last begin to savor the blessings of flourishing democracies and the protection of human rights. In turn, that could create an atmosphere conducive to peaceful conflict resolution and its potential aftermath, fruitful coexistence and regional development.

Steering Clear Of History, For Now

With all the turbulence around it, and caught between risk and opportunity, Israel should stand pat, argues a veteran of the peace process.
Special To The Jewish Week
05/31/2011 - 20:00

In the wake of the Arab Spring and winter sweeping the Arab world, Israel would be wise to keep its hopes and fears under control. There’s a great deal about these popular uprisings and those yet to come we obviously don’t know. With the devolution of authority comes confusion and the devolution of information as new players and old ones reconfigured step on the stage. It would be smart and prudent not to draw too many hasty conclusions.

Crossed out in Cairo: Egyptians in Tahrir Square as they called for the ouster of Hosni Mubarak. getty images

Israel Now June 2011

Navigating the Arab Spring Essays by Aaron David Miller, Gidi Grinstein, David Harris and more.
05/30/2011 - 20:00
Israel Now June 2011

Journal Watch

05/23/2011 - 20:00

The Jewish place of worship: shul, beit knesset, the Reform “temple,” the Karaite kenesa, beit tefilah — and the synagogue. Whence this odd-sounding word? Vaguely Greek? Not “vaguely” at all. The Greek word synagogé means “assembly,” and the word indeed reflects what has been a central function of the Jewish house of worship for centuries, if not millennia.

Mushroom Synagogues

A brief history of shul competition, money, political lobbying and the High Holy Days.
05/23/2011 - 20:00

On Aug. 17, 1930 the Jewish Daily Bulletin announced that the rabbis of New York City were declaring war. Their enemy was not anti-Semites, nor assimilation, nor any of the other typical suspects for rabbinic enmity. The object of their campaign was “the mushroom synagogue.”

ANDREA STRONGWATER,  Lvov, The Temple (built 1884-45), 2008, painting.

Paned Expressions

Though a bit tarnished, the Abstract Expressionist windows at Brooklyn’s Kingsway Jewish Center still glimmer.
05/23/2011 - 20:00

There is no shortage of synagogues in Brooklyn. Many are beautiful and some are unusual, but most are unknown except to their congregants. In order to help protect this heritage of often aging religious buildings, the New York Landmarks Conservancy embarked in 2006 on a project to survey them.

PHOTO by Samuel D. Gruber www.samgrubersjewishartmonuments. blogspot.com

House Divided

The history of the synagogue in America, a new book shows, is one of rifts, splits, factions and the ever-evolving tension between tradition and modernity.
05/23/2011 - 20:00

A Jew is shipwrecked on a desert island. Ten years later, a passing ship notices his campfire and stops to rescue him. When the captain comes ashore, the castaway thanks him profusely and offers to give him a tour of the little island. He shows off the weapons he made for hunting, the fire pit where he cooks his food, the synagogue he built for praying in and the hammock where he sleeps. On their way back to the ship, however, the captain notices a second synagogue. “I don’t understand,” the captain asks.

Mixed Seating, 2004. PHOTO by michael datikash

Foreign Implants

Immigration and the art of shul-going.
05/23/2011 - 20:00

My father’s shul of choice, a Modern Orthodox congregation, was located a mile from our home, in the school auditorium at the Yeshivah of Flatbush. The men and women were separated by a mechitzah, a partition. I would sit with my friends and chat, as my father did with his, as people do in Orthodox shuls. We talked about the World Series. My father and his friends would tell Yiddish jokes, and argue about Zionism and biblical philology.

ANDREA STRONGWATER,  Nuremburg synagogue on Hans Sachs Platz (built 1874), 2009, painting.

A Shul Where Everyone Knows Your Name

Growing up as the rabbi’s son at the only synagogue in town.
05/23/2011 - 20:00

One Yom Kippur day during my teen years in Annapolis, Md., just after the Musaf service, an elderly member approached me in the lobby of the synagogue.

She wanted to know how old the youngster was who had just joined his father and uncle for the first time in blessing the congregation with the Birchat Kohanim, the priestly benediction.

“He just had his bar mitzvah,” I told her.

1953 graduation:Rabbi Morris Rosenblatt, the author¹s father, served four decades as a chaplain at the U.S. Naval Academy.
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