A Year in Review

The Year Ahead: The Lubavitcher Rebbe, 20 Years After

12/30/2013 - 19:00

Two decades ago, June 12, 1994, after years of messianic crescendo, controversy and genial outreach, the Lubavitcher rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, breathed his last. Like Joe Hill or Elijah, the rebbe became one of those characters that some say never really died, either literally or figuratively. The debate within Chabad over his messianism has become somewhat muted with the years, as the passage of time does its dulling. But one thing is beyond dispute: The rebbe is having one heck of an afterlife.

The late Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson.

The Year Ahead: Who’ll Have De Blasio’s Ear?

12/30/2013 - 19:00

Heading into the home stretch of 2013, the administration of Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio is just taking shape. It remains to be seen who, if anyone, will be appointed City Hall’s liaison to the Jewish community. More than half of Jewish voters supported the lanky liberal, Massachusetts-born former public advocate and city councilman in his landslide win. But like most other registered voters in New York City, a large share stayed home in the low-turnout election. And 44 percent went with his opponent.

Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio with incoming NYPD chief William Bratton. Getty Images

Part-Time Judaism

In the wake of Pew, the case against raising children in two faiths.

12/30/2013 - 19:00

As we look back on 2013, perhaps one article more than others jumps off the printed page. It is emblematic of where we are, particularly in light of the Pew Research Center study on American Jews. Susan Katz Miller wrote a controversial op-ed in The New York Times called “Being ‘Partly Jewish.’” She wrote about being part of a “growing movement” among parents to raise interfaith children with two religions. What these parents do is not news. But what is not insignificant in this piece is that intermarriage is called a movement. It is not a movement. It is a decision. Judaism has enough movements. What it lacks right now are passionate causes. And this is not one.

Erica Brown

The Year Inclusiveness Prevailed

Forget the Pew naysayers: A new, big-tent kind of Jewish community is being forged.

12/30/2013 - 19:00

The year gone by was a very good one for the Jewish people — and an even better one for the Jewish Message.

Joshua Hammerman

Biggest Sigh Of Relief Story: Weiner, Spitzer And Jewish Pride

12/30/2013 - 19:00

For centuries, Jews took pride in scholars and the saintly. When allowed to be financiers, we took pride in the Rothschilds and Montifiores, who supported Jewish causes. But pride in the 20th century underwent runaway inflation, with a cheapening of the currency.

New York magazine's Weiner-Spitzer composite was a monstrous, but somehow fitting, image for their candidacies.

Cultural Story of the Year: Zuckerman Silenced

12/30/2013 - 19:00

It came as a shock to fans and critics alike when Philip Roth, at the age of 80, announced he would henceforth cease and desist from the writing of fiction. After all, how could a writer who, for more than 50 years, had devoted his life to producing page after page of novels and stories that have never ceased to astonish — no one could break taboos and raise a ruckus like Roth; few could match his engagement with the Jewish experience in America or his dark wisdom in grappling with prejudice — wake up one morning and unplug the writing function from his computer as well as from his brain? 

Roth calls it quits at 80. Photo courtesy Reuters

Israel-Diaspora Story of the Year: Whose Western Wall Is It?

12/30/2013 - 19:00

In the U.S., 2013 was the year of Women of the Wall — and the organization’s 25th anniversary, to boot. The group advocates for the right of women to pray collectively and audibly at the Western Wall, one of Judaism’s holiest sites. Founded in 1988, WOW’s main tactic for two decades has been civil disobedience: the gathering of its members to celebrate each new month by holding a liturgically traditional service at the Wall. Over the years, the women have been negotiated with, reviled and harassed, most often by members of Israel’s ultra-Orthodox minority, which finds their presence offensive.

Runner-up Story of the Year: The Ties That Strain

12/30/2013 - 19:00

You could feel the fabric fraying from Jerusalem to Pennsylvania Avenue. Thanks to the prospect of a nuclear Iran, the ties between the U.S. and Israel were under more strain in 2013 year than in any year in recent memory. As the Obama administration pursued negotiations with Iran in an attempt to defuse the Islamic republic’s nuclear intentions, Bibi Netanyahu cried foul — long and loud. A nuclear Iran is an “existential” threat to Israel, he said, and a dangerous prospect as well to moderate Arab states like Saudi Arabia. He blasted the interim deal hammered out in Geneva as “a historic mistake.” And he put American Jews squarely in the middle of the fight at the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America, where he urged participants to lobby against their own country’s diplomatic position.

President Obama, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Getty Images

Story of the Year: Pew Study Rocks Community

12/30/2013 - 19:00

“The centre cannot hold,” Yeats wrote ominously in “The Second Coming,” in the wake of the First World War. That sentiment, applied to the fast-morphing demographics of the Jewish community, may be the chief metaphor of 2013. It’s certainly the takeaway from the Pew Research Center’s endlessly-talked-about survey of American Jewry, released in October.

Pew Study found that 22 percent of Jews now say they have no religion. Courtesy of Pew Research Center

The year in review 2013

Biggest Stories of 2013; Stories to Watch in 2014; The Year Inclusiveness Prevailed by Rabbi Joshua Hammerman; Pew and Part-time Judaism by Erica Brown

12/30/2013 - 19:00
A Year In Review 2014
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