Blogs

Unfit For The IDF

One reason the American military has resisted calls to reinstate a draft is that conscription often forces armies to deal with soldiers who not only don't want to be there and aren't committed to the cause but can be unfit for duty. While the Abu Ghraib affair shows that even volunteers can be unfit, for the most part it's the men and women who choose to defend their country and are committed to the skills and discipline of military life that contemporary commanders prefer to have on the front.

The Jewish Classroom, More Wired Than Ever

Also published in the Jewish Week's Fall Education supplement.

Many 30- and 40-year-olds will remember when a cart with a computer and monitor was wheeled into the classroom and students formed a single line waiting for a chance to use the device for a few minutes. Perhaps it was typing out a few lines of code in BASIC to move the cursor several inches along the screen, or perhaps it was creating an elementary art design.

Kindergarten through 2nd grade students at the Jewish Academy of Orlando will have new iPads this year.

Saudi Editorial: Iran Ignoring "Advice, Warnings And Requests"

An editorial in Saudi's Al-Madina (Aug. 15) gives some insight, from within the Arab world, to the news that the activation of the nuclear facility in Bushehr, expected to happen in the next week. The Saudi edit states:

On the Road to Love, Keep Your Eyes Ahead (And Don't Look Back)

"So, Avigail, how long have you been driving?" the Israeli driving instructor asked me, peering around his shoulder to look at me in the back seat.

The 17-year-old with the tzizzit and pimples was behind the wheel.

"Oh, only 22 years," I said, adding it up on my fingers.

"What are you saying?" the instructor asked.

I'm shocked, too. Believe you me. Because I first learned to drive in 1988 at Highland Park High School. (Highland Park, Illinois, people!)

If Christopher Hitchens Met Primo Levi, Would They Agree About God?

Yes. That's the answer given by Damon Linker in a fascinating essay at TNR.com. To play a bit of catch up first: last week, writings by (and more important, images of) Christopher Hitchens ripped through the Internet relating to his recent diagnosis of cancer.  The discovery earlier this summer forced the author to abruptly cancel the book tour of his new memoir in order to undergo treatment. 

But he emerged last week, first posting an essay about his bout with the cancer and radiation treatment at VanityFair.com; then later in a video-blog interview with The Atlantic Monthly's Jeffrey Goldberg.

Much of the media chat since then has turned to the question of whether Hitchens, an outspoken atheist, would show a little mercy and perhaps accept God.  His answer has been an emphatic "No."  And even if he did at some point in the future pray to God, it could only be taken as bestial ravings of a man who's clearly lost his mind; a man whose central feature distinguishing him from all other beasts--his intellect--had left him.

Social Media's Role in Religion

Yesterday's Detroit Free Press ran a cover story detailing how social media is being used by religious leaders. In his article "What Would Jesus Tweet?," religion editor Niraj Warikoo looks at how houses of worship are using Facebook and Twitter to reach out to its membership and potential members.

Synagogues Look to Twitter for Outreach

Soon By Me, I Say! And By You!

Ladies and gentleman, please give it up for today's guest blogger, my firm friend and fellow Jerusalemite, Beverley Paris, who is my biggest fan next to my dog, Trevor. (Actually, more than my dog, Trevor, but why go there?)

Minarets in the Sand, the "Ground Zero" mosque and religious freedom

I've stayed out of the ugly debate over the “ground zero mosque” that's not really at Ground Zero and not exactly a mosque, in part because I don't understand all the vast complexity of issue, in part because it's summer and I'm at the beach and not in the mood for all this indignation.

But one of the comments I keep hearing from opponents is driving me crazy.

There are actually several variants, but they all come down to the same thing:

Islam can "build the mosque when Saudi Arabia allows a shul in Mecca," they say.

Jet Blue and El Al, Dr. Laura's mouth and a Gleeful Jewish Nose

Item: Jet Blue has announced a deal with El Al to have passengers connect, with a single ticket, from Israel flights to 62 points around North America. You gotta love the timing. If you thought it was tense on Jet Blue now, wait until you start getting an infusion of passengers who have been cooped up for 10 hours on the way from Tel Aviv, displaced from the rear davening-section, kept awake by screaming babies and poorly supervised kids.

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