Posted on July 13, 2011 by Daniel Weinreb
4. The entrance to the Shrine’s underground level, similar to entrances to ancient sanctuaries. It’s not only the confluence (conflation, overlap and confusion) of ritual and secular life that makes life in Jerusalem out of the ordinary. Another aspect of life in Israel in general (b’gadol as Israelis say) are the layers of history piled one Continue Reading »
Posted on March 14, 2011 by Tamara Frankel
Dear Friends, I must tell you that it feels a little strange to write this email to you from the other side of the ocean. Thank God, I arrived safe and sound in New York on Wednesday (even though I had to wait for almost an hour in the INTERNATIONAL customs line!) But, once I Continue Reading »
Posted on December 27, 2010 by Shibley
I along with what I imagine must be many Americans, Jewish and non, have at some point contemplated what Christmas in Israel looks like. Having just experienced it, I can tell you that for the most part it looks like any other day. Since Shabbat and Christmas coincided this year, I can really only say Continue Reading »
Posted on December 17, 2010 by Barer
This week at Pardes we looked at issues of separatism in Judaism, from the extremely current issue of the letter banning rental of apartments to Arabs to the more theoretical ‘how should Judaism treat those outside of its (exclusive) community?’ We also had a guest speaker talk about how Jews have viewed other religions in previous time periods, specifically how Rabbi Jacob Emden (1697-1776) views Christians in relation to the Jewish community.
The key takeaway from our discussion of the story that took over much of the news during the end of Chanukah was not just that the halachik basis on which the rabbis who signed the letter based their arguments was spurious. More importantly, we must remember that no one has the right to make a claim on behalf of Judaism as a whole. The tradition is too complex, too multifaceted and containing too many values that can be put into tension with each other for there to be a single voice on almost any topic that represents all of Judaism.
Looking more theoretically at the same set of issues, it is clear to me that there is a serious ‘conflict of interests’ for many young North American Jews today being exposed to texts that purport that Jews are somehow special and deserving of recognition for that uniqueness, either by themselves or even by the wider communities in which they live. I have commented previously about my views on Jews being “a light unto the nations.” How one relates to that question says a lot about how one will think that Jews ought to treat non-Jewish populations, both locally and abroad. An more positive way to look at spreading wisdom is that Jews should try their best to improve the world, which hopefully would encourage others to do the same, rather than implying that others do not have as much to offer. The fact is that, for most of us, we will always be part of many overlapping and sometimes contradicting exclusive communities, and that is simply part of the struggle of living in the modern world yet maintaining deep ties to the Jewish community.
Finally, I learned a little bit about the work of Rabbi Jacob Emden for the first time, and was struck by two things. First, the concept of a renaissance man seems like a forgotten ideal for the most part – or just simply impractical given the depth of knowledge that would be required to become an expert in more than one discipline – but I think that it should be reinvigorated when it comes to religion. We lack today religious leaders who are truly well read in religions other than their own. Second, I was intrigued that I, nor anyone else who attended the lecture, had never heard of Rabbi Emden. The Jewish tradition has so many gems, even just talking on a textual basis, which are rarely discussed or studied. But I couldn’t help but wonder if his views on Christians – that they should be respected and thanked for helping to spread ‘morality’ much more effectively than Judaism ever did – have played a role in his not being included in the traditional Jewish ‘canon’ of rabbis and thinkers that the mainstream of Jewish students are exposed to.
Special thanks to Meesh, Rabbi Wayne Allen, and David Bookbinder, for teaching me (and others) about all the topics mentioned in this post.
Posted on December 15, 2010 by Zach
After the overview of my Chanukkah break, I wanted to go into a bit more depth about one of my day excursions. A good friend of mine, Zak, a Palestinian Christian who owns a shop in the old city, and I were talking, and I mentioned that I wanted to see some of the West Continue Reading »
Posted on December 13, 2010 by Zach
Yet again, it’s been way too long since my last post. I seem to start every post that way… maybe I’ll get better at this eventually. Instead of giving the normal Christmas break that American schools give, Pardes, and Israel in general, has a winter break for the eight days of Chanukkah. Chanukkah this year Continue Reading »
Posted on November 25, 2010 by David Bogomolny
Although they both hail from Los Angeles, Kara and David only met in college at UC Santa Barbara. As a child, Kara attended Christian Science church every week with her mother, but she became skeptical about religion as a teenager, and came to identify herself as culturally Jewish. David was raised in the Conservative Jewish movement, Continue Reading »
Posted on November 9, 2010 by Pious Antic
This is a cross-post from my personal blog. The Hebrew word tiyul has no exact translation in English. A tiyul could be a long walk in a city park, a week-long guided bus tour of Israel, or a multi-week backing trip through South America. Last week, I went on Pardes’ annual tiyul to the Negev Continue Reading »