Barry L. Schwartz. Baruch Spinoza’s ideas profoundly impacted Jewish thought and belief. Summer 2014.
interview with Nili S. Fox. An HUC-JIR professor of Bible offers insight into body marking in ancient societies. She discusses how only one law, in the Book of Leviticus, prohibits a tattoo type of body marking; in all other biblical references, tattooing is presented in a positive light. Part of Cover Story: Jews & Tattoos, Summer 2014.
interview with Richard Elliott Friedman. The author of Who Wrote the Bible? points to the archaeological and the textual evidence for the Exodus, with the understanding that it was a smaller group who left Egypt. Spring 2014.
Nechama Tec. Historian Tec explains how this distorted understanding arose, discusses the severe conditions faced by the Jews during the Holocaust that impeded many resistance efforts, and charges that such an assessment blatantly disregards resistance of the spirit. Part of Focus: Greatest Jewish Myths, Part II. Winter 2013.
Jonathan D. Sarna. In the early 1900s, the dynamo behind NFTS’ Committee on Religion in the helped pioneer such cultural and religious practices as Hanukkah greeting cards, congregational singing at services, women’s representation on temple boards, and women’s increasingly significant roles on the bimah. Adaptation from Sisterhood: A Centennial History of Women of Reform Judaism. Winter 2013.
Alan Morinis. Re-examining the Hanukkah exhortation, “A great miracle happened here,” not as the miracle of the oil lasting 8 days, but as a spiritual miracle—that the Maccabees lit the wick despite knowing they did not possess enough oil. While recalibrating Hanukkah through a spiritual lense, Morinis explains its potential to open our hearts. Winter 2013.
Salo Baron. In this adaption of a famous early 20th century essay by renowned historian Baron, he elucidates how Jews were in fact more successful, numerous, and privileged before the French Revolution. Part of Focus: Greatest Jewish Myths, Part II. Winter 2013.
Susan Esther Barnes. “Is there a traditional prayer to say upon entering a synagogue?” & 9 other questions and answers about synagogue ritual objects and practices. Summer 2013.
Daniel Reisel. How the democratic lessons espoused by the rabbis of Yaveh apply to the Twitterverse of today. Summer 2013.
Sarah Bunin Benor. The origin stories of bentshn, shlep, mitzvah, cholent, schmooze, and pastrami. Summer 2013.
Michael J. Cook. Why Jesus’ Last Supper could not have been a Passover meal, even of the pre-70 C.E. prototype. The author pinpoints 5 anomalies within a paragraph in the Gospel of Mark to prove his case. Online Exclusive within Focus: Greatest Jewish Myths. Spring 2013.
a conversation with Reuven Firestone. Why “holy war” disappeared from Jewish thought for 2000 years, and how it came back. Q&A with author of Holy War in Judaism: The Fall and Rise of a Controversial Idea. Spring 2013.
David Wolpe. Knowing the Exodus is not a literal historical account does not change our connection to our faith. Part of Focus: Greatest Jewish Myths. Spring 2013.
Michael J. Cook. Jesus could not have known what a seder was, let alone have modeled his Last Supper after one. Part of Focus: Greatest Jewish Myths. Spring 2013.
Rosemary Drisdelle. The Hebrew conquest of Jericho was in all likelihood not a military triumph; because of a parasite, the defenders were probably not fit to fight. Online Exclusive within Focus: Greatest Jewish Myths. Spring 2013.
Michael A. Meyer. The vast majority of German Jews chose Judaism over a prestigious career, rejecting the pressure to convert. Part of Focus: Greatest Jewish Myths. Spring 2013.
Maristella Botticini and Zvi Eckstein. Jews did not choose professions in finance because of restrictions, but because of proficiency. Part of Focus: Greatest Jewish Myths. Spring 2013.
S. David Sperling. The biblical tradition of slavery in Egypt and the Israelite conquest of Canaan appear to be fictitious. Part of Focus: Greatest Jewish Myths. Spring 2013.
conversation with Jonathan Sarna. Historian Sarna sheds lights on what history can teach us about engaging the next generation of Jews and what to make of young Jews who are questioning and disrupting the establishment. Part of Cover Story: Forum for the Future. Winter 2012.
a conversation with Dolores Kosberg Wilkenfeld, Lynn Magid Lazar, and Dara Amram. Three Women of Reform Judaism of different generations offer insider perspectives on the power and promise of Sisterhood (first NFTS, now WRJ) in its first 100 years. Winter 2012.
Kevin Thurm. Ten multiple choice questions about synagogues past and present (answers follow) in this first of a series of educational quizzes on different topics. Fall 2012.
Gary Phillip Zola. Understanding how Abraham Lincoln became a spiritual and moral kinsman of the Jews. Spring 2012.
Jonathan D. Sarna. As a Union general, Grant expelled Jews from his war zone; as U.S. president, he set a new national tone that helped usher in a brief “golden age” in the history of the American Jewish community. On the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, it’s time to set the record straight. Spring 2012.
Jeremi Suri. After the 1973 Yom Kippur War, U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger almost singlehandedly reshaped the balance of power in the Middle East—a balance which reigned in the region for nearly 40 years. How did Kissinger’s escape from Nazi Germany impact his foreign policy? And now, with populist Arab uprisings, how will history judge his legacy? Winter 2011.
James Rudin. Why have mainline Protestant leaders—our social justice and religious coalition partners—consistently made common cause with the Palestinians, often ignoring Israeli perspectives on the conflict? How can we strengthen our relationships with Protestant churches? Winter 2011.
Hava Tirosh-Samuelson. Human happiness has been a central concern of Judaism since antiquity. And the ancient Jewish philosophers’ teachings about the “intrinsically good life” are just as relevant today. Part of Focus “Happiness.” Winter 2011.
Ben Greenspan. First-person account by an eighth grader of how he co-created the film The Road Through Ohrdruf, which features the stories of both survivors and liberators of a small concentration camp called Ohrdruf 65 years after the war; the article also includes historical information and a variety of survivor memories/perspectives. Fall 2011.
A conversation with Daniel Freelander. The Union for Reform Judaism's senior vice president offers insider observations on what the synagogues of the 1800s were like, how Reform congregations moved from imitation to innovation, and from exclusion to inclusion—and the challenges ahead. Readers are invited to post their views. Part of Focus: Reforming Judaism. Summer 2011.
Lawrence Englander. Historical review of Reform Judaism's four stages since its beginnings in Seesen, Germany in the 1800s—and the challenges ahead. Readers are invited to post their views. Part of Focus: Reforming Judaism. Summer 2011.
A conversation with Steve Fox and Lance Sussman.
The CCAR's chief executive and national chair of the press offer insider observations on the dramatic rise of the Reform rabbinate since the 1800s—and the challenges ahead. Readers are invited to post their views. Part of Focus: Reforming Judaism. Summer 2011.
A conversation with David Ellenson. The HUC-JIR president offers insider observations anecdotes on how America's first rabbinic college got off the ground in the 1870s and how it continuously reinvented itself—and the challenges ahead. Readers are invited to post their views. Part of Focus: Reforming Judaism. Summer 2011.
Chaya Burstein. Jewish law and lore have always been reforming to adapt to the changing lives of the Jewish people. Explains the most momentous conflicts and resolutions in the history of the Jewish people from the destruction of the 1st Temple through today. Part of Focus: Reforming Judaism. Summer 2011.