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Virtual Talmud

Virtual Talmud

January 1970 Archives

The Limits of Identity

My friend Jenny Moyers is not the most connected Jew ever to walk the earth. She doesn’t belong to a synagogue and does not celebrate any of the Jewish holidays in her home. She seems to regard my rabbinic career […]

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Go Bother Someone Else

Ah… summer in New York City: Central Park concerts, café life, sweaty subways, and who can forget those smiley young boys and girls passing out Jews for Jesus pamphlets. Every year they come with more zeal and more ambition, peddling […]

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Jews for Jesus: Who’s Who & What’s What

If you believe Jesus is the messiah, died for anyone else’s sins, is God’s chosen son, or any other dogma of Christian belief, you are not Jewish. You are Christian. Period. We Jews may not like to admit it, since […]

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Muscular Judaism and the War in Lebanon

Israeli and American Jews are now scratching their heads over the war in Lebanon. Oh, how quickly political tides change. Just a few weeks ago, everyone was standing squarely behind Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert; today everyone is calling for […]

After Lebanon: Jewish Identity Crisis?

In the aftermath of the war in Lebanon, Israelis have begun a round of soul-searching into what went wrong. How was it that Israel’s vaunted military–the pride of a nation and unquestionably the best-equipped army in the region–could barely make […]

Hezbollah, Hamas, and Lord of the Rings

Reading the news the other day, I felt like Frodo Baggins does as things look grim in “Lord of the Rings.” It seems we have our own Two Towers. On one hand, we have the Shiites: Hezbollah, rather than being […]

Hoping Against Hope

It seems that the U.S.-backed ceasefire in Lebanon, while fragile, is holding for the moment. I pray that it does, and that families on both sides of the border will be able to return to their homes, rebuilding, and trying […]

Is There a Right and Good in War?

posted by mkress

A few weeks ago, we read in our weekly Torah reading the command to do what is right and good. The Hebrew word is yashar, which literally means “straight.” The verse is understood as the command to go beyond the […]

The End of the Messianic

Walter Benjamin, in his essay “Critique of Violence,” discuses the idea of divine biblical justice. Benjamin points out that in the Bible everyone gets what he or she deserves (though it does not seem so commensurate to us; even Job […]

Without America…

If there is one thing this war has taught Israelis, it’s that without America they are nothing. Could things change? Could America grow weary of Israel? Perhaps. But as of now America is Israel’s chief supporter. America has single-handedly protected […]

What is the Difference?

posted by mkress

Judaism has always been a religion that focuses on, teaches, ritualizes the ability to tell the differences between things: the difference between Shabbat and the rest of the week; the difference between kosher and non-kosher food; the difference between shatnes […]

History Every Day

The violence in Israel continues to worsen, and now wide-scale evacuations of the North are finally under way as it appears Israel is preparing to enter Southern Lebanon in force. I pray for the well-being of the brave Israeli soldiers […]

What is the Consolation this Year?

posted by mkress

Following the mourning of Tisha b’Av (commemorating the destruction of the First Temple in Jerusalem in 586 BCE and the Second Temple in 70 CE), Jews traditionally read selections from prophets (Haftorot) that draw on images of comfort: the sense […]

Terror as AIDS

For years now people have been calling terrorism a cancer. As Itamar Rabinovich, the president of Tel Aviv University and former Israeli diplomat, put it, “You either cut it out or it eats you up.” Right now, this is certainly […]

Lamenting the Suffering

A few hours before Tisha b’Av began I was reflecting that the violence in the Middle East shows absolutely no signs of abating. Instead, it’s been getting worse–with Hezbollah shooting more than 200 rockets into Israel and Israel vowing to […]

Previous Posts

The Task Is Never Finished
It has been heartwarming to read the warm responses to Rabbi Waxman's post asking Beliefnet to reconsider its decision to cancel Virtual Talmud. Virtual Talmud offered an alternative model for internet communications: civil discourse pursued in ...

posted 12:31:46pm Apr. 03, 2008 | read full post »

Some Parting Reflections
Well, loyal readers, all good things must come to an end and we’ve been informed that this particular experiment in blogging as a forum for creating wide-ranging discussion on topics of interest to contemporary Jews has run its course. Maybe ...

posted 1:00:29pm Mar. 31, 2008 | read full post »

Obama's Lesson and The Jewish Community
There are few times in this blog’s history when I have felt that Rabbi Grossman was one hundred percent correct in her criticisms of my ideas. However, a few weeks ago she called me out for citing a few crack websites on Barak Obama’s ...

posted 12:09:08pm Mar. 31, 2008 | read full post »

The Future of Race Relations
As a post-baby boomer, it is interesting to me to see how much of today’s conversation about racial relations is still rooted in the 1960s experience and rhetoric of the civil rights struggle, and the disenchantment that followed. Many in the ...

posted 4:04:41pm Mar. 25, 2008 | read full post »

Wright and Wrong of Race and Jews
Years ago, as a rabbinical student, I was one of a group of rabbinical students who visited an African American seminary in Atlanta. My fellow rabbinical students and I expected an uplifting weekend of interfaith sharing like we had experienced ...

posted 12:50:11pm Mar. 24, 2008 | read full post »

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