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Charity Begins at Home

This is the time of the year when many of us have spent a great deal of money on summer vacations. So it is appropriate to think about how much we give charitably to those less fortunate than we are. Charity is highly emotive, and it is an absolutely crucial element of all religions. In Judaism the term most commonly…

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New Nation-State Law in Israel

As a follow-up to last week’s discussion on nationalism, the controversial nation-state law just passed in Israel is typical of what I do not like about nationalism—the way it has been and continues to be a tool of politics.  The bill was passed by 66 to 55. Very far from unanimous and probably a fair reflection of the longstanding chasm…

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Nationalism

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat wrote that Jewish nationalism versus Jewish liberalism is the crucial issue facing American Jewry today. He wondered how we can reconcile liberal politics, universal, humanist values, with the nationalism of Jewish identity? This is the fault-line that is troubling readers of the New York Times. He says and concludes with a question: If these two…

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Words

Languages are amazingly varied and flexible, despite all academic attempts to reduce them to simple formulae. We have always struggled to explain why almost every tribe had its own language, why we or God could not have made do with one. It would have made life and international relations so much easier. There are a range of stories and myths…

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Jeremy Corbyn the Zionist

Yes, I really do think Corbyn qualifies as a Zionist! By now I think everyone is aware of the situation in the UK where the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn has a serious problem with anti-Semitism. No Jew, however removed from his or her Jewish identity, feels comfortable with the antagonistic and abusive atmosphere that pervades the Labour Party hierarchy,…

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Wine & Racism

Last month there was a huge fuss in Israel over wine. It was known as the Barkan Affair. Barkan Wines, one of many relatively recent Israeli expansions into the quality wine trade, was seeking certification from the most Orthodox of religious supervisory agencies, the Edah Haredis, which incidentally is known for its very anti-Zionist positions. But hey, money is money.…

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