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Chanukah

Chanukah celebrates the Jewish rebellion against the Syrian Greek Antiochus IV. He called himself Epiphanes, which means the wise or godlike. His subjects called him Epimanes—the crazy one. The rebellion was initiated by Mattityahu in 167 BCE and went on until his son Judah’s death in 160 BCE. (Yes, UNESCO, there really were Jews in the Land of Israel in…

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Obsession

Time for a rant! Living in the USA today is to live in an atmosphere of obsessive neurosis. Wherever you turn, wherever you look, whatever you see, whatever you hear, you would think that the most evil man who ever walked the earth is running the affairs of the United States and is about to singlehandedly unleash an economic, ecological,…

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Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a festival that records a group of settlers in America surviving a very brutal winter. Some argue that these settlers brought tremendous suffering to the indigenous peoples, and therefore this celebration should now be banned. I argue that, even so, Thanksgiving can still offer an important message and should not be scrapped. Last month Columbus Day was the…

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Rabbi Mickey Rosen

This week is the secular date of my younger brother’s death. Sibling rivalry goes all the way back to Cain and Abel. As a two-year-old, I resented the arrival of my brother Michael, Mickey, as a rival for our parents’ love. Now, Mickey turned out to be such a goodnatured, honest child that the only way I felt I could…

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Italian Talmud

The Talmud is the most defining text of Judaism as it is today—in a way, even more so than the Bible, even though without the Bible there would be no Talmud. The Bible is shared with Christianity and, in a very indirect way, with Islam. In the case of Christianity, the Old Testament has been superseded by the New. Although…

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From Martin Luther to Arthur Balfour

Many Christians celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Reformation on October 31. In 1517 the Augustinian monk Martin Luther (1483-1546) posted his 95 theses in opposition to the abuses of the Catholic Church on the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, which ultimately led to the split between the Catholic and Protestant churches. Luther objected initially to what he saw as the…

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