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In this 1955 book chapter, the eminent American sociologist Nathan Glazer profiles the American Jewish community in its first three hundred years. He describes the experiences of Sephardi and Ashkenazi immigrants to America: their professions, educations, family life, and economic mobility. In this discussion, spanning from the early colonial days to the post–World War II […]

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On top of the rising costs of raising a child in America, Jack Wertheimer estimates that “actively engaged” Jewish families pay a premium of “$50,000 and $110,000 a year just to live a Jewish life.” Behind these financial costs are significant moral ones, Rabbi Aryeh Klapper argues in this 2012 article. High costs of living […]

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In this 1968 Commentary article, a self-described feminist reflects on the virtues of separate gender roles in the synagogue and in the Jewish family. Separate gender roles prevent women from relieving men of their communal obligations, lowering the risk of alienating them from religious service and synagogue life. Separate seating and complementary but distinct duties enable […]

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Synagogue membership rolls have been dwindling, and the Jewish establishment is right to wonder about the fate of the one communal institution around which the religious lives of most Jewish men and women have revolved since the destruction of the Second Temple. In the United States, the synagogue is threatened by a scale of young […]

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Tribe and Family

July 13, 2016 | By: Isaiah Rackovsky

Writing in Tradition in 1965, Rabbi Isaiah Rackovsky explores the tension between the institution of the family, which serves as the foundation of the Jewish way of life, and modernity, its ideas and political institutions. Judaism sets the framework for cultural transmission by imparting a duty on parents to educate their children and commanding children […]

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Writing in 1994, Irving Kristol warns about the demographic problems facing American Jews. By the mid-nineties, the American Jewish community was pursuing a path to assimilation through low birth rates and intermarriage. Both phenomena, Kristol argues, were not failures of Jewish communal policy, but instead the unanticipated consequences of its success. For years, championing the […]

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In this essay, the second of a two-part series on Abraham, Leon Kass reads the stories of God’s promise to Abraham, the birth and banishment of Ishmael, Sodom and Gomorrah, Isaac’s circumcision, and the sacrifice of Isaac in a wisdom-seeking spirit. Kass explores how Abraham learns the arts of fatherhood and founding, elevating the household above […]

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Faith in the Flesh

June 20, 2016 | By: R.R. Reno

As Catholic theologian, social critic, and First Things editor R.R. Reno sat in the synagogue pews one Saturday morning, watching his daughter assume her place in the people of Israel as a bat mitzvah, he was provoked to scrutinize his own Christian faith in light of the Judaism of his wife and children. In this […]

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The Jewish Mother

June 9, 2016 | By: Meir Soloveichik

Few Jewish doctrines sound as strange to modern ears as that of “matrilineal descent,” the notion that membership in the Jewish people is passed on through the mother even as other specific qualities of Jewishness (like whether one is a Levite) are passed on through the father. In “The Jewish Mother,” Rabbi Meir Soloveichik looks beyond sociological […]

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Rabbi David Stav on Jewish Unity

September 10, 2015 | By: David Stav

Through his leadership of the Tzohar Rabbinical Organization, Rabbi David Stav has been at the forefront of debates over the relationship between religion and state in Israel, pushing for reforms in the State’s handling of marriage, conversion, and kashrut. Why is Tzohar focused on these issues? And how does he think about government’s role in religious life?

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