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Does Bible Criticism leave room for faith? Noted Bible scholar Jon Levenson points out in this 1993 First Things article that the purely secular, critical approach to the Bible of many academics suffers from the same faults as does the fundamentalist religious approach: both ultimately rely on their own uncriticized values and assumptions. Pluralism and […]

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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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Many Jewish Americans oppose religion in the American public square. Because of their minority status, and memories of persecution, many Jews believe the safer course is to encourage a radically secular public. But such a belief is misguided, argues Rabbi Meir Soloveichik in this 2007 article. Citing both his great uncle Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik […]

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In this meditation on religion and state in Israel, Naomi G. Cohen analyzes the proper role for religious law in the policies, procedures, and rulings of the Jewish State. One might think that government implementation of Jewish law would encourage a broadly Jewish culture that Religious Zionists would favor.  Instead, Cohen argues that a minimalist […]

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In the 1990’s, as the Republican Party swept into a House majority with their own “Contract with America,” Jack Wertheimer took to Commentary to look at the Jewish equivalent: the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council’s Joint Program Plan. An umbrella organization that sought to speak on behalf of the whole Jewish community, the NJCRAC’s Domestic Agenda […]

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The Christmas season is an annual reminder that American Jews are a small minority in a largely Christian country. It has also become occasion for Jewish church-and-state separationists to condemn public ceremonies as harmless as “a creche being erected outside a town hall, or students in public schools singing Christmas carols.” In “Christmas, Christians, and the […]

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How should the Shabbat be observed in a Jewish and democratic state? In this 1992 essay, the political theorist Daniel Elazar considers the question, balancing majority will, individual conscience, consent of the governed, and subsidiarity. In considering the ways Israel’s many factions relate to the Shabbat, Elazar suggests local referenda can help move the state […]

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In the wake of the market crash of 2008, Jack Wertheimer spotlighted the “affordability crisis” plaguing American Jewish families. Adding up the cost of day school, Jewish camping, Kosher meat, synagogue dues, premiums for real estate near a synagogue, trips to Israel, and much else besides, Wertheimer guesses that an “actively engaged” Jewish family pays a […]

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Interfaith engagement has many champions in our politics and in our philanthropies. For Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, not all interfaith engagement was to be cheered. In his profound theological reflection, “Confrontation,” he argued that communities of faith are characterized by separate and irreconcilable theologies. However, such communities may share certain interests and may work together in […]

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Press play below to listen to the podcast, download it in the iTunes Store, or stream it via Stitcher.  The subject of this podcast is Joseph B. Soloveitchik’s classic 1964 essay, “Confrontation,” one of those rare, enduring masterpieces that is both a profound theological reflection on human nature, and an important work of Jewish communal policy. This essay—and […]

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