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The transformations of Jewish life in the last two-and-a-half centuries still boggle the mind. Deep ruptures opened to separate the present from the past, modernity from tradition, setting terms that have defined the contours of Jewish life until today. How did people try to think their way through the change? That vital question is central […]

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The novelist Saul Bellow is fond of recalling a political incident from his youth. Saul, then an undergraduate at the University of Chicago, was, like so many of us in the 1930s, powerfully attracted to the ideologies of socialism, Marxism, Leninism and Trotskyism, as well as to the idea of “the Revolution.” He and a […]

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Throughout the ages, despite differences in culture and cuisine, Jewish kitchens around the world shared a commitment to kashrut—the classical rules regulating the Jewish diet. This religious lifestyle, known as “keeping kosher,” which is still observed in a great many Jewish homes to­day, encompasses a number of restrictions. Traditional Jews keep all meat and milk […]

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The biblical book of Genesis presents the story of how God’s new way for humankind finds its first adherent in a single individual—Abraham, a man out of Mesopotamia—and how that way survives through three generations in the troubled households of Abraham, his son Isaac, and his grandson Jacob, who is renamed Israel. By the end […]

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