Of Swiss Handshakes, Restricted Swimming

We are so used to thinking that the world is growing steadily more homogenous, particularly in the West, that it’s a surprise to learn about local customs that continue to thrive. Last week, we learned that in Switzerland it is customary for students to shake their teacher’s hand before and after class. It is a… Read More

A ‘Rupture’ Over the Wall?

The stalled implementation of the plan to bring pluralistic Jewish prayer to the Kotel probably won’t cause a major rupture  between American Jews and Israel, but it is further proof of the complaint that  Israel guarantees religious freedom for all, except many Jews. Emerging from a meeting on June 1 with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, … Read More

Shabbos at the JCC: Crossing The Line

Last week, the board of the JCC voted overwhelmingly to open the Owings Mills JCC for the full day on Shabbos, expanding on the afternoon opening that was initiated seven years ago. This is a troubling decision. During the broad communal debate over the initial Shabbos opening of the JCC, many asserted that it would… Read More

An American Interest

Editorial Director

Check your Facebook page or your Twitter feed and you’d be forgiven for thinking that the fate of Israel and of the wider Jewish world hinges on the outcome of the U.S. presidential election this November. The messages, while discordant — presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump (or presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton or longshot candidate… Read More

The Wrong West

In his Your Say letter of June 3 (“At Odds with Party”), Ben Mirman claims to be a “lifelong Democrat,” but he writes like a Trumpkin. How else to explain a tendency to believe that “they” are all the same? Contra Mirman, the individual named to the Democratic Platform Committee is Princeton academic and progressive… Read More

Branching Out

This Shabbat, we begin reading the fourth book of the Torah, Sefer Bamidbar. In English, it is called the Book of Numbers because this parshah, also called Bamidbar, begins with a census of the Israelites. It was necessary to count all the men of age 20 and above so that there would be an army… Read More

Shavuot, Sex, Teens

OMER, Israel — As Jews, we tend to pride ourselves on our tradition’s values and how we pass them on to future generations. But if you were to start a conversation today with a teenager, would you be ready to articulate Jewish values  related to dating and sexuality? Several such values can be gleaned straight from… Read More

Kosovo: Fertile Ground for Religious Pluralism

Kosovo is a “newborn” country, a majority Muslim state that fought for its independence from Serbia only eight years ago. Yet, it has erected a Holocaust memorial outside its parliament, elected a female president, held pride parades in support of LGBTQ rights and supported the building of a major Catholic cathedral in its capital city… Read More

When Not to Act against Anti-Semites

For a while last week, Jews were able to  indulge in a conspiracy theory of their own. “(((Echoes))), Exposed: The Secret Symbol Neo-Nazis Use to Target Jews Online,” read the headline on Mic.com, which brought to light a Google Chrome app that automatically placed a set of three parentheses around Jewish-sounding surnames to make them… Read More

Shameful!

Mark Wilf and Todd Morgan’s June 3 From This View column (“Survivors’ Welfare Is Everyone’s Responsibility”) lacked perspective. It notes that “Jewish federations distributed $2.8 million in federal grants to assist programs for Holocaust survivors. Coupled with matching funds, the disbursement results in $4.5 million for survivor services.” Yet, reports in the media say that… Read More