Benjamin Weiner


You Can Go Home Again

By Benjamin Weiner

You Can Go Home Again
Gideon Lewis-Kraus suggests that pilgrimages are not taken for religious reasons at all, but rather to provide traction for aimless desires.Read More


An Honest Marriage of Vermont and Judaism

By Benjamin Weiner

An Honest Marriage of Vermont and Judaism
A white-pillared converted stone church beside a coppice of pine trees and over a sloping meadow from the grave of poet Robert Frost, might seem like a strange location for a sukkah, but this fall the Bennington Museum hosted two of them to mark the centennial of organized Judaism in the Vermont town.Read More


Everything in Order

By Benjamin Weiner

Everything in Order
Not all the passions stirred up by Jewish prayer books are directed toward God. The new “Koren Siddur” (Koren Publishers Jerusalem) is a good example. Endorsed by the Orthodox Union and bearing the translations and commentary of Sir Jonathan Sacks, British Chief Rabbi, it has energized Modern Orthodox Jews seeking to assert their worldview, not just religious opinion. Overtly Zionist, relatively feminist and aesthetically elegant, Koren/Sacks is for them a welcome alternative to the more conservative ArtScroll Series, which has dominated for more than 20 years. “ArtScroll and their right-wing agenda have reigned far too long,” one vociferous blogger wrote, “and they are finally being called to the mat.”Read More


The Rise and Rise of Haredi Thrillers

By Benjamin Weiner

The Rise and Rise of Haredi Thrillers
‘Elazar had the sensation of having left the secure boundaries of the world he knew,” reads an ominous sentence in the middle of Chaim Eliav’s “The Runaway” “and entered a strange new one — a dangerous world.” Like Cary Grant or Jimmy Stewart in a Hitchcock thriller, the protagonist has been accidentally wrenched out of everyday life and thrust into an international imbroglio. But unlike Grant or Stewart, this improbable hero wears peyes. Eliav’s novel is a prime example of a new literary genre that has been blossoming, modestly, over the past decade: the Haredi potboiler.Read More


Sholom Aleichem: The Next Generation

By Benjamin Weiner

On May 4, a crowd of nearly 200 packed into the community hall of the Brotherhood Synagogue, located on the posh, southern edge of New York’s Gramercy Park. A young-looking man with closely cropped black hair, a matching goatee and black-rimmed glasses stepped to the bima, in front of the holy ark, and welcomed the assembled to the yahrzeit ofRead More






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    • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
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    • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
    • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
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    • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
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