Kenneth Chelst is a professor of operations research in the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering at Wayne State University. He is also a scholar of Jewish thought and received rabbinic ordination from Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary of Yeshiva University.
His book, Exodus and Emancipation: Biblical and African-American Slavery, compares the biblical narrative of the enslavement of the Jews in Egypt and the African-American slave experience. It is his belief that comparing and contrasting these two histories yields new perspectives and insights into both experiences. One of the first differences Chelst points out is that the story of the Israelite enslavement is told in a single sacred narrative. By contrast, there is no single narrative of the African-American enslavement; the story is told through thousands of individual voices, narratives, and accounts. Continue reading “Baker and Taylor Reviews Exodus and Emancipation”→
One of the troubling aspects of the media – newspapers, magazines, radio and blogs – is the pitfall of continually focusing on the negative. When we constantly harp on the bad we run the risk of forgetting about the good. This can create a cynicism that undermines our attitudes towards everything in our lives.
Legitimate criticism that is sober and constructive is valuable to the community but it has to be kept within context and perspective. Illegitimate criticism can be based on wrong information, an incorrect assumption of incompetence, the wrongful attribution of malice or other causes. It is this kind of corrosive cynicism that leads some to assume that the many good people who lead our communities are tainted by any of these evils. Continue reading “Judging the Judges”→
Among the hundreds of authors participating in the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at UCLA this weekend – April 24–25, 2010 – the ranking figure is Herman Wouk.
The career-making novel for which he won a Pulitzer Prize, “The Caine Mutiny,” was published more than a half-century ago, but Wouk is not merely gathering more laurels for a lifetime of distinguished work. Remarkably, at the age of 94, he is making a rare trek from his self-described “lair” in Palm Springs to talk about his latest book, “The Language God Talks: On Science and Religion” (Little, Brown, $23.99).
Although Herman Wouk is best known for the thrilling war novels that have been made into movies, including not only “The Caine Mutiny” but also “The Winds of War” and “War and Remembrance,” he has also been one of the great explainers and defenders of the Jewish faith. Indeed, I still recommend “This Is My God,” first published in 1959, as a good introduction to the kind of Jewish observance called Modern Orthodoxy. Continue reading “Wouk Memoir Tackles Science, Faith”→
Amot Shel Halacha: Halachic Insights. Rabbi Ari N. Enkin. Urim Publications.
This is a fascinating, well-written collection of studies on important halachic issues, such as Shabbat, holidays, family issues, the synagogue, Israel, prayer, etc. Anyone interested in the intricacies of Jewish Law will find great interest in these pages. There is a intriguing list of “Talmudic Quotes to Live By” at the end of the book. Continue reading “Jewish Media Review on Amot Shel Halacha”→
Confessions of a Closet Catholic, by Sarah Darer Littman, is about Justine “Jussy” Silver, a young Jewish girl who has decided to give up chicken and being Jewish for Lent to become Catholic like her best friend Mac. Jussy has recently moved and Mac is the first friend she made at her new school. At home, her parents celebrate the Jewish holidays and eat accordingly on Shabbat. That’s about it. Jussy has created her own ‘confessional’ in her closet where she confesses to her teddy bear, Father Ted, and practices communion with grape juice and matzoh.
Not long after, Jussy’s Bubbe has a stroke. She still can get around and talk, but it has left her weaker. Jussy is afraid that her giving up being Jewish for Lent is what caused this. Her Bubbe has been an Orthodox Jew her entire life, including her time at Auschwitz where she was the only one in her family to survive. Continue reading “Finished!: Confessions of a Closet Catholic”→
One can never understand the amazing anthology of our traditional liturgy sufficiently. It is a collection of prayers, songs, poems and essays that cover a period of thousands of years, and the nuances of its meaning are endless. The dialogue style of the discussion makes it dramatic and fascinating. A very worthwhile contribution.
Unfortunately, I learned about this event days after it happened.
Fortunately, someone decided to record the event and has uploaded the video here.
Date/Time: Thursday, April 1, 2010, 7:00 PM–9:00 PM
Admission: Free to Institute for Comics Studies attendees or free with Museum admission.
Venue: The Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco
A roundtable discussion about the connection between Jews and comics, both past and present, with Miriam Libicki (jobnik!) and Michael Aushenker (Cartoon Flophouse), as well as scholars Craig Kleinman, Joel Schechter, Lou Schubert, and Rabbi Harry Manhoff.
The roundtable was done in connection with the 2010 WonderCon and Institute for Comics Studies, and in collaboration with the Cartoon Art Museum.
JERUSALEM — An Israeli bookstore chain pulled a book that criticizes Jewish settlers as “hypnotized zombies” plagued by “messianic madness” after customers complained about it, the company said Tuesday.
The decision set off protests from some academics and public figures, who accused the store of bowing to political pressure.
The book also criticizes the Israeli right for its strong ties to West Bank Jewish settlers. The chain, called Tzomet Hasfarim, or Books Junction, packaged the book with an Israeli flag magnet ahead of Israel’s independence day next week and sold it for one shekel, about 27 cents. Continue reading “Israeli stores pull book criticizing settlers”→