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Ruth-less society

WHEN we read the Book of Ruth next week on the holiday of Shavuot, we are reminded that all Jews are in essence converts. Some of us go back further than others, literally to Mount Sinai, when a mass conversion of the Jewish people took place. Others of us trace our Jewish heritage and identity to more recent times.

As a people, we cherish Ruth so much. Our love for her unexpected act of kindness, a game changer in the Book of Ruth, is real.

Yet in our daily Jewish life sometimes there is cognitive dissonance between our love and reverence for Ruth — the “Ima shel Malchut, the Mother of the Davidic Monarchy” — and our attitude to real life converts.

We are supposed to treat the convert to our community with extra kindness, but instead we often feel suspicious, forever regarding them as The Outsider.

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View From Denver

‘And they established their genealogy’

‘And they established their genealogy’G-D counts the Jewish people because he loves them. Each person is important to Him. Each census has a more specific reason, too. The census at the start of the portion — and book — of Numbers is for military purposes, writes Nachmanides. The Jews were on the threshold of entering the Land of Israel. It would need to be conquered. It would need to be known how many fighters in each tribe were available. After the conquest, the land would be divided by tribe, and the population of each tr...

Last Updated ( Thursday, 22 May 2014 01:34 )

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View from Central Park

Numbers

Numbers have been on my mind lately. This coming week’s Torah portion inaugurates the reading of the next book of the Torah, Bamidbar, literally, “in the desert.” However, it is known as the book of Numbers. Rabbinic Judaism refers to the book as such, “Sefer Ha-Pikudim,” the book of censuses of the Jewish people. In fact, the census is commanded twice, the first time in the beginning of Bamidbar. Since Passover, we have been counting the Omer. A meditation assigns a theme to each p...
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Conservative Lens

Dealing with bad economic news

MOST conservatives, and just about all independents, have a huge misperception of the left. They think that the gulf between conservatism and leftism is primarily about means, not goals. This perception is wrong. It is the goals that are irreconcilable. And until conservatives, independents and the Republican Party understand this, it will not be possible to defeat the left. Take economic indicators. Most conservatives talk and act as if bad economic news disturbs the left as much as it distur...

Last Updated ( Thursday, 22 May 2014 01:17 )

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Liberal Lens

Is journalism losing its nerve?

WHEN I went into journalism, one of the first things I was told as a freshman is that journalism is different from stenography. It is supposed to be — or at least has been — about using rights granted under the First Amendment to be a check on government and corporate power. Yet, the hedge in that last sentence is deliberate — and appropriate. That’s because a new survey from the Indiana University suggests things are fast changing in the news industry — and not for the better. The l...

Last Updated ( Thursday, 22 May 2014 01:49 )

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Shabbat Times

JTA News

From the Archive: Suriname’s Jewish settlement and non-settlement

Raffi Wineburg In 1948, Suriname — then a Dutch colony in South America — backed out of a plan to settle 30,000 European Jewish displaced persons. ... [Link]

South African president vows to fight anti-Semitism

Cnaan Liphshiz Representatives of South Africa’s Jewish community commended President Jacob Zuma’s pledge to combat anti-Semitism. ... [Link]

House unanimously approves anti-Semitism condemnation

Ron Kampeas A bipartisan congressional resolution urging increased action by the United States and other countries to address resurgent anti-Semitism passed unanimously. ... [Link]

Senate approves enhanced U.S.-Israel cooperation bill

Ron Kampeas The U.S. Senate unanimously approved a bill that would further enhance U.S.-Israel ties. ... [Link]

Elsewhere: The separation myth, diplomatic delusions, tasting Hitler’s food

Raffi Wineburg JTA rounds up noteworthy news items from the Web. ... [Link]

U.S. officials ‘not optimistic’ going into Iran talks

Ron Kampeas U.S. negotiators are not entering the latest round of nuclear talks with Iran with optimism, a top U.S. official said, citing Iran’s insistence on maintaining its uranium enrichment capability. ... [Link]

In the kitchen with Joan

Raffi Wineburg Joan Rivers may have been famous for fat-shaming, but according to a forthcoming cookbook, she liked to eat rich Ashkenazi dishes. ... [Link]

This Week in Jewish Farming: Season of abundance

Ben Harris With winter storage crops harvested and summer crops still in the ground, September is a special moment for the seasonal eater. ... [Link]

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