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Archive for Jewish-Gentile Relations

The Talmud and the Scholars of Qom Revisited

A few years ago I wrote about the knowledge of the Talmud among the scholars of the Shia intellectual center in Qom, Iran. The Forward has been publishing a series of articles by Larry Cohler-Esses based upon his recent visit to Iran. The most recent installment is titled Reading the Talmud in a Most Unlikely […]

Iggeret Haman and Putting the Persia Back into Purim

There are many satirical or parodic compositions associated with Purim. A good overview of these different compositions can be found in Israel Davidson’s Parody in Jewish Literature, pp. 115-147. One of these compositions is Iggeret Haman, “Haman’s Epistle.” There are numerous version’s of Iggeret Haman (see Davidson, pp. 121-123) and Yosef Tobi has written about […]

New and Important Article on Alenu

Jeff Hoffman has written an important article on the Alenu prayer, The Image of the Other in Jewish Interpretations of Alenu. Hoffman not only addresses interpretations of the Other, but also gives an informative overview of the liturgical history of the Alenu prayer. The text of Alenu can first be documented in the 10th century […]

Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef on the Peace with Egypt

One of Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef’s most discussed responsum is his one on withdrawing from territories captured in war in the framework of a peace accord. I have discussed this responsum here, and now a new document has been published that further sheds light on Rav Ovadiah’s opinion on the issue. Itzik Sudri, whose sister is […]

Panel Discussion at CJH-Not By Bread Alone: How Traditionalists Survived Modernity

This Thursday night, November 14, at the Center for Jewish History will be the following panel discussion: Join a provocative discussion on the resilience and adaptability of traditionalism. During the late 19th century, most East European Jews still consented to rabbinic authority, conformed to traditional gender norms, and remained attuned to the rhythms of halakhah. […]

Yankel’s Tavern: Jews, Liquor, and Life in the Kingdom of Poland

Glenn Dynner, the author of Men of Silk: The Hasidic Conquest of Polish Jewish Society, has a new book that is available for pre-order, Yankel’s Tavern: Jews, Liquor, and Life in the Kingdom of Poland. In nineteenth-century Eastern Europe, the Jewish-run tavern was often the center of leisure, hospitality, business, and even religious festivities. This […]

Book Review: Defining Jewish Difference

Joshua Schwartz has written a very positive review of Beth Berkowitz’s book about Hukkot ha-Goyim (“The Laws of the Nations”) and the history of the interpretation of Leviticus 18:3, Defining Jewish Difference: From Antiquity to the Present. This is an absolutely outstanding work. While the scope and extent of the material studied are amazing, the […]

Eruvin 67-68: Talmudic Manuscripts and the Shabbes Goy

[The following post is a revision of two posts from six years ago.] Followers of Daf Yomi recently read one of the most important Talmudic sources that addresses the question of a Shabbes Goy, i.e. a non-Jew who performs an act on behalf of a Jew that is prohibited for a Jew to do. On […]

Geza Vermes RIP

The important scholar of Ancient Judaism, Christianity, and the Dead Sea Scrolls, Geza Vermes (1924-2013) has passed away. Besides his important scholarly output, Vermes has an incredible personal story. He was born to Jewish parents in Hungary, and when he was seven years-old he and his parents converted to Catholocism. His parents were then killed […]

New Book: Socratic Torah

I want to congratulate my friend Jenny Labendz on the publication of her book Socratic Torah: Non-Jews in Rabbinic Intellectual Culture. The relationship of the rabbis of Late Antique Palestine to their non-Jewish neighbors, rulers, and interlocutors was complex and often fraught. Jenny R. Labendz investigates the rabbis’ self-perception and their self-fashioning within this non-Jewish social […]

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