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How to Judge Robert Alter's Landmark Translation of the Hebrew Bible
By Hillel Halkin for Mosaic
Finished after decades of labor, this one-man English translation is a stupendous achievement. How does it hold up against the masterpieces (and follies) that have come before?
However you look at it, Robert Alter’s The Hebrew Bible is a stupendous achievement. The result of decades of work, consisting of over 3,000 pages of translated text and commentary, it includes every one of the 35 books from Genesis to Chronicles that constitute Jewish scripture. One might call it the translator’s equivalent of a solo circumnavigation of the globe were it not that sailing a boat around the globe takes far less time.
The Black Cohens
By Rich Cohen for Tablet Magazine
The scattering of African-Americans named Cohen in the NFL is just the tip of a deeper American Cohen tale
In my house, we are forever on the lookout for outstanding athletes named Cohen. We believe such figures will open our minds to alternate futures and possibilities. We have enough lawyers and endocrinologists, enough journalists and accountants. We have plenty of criminals, but they tend to be of the white-collar variety. We want people who can advance the ball, play the body, work above the rim. Which is why I was so pleased when the Chicago Bears, my favorite football team, selected, with a fourth-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, its second “Cohen” in five years. There’d been Landon Cohen, who’d played 13 games as defensive tackle for the Bears in 2013. Now there’d be Tarik Cohen, a fleet running back. He was ours and we’d take him—“Tarik Cohen Had Some Bears Fans Searching for Jewish Connection,” is how the Chicago Tribune headlined it—though he did not fit the profile of a typical congregant of North Shore Congregation Israel.
From ‘Y’ to ‘J’: The History of Jewish Community Centers
By Jenna Weissman Joselit for Tablet Magazine
How YMHAs, followed by synagogue-centers, and finally JCCs have tried—in different ways—to balance Judaism and Jewishness, by bringing Jews together in intellectual, spiritual, and physical pursuits
If there’s one thing the American Jewish community has in abundance, it’s critics. “There are no colors gloomy enough to paint too morbidly” the present condition of the Jews, notes one of their number. A “baleful fog of indifference hover[s] over Judaism,” chimes in another. The synagogues are empty, more “grand vacuum” than grand house of worship, and young people today are “loud in dress, louder in commonplace and empty words,” or, worse still, apt to be “atheists, agnostics, or nothingarians,” adds a third and then a fourth naysayer.
Sound familiar? You’ve heard it all before, I’m sure. Even so, it might come as a bit of a surprise to learn that every single one of these observations dates from the late 19th century.
All The European Countries Where Kosher and Halal Meat Production Are Now Forbidden
by Shira Feder for The Forward
A ban on the Jewish and Muslim methods of ritual slaughter of animals in Belgium’s northern Flemish region went into effect on January 1. The region’s capital is Antwerp, home to approximately 20,000 Jews.
This is just another step in a larger trend across Europe — which we’ve mapped out below, with individual restrictions and Jewish population numbers:
Why They Stay - The Jews of Iran
By Roya Hakakian
The horror and hope undergirding Jewish life in post-Revolution Iran
Among the world’s endangered minorities, Iranian Jews are an anomaly. Like their counterparts, their conditions categorically refute all the efforts their nation makes at seeming civilized and egalitarian—and so they embody, often without wanting to, all that is ugly and unjust about their native land.
But Iran’s Jewish community does something more. It also embodies the nation’s hope, the narrative of its resistance and struggle for a better future—one that has been on the brink of arriving ever since the revolution in 1979. To understand why Jews continue to remain in Iran is to understand the tortured tale of Iran. Nowhere else can the stubborn continuity of a minority stand as a metaphor in the elegy of a nation’s downfall.