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Gedolim on Public Affairs

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The idea that gedolim—the rabbinic leadership of an era—involve themselves in public affairs has always been a sensitive matter, complicated, not in the least by the “daas-Torah” question—the idea that every political, societal, economic matter needs to be decided by halakha and din by a rabbinic...

Staying Sharp in the Summer

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Experts call it “summer learning loss.” It’s the educational tar pit that sucks kids’ learning out of them during long days of unfocused activity and can set students’ learning process back two or more months. What’s worse: The losses seem to be cumulative with summer after summer of loss adding up to two years of educational backsliding by the end of high school. Catherine Augustine, senior policy researcher with the RAND Corporation, recently pointed out that summer learning loss “contributes to a stubborn and long-lasting achievement gap.”

It is unsurprising that learning loss is far less pronounced for children who participate in summer programs that include an...

Jewish Day Schools and Student Scholarships

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Los Angeles—I was turned down for tuition assistance for my son at a Jewish day school. This was 40 years ago. I was told that the school could “no longer carry children like mine; schools could not provide dollars for my child, after all they had the Russian and the Israeli children to worry about.”Because I worked in the Jewish community, I was pretty devastated. And because there was no other choice, I moved on. Today my son is a wonderful man, father, and husband; perhaps he did not suffer, but then he did not receive a day school education.

I like to think things might be different today, and given my work with Valley Beth Shalom Harold M. Schulweis Day School and the BJE...

Shabbat Nachamu in Jerusalem 1920

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The Haftorah (prophetic portion) read on Shabbat Nachamu, which follows Tisha B’Av, expresses the message of comfort conveyed by the prophet Isaiah to a bereaved nation soon to endure a prolonged exile for over two and-a-half millennia. Every year, the immortal words of Isaiah offer consolation and hope. In the city of Jerusalem in 1920, a reading of that Haftorah resounded throughout the Holy City and infused the people of Jerusalem with a renewed sense of hope.

Following the First World War, British military authorities in the Land of Israel, displayed hostility towards Zionism. During Passover 1920, pogroms were perpetrated by Arabs against the Jews of the Old City of Jerusalem. A...

Jewish History in Moving Pictures: A Treasure Trove of Yiddish Kultur

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BOSTON – When Barbra Streisand needed visual inspiration to create shtetl sets for Yentl, there was only one place she could call. Since 1976, the National Center for Jewish Film (NCJF) has bridged the divide between a lost Yiddish world and contemporary Jewish filmmaking. In addition to restoring and distributing forgotten classics of Yiddish cinema, the center represents Jewish filmmakers in the U.S., Israel and elsewhere.

Operating from a cozy basement space at Brandeis University, NCJF is the only film archive focused on the Jewish Diaspora. Treasures include more than 15,000 reels from around the world, ranging from 1920s-era Lithuanian “home movies” to the 1947 Exodus...

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