Sephardic Halachic Rulings: From Moderation and Inclusion to Extremism and Separatism?
Did the Jewish communities in the Islamic world really have a more moderate tradition, and, if so, why has it been abandoned by Sephardic religious leaders in recent decades? The case of Rabbi Amsalem of the Shas political party raises an issue that goes deeper than immediate political concern, touching on the adoption of an Ashkenazi-haredi halachic attitude by Sephardic religious leadership. Hartman Institute research fellows Professor Zvi Zohar and Dr. Ariel Picard discuss Sephardic religious rulings and offer different interpretations of the changes that these have undergone.
Judaism and the New Age
Two small communities trying to create a "New Age" type of Jewish setting were established in Israel at the beginning of the decade. They incorporated meditation into prayer and integrated bodily experiences into religious ritual. A study by Rachel Werczberger demonstrates how these communities symbolize Judaism as a flexible cultural resource, serving many Israelis in their formation of a personal and collective identity.
God in Times of Destruction and Exiles / Dalit Rom-Shiloni
How did Jewish leaders, writers, and prophets deal with the theological questions raised by the destruction of Jerusalem in the first half of the 6th century BCE? How did the disaster affect their perception of God and God’s place in the universe? Orit Avnery reviews Dalit Rom-Shiloni’s book God in Times of Destruction and Exiles, which grapples with these questions.
Avraham Shlonsky—poet, editor, translator, playwright, and publicist—was recognized during his lifetime as one of the giants of the revival of Hebrew culture. This is precisely why Rani Jaeger writes that Shlonsky was doomed to the fate typical of individuals who become symbols (like Herzl as “the visionary of the State” and Bialik as “the national poet”), which overshadows the complexity of their creation.
What Is God’s Name?
Why is God’s name considered holy? Has it always been holy? What is unique about God’s Hebrew name and how has it affected religious thinking around the world throughout the generations? A conversation with Hillel Ben-Sasson, doctoral candidate in the Department of Philosophy at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem researching the meaning of God’s explicit name in Jewish thought: