Objects in the World Are Words Spoken By God

Poet Scott Cairns talks about something adjacent to an element of my own conversion--and, like me, he found this truth in Judaism as well as Christianity. The title of this post comes from Christianity in Jewish Terms, a fascinating little pomo book which helped me quite a bit in sorting through what I believed and how my Christian spirituality was shaped. ...Raised a Baptist, Cairns’ faith journey involved a deep study of Jewish texts and Christian theology as well as a period as a P … [Read more...]

“Sorry for (Communist) Partying”: I review “After the Revolution”

at AmCon: The engine which runs “After the Revolution,” a play by Amy Herzog that will show at Theater J (the theater of Washington’s Jewish Community Center) through October 6, is a generations-old betrayal: A fledgling leftist activist from a family of Communist Jews learns that her much-honored grandfather spied for the Soviet Union during World War II and then perjured himself in front of HUAC denying it.The revelation shatters Emma Joseph’s trust in her family and in her own righteo … [Read more...]

What I Learned from Being a Christmas-and-Easter Jew

'Tis the season. I went to my first Easter morning Mass ever this year, and holy cats, was it packed! Yikes. Just wall-to-wall Catholics in all phases of forward- and backsliding. It got me thinking about what I learned from being intermittently Jewish as a kid--taken to High Holy Days services a few times, once? twice? to Purim, sometimes to Passover seders. I honestly don't remember how often we did any of this. But somewhat to my surprise, I think most of the lessons I learned from this … [Read more...]

“The Novel of Belief and Jewish-American Demography”

Two of my obsessions together at last! ...The most compelling characters in Zoe Heller’s The Believers (2009) and Joshua Henkin’s The World Without You (2012) are daughters Rosa and Noelle, each a ba’ala teshuva who “converts” from the secular Judaism of her youth to Orthodoxy. The Believers, as its title indicates, is about belief of all kinds—of what, if not the religious, we will put our faith in. Henkin’s first novel, Swimming Across the Hudson, takes up a related theme as its protagonist gr … [Read more...]


YES. Via Ratty. … [Read more...]

“Ancient Prescriptions for New Prisons”

This article is heavily filtered through multiple stages of observation and interpretation. And it's hard to draw policy prescriptions from broad comparisons between different countries--we're often told that we should adopt wholesale the policies of France or Sweden, or in this case Israel, and these prescriptions usually ignore at least some of the reasons we haven't done that already. But I hope Rabbi Adlerstein's article helps expand what we think is possible and desirable in prisons: Can … [Read more...]

“Someday you may be a refugee”

lyrics by Tony Kushner; link via AC: … [Read more...]