Inhofe, with God on His Side, vs. Hagel

By Shalom Goldman, Duke UniversityAt the confirmation hearings for Chuck Hagel’s nomination to head the Department of Defense, the former senator from Nebraska has been pilloried by some of his former Republican colleagues, most forcefully by current Nebraska Senator Jim Inhofe. At Thursday’s hearings, Inhofe said that on security issues, “Hagel’s record is deeply troubling and out of the mainstream.”In a Washington Post op-ed piece published a week before the Hagel hearings commenced, In … [Read more...]

Are Evangelicals Monopolizing, Misleading US Anti-Trafficking Efforts?

Yvonne Zimmerman

 Since the late 1990s, the US federal government has stepped up its efforts to stop human trafficking – the trade in human beings, usually for forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation. The primary anti-trafficking legislation is the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), passed through Congress in 2000. During his presidency, President George W. Bush described trafficking as “evil” and focused much of his rhetoric against trafficking on what he called the exploitation of women … [Read more...]

A Bagel with Hagel? Not If You Are an American Jewish “Leader”

By Shalom Goldman, Duke UniversityEver since the name of Chuck Hagel was floated by the Obama White House as a possible appointment to the post of Secretary of Defense, conservative Republicans have been telling us that the former Nebraska senator was the worst possible choice for the job. Particularly pointed were the remarks of Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who said that, “Chuck Hagel, if confirmed to be the secretary of defense, would be the most antagonistic secretary of d … [Read more...]

Women of the Wall in Comparative Perspective

By Laurie L. Patton, Duke UniversityIn December, the group of Jewish women activists arguing for women’s rights to pray near Jerusalem’s Western wall in full religious regalia, using tallit (prayer shawl) and tefillin (phylactery), faced yet another setback. It is now against the law for women even to bring tallit and tefillin near the Wall. Women are regularly stopped by the police and asked not to enter if they possess those items. Yet Women of the Wall continue to push against these inc … [Read more...]

Men of the Clergy, Women of the Wall

By Shalom Goldman, Duke University Within Israeli Jewish society, a frequently-heard witticism is that “the synagogue I don’t go to must be Orthodox.” This is a way of signaling that the speaker does not have much use for clergymen and rituals, but if he or she did need them, they would seek out an Orthodox cleric and house of worship. This well-known Israeli adage conveys a numbers of uncomfortable truths. First, the great majority of Israeli Jews don’t attend a synagogue regularly.  In contra … [Read more...]

Top 10 Religion Stories of the Year

Journalists vote for contraception fight as top 2012 U.S. religion story, pick Cardinal Dolan as top newsmaker COLUMBIA, MO—As the nation reeled from the Dec. 14 killing of 20 first graders and six adults in Newtown, Conn., religious leaders sought to console a stunned public and to discern religion’s role in future debates about mental health and gun control.The No. 1 U.S. religion story in December 2012 was, without a doubt, the school attack and the mournful search for meaning that fol … [Read more...]

The NY Synagogue Statement on the Palestinians: Too Little, and 40 Years Too Late

By Shalom Goldman, Duke UniversityA few days after the United Nations voted overwhelmingly to raise the status of Palestine to a “nonmember observer state,” the Rabbis and directors of a New York synagogue caught the attention of the national media by issuing a statement praising the UN for the vote. The Israeli government had, of course, condemned it. In an email message to the members of their large (2000-plus) congregation, Rabbis Rolando Matalon, Marcelo Bronstein and Felicia Sol of B’n … [Read more...]