Quashing Jewish Dissent on Israel

By Shalom Goldman, Duke University.A New Yorker cartoon of a few years back shows Moses and the Israelites crossing the Red Sea. Looking at Moses, one Israelite says to the other, "Well, he's alright, but I wish he were a little more pro-Israel."The leadership of American Jewish community organizations never has to worry about such criticism. For the officials of the self-described “major” American Jewish groups, "strong on Israel" is the first qualification of leadership, and “pro-Isr … [Read more...]

Religion, Revelation, and the Rolling Stones

Rolling Stones

By Shalom Goldman, Duke UniversityWhat do the Rolling Stones have to do with religion? Aside from the usual answer—that they are a religion in their own right for many rock and roll fans—they now find themselves in the midst of another kind of religious controversy. Surprisingly, it is a controversy that places, albeit briefly, Orthodox Jews and advocates for the Palestinian cause on the same side of an argument.The controversy arose when the Rolling Stones announced in March that they wo … [Read more...]

“And a Merry Christmas to You, Mr. Netanyahu!”

By Shalom Goldman, Duke UniversityAmerican Jews have long struggled with the Christmas Season. It may not be our holiday, many Jews have felt, but it is after all a great American holiday. How then are we to relate to it?For more traditional Jews, the national Christmas celebration generates anxiety about their place in the American religious landscape. In the second half of the 20th century, as Jews became more assimilated to American society, that anxiety was reduced in two ways: by … [Read more...]

Johnny Cash Is In the Promised Land

By Shalom Goldman, Duke UniversityJohnny Cash died on September 12, 2003, and as we approach the tenth anniversary of his death, his reputation as an American musical master seems only to grow. His recordings continue to sell briskly, particularly the Bootleg items released by Columbia Records. When I mentioned him to the college freshmen in my classes, who were born in 1994-5, they all knew Cash’s music. Many had seen the 2005 film about Cash, Walk the Line.That film was very good at d … [Read more...]

Religion, State, and Soccer in Israel

Teddy Stadium, Jerusalem

by Shalom Goldman, Duke University Throughout the world sports fans can be roused to emotional extremes of enthusiasm, euphoria, and despair that seem almost religious in nature. The only other public manifestation of emotion that comes close to sports in its intensity is at rock and roll concerts—and these concerts are increasingly held in sports stadiums. Also, more and more American sports greats are willing and eager to speak publicly about their Evangelical Christian commitments. These p … [Read more...]

God Speed: “Race Cars for Peace” in the Holy City

Formula One Scuderia Ferrari team driver Giancarlo Fisichella drives a Ferrari F60 past The Tower of David and the ancient walls of Jerusalem's Old City, during the second day of the Jerusalem Formula Peace Road Show

By Shalom Goldman, Duke UniversityIn the US, spectator sports and religious conviction often go hand in hand. Americans are used to players, and teams, who pray and play, invoking Jesus before, during, and after games. This happens on the basketball court, in baseball stadiums, and on football fields. And it is most notable on stock car racetracks, where prayers, along with game results, are often heard over the public address  systems. The tone and style of this sports religiosity is that of … [Read more...]

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...]

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...]


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