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Welcome to Moment’s music issue! One of the great powers of music is that it brings people together; it’s one of those rare things in life where people of varying beliefs and proclivities can find common ground. Take, for example, the late Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia, who strongly disagreed on matters of jurisprudence but bonded and became dear friends over their mutual love of opera. With unity in short supply, and with sheer delight, Moment embarked on an ambitious year-long undertaking—talking with a diverse array of musicians, scholars and music lovers—to compile this wide-ranging compilation of music with Jewish significance. “A Soundtrack of the Jewish People” is a tapestry of genres, featuring interviews with legends such as Yefim Bronfman, David Broza, Angela Buchdahl, Tovah Feldshuh, Evgeny Kissin, Zalmen Mlotek, Leslie Odom Jr., Neil Sedaka, Regina Spektor and more.
Also in this issue, journalist Larry Kohler-Esses takes us to the streets of Crown Heights and into the complicated relationship between the Lubavitch and Black communities who have lived there side by side for decades. In Jewish Word, Senior Editor George E. Johnson explains how the Kaddish might not have been associated with mourning if not for a 12th- or 13th-century folktale about redemption in the afterlife.
In Perspectives, Samuel C. Heilman describes the quandary faced by Hasidim trying to convince their community to take COVID-19 seriously. Naomi Ragen looks at how both Haredi and secular Israelis’ flouting of lockdown rules helped lead to Israel’s recent COVID-19 spike. Letty Cottin Pogrebin wonders, in the wake of #MeToo revelations, who should be includedor—excluded—in a modern Jewish canon. Irwin Cotler, a former minister of justice and attorney general of Canada, makes the case for why we—Jews in particular—must act to help the Uighers in China. In Moment Debate, we examine whether today’s police need to be reimagined and if so, how. The Jewish Political Voices Project shares the reflections of ten participants on what they learned about America this past election year. And to close out our 45th anniversary year, we are republishing a satirical piece from Calvin Trillin that appeared in Moment’s inaugural issue.
In anticipation of Hanukkah, we ask our rabbis whether Jews believe in miracles. And in Talk of the Table we present the ultimate latke topping showdown: applesauce vs. sour cream. Plus original fiction, books reviews, poetry and more!