Opinion on common reading

Opinion | The Fights That Bind

A glutton for punishment, I recently slogged my way through all 316 online comments attached to a New York Times piece in which two Howard University officials, Brandon Hogan and Jacoby Adeshei Carter, defended themselves against the accusation by Cornel West and Jeremy Tate in The Washington Post that their decision to eliminate Howard University’s classics department to save money was a “spiritual catastrophe.”

Continue reading


What Israeli School Children Learn About American Jewish Life

The year 2017 was another rocky one in the relationship between Israel and many American Jews, punctuated by conflict over matters once considered common ground. Some controversies—including a backlash over comments about American Jews’ military service by Israeli deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely—suggest a level of misunderstanding that could end up harming both sides.

Continue reading

Opinion | The Hidden Costs of School Vouchers

How should Jewish schools weigh the need for autonomy against the lure of state subsidies? Some day schools, mostly non-Orthodox and in smaller Jewish communities, are already happily educating many children who do not identify as Jewish. Hebrew-language charter schools in cities like New York and Los Angeles straddle the boundary between public school and day school, with majority non-Jewish student bodies and a focus on language and culture rather than religion.

Continue reading

James Kugel: Professor of Disbelief

When I was a teenager, there was a legend repeated in the Jewish schools of my hometown. If you somehow manage to get into godless Harvard, don’t go. But if, against your rosh yeshiva and rebbe’s advice, you actually go, whatever you do, don’t take biblical scholar James Kugel’s class. If you do, you’ll walk into Introduction to the Bible, see that the professor is wearing a yarmulke and assume the course is kosher. And, the story goes, you’ll walk out a heretic.

Continue reading