The Top 16 Most-Read Stories From 2016

By | Dec 26, 2016

By Ellen Wexler

In an election year, only four of our top stories concerned American politics. Instead, our readers sought out stories about culture, history and complex ideological divides. But most of all, our readers wanted to learn about people—the queen of British detective fiction, the Holocaust denier who took his case to court, a renowned commentator’s shift to matters of morality. Here are Moment‘s 16 most-read stories from 2016.

16. Books That Shaped Great Authors

“Author Jorge Luis Borges once wrote, ‘I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.’ Indeed, regardless of what they write, authors have a great love of reading in common. For our special books issue, Moment asked 20 prominent Jewish authors to discuss the books that shaped them. Their answers are highly personal, ranging from A. A. Milne’s children’s classic Winnie-the-Pooh to Primo Levi’s Holocaust memoir The Periodic Table.”


15. Book Review: The Angel by Uri Bar-Joseph

“Nine years have passed since the mysterious death of Ashraf Marwan, the senior Egyptian government official who volunteered to spy for Israel’s Mossad. Marwan remains at the center of a bitter controversy over why the October 1973 attack that launched the Yom Kippur War took Israel by surprise. The key question about Marwan is this: Did he give Israel all the information it needed to protect itself, or was he a double agent, loyal above all else to Egypt as he pulled the wool over the Israelis’ eyes?”


14. The Jews Who Choose Trump

He tells it like it is. It’s a campaign standard for Trump, and it’s the rationale the group uses to describe why the candidate would be better for Israel. On its website, it quotes Trump on his support for Israel and his opposition to the Iran deal. ‘Trump suffers no confusion as to who is a friend and who is a foe,’ the group writes. ‘Those people who place as their top priority the security of Israel—they’re voting for Trump,’ Greenwald says. ‘And those that are Democrats first and Jews second—they’re voting for Hillary Clinton.'”


13. Jewish Genes as Time Machines

“I have concluded that the positive outcomes of DNA research outweigh the possible negative ones and in fact provide a powerful tool for the reconstruction of Jewish history. There is no hiding from DNA: It is one of the defining forces of our times.”


12. Is There a “Jewish” Way to Parent?

“Jews are intensely interested in parenting. As Jewish mothers, we’ve always been labeled overprotective zealots—every joke is about chicken soup, ‘Oy, wear a sweater,’ and so forth. So we end up a little more attuned to examining whether we really are overprotective. And I don’t think we are. I think all parents want kids to wear a sweater and not get hurt crossing the street.”


11. Talk of the Table: Just ( Deli ) Desserts

“Like much of the Jewish culinary canon, modern Jewish pastries were influenced by the world around them. The familiar cookies we see now in Jewish-style delicatessens were, in many cases, riffs on the desserts of various immigrant groups comingling with Jews in America.”


10. It’s Not Just That Hillary Is a Woman

“I’m supporting Hillary Clinton not because I’m a woman and she’s a woman, but because she has worked tirelessly on behalf of all women, even the young ones who criticize her. ‘They may not support me now,’ she told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow at a February debate, ‘but I support them and we’ll work together.’”


9. I’m Just Saying No To Hillary Clinton

“Yes, I’m voting for Donald Trump. And I’m proud of it. If anyone had told me two years ago that I’d be making that statement, I would have done a Jon Stewart eye roll and stare. What? The guy from reality TV? The ‘You’re fired’ guy with the funny hair and New York accent? That guy?!”


8. The Mystery of 
the Cairo Codex

“For nearly 1,000 years, Cairos Karaites guarded one of the world’s most legendary Hebrew manuscripts. Thirty years ago, it vanished.”


7. Elisha Wiesel Remembers His Father

“As I mourn him, I realize that I am not like other mourners because whenever I want to hear my father’s voice, I can pick up a book from my bedside and I can hear him speak. I think that is true in a larger sense as well in terms of his legacy. If people want to know what my father thought of something, they should read his books and reread his speeches. It is all there.”


6. Opening a Pandora’s Box of Hate

“Jewish stereotypes were resurrected by the alt-right, an amorphous subset of the right steeped in white ethno-nationalistic anger. In past national elections, these anti-establishment voices were largely confined to isolated corners of the Internet. This time, through adroit use of Internet memes (text, images or video that are planted and spread virally) on social media, the alt-right punched above its weight.”


5. David Irving Sticks to His Script

“From one letter grew a multi-million-pound libel dispute that would consume several years of Lipstadt’s life and put on the line not only her reputation as a historian but the world’s understanding of the Holocaust.”

Divide between American Jews and Israel

4. The Growing Gap Between Israel and American Jews

“Ties between American Jews and Israel, while still strong, are fraying. With the help of rabbis and scholars, historians and journalists, diplomats and activists, Moment explores the forces pulling the Jewish state and the American Jewish community apart—and holding them together.”


3. The Curious Case of Dorothy L. Sayers and the Jew Who Wasn’t There

“Just how did the celebrated detective novelist actually feel about her Jewish characters—and why, in these books, can’t she seem to shut up about them? Why are there so many? Something is going on, something more complicated and personal than casual anti-Semitism and a good deal more interesting.”


2. Top Ten Jewish Podcasts

“If you don’t listen to a podcast (or eight), your coworker probably does—or your best friend, or your brother, or your grandma. Podcasts are the medium du jour, though the term itself—barely a decade old—is already a bit outdated… Jewish podcasting in particular is having a moment, broadening in recent years from a selection of Torah study and sermons to an eclectic mix of history, humor and more.”


David Brooks

© Stephen Voss

1. The Evolution of David Brooks

“No, I didn’t have a midlife crisis. If anything, it was the opposite, it was moments of coming home and seeing my kids so happy, and meeting people who were just so joyful. And I would love to experience and radiate that inner joy, which they did. So it’s more aspirational than that I hit rock bottom and I’m rebounding.”


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