Archive for February, 2013

Paul’s activity, reduced to simplest terms, was to bring to people, Jew or Greek, the good tidings that through identification with Christ a man could escape the destruction to come. His message is based on views of man, of life, and of the shortness of time left to this world – views which are poles apart from the views of rabbinic Judaism. The rabbis conceived of man, essentially noble and free, serenely doing God’s will in a world destined permanently to endure. Paul, on the other hand, exhibits not serenity, but charged emotion; the world is about to be destroyed, and helpless, sinful man needs to escape the destruction. God has made eligible for that escape those who believe that the death and resurrection of Jesus, the Christ, transformed them from evil, bodily persons into good, spiritual beings.

Rabbi Samuel Sandmel, A Jewish Understanding of the New Testament, 3rd ed. (Woodstock, VT: SkyLight Paths Publishing, 2005), 75.


“Even if we had not had the financial crunch, we would have continued to focus our energies more and more around innovation and change, because of other things taking place in Jewish life,” he said. “The kind of multipurpose national service agency model that was in existence…in 1981 isn’t as relevant as it once was.”

Julie Wiener, “For Jewish Education Reform, A ‘Very Messy Period’”, The Jewish Week (1 February 2013), 18.

In the 1950s, Shlomo Bardin, the founder of the Brandeis Camp Institute (BCI) in California, was the first to use the term in the United States, according to Lawrence Fine, author of Physician of the Soul, Healer of the Cosmos: Isaac Luria and His Kabbalistic Fellowship. By 1970, the Conservative movement named its youth social action program “Tikkun Olam”, and, in 1988, included the doctrine of tikkun olam in its statement of principles.
Tikkun olam took off because “it is so aligned with the cultural values of American Jews,” says Rabbi Sidney Schwarz, author of Judaism and Justice: The Jewish Passion to Repair the World. At the same time, it also took on political connotations. In 1986, when Michael Lerner founded the bimonthly Jewish magazine Tikkun, tikkun olam took a step toward becoming a universal rallying cry for change that transcends Judaism and includes all of humanity.

Sarah Breger, “How Tikkun Olam Got Its Groove” Moment (May/June 2010), 24, 27.

What is clear, however, is that the work of Heinrich Graetz appears to have been quite peculiarly and unfairly ignored by Christian scholars, and not taken into account in the effort to attain some balanced assessment of the gains and losses of the historical movement in the study of biblical history. He must surely be rescued from the unjust accusation of being “uncritical”. From a Christian perspective, he appears rather in the nature of a Jewish apologist, but against this must certainly be set the fact that the school of historical interpretation that took its lead from Wellhausen has appeared to be decidedly anti-Jewish. On this score alone, it is obviously of the greatest importance to scholarship to avoid avoid any confusion between historiographic method and theological evaluation.

R.E. Clements, “Heinrich Graetz as Biblical Historian and Religious Apologist” in Interpreting the Hebrew Bible: Essays in Honour of E.I.J. Rosenthal, eds. J.A. Emerton and Stefan C. Reif (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982), 53.

Dwelling on the indignities of the past will not renew our passion for a just life – rather the creation of a vibrant future-oriented discourse must be the basis of our identity…. As his teacher Rabbi Joseph Dov Soloveitchik said: “The Jewish people were not put in this world simply to fight anti-Semitism.”

Rabbi Mishael Zion, “Five Big Hartman Ideas” The Times of Israel (16 February 2013) {}

It’s an irony of modern-day life that while each year the Kosherfest trade show displays hekshered versions of ever-more goyische items – from beef jerky to Jamaican jerk – some of the most interesting Ashkenazi Jewish fare these days is decidedly treif.

Ben Sales, “The Gentrification of the Gefilte”, The Jewish Week (13 April 2012), 25.

The study of different literary elements in rabbinic literature must be sensitive to the different philological strata of this great corpus. It is not that the rhetorical excludes the historical, or vice versa, but rather that rhetoric, including rabbinic rhetoric, always has its own history.

Azzan Yadin, “The Hammer on the Rock: Polysemy and the School of Rabbi Ishmael,” Jewish Quarterly Review 10:1 (2003), 17.