The Next Pope and the Jews

First Things. (March 11, 2013.) When the next pope is elected, pronouncements from major Jewish organizations will follow this basic script: Mazel tov. Your recent predecessors did many good things for the Jews; please expand them. Your predecessors also did many bad things for the Jews; please admit this and do better. Mazel tov again,…

Can’t Buy Me Judaism

eJewish Philanthropy. (August 2012.) “The day is not far off,” wrote John Meynard Keynes, “when the economic problem will take the back seat where it belongs, and the arena of the heart and the head will be occupied or reoccupied, by our real problems – the problems of life and of human relations, of creation…

Ma’alot Tsedaqah and Ordine Caritatis: Orders of Charitable Priority in Maimonides and Aquinas

Journal of Ecumenical Studies. (Spring 2012.) In the context of works that would become profoundly influential to each scholar’s respective religious tradition, both Moses Maimonides (in his Mishneh Torah) and Thomas Aquinas (in his Summa Theologiae) formulated orders of priority for charitable giving. Similarities and differences between these formulations illuminate broader similarities and differences between Jewish…

The Jews Occupying Wall Street

First Things. (October 14, 2011.) As an angry mob has amassed in New York’s financial district, and countless other cities, promising to “Occupy Wall Street [Or Your Location Here],” I have felt a discomfort that grows more insistent by the day. Not because I am one of the nation’s wealthiest one percent (I am quite…

A Particularly Universal Love

First Things. (August 1, 2011.) In an article for Haaretz (subsequently picked up by the über-aggregator The Huffington Post ), Mira Sucharov reopens the “particularism vs. universalism debate,” arguing the utter superiority of universalism and the foul depravity of particularism in strident terms“even to the extent of invoking everyone’s favorite debating tactic: tying the other side to Hitler. Surprisingly,…

Song: VeEirastikh Li / Anah Dodi

A setting of verses from Hosea and Song of Songs, performed by Cantor Meredith Greenberg and the JTS Choir at the 2010 Shalshelet music festival. (Music by Seth Chalmer; lyrics by Hosea and King Solomon.) Image: “Song of Songs-Last” by Aharon April.