Best Of The Web
“Rabbis these days have a lot to contend with: the instability of Jewish identity, a restless and questioning flock, American Jews’ rocky relationship with the State of Israel, dwindling cultural literacy. Come June, July, and August, they encounter yet another hurdle as their congregants make for the shore, the lake, or the mountains, challenging the clerical powers-that-be to come up with film screenings, concerts, and classes to keep the lights on.
But take heart, rabbis. This latter-day, seasonal exodus is not new. Dating to the early years of the previous century and given a name—“summer Judaism”—it gave rise to considerable soul searching about the nature of faith and the limits of community.
As much a meteorological phenomenon as a cultural one, summer Judaism was, in part, a creation of the weather. In the dog days before air conditioning, it was just too hot to sit in the sanctuary on a summer morning. The stalwart worshippers who did so were apt to be “listless, inattentive and fully as much concerned with their physical comfort as with the prayers or sermons,” related one Kansas City rabbi. Increasingly, America’s Jews stayed away, prompting urban congregations either to close for the season, or, as one observer put it in 1906, to “drowse along through the summer with short services, perhaps for the mourners.””
JJ Editor's Picks
"U.S. President Donald Trump thinks he’s suffered more injustice than the alleged witches of Salem, but it could be worse. Pakistan’s former president Pervez Musharaff faced possible impeachment in 2008, leading to his resignation. In the end..."
"The 2000s felt like a decade of looking forward. Wi-Fi went mainstream, phones got smarter, social media connected us, digital tools let us rely less on physical ones. But the 2010s brought a shift. There was still tons of new technology, but..."
"While some women experience pregnancy and childbirth as joyful, natural and fulfilling, others find themselves recoiling in horror at the physical demands of carrying and sustaining a child in their womb, and even more so at the potential..."
"A few months ago, the New York Post’s Steve Cuozzo bemoaned the death of the Manhattan power lunch. Gone were the long, decadent afternoons filled with networking and Negronis: “Suit-and-tie-wearing machers in media and Wall Street gave way to..."
"Economic inequality has moved to the top of the political agenda in many countries, including free-market poster children like the US and the UK. The issue is mobilizing the left and causing headaches on the right, where wealth has long been..."
"If you’re not familiar with the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Cats — or even if you are — then you probably have many, many questions going into the film adaptation this weekend, especially if you’ve witnessed the widespread bafflement the trailer..."
"Despite his precisely targeted campaign and some unexpected support, the chances of Gideon Saar engineering a surprise defeat of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Dec. 26 primaries for the Likud party leadership are still considered modest.."
"Peter Thiel is Big Tech’s most prominent Trump supporter. He is an unabashed enemy of the free press, having covertly funded a lawsuit that bankrupted Gawker three years ago. He has become one of the most vocal pro-monopoly advocates, taking a..."