Three Great Jewish Journal Reads

What happens when Covid meets Wokeism?

Why do writers write?

Can schools coexist with Covid?

…if COVID contaminates our cells, wokeism contaminates our souls. We’re intolerant of those with different views. We blame everyone but ourselves for our problems. We spend our lives on a high horse of self-righteousness from where we can easily spit on anyone who’s not on our team.

If there is one thing COVID and wokeism do have in common, it is an utter absence of humor. As much as the coronavirus allows little room for levity, wokeism allows even less.

Writers who are fortunate enough to have a platform feel the moral obligation to express their reaction to circumstances because, as part of the human family, we are affected in one way or another by what befalls others. Such writing is aspirational, not pragmatic. It may be a cry in the wilderness but at least it is not silent acquiescence.

We are just beginning to understand the extent of the learning loss that occurred when students were limited to online classes over the last two years — and the even greater damage suffered by children from minority and lower-income communities. We have barely any clue as to the long-term psychological harm these young people suffered from their protracted isolation and desocialization while their schools were closed.

Three Great Reads from Around the Web

How easy is it to form new habits?

Is virtual reality real?

What’s the meaning of Tu B’Shevat?

For a lot of people, this is, without exaggeration, the dream: You decide you’d like to start doing something, you get past the initial phase of this new activity being hard and bad and a huge bummer, and then you do that thing for 40 years. It’s a deceptively simple fantasy—and, so often, an impossible one.

Despite calling my book Reality+, I’m still not entirely sure what the word “reality” has meant to me. There are so many different meanings for the word and philosophers love to make these distinctions. I guess in one meaning, reality is just everything that exists. It’s the entire cosmos. Reality is whatever there is and nothing else.

Though the trees intone hymns and three times a day they sway with praise for His beloved Name, He who gives them sun and rain in their season; though the trees persist in exalting the One whose praises cannot be exhausted, who told humankind that grapes are delicious and olives rich, so that they should be ripped and eaten; though the trees have never strayed to another, they do not even know the taste of their own fruits—still, their hearts flutter: perhaps they are not pure of sin…

Commentary on Parashat Beshalach

This week at the Jewish Journal, Parashat Beshalach is under discussion. Parashat Beshalach (Exodus 13:17-17:16) – features the people of Israel being led out of Egypt by pillars of cloud and fire, the dramatic parting of the Red Sea, the song of Miriam, the bread from heaven, Moses hitting the rock, and Israel’s war with Amalek.

“The Song of the Sea” [.] is the cry of the newborn; the gasp of rapture; it is the sound that emits from us when we apprehend the Divine in our Presence. It appears to us in our Agony and in our Ecstasy and implores us to apprehend the Divine with every tone of this broken-hearted world, returning us to the Source of Life.

…there is an essential difference between being liberated from exile, and redemption. Liberation from Egyptian exile was performed by God Himself, with no human intervention. The 10 plagues, which subdued the Egyptians, were all divine miracles, like the splitting of the Reed Sea. But for the Children of Israel to enter the Land of Israel, conquer it and establish in it a society founded on values of justice and morality, for them to reach redemption – they had to do it themselves…

The Shabbat in which we read from the Torah portion of Beshalach, which includes the story of the Jews crossing the Red Sea, is commonly referred to as Shabbat Shirah (“Shabbat of Song”), since the story continues with a song of thanks and praise to G‑d.

Some have the custom to feed the birds on this Shabbat [because of] the Midrashic tradition that fruit trees miraculously grew from the seabed, and the children plucked the fruits and fed them to the birds. Then the birds joined in with the singing of the Song of the Sea.

Three New Jewish Podcasts

Just in time for the weekend, three new podcasts about Judaism, Jewish culture, and Israel.

Who’s panicking about Omicron and who isn’t? Why did Curb not play up COVID? Are European shows better than American shows? Is there such a thing as an amazing frozen pizza? Are cops going easier on the smaller stuff?

Shmuel Rosner and Julian E. Zelizer discuss his latest book: “Abraham Joshua Heschel: A Life of Radical Amazement.”

Yossi Klein Halevi joins JNS editor-in-chief Jonathan Tobin to discuss relations between Arabs and Jews, the current Israeli government, the peace process and anti-Semitism.

Today’s Hot Issues

Three Great Jewish Journal Reads Three Great Reads from Around the Web Commentary on Parashat Beshalach Three New Jewish Podcasts