Three Great Weekend Reads

In case you missed them…

Is western guilt ruining society?

What’s so special about giraffes?

Why is third grade so important?

The guilty conscience suits us: It’s the alibi for our abdication. It expresses the surprisingly easy coexistence of dread and calm, of denial and good digestion. We wrap ourselves in the robes of the perpetual criminal, the better to keep our distance from the world and its torments. And now the West is weaker than ever—rudderless, leaderless—since the United States withdrew from world affairs.

We don’t know why the giraffe looks as it does. Until relatively recently, its neck was explained in the way Darwin suggested: the ‘competing browsers hypothesis’ posits, commonsensically, that competition from browsers such as impala and kudu encouraged the gradual lengthening of the neck, allowing it to reach food the others couldn’t. Recently, though, it has been shown that giraffes spend relatively little time browsing at full height, and the longer-necked individuals are more likely to die in times of famine.

Mr. Chetty draws on data to answer questions like what age a person’s future has been largely determined (around 23), which ZIP codes provide the most economic opportunity (including some in rural Iowa), and what stands between a third-grader who will grow up to become an inventor and one who will not.

Three Great Jewish Reads

In case you missed them…

What’s it like to witness an in-person Jewish event again?

Is America the craziest place on earth?

Why did it take the UK so long to recognize Labour’s antisemitism?

Remember those ancient things? Real Jewish events? Where a whole bunch of people gather to raise money for a good cause? And then rush out to be first in line at the valet parking? We used to have hundreds of those. If you were wired into the community, you probably got about five invitations a week.

We are contradictory, hypocritical, virtuous, flawed, rebellious, divided, united, together and apart. We are all those things and more. But one thing we are not and never will be – controllable. No one can tame America.

The United Kingdom is not alone in its failure to recognize anti-Semitism. The non-Jewish world often fails to condemn anti-Semitism because it has trouble recognizing anti-Semitism as a form of racism.

Commentary on Parashat Toldot

This week at the Jewish Journal, Parashat Toldot is under discussion. In this parsha, two twins, Esau and Jacob, have complicated relations. Esau is beloved by his father, Jacob by his mother, and only one of them can get a blessing from their father.

“Why do we like Jacob? Because we like the underdog, and Jacob at the very least starts out as the underdog. But more than that, we know from the very beginning of the story that we’re in for a twist.”

And the Lord said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples will issue from your body, and one people will become mightier than the other people, and the elder will serve the younger. Gen. 25:23

Judy Gruen: Siblings are often so astonishingly different from one another that it’s hard to fathom they share the same parents. Even in utero, Rivka felt her twins’ oppositional natures…

Of all the numbers in the ancient text
three is one of the least famous.

Ten is up there with plagues and commandments
Six days of creation
Forty shows up almost everywhere
…..years in the desert
…..days and nights of rain
…..weeks in a mothers womb
…..curses on Adam
… goes on
One God, of course

Click here to read more…

Three New Jewish Podcasts

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

A conversation with entrepreneur Mike Leven on his Jewish Future Pledge initiative.
How do we manage our lives during the coronavirus crisis? How do we keep our sanity?

“The idea of the pledge is to protect what we’re going today and to get the next generations involved in what their parents and grandparents have done.”

Shmuel Rosner and Rabbi Dan Ornstein discuss his latest book – Cain V. Abel: A Jewish Courtroom Drama.

“Cain v. Abel is my attempt to do contemporary midrash on the Cain and Abel story, which has always fascinated me.”

“This week, Erin and Esther talked Jewish community with Caroline Dorn and Ellie Klein Goldman, the newly-revealed co-authors of @RogueShul, a Twitter account that provided an anonymous, empathetic and often funny look inside the walls of synagogues and Jewish community organizations.”

Today’s Hot Issues

Three Great Weekend Reads Three Great Jewish Reads Commentary on Parashat Toldot Three New Jewish Podcasts