When Disaster Strikes By R. Miriam Berkowitz


One Saturday night in November, 1995, I was making havdala with JTS rabbinical students spending a year in Israel Matt Berkowitz, Matt Eisenfeld z”l and Shai Held in their apartment in Rehavia. The calmness of the evening broke down when an urgent announcement of the tragic and unexpected murder of then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was made on the radio.

How did Mount Herzl Get its Name? Professor Doron Bar on Herzl's Final Resting Place


In August 1949, Theodore Herzl’s remains were moved from Vienna to the newly established State of Israel. Professor Doron Bar, President of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, tells the story of how Jerusalem was given the honor of reinterring Herzl and how all of Israel paid tribute to the founder of Zionism by sending small bags of dirt from their communities around the country to be included in the grave. How else was Herzl honored? 

Jerusalem of Skyscrapers? Professor Doron Bar on the City's Changing Population


Sunday, the 28th of Iyyar, marks the 51st anniversary of Jerusalem’s unification. Professor Doron Bar, President of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, and a 7th generation Jerusalemite, tells the story of Jerusalem’s changing population through the lens of his family history. How has Israel’s largest city evolved from a a small group living within the Old City walls to an expansive metropolis?

What would Herzl and Jabotinsky think about how we look after 70 Years? Eitan Cooper on Parshat Behar


The two great proponents of political Zionism – Herzl and Jabotinsky, were both classical liberals, who championed free markets and private property as critical to economic development of the future Jewish State, while underscoring the critical importance of social solidarity. Neither was religious, yet both of them in their Zionist visions called for the implementation of the Biblical Jubilee year as ethical and moral bulwarks in a Jewish State.

Israel and the Jewish People in the 21st Century


Neve Schechter’s Gallery in Tel Aviv is currently exhibiting “Sphere”. Several beautiful spherical paintings around the theme of the Omer Season (Leviticus Ch. 23) by two talented Israeli artists are on display, but what evokes a powerful response are four large screens on which women count to 49 in eerily male voices, each time turning around. Secular Israeli women, grappling with the tradition of counting the Omer, are providing a poignant commentary on the exclusion of women’s voices in Jewish tradition. What does this commentary reflect? Zionism was a revolutionary response to the crisis of Jewish identity in 19th century Europe. The framework of Jewish life that had assured survival for 1,800 years; a semi-autonomous faith community, regulated by Jewish Law and strong familial connections, could no longer swim against the powerful currents of liberal enlightenment, secular nationalism and socialism.