Archive for 'American Jewish Issues'

History at the Crossroads: Evaluating Pope Pius XII’s Legacy

Once again the issue of Pope Pius XII’s potential beatification has come back into the news. Indeed, many people wonder: how could the Pope bequeath sainthood to a man who watched 1000 Jews in Rome being rounded up to the gas-chambers, without so much as uttering a protest? Questions like these are difficult to answer… however, it is easy for us to be critical after the fact; however, it is a huge leap to presume that Pope Pius XII did ...

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George Washington and the Miracle of Chanukah

Hi, two  friends sent me the following story[1]…I have scoured the Google Library to see whether it is apocryphal or historically based; clearly it is the former. Nevertheless, it is an interesting read that may also be found  in the Sefer Pardes Chanukah. This is a folk story about George Washington and the Jewish soldier who fought alongside the famous general. The narrative is attributed to a personal journal of a Jewish soldier who fought alongside General George Washington at ...

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Why do Lubavitchers spit whenever saying the Alenu Prayer?

Why do Lubavitchers spit whenever saying the Alenu Prayer?

This is a great question, but to put it in perspective, we must first analyze the  Alenu Prayer and its historical development. Without a doubt, the Alenu is one of the most moving prayers of the Jewish liturgy; it calls upon all the members of humankind to accept the One and only King of Kings, as Lord and Master of all the earth. Its universal message envisions a time when all the ...

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Augustine and the “Mark of Cain”

What is the significance of the “mark of Cain” (Gen. 4:15)?

The text does not identify exactly what the sign was. Historically, this passage has often served as a scriptural support for Christian persecution of the Jews. For Cain, this was a mark of God’s special loving care and protection. For Jerome’s contemporary, Augustine, this idea proved to be a fertile concept for his comparison of Cain to the Jews. Curiously, Augustine, said nothing about this mark serving as a protective ...

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Understanding the Purpose of the Levirate Marriage and Its Symbolism

One of the ancient institutions that have persisted since archaic times is the levirate marriage. Here is a brief synopsis of the institution and its underlying rational.

Life of a widow in the ancient world was precarious at best. Having no inheritance rights, she was easily exploited and was frequently reduced to abject poverty and/or prostitution. Many ancient civilizations from India, Africa, to the Ancient Near East utilized the levirate marriage (from the Latin  levir, a “brother-in-law”) as a means of ...

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