Archive for the ‘Holidays/Festivals’ Category

With Rosh Hashanah in our minds and hearts, we are pleased to share new articles for the holiday by David Hartman and Donniel Hartman, as well as additional articles from our scholars. 

Rabbi Dr. David Hartman

  •  David Hartman illuminates the significance of Rosh Hashanah through an analysis of the Akeidah:

Two of the most important biblical stories we revisit every Rosh Hashana are the binding of Isaac (known in the Hebrew parlance as the Akeida), and Abraham’s argument with God regarding the fate of the inhabitants of Sedom. These two accounts represent two different religious anthropologies: one of sacrificial self-surrender, and one of assertive moral challenge.

Read “The Akeidah”: A Window into God’s Humanity and Our Own 



The Shalom Hartman Institute wishes all of our readers a happy, healthy, and a sweet New Year! 


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Has there ever been a more contentious time in Jerusalem than now? Or is that a joke? It has always been the most contentious time in Jerusalem: invaders, occupants, takeovers, fences, walls, barbed wire, combat, fire, and more are in the earthly history of Jerusalem.

Yet now, while we hope and pray there is never again a shooting war in Jerusalem, is a particularly contentious time where the future of Jerusalem as an earthly and spiritual city, as well as the capital(s?) of state(s?) is under heated discussion. It seems that every apartment built, every synagogue reopened, every road/street repair causes someone to get agitated, from the President of the United States to the lowliest local resident. I do not mean to equate all of these concerns; some are clearly more serious on a global, political, and spiritual basis than others. But it does make for lively discussion when the city’s Mayor is snubbed by the White House and the Interior Minister is invited.

Herein, then, in advance of this year’s Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day – May 12, 2010)  are several articles and essays by Hartman Institute scholars on this city of many faiths, many constituents, and residents:

One Mount, Two Religions, Three Proposals

A set of surprising suggestions and recommendations for how to address perhaps the most argued over spot on Earth: the Temple Mount/Har Habayit/Haram Ash-Sharif/Mount Moriah/Noble Sanctuary from Hartman Institute’s Menachem Fisch, Israel Knohl, and Elhanan Reiner.

Professor Israel Knohl relates to the partial fulfillment of Yeshayahu’s vision; Professor Elhanan Reiner explains the idea behind aliyah le’regel; and Professor Menachem Fisch explains that the holiness of place is not connected to ownership.

Donniel Hartman: Divide Jerusalem to unite it

Jerusalem must be a divided city – divided among all aspects and ideologies of Israeli society, for only as a divided city can it be united as the capital of all Israelis. Jerusalem must be a safe city – safe for all expressions of Jewishness.

Jerusalem will achieve this only when we recognize that the city is no one’s unless it is all of ours, and when there is a new spirit in which we all actively pursue public policies that give room and respect for us all, not only our personal agendas.

Donniel Hartman: This summer in Jerusalem – heat and holiness

Jerusalem is not just the place where we convene; it is the place that enables the convention. It is in this capacity that I experienced the holiness of Jerusalem, a holiness which fosters respect, loyalty, and mutual consideration. May this be the Jerusalem we all get to experience, for this is when Jerusalem is truly a city of gold.

Rani Yaeger: Heavenly Jerusalem, Earthly Jerusalem

Forty one years after the reunification of the city’s east and west, it is time to unify heavenly Jerusalem and earthly Jerusalem. We must temper our veneration with criticism, and our criticism with veneration, neither glorifying the city so much we cannot see her flaws, nor deploring her so much we have no desire to correct them. Only once we stop loving Jerusalem from afar, once we eradicate the barriers of idealized images and disappointed dreams, will the 2,000-year exile from the city really come to an end. Only then will Jerusalem become our home.

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With Quentin Tarantino’s war-fantasy film, “Inglourious Basterds” up for four Golden Globe Awards on January 17, 2010, including, Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Christoph Waltz), Best Director (Quentin Tarantino himself), and Best Screenplay (yup, Quentin Tarantino again),the controversial film is surely going to be the starting point for many conversations.

The Jewish community has taken the film on with special showings and conversations both public and private. In this article, Shalom Hartman Institute Rabbinic Fellow Mark S. Diamond offers his take on the film – he sees it as a Purim-style midrash – and drops a few celebrity names who attended the screening he saw (well, he is head of the Southern California Board of Rabbis, after all).

In his piece, Hartman Institute Senior Fellow Yoske Achituv meditates on the true nature of revenge in Jewish history and philosophy.

Two different views, each interesting and certain to offer fuel for discussion. Just what you expect from the Hartman Institute.

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A controversial new book, The Invention of the Jewish People, by Tel Aviv University historian Shlomo Sand, is now in English, after kicking up a dust storm of controversy in its original Hebrew incarnation. This is a summary of the book’s thesis, as explained in a recent review on Tablet, an online Jewish cultural magazine:

Sand… argues that the Jews were not in fact exiled from Israel, and that the bulk of modern Jewry does not descend from the ancient Israelites Rather, he claims, they are the children of converts—North African Berbers and Turkic Khazars—and have no ancestral ties to the land of Israel. Zionism is not a return home, Sand writes, it is the tragic theft of another people’s land. As such, Israel is not the political rebirth of the Jewish nation—it’s a complete fabrication.

The first issue of Shalom Hartman Institute’s Havruta magazine touched on many aspects of the matter of Jewish peoplehood – from a different perspective that accepts and aims at strengthening the concept of Jewish peoplehood. Read the articles here.

Shalom Hartman Institute’s coverage of Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israeli Independence Day, also addresses these issues from a perspective that embraces Jewish peoplehood.

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Enjoy the holiday. Spend it with friends and family. Think about the past year and the year ahead. Look inward, and hope outward. See our special content section and the exclusive new holiday video from Donniel Hartman on the Hartman Institute main website.

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