Category Archives: Archives from the past…

Always a “Moment” Ahead of the Curve

One of the great things about Moment is that through its 36-year history, it has documented breaking trends in Jewish life with insight and forward-looking prowess.  Our last cover story, “A Woman Orthodox Rabbi?” made a splash in the Jewish community.  But a peek through our archives unveiled that Moment was ahead of the curve on the evolution of women in Orthodox Judaism.  Exactly 17 years ago, our cover story delved into the same issue, anticipating some of the breakthroughs that took nearly two decades to to come to fruition:

For your reading pleasure, InTheMoment is giving you exclusive access to this fascinating story from our archives, which is all the more enlightening in light of our last issue.  Enjoy!

On The Origins of Species turns 150

By Sarah Breger

Today’s the 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. But 150 years later the relationship between science and religion remains contentious.

In 2005 and 2006, Moment Magazine correspondent Jennie Rothenberg profiled and reviewed the works of Nosson Slifkin, an Orthodox rabbi whose views on evolution have branded him a heretic in certain Orthodox circles. As Rothenberg describes,

“One can imagine him lying awake at night, brooding over the gulf between science and scripture, the words of various rabbis swirling through his head. The result is a clear-eyed vision of the natural sciences as seen through the lens of Jewish tradition.

Read about this “theistic Darwinian evolutionist” here and a review of his work here

Happy Monkey Day!

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Avigdor Lieberman: Israel’s Le Pen

By Jeremy Gillick

Two years ago, Ha’aretz correspondent Lily Galili profiled the right wing Israeli politician and founder of the Yisrael Beiteinu (“Israel is our Home”) Party, Avigdor Lieberman, for Moment.

Having served as Transportation Minister under Ariel Sharon, and having subsequently been fired in 2004 for opposing the withdrawal from Gaza, Lieberman “re-emerged,” Galili wrote in early 2007, “as a strange hybrid of an Israeli version of Jean-Marie Le Pen (the infamous French extreme right-winger) and respectable statesman.” Indeed, it was recently revealed that Lieberman was at one point a member of Rabbi Meir Kahane’s Kach Party, which was banned from Israeli elections in the late 1980s for inciting racism against Arabs.

Now, with Israeli elections just days away, Lieberman and his nationalist party are poised to make huge gains. Polls indicate that Yisrael Beitenu could win as many as 16 seats in Israel’s 120-member Knesset–potentially even more than Israel’s founding left-leaning Labor Party. And Benjamin Netanyahu, whose right-wing Likud Party is expected to beat out Kadima, the centrist one, has promised to give Lieberman a prominent post if he succeeds in forming a coalition. Continue reading

College Admissions? Of Buchenwald and Princeton

By Mandy Katz

princeton-u-by-mahlon-lovittSome of his Frankfurt gymnasium teachers ended up in Buchenwald, my Tel Aviv correspondent Ernest Stock writes, but he ended up graduating from Princeton in 1949. God bless the G.I. Bill.

Now a retired journalist, Ernie offers this unconventional college memoir on the website of the Princeton Alumni Weekly. Having escaped the Nazis at 14 by trekking with his little sister into Spain from occupied France, Ernie was drafted into the U.S. military in 1943. On demobilizing, he scored high enough on the Army’s college entrance exam to matriculate as a sophomore at Princeton in ’46, at a time when that august institution admitted roughly 25 Jews each year under an unspoken “no-quota” quota system.

Ernie played a central role in engineering the first meetings between Princeton’s tweedy Jewish undergrads and local notable Albert Einstein. (Meg Ryan was not involved.) I described the scene in “Was Einstein a Jewish Saint?”, a Moment profile. Ernie also appears—I discovered while cooking one day last year—in Joan Nathan’s Jewish Cooking in America, rhapsodizing about New York’s late lamented German bakeries.

Photo of Pyne archway by Mahlon Lovett, courtesy of Princeton University.

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Al Franken… Gets Serious


Moment readers might remember a cover story in our December 2005 issue on Al Franken. Considering how his intense and close Senate race (the most recent count has him losing by all of 204 votes) is all over the news, we decided to post it here for further enjoyment.

So, enjoy!

By David Paul Kuhn

Al Franken leans over the scattered papers atop his desk. He puffs out his pasty cheeks. His round brown glasses seem slightly too small for his face. His brown eyebrows arch up and he grins like Jack Nicholson’s Joker in Batman. “I gotta tell you,” Franken says to me in his midtown Manhattan office, “I’ve been to Israel, and I didn’t enjoy it.” He chuckles. He knows he’s telling this to a Jewish magazine. “I hate to say that,” he continues. “I support Israel. But when I was there, in 1984, it was very high-pressured. It felt very”—he pauses to find the right word—“tense.”

Al Franken is a caricature of himself, which allows him to talk about serious issues without ever appearing to take himself too seriously. He can shuttle from the solemn to the sardonic as the straight man, often in droll monotone. You may dislike him or think of him as an ideologue—the mirror image of his adversaries, Rush Limbaugh and Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly. The title of a recent book by conservative Bernard Goldberg calls him out: 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America (And Al Franken is #37).

Or you may think he’s a hero. With his 1996 book, Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations, the Saturday Night Live alumnus found a new calling: doing unto conservatives as they have done unto others. Until Franken’s foray into Beltway bombast, Continue reading

More from actor Kirk Douglas about being Jewish

We hope you’ve all seen our exclusive interview with actor Kirk Douglas in the September/October issue of Moment in which he talks with his rabbi, David Wolpe.

Moment has published thoughts from Douglas before. Back in 1995 we published a (slightly adapted) speech that he had previously given to the Los Angeles Synagogue for the Performing Arts. From the Moment archives, the article follows…

When I was a poor kid growing up in Amsterdam, New York, I was pretty good in cheder, so the Jews of our community thought they would do a wonderful thing and collect enough money to send me to a yeshiva to become a rabbi. It scared the hell out of me, because I didn’t want to become a rabbi. I wanted to be an actor. Believe me, the members of the Sons of Israel synagogue were persistent.

I had to work hard to get out of it. But it took me a long time to learn that you don’t have to be a rabbi to be a Jew. You see, I got frightened at age 14 by the story of Abraham and Isaac. I remember the picture in my Hebrew school book. Abraham with a long beard. In one outstretched hand, holding a large knife, in the other—a frightened little boy. And that kid looked an awful lot like me. A hovering angel was having a hard time restraining Abraham. How could the angel convince Abraham that G-D was only testing him? Some test! That picture stayed in my mind for a long time as I drifted away from Judaism. I grew up, went to college, but my Judaism stayed stuck in a 14-year-old boy’s Hebrew school book. Continue reading

A visitor to Jerusalem shares his experiences

From the Moment Archives: June, 1998-A Visitor to Jerusalem shares his experiences:

Night Musing in Jerusalem
The Peculiar Weight of Being a Jew
by P. David Hornik

JERUSALEM. The word evokes holiness, history; donkeys, dust, alleys, markets. But not to me—not anymore. Jerusalem is what’s outside my window: a summer dusk, the voices of a leafy, peaceful street. The sense, too, of a vibrant city awakening—meaning the “New City,” whose downtown section is fifteen minutes by bus from where I live in the northern neighborhood of French Hill. Now that I’m free and footloose, I could go there; the question arises every evening. It means venturing out, alone, into the “night life”—the sea of animated faces at the outdoor cafes, or, if I wanted to be braver, the bars of Nahalat Shiva Street and the Russian Compound, which start to fill up at about eleven and stay open all night.

But as for the myth- and history-laden Old City, I haven’t been in it, by day or night, in years, and the thought doesn’t occur to me.

Continue reading