Author: Matthew Friedman

Why is this Night Different? The Problem of the Christian Seder

Beth Cole had not yet decided whether or not she would make a brisket for the Passover Seder this week. “I was going to bring the brisket, but I think I’m going to do a roast chicken, because I have to cook for, like, ten people,” she says. Besides, it isn’t her Seder; she will be a guest at the home of one of her fellow congregants of the Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, IL. It’s a Christian Seder. Although once an unusual practice historically condemned by Church leaders, Christian Seders have become an increasingly common feature...

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The Zionist Problem: Divided Loyalties in the Jewish Diaspora

The Stars and Stripes stand to the right of the Ark on the bimah at my local shul in the Chicago suburbs; the Degel Yisra’el, the blue-and-white flag of the State of Israel, stands to its left. It’s just another Shabbat in the diaspora. The presence of Zionism and the State of Israel in diaspora Jewish life is so pervasive that, after a while, you stop seeing it; yet it is always there, in the synagogue sanctuary and without. When I was a camper at Camp Wooden Acres and the YMHA Country Camp in the Laurentians north of Montreal,[*]...

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On Atonement

When I was a growing up, my mother used to tutor one of my brother’s high school friends in English. J.P. was a sweet kid, if a little rough around the edges, and he needed a little more help with his schoolwork that his parents could provide. So there he’d be, two evenings a week in our dining room, going through spelling and reading drills. He really appreciated all the help, and one evening, as he headed out the door, he offered this compliment with a friendly, open smile: “There are two kinds of Jews: there are rich Jews...

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American Pogrom

We have been saying Kaddish all week for eleven people murdered in the sanctuary of the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. We have said it in our schuls, standing in the autumnal chill at candlelight vigils, contemplatively in the solitude of our homes. For many of us, it is a profound expression of faith; for others, it is a habit that has returned in a moment of horror and grief. The first Aramaic words come easily, even when we can’t remember the whole prayer: יִתְגַּדַּל וְיִתְקַדַּשׁ שְׁמֵהּ רַבָּא, yitgaddal veyitqaddash shmeh rabba… We have said these words before,...

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Matthew Barlow wins prestigious book prize

The Canadian Historical Association awarded Politics/Letters Music Editor Matthew Barlow the Clio prize for his book Griffintown: Identity and Memory in an Irish Diaspora Neighbourhood, at its annual meeting in Regina, SK yesterday. The prize recognizes meritorious publications or for exceptional contributions by individuals or organizations to regional history. Barlow won for the Quebec region. Each year, the CHA awards Clios for five regions across Canada. In social media, Barlow expressed shock at the announcement. “I am in some pretty heavy-duty company,” he wrote “This award was completely unexpected and shocking. I am kinda overwhelmed.” Griffintown is a deft...

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