Warning: Irrationality

BUT RELIGIOUS FUNDAMENTALISTS AREN’T THE ONLY PROBLEM By Alan Rutkowski   AN UNAPPRECIATED but dangerous consequence of the Trump era is widespread liberal/secular oversimplification of the emerging danger. In their attacks on religion, for example, the so-called New Atheists — Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens (RIP), and Sam Harris — have fostered the notion that […]

Read More

The Messiah’s Prophet

Nathan Ghazzati, known as Nathan of Gaza (1643-1680), the leading prophet of Shabbatai Zvi, the self-proclaimed (and widely embraced) messiah of 17th-century Judaism, was excommunicated by the Rabbinical Council of Constantinople on this date in 1666, three months after his master converted to Islam rather than be executed by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed IV. Nathan of […]

Read More

The Mystical Ethicist

Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, whose writings on Jewish ethics became a centerpiece of the Musar movement in the 19th century, died of a plague at age 39 in Acco, Palestine on this date in 1746. Luzzatto was a prominent Italian Torah scholar and kabbalist whose mystical teachings, coming less than a century after the worldwide […]

Read More

February 18: Wallace Berman’s Assemblage Art

Wallace Berman, who pioneered “assemblage” art, introduced elements of kabbalistic symbolism to his work, and appeared on the cover of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s album, died on his 50th birthday on this date in 1976 in a car accident caused by a drunk driver. Berman lived most of his life in southern California, where he […]

Read More

January 8: The Baba Sali (Praying Father)

Moroccan kabbalist Rabbi Israel Abukhatzera, who acquired a reputation as a healing miracle-worker and clairvoyant, died at 94 on this date in 1984. He belonged to a family of Sephardic Torah scholars and wonder-working rabbis who established an estate, a yeshiva and a rabbinical court in Tafilalt, Morocco. Abukhatzera moved to Israel from Morocco in […]

Read More

September 26: Trying to Convert the Pope

Abraham Abulafia, a Spain-born mystic, kabbalist, and self-declared messiah who went to Rome in 1280 to attempt to convert Pope Nicholas III to Judaism, was released from after a month in prison on this date in that year. Hearing of Abulafia’s intention, the pope had issued orders to have him burned at the stake upon […]

Read More

All In One Day

THOUGHTS ABOUT TISHA B’AV by Marji Yablon TISHA B’AV. The ninth of the Jewish month of Av. It’s a date that has lived in infamy for millennia. Numerous Jewish tragedies are said to have occurred on that summer day of fasting, in a chain that has wound through Biblical times, the Middle Ages and the […]

Read More

August 4: Zohar, Hot Off the Press

The first print edition of the Zohar, the central book of Jewish mysticism, was published on this date in 1558, following the removal of a ninety-year rabbinical ban on its printing. Most sources hold this first printed Zohar to be a three-volume edition published in Mantua, Italy; other sources describe a one-volume edition published in […]

Read More

Bridging the Jewish Secular-Religious Divide

by Lawrence Bush Discussed in this essay: Putting God Second: How to Save Religion from Itself, by Rabbi Donniel Hartman. Beacon Press, 2016, 180 pages. AS THE EDITOR of Jewish Currents, which tags itself on the cover as a “secular, progressive voice,” I am occasionally invited to synagogues to speak about secular Jewish identity. I […]

Read More