January 2011

Sex in Judaism

Sex is a frequent topic of debate where religion is concerned and as a result religion has come to be associated with a sex-negative attitude. While there are many religions that do have what some would consider an oppressive view on sex, Judaism is not among them. In fact, Jewish sexual laws are rather progressive even by today's standards and were incredibly forward-thinking for the time in which they were established. Sex in Judaism still revolves around the concept of marriage, but there are several reasons for that beyond the inherent conservatism of that perspective. Mostly, Judaic sex laws aim to create as much harmony and equality between couples as possible.

Tu B'Shvat and Jewish Environmentalism

Last week the Jewish holiday Tu B'Shvat took place. Tu B'Shvat (a term meaning "the 15th day of the month of Shvat") is a festival centering around agriculture, though in the modern day it is mostly concerned with the care of trees. For this reason it has recently been referred to as Jewish or Israeli Arbor Day. This modern interpretation is rather tangential to the original purpose of Tu B'Shvat, though in many ways it continues in the spirit of the holiday.

Martin Luther King Jr. and the Jewish Community

Today in America we celebrate the life and works of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the most iconic civil rights leader of our nation in the 20th century. Though Dr. King is remembered for his stirring speeches and his tireless, grassroots campaigning efforts to demand equality and social justice in America and throughout the world, his real power was in his ability to forge alliances between people who had never worked together before. King was ever-mindful of his political actions and how exactly to create ripples through the media and through whole communities. This is how Dr. King's civil rights movement came to include the American Jewish community.

Jewish Food from Around the World


The Jewish people have existed for thousands of years and have made homes in various cultures throughout the world. One of the most enduring aspects of this long-lived, globetrotting history is food. Jewish food isn't so much a culinary tradition on its own as it is a sort of Silly Puddy of world cuisine. Wherever Jews have lived, they have picked up local influences in the foods they create. The following are just a few of the many intriguing, tasty and culture-infused foods in the Jewish tradition.

Jews in the Crusades

The Crusades, those times of war and atrocity across Europe and the Levant that defined much of the brutality of the Middle Ages, are most famous as conflicts between Christians and Muslims. Indeed, those two religious groups contributed the largest part of the soldiers and suffered the highest casualties of the Crusades, though they were not the only ones to fight. Jews experienced much hardship during that troubled period, such that they wouldn't see the same level of violence and persecution until the rise of fascism in Europe in the early 20th century.