Jewish Studies in Words and Pictures

An online exhibit created by the University of Pennsylvania’s Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies presents the evolution of the academic field of Jewish studies from 1818 to the 21st century, with documents and information about such compelling figures as Elia Benamozegh, author and prodigious publisher of Sephardi and Mizrahi liturgical works:

An Italian rabbi, kabbalist, and thinker of Moroccan descent who lived in the Tuscan port city of Livorno, Elia Benamozegh (1823-1900) authored an abundance of works encompassing exegesis, historical studies, and various newspaper contributions, written in Hebrew, Italian, and French. Through his posthumous masterwork, Israel and Humanity (1914), he significantly influenced the Christian-Jewish dialogue in Europe. . . . In his books penned in French or Italian, brimming with references to Western philosophy and literature, he never made mention of his oriental roots and rarely cited contemporary Sephardi authors. . . .

[However], Benamozegh seems to have used his press as a way to publish his likeminded contemporaries, thus mapping out a landscape of modern Sephardi and Mizrahi thought. This is certainly the case for the haggadah revised by Shelomoh Bekhor Hutsin (1843-1892) which Benamozegh published in 1887. This book, printed in Judeo-Arabic, Arabic, and Hebrew, according to the Baghdadi minhag (liturgical custom), lies at the juncture of tradition and modernity. . . . Hutsin . . . was an advocate of a version of Jewish enlightenment that was respectful of Jewish values and modern culture.

Read more at University of Pennsylvania Libraries

More about: History & Ideas, Jewish studies, Mizrahim, Science of Judaism, Sephardim

Israel Is Courting Saudi Arabia by Confronting Iran

Most likely, it was the Israeli Air Force that attacked eastern Syria Monday night, apparently destroying a convoy carrying Iranian weapons. Yoav Limor comments:

Israel reportedly carried out 32 attacks in Syria in 2022, and since early 2023 it has already struck 25 times in the country—at the very least. . . . The Iranian-Israeli clash stands out in the wake of the dramatic events in the region, chiefly among them is the effort to strike a normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and later on with various other Muslim-Sunni states. Iran is trying to torpedo this process and has even publicly warned Saudi Arabia not to “gamble on a losing horse” because Israel’s demise is near. Riyadh is unlikely to heed that demand, for its own reasons.

Despite the thaw in relations between the kingdom and the Islamic Republic—including the exchange of ambassadors—the Saudis remain very suspicious of the Iranians. A strategic manifestation of that is that Riyadh is trying to forge a defense pact with the U.S.; a tactical manifestation took place this week when Saudi soccer players refused to play a match in Iran because of a bust of the former Revolutionary Guard commander Qassem Suleimani, [a master terrorist whose militias have wreaked havoc throughout the Middle East, including within Saudi borders].

Of course, Israel is trying to bring Saudi Arabia into its orbit and to create a strong common front against Iran. The attack in Syria is ostensibly unrelated to the normalization process and is meant to prevent the terrorists on Israel’s northern border from laying their hands on sophisticated arms, but it nevertheless serves as a clear reminder for Riyadh that it must not scale back its fight against the constant danger posed by Iran.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Saudi Arabia, Syria