A Film about a Rabbi-Turned-Transgender Theologian Exposes What Happens When Self-Discovery Takes Precedence over Obligations to Others

July 27 2020

Set to premier in the U.S. in January, the Israeli film I Was Not Born a Mistake tells the story of Yiscah (né Jeffrey, formerly Yaakov) Smith, from secular American Jew to Chabad rabbi to secular gay man to a transsexual, religiously observant teacher of Judaism. Smith, drawing on various bits of kabbalah and ḥasidic thought, has even created a Jewish transgender theology, which, Sarah Rindner writes, is “not . . . much different from what many self-styled self-help gurus offer spiritually hungry audiences.” But, to Rindner, the “emptiness” of this theology is not “the most urgent question the film raises.”

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Read more at First Things

More about: Film, Judaism, Transsexuals

What Does International Law Say about Settlements in Occupied Territory? If Israel Does It, It’s Illegal

Sept. 22 2020

It is the general opinion of most governments, legal experts, Middle East specialists, and the editorial boards of major English-language newspapers that the construction of homes for Jews in the West Bank is, at least in some cases, a violation of international law. Yet it is not at all clear why this should be so. Two recent books on disputed territories in international law, both of which pay special attention to Israeli settlements in the West Bank, address this subject in detail, and in the end side against Israel. But, writes Eugene Kontorovich in his review, their authors fail to appreciate the problem that the law in question has never been applied to any country besides the Jewish state:

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Read more at Tel Aviv Review of Books

More about: International Law, Settlements, West Bank