A Prospective Convert Wrestles with the Sabbath amid Pandemic and News Overload

Two years after beginning the process of conversion to Judaism, Nellie Bowles reflects on coming to appreciate the beauties and challenges of Shabbat. Writing last Thursday, she found herself “dreading shutting off the faucet of news out of DC,” and thus realizing she had all the more reason to do so. She recalls her initial resistance to the Jewish day of rest:

Why does it have to be Friday night to Saturday night? I get the point of resting, but couldn’t I adjust it a bit for what works best for my [schedule]? When I talked about this with my rabbi, Noa Kushner, she explained that part of it is just submission to the tradition. It’s Friday nights because it’s Friday nights.

With some time, Bowles began to find the weekly routine salubrious, a superior version of the “tech detox” recommended by the trendy gurus of “wellness.” Yet she also understood that such a perspective on the holy day effectively reduces religion to a form of self-help. To observe Shabbat, she writes, is much more than that: it is to “continue a project started long before me, for reasons I only partly understand.”

But then came the coronavirus:

Without friends and shul, it was hard to make the day feel special. It certainly didn’t feel holy. Saturday rolled around, and I looked at my phone all the time. And so it was that I came to Shabbat this past week with a new determination. . . . Going 25 hours without touching electronics during  lockdown was, let’s say, humbling. Miserable at points. Depressing in its clarity about how atrophied my self-control had become.

And it was precisely the difficulty, she writes, that helped her renew her commitment to observance.

Read more at Chosen by Choice

More about: Conversion, Judaism, Shabbat

Universities Are in Thrall to a Constituency That Sees Israel as an Affront to Its Identity

Commenting on the hearings of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Tuesday about anti-Semitism on college campuses, and the dismaying testimony of three university presidents, Jonah Goldberg writes:

If some retrograde poltroon called for lynching black people or, heck, if they simply used the wrong adjective to describe black people, the all-seeing panopticon would spot it and deploy whatever resources were required to deal with the problem. If the spark of intolerance flickered even for a moment and offended the transgendered, the Muslim, the neurodivergent, or whomever, the fire-suppression systems would rain down the retardant foams of justice and enlightenment. But calls for liquidating the Jews? Those reside outside the sensory spectrum of the system.

It’s ironic that the term colorblind is “problematic” for these institutions such that the monitoring systems will spot any hint of it, in or out of the classroom (or admissions!). But actual intolerance for Jews is lathered with a kind of stealth paint that renders the same systems Jew-blind.

I can understand the predicament. The receptors on the Islamophobia sensors have been set to 11 for so long, a constituency has built up around it. This constituency—which is multi-ethnic, non-denominational, and well entrenched among students, administrators, and faculty alike—sees Israel and the non-Israeli Jews who tolerate its existence as an affront to their worldview and Muslim “identity.” . . . Blaming the Jews for all manner of evils, including the shortcomings of the people who scapegoat Jews, is protected because, at minimum, it’s a “personal truth,” and for some just the plain truth. But taking offense at such things is evidence of a mulish inability to understand the “context.”

Shocking as all that is, Goldberg goes on to argue, the anti-Semitism is merely a “symptom” of the insidious ideology that has taken over much of the universities as well as an important segment of the hard left. And Jews make the easiest targets.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel on campus, University