Teaching Judaism to Non-Jewish Clergy

Inspired by the biblical figure of Jethro—Moses’ Midianite father-in-law—Jeff Jacoby makes a novel proposal:

One day in the spring of 2012, the Catholic archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles Chaput, paid a visit to the main beit midrash, or study hall, of Yeshiva University. There he saw hundreds of young men engrossed in their learning, fervently discussing and noisily debating the talmudic texts they were studying.

Reflecting on his visit in a stirring essay for First Things, Chaput wrote, “What struck me first was the passion the students had for the Torah. They didn’t merely study it; they consumed it. Or maybe it would be better to say that God’s Word consumed them.” . . . Such ardor for learning helped illuminate for Chaput one of the astonishing wonders of history: the endurance of the Jewish people against all odds. . . . Then came a remarkable coda: “What I saw at Yeshiva should also apply to every Christian believer, but especially to those of us who are priests and bishops.”

If a relatively brief visit to a yeshiva could evoke in the archbishop such strong admiration for the serious study of Torah and Talmud, how much more enthusiastically might he have reacted had he been able to take part in such study himself? What if he could have encountered traditional Jewish learning at some point in his career, not merely as an onlooker but as a participant? Imagine that it were possible for non-Jewish clergy—Catholic, Muslim, Baha’i, Mormon, Baptist, Hindu—to have the opportunity to engage meaningfully with the world of Torah study from the inside, even if for only a limited time.

[T]he Jethro Project would have no conversionary intent. Nor would it be designed for interfaith dialogue. Its purpose is different: to develop a measure of Jewish literacy among non-Jewish clergy, thereby introducing more of the world’s religious elite to the riches of Jewish wisdom while expanding the Jewish people’s circle of knowledgeable allies and admirers.

Read more at Sapir

More about: Jewish-Christian relations, Yeshiva University

The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7