What Does Separation of Church and State Mean for U.S. Jews in the 21st Century?

A number of recent court cases have caused reexamination of interpretations of the First Amendment and the doctrine of separation of church and state. At the same time, several issues have confronted Jews in particular: attacks on ḥasidic education in New York, the question of whether private-school vouchers can be used for denominational schools, and a judge’s ruling that Yeshiva University must allow an LGBT club on campus, among others. Michael A. Helfand explains the legal and philosophical questions animating these cases, and what people most often misunderstand about them, in conversation with Scott Kahn. (Audio, 61 minutes.)

Read more at Jewish Coffee House

More about: Freedom of Religion, Jewish education, Orthodoxy, U.S. Constitution

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