What Orthodox Jews Can Teach America about the Importance of Place

Speaking with Christian friends and colleagues, even those who are committed churchgoers and members of vibrant congregations, Seth Kaplan has come to the realization that Orthodox Jews have something even the closest-knit Christian communities, and most Americans, lack: a neighborhood. He writes:

Judaism makes place-based community the main organizing structure of life by marking both time and space in distinct ways. The rules of Shabbat ground us in our neighborhood, distancing us from the larger society while bringing us closer to one another.

Streets become full of people walking—to a neighbor’s house, a park, a prayer service, a celebration. Whenever we walk somewhere (or just sit outside), we encounter many familiar faces and get caught up in conversations. Families invite each other over for meals. As a pastor friend remarked when visiting on one Shabbat, the scene resembles a time from the 1950s before automobiles, television, and apps came to dominate daily life.

Embedded community is not only important to the future of our faiths, but also to the future of our country. Our growing social breakdown highlights this now more than ever.

Read more at First Things

More about: American Jewry, American society, Orthodoxy


Israel Just Sent Iran a Clear Message

Early Friday morning, Israel attacked military installations near the Iranian cities of Isfahan and nearby Natanz, the latter being one of the hubs of the country’s nuclear program. Jerusalem is not taking credit for the attack, and none of the details are too certain, but it seems that the attack involved multiple drones, likely launched from within Iran, as well as one or more missiles fired from Syrian or Iraqi airspace. Strikes on Syrian radar systems shortly beforehand probably helped make the attack possible, and there were reportedly strikes on Iraq as well.

Iran itself is downplaying the attack, but the S-300 air-defense batteries in Isfahan appear to have been destroyed or damaged. This is a sophisticated Russian-made system positioned to protect the Natanz nuclear installation. In other words, Israel has demonstrated that Iran’s best technology can’t protect the country’s skies from the IDF. As Yossi Kuperwasser puts it, the attack, combined with the response to the assault on April 13,

clarified to the Iranians that whereas we [Israelis] are not as vulnerable as they thought, they are more vulnerable than they thought. They have difficulty hitting us, but we have no difficulty hitting them.

Nobody knows exactly how the operation was carried out. . . . It is good that a question mark hovers over . . . what exactly Israel did. Let’s keep them wondering. It is good for deniability and good for keeping the enemy uncertain.

The fact that we chose targets that were in the vicinity of a major nuclear facility but were linked to the Iranian missile and air forces was a good message. It communicated that we can reach other targets as well but, as we don’t want escalation, we chose targets nearby that were involved in the attack against Israel. I think it sends the message that if we want to, we can send a stronger message. Israel is not seeking escalation at the moment.

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Iran, Israeli Security