Category Archives: Judaism

Holy War, Holy Terror

The New York Times lies before me. Thin wisps of smoke rise from its front page with its vivid accounts of murder and mayhem committed in the name of Allah. The Children of Abraham explains that Allah is one and the same deity as the Yahweh worshipped by the Jews and the God the Father […]

Sodom and Gomorrah: A Midrash

Editorial Note The story of Sodom and Gomorrah, the famous “Cities of the Plain,” occurs early on in the Book of Genesis. The priestly redactors of the Bible rewrote the story to make their own moral points and pushed the events back into the primordial past of Israel, when God’s presence was pervasive, as it […]

Religion, Tolerance and Violence

Religion we think we know and violence we know very well indeed, so let us turn directly to the troublemaker of the trio, tolerance, and save the easier notions for later. Literary critics are extremely fond of the figure of “unpacking” when it comes to explaining a word or a notion or a concept. I […]

Islam on Judaism

“Islam,” no less than “Judaism,” is  a construct, and its contents vary according to what Muslims, or Jews, or indeed anyone else, choose to include in it. But in the case of Muslim and Jews at least there are foundation texts which establish the general outlines of the construct and to some extent point the […]

Where Three Roads Meet: Jewish, Christian and Muslim Pilgrimage to Jerusalem

“Where three roads meet” is an ominous phrase. It was the telltale detail that gave Oedipus to understand that the traveler he had killed at such an intersection was none other than his own father, as the oracle had predicted. There is another such intersection, It is called Jerusalem, and it is the place where […]

The Holy Places of Jerusalem

When Jerusalem first appears in biblical history it is a town without a past, a newly conquered Jebusite settlement that David had made the capital of his still insecure Israelite kingdom. Today it is once again the capital of a Jewish state, but in the three millennia that separate the modern city from David’s cramped […]

The Gospel, the Qur’an and the Mishnah in Conversation 3-12

The assumption that sits beneath the monotheistic faith of Jews, Christians and Muslims is that God, the creator of the universe and of everything in it, has chosen, “at sundry times and divers manners,” to communicate with His human creatures. Early on the converse seems to have had a social quality, as when God strolled […]