Joshua Stein
Shabbat in Paris PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 10 December 2010 02:48
Joshua SteinJoshua Stein

On the Friday following Thanksgiving, I went to church with my wife, but not to pray. St. Denis, on the outskirts of Paris, was a place I’d longed to see for decades. You recall Dagobert, of course, the last Merovingian king to rule, as well as to reign? Among his many accomplishments was construction of the church named after the first Christian martyr of Paris, the aforementioned St. Denis, decapitated on Montmartre (“martyrs’ mount”). He picked up his head, the story goes, and walked about six miles preaching along the way. I’m not sure exactly how he accomplished either task, but he became one of several Christian cephalophores (from the Greek for “head-carrier,” a saint who is generally depicted carrying his or her own head). From Dagobert’s time on, the basilica was the site of royal burials and tombs to commemorate France’s kings and queens.

In the 12th century, the church, in need of repair, was refashioned in the new Gothic style. In fact, St. Denis is the first Gothic building in Europe,  and all others are modifications of the original. So we had to go to church to see the tombs and the architecture. I’d been to Paris many times, but the basilica is so difficult to reach (it’s at the end of a spur line on the Metro) that I never could. This time, however, wife in tow, we shlepped and oohed and aahed.

Testing our knowledge of the Bible and the U.S. Constitution PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 26 November 2010 00:00
Joshua SteinJoshua Stein

It’s quiz time, again:

1. What fruit got Eve into trouble in the Garden of Eden?

2. In Genesis, which was created first, woman or animals?

3. Why did Cain slay Abel?

4. Which of the four Books of the Maccabees describes the miracle of the oil that lasted eight days?

5. In the Constitution of the United States, does the oath taken by a new president conclude with the words, “So help me God?”

6. Does the U.S. Constitution establish a democracy?

7. What did Adam Smith mean when he wrote about Laissez-faire?

Who’s happy with Election Day outcomes? PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 12 November 2010 00:00
Joshua SteinJoshua Stein

The people have spoken, though I wish they’d spoken differently.

Two years ago, Obama and the Democrats were America’s darlings. On Nov. 2, we saw the power of big money behind the scenes and big voices on TV and radio. We Americans ride a pendulum. In 1964, the conservative movement was dead and in 1980 we got Reagan. In 1972, Nixon was overwhelmingly re-elected and in 1974 forced to resign in disgrace. Bill Clinton also lost Congress two years into his first term and then handily defeated Bob Dole. The big Republican wins on Tuesday will be followed by big Democratic ones at a polling place near you sometime in the future – but not in two years, I wouldn’t think. Such is life.

From generation to generation, the cycle continues PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 29 October 2010 00:48
Joshua SteinJoshua Stein

After my father died, we sold his apartment in the “Promised Land” (sometimes known as Florida), but before we put it on the market, we found treasures including his parents’ naturalization papers which list him as a 1-year-old, but what struck me most was an invitation to his bar mitzvah.

“Mr. and Mrs. Solomon Stein request the honor of your presence at the Confirmation (and then in Hebrew ‘Bar Mitzvah’) of their son Joseph on Saturday, April 10, 1926 at 9 a.m. at Machzike Talmud Torah of Borough Park, 1319-43rd St., Brooklyn, N.Y. Reception at 8 p.m. at their residence 1847-48th St., Brooklyn, N.Y.”

Keeping everyone happy: An exercise in futility? PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 15 October 2010 00:40

Joshua SteinJoshua SteinThere’s an old aphorism: “No good deed goes unpunished.” Case in point, The Jewish Standard of Teaneck, N.J. Like The Jewish Voice & Herald, it has a page to announce bar and bat mitzvahs, births, engagements and weddings. But when the paper printed the announcement of a gay engagement, the consequences set an intercollegiate record for the number of times the word “disgusting” was used in a single news cycle.

You’re familiar with the incident? If not, here are the pertinent details. In its Sept. 24 issue, the paper stated that two gay Jewish men were to marry. This disgusted local Orthodox Jews (in Teaneck, a formidable group to antagonize) who complained that community standards had been violated.

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