By Ronen Zvulun
As a native of Jerusalem, an Orthodox Jews’ appearance is not alien to me. The thought which often comes to mind when thinking about the ultra-Orthodox community is “so close yet so far”.
By Nir Elias
As an Israeli and a resident of “ultra” secular Tel Aviv for most of my adult life, Purim -- the celebration of the Jews' salvation from genocide in ancient Persia, as recounted in the Book of Esther -- has always been a time of partying and dressing up, for me.
(Photo: An imam leads prayers at a mosque in Dortmund on German Unity Day, October 3, 2010./Ina Fassbender)
German President Christian Wulff said Sunday that Islam had a place in Germany, during a speech celebrating two decades of the country's reunification.
"You're so beautiful!" a middle-aged American woman in a modern Orthodox Jewish headscarf called out across the street to a complete stranger as I was walking through the northern Israeli town of Safed the other day. Anywhere but Safed - also known as Tzfat - and I might have been more startled. But in this mountain-top retreat for Jewish mystics, both of an Orthodox and of less conventional persuasion, the public outburst of peace, love and understanding seemed entirely natural.
In his controversial book, "The Invention of the Jewish People," author Shlomo Sand challenges historical notions of the link between Judaism and Israel, and argues that there is no record of exile of the Jewish people.
In recent months, ultra-Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem have taken to the streets in protest over businesses operating on Saturday -- the Jewish Sabbath when ritual law bans Jews from working. At times, the demonstrations have even turned violent, like a conflagration in July over a parking lot near the Old City. Most of the ultra-Orthodox ire has been directed at the Jerusalem municipality.
U.S. author Robert Wright traces the history of God and suggests that it might all point to the unfolding of something divine, though perhaps not in the sense that most people of faith would envision.