Jewish identity is a controversial issue. Traditionally, anyone born of a Jewish mother is a Jew. Yet the rabbinate in Israel refuses to recognize marriages or conversions performed by conservative or reform rabbis. By some standards, genealogy is not enough. To be Jewish is to keep the Law of Moses, or even to keep it according to a particular interpretation.
The tension underlying these modern disputes is an old one. Judaism is an ethnicity, to which one may belong regardless of belief or religious practice, but it is also a religion, defined by adherence to the Law of Moses. Contrary to popular belief, Judaism, in the sense defined by the Law, did not begin at Mount Sinai. The Torah or Pentateuch was formed over centuries, in a process that is still a matter of intense debate. Most scholars agree that it took its final shape either during or after the Babylonian exile, in the 6th century BCE. It was not immediately accepted as normative by everyone. The Invention of Judaism is an attempt to trace the reception of the Torah in its first six hundred years or so, from the Babylonian exile to the end of the Second Temple period.
The main contours of the history of reception are as follows. The initial formulation of a Torah as a way of life is found in Deuteronomy, initially drafted in the waning years of the monarchy in the late seventh century BCE, and completed during the Babylonian Exile, when it was combined with other traditional material, including the Priestly Torah. It attained official status as the ancestral law of Judah in the Persian period, although that status was largely iconic, in the sense that the Torah was revered but not necessarily observed in detail. In the second century BCE, however, the attempt of the Syrian king Antiochus Epiphanes to suppress the Judean way of life sparked the Maccabean revolt, and a period of Judean independence. In this new situation, we see a “halakic turn” in Judaism, which paid great attention to every jot and tittle of the Law. This gave rise to “common Judaism,” focused on the Temple and the Festivals, but also to the rise of sects, based on conflicting interpretations of the Law. Even those who subscribed to the central importance of the Torah, however, often felt the need to supplement it with a higher revelation, in the case of apocalyptic Judaism, or to interpret it through the lenses of Hellenistic culture and philosophy. The book concludes by considering the redefinition of Israel in the writings of Paul, in the New Testament, which are exceptional in Second Temple Judaism in questioning the central importance of the Law of Moses.
While The Invention of Judaism is an historical study, it also has implications for the understanding of ethnic and religious identity in the modern world, not only in the case of Judaism.
John J. Collins is Professor of Old Testament Criticism and Interpretation at Yale Divinity School. His books include Introduction to the Hebrew Bible, The Dead Sea Scrolls: A Biography and The Apocalyptic Imagination. He is general editor of the Yale Anchor Bible Series.
The Republican plan to eliminate or change substantial portions of the Affordable Care Act is likely to have a disproportionately deleterious impact on women. This is why.
Women compared to men use more medical services and spend more on health care. Thus, any reduction in government support for health care will affect women more than men.
Women make more visits each year to primary care physicians than do men and are more likely than men to take at least one prescription drug on a daily basis. According to the Health Care Cost Institute, “In 2015, spending was $5,684 per woman and $4,581 per man. … From 2012 to 2015, the difference in spending between genders rose from $1,071 per capita to $1,103 per capita. Per capita spending for women was higher than for men on every type of service, except brand prescriptions.”
Given women’s higher healthcare needs, the ACA protected women by requiring all plans to meet a minimum level of coverage that includes a basic basket of necessary services. The Trump administration has announced that they will reduce the price of premiums so that Americans can have more “choice” to select less expensive insurance. Less expensive insurance typically covers less, which disproportionately hurts people who have need of more medical services. Lower premiums also may come with higher annual deductibles, meaning that people need to spend a large sum of money out-of-pocket before insurance will pay. Again, this places a particularly heavy burden on people who need more healthcare services.
In particular, women are more likely than men to suffer mental health challenges and women make substantially greater use of mental health services. Beginning in 2020, the GOP plan would eliminate the current requirement that Medicaid cover basic mental-health and addiction services. This roll back of mental health parity requirements will disproportionately hurt women.
Women are less able than men to afford health care.
According to the Department of Labor, women earn less than men. In 2014, for example, women who worked full time in wage and salary jobs had median usual weekly earnings of $719, which was 83 percent of men’s median weekly earnings ($871).
The Republican plan emphasizes tax credits and health savings accounts, both of which are irrelevant to low-income Americans.
According to the Department of Labor, women are more likely than men to be among the working poor. This is the group that has the most to lose with the Republican plan to decrease subsidies and eventually eliminate the Medicaid expansion.
The Republican approach to Medicaid disproportionately impacts women.
Nationally, women make up 56% of Medicaid recipients (in 2015). In states that did not expand Medicaid under the ACA, women are an even greater proportion of Medicaid recipients. In South Carolina, for example, 67% of Medicaid recipients are women. In Nebraska 66% are women. Thus, phasing out the Medicaid expansion will disproportionally hurt women.
The ethos of suspicion directed at Medicaid recipients will further hurt women. For example, the Republican plan requires states to re-determine Medicaid eligibilities “no less frequently than every six months.” Given that women bear the greater share of responsibility for arranging health care in American households, the need to frequently recertify eligibility will place an increased time burden on women to keep track and show evidence of eligibility.
Near elderly women are at particular risk of losing coverage under the Republican plan.
At the same time, many American women are married to men who are slightly or significantly older than they. This means that when the husband retires and becomes eligible for Medicare, the wife loses the “dependent” coverage she had while her husband was employed, but she herself will not yet be Medicare eligible.
This age group has particularly high healthcare needs that may become exacerbated while waiting for Medicare eligibility.
Under the A.C.A., plans can charge their oldest customers only three times the prices charged to the youngest ones. The Republican plan allows insurers to charge older customers five times as much as younger ones and gives states the option to set their own ratio.
The Republican plan singles out Planned Parenthood, prohibiting federal funding for Planned Parenthood for one year beginning with the enactment of the law. This will have a disproportionately negative impact on women.
Two and a half million women and men in the United States annually visit Planned Parenthood affiliate health centers for a variety of healthcare services. Most of these people are women who would stand to lose a wide range of primary healthcare services including, but not limited to, contraception.
Under the Republican plan, qualified health plans cannot include abortion coverage except for pregnancies that present life-threatening physical risks (not mental health risks) and pregnancies that resulted from rape or incest.
This provision not only reduces access to a needed medical procedure, but it also seems to require some sort of process for determining whether a pregnancy is life-threatening or confirming that a pregnancy is a result of rape or incest. This potentially could force women to prove (to the satisfaction of an insurance company) that she indeed was raped, and it certainly would delay performing the abortion – a delay that in and of itself presents health risks to women.
The Republican plan does allow insurance to pay to treat “any infection, injury, disease or disorder that has been caused or exacerbated by the performance of an abortion.” Since legal abortions performed by a qualified medical provider in a suitable medical setting are extremely safe, this provision seems to be set up for women who have resorted to “backstreet” abortions. While it is unlikely that the plan’s intent is to encourage illicit abortions, this provision seems to acknowledge that an increase in unsafe abortions may be a consequence of the plan.
This analysis was prepared by Susan Sered on March 8, 2017. Healthcare legislation currently is highly volatile with many changes proposed. Stay tuned – I will come back and update this analysis as more information becomes available.
March is Women’s History Month, created to celebrate women’s often overlooked contributions to history. But the celebratory tone must also recognize the tenacious, exclusionary gender oppressions of the present. Let’s consider this for the U.S.’s penal system: the number of males in the criminal justice system far outnumbers the number of females in the U.S., with females comprising 14% of the jail and 7% of the prison. Reflecting this numerical proportion, we have seen public discourse, policies, and even scholarship overlook the experiences incarcerated women, an omission which implicitly equates male and female incarcerated individuals while simultaneously disregarding how correctional systems are already deeply gendered. Yet we know the pathways and collateral consequences of incarcerating women are different than for men, especially considering that two-thirds of incarcerated women are mothers and the primary caregivers for young children. And we know that the war on drugs and welfare restructuring have disproportionately affected the rate of incarcerating women.
If incarcerated women in general are overlooked, then pregnant women behind bars are even more so. Though data are scarce, it’s estimated that about 1,400 women give birth while in custody every year, and thousands of pregnant women pass through our nation’s prisons and jails. With no mandatory national standards for pregnancy care in correctional settings, these women have astonishingly variable experiences of adequate to shamefully dangerous prenatal care, of being denied their legal right to abortion, of being shackled in labor, of being separated from their newborns after birth. Amid this variability, incarcerated pregnant women and mothers are also enshrouded in derisive, punitive cultural narratives of being “bad mothers,” without regard for broader circumstances structuring their pathway to incarceration.
These are not new injustices. But the policies and sentiments of the current administration, with its renewed “tough on crime” rhetoric, its punitive disdain for “deviant” women (such as President Donald Trump, as a candidate, declaring that women should be punished for having an abortion), its rounding up of undocumented immigrants (many of whom will linger in jails and detention centers), will likely exacerbate conditions in a system that is already ill equipped for and, in many cases, dangerous for pregnant women. If Women’s History Month amplifies that classic feminist project of consciousness raising, then we must engage and respond to the experiences of pregnant women behind bars—one of the most overlooked groups of women in the country.
While #MuseumWeek can be used to highlight timely issues in the art world, or just for fun, we are featuring some of our fantastic museum partners, along with the upcoming catalogues we’re co-publishing with them.
“In this thoroughly professional, immaculately organized, and factually overflowing book, the reader is set to be inspired by the adventure that was Roy De Forest.” —New York Journal of Books
The engaging catalogue presents gorgeous color reproductions of De Forest’s finest artworks, plus a variety of figure illustrations that illuminate the artist’s diverse sources and freewheeling social and creative milieu in Northern California.
Check out OMCA’s new e-magazine for extensive content related to the show, including listening stations featuring audio narrations from unconventional guides. Of special note, this exhibition is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.
It should come as no surprise that our neighbor across the Bay, the de Young Museum (FAMSF) is the host of the Summer of Love: Art, Fashion, and Rock and Roll exhibition opening on April 8. Coinciding with the 50th anniversary, this will be an exhilarating display of iconic rock posters, photographs, interactive music and light shows, costumes and textiles, ephemera, and avant-garde films of the adventurous and colorful counterculture that blossomed in the years surrounding the legendary San Francisco summer of 1967.
Extensively illustrated with thematic plates and essays, the catalogue explores the visual and material cultures of a generation searching for personal fulfillment and social change.
Start your journey back in time with the museum’s new digital story, ‘Idealism on Haight’, which includes audio narrative by curator Jill D’Alessandro and more.
On the New York Times‘ “notable openings” list for the Spring/Summer, this major traveling exhibition was organized by the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography in collaboration with the MIT Museum, Cambridge, Mass., and the WestLicht Museum of Photography, Vienna.
Looking at the creative exploration of the relationship between Polaroid’s many technological innovations and the art that was created with their help, the richly designed catalogue has over 300 illustrations, and impressively showcases not only the myriad and often idiosyncratic approaches taken by such photographers as Ansel Adams, Robert Mapplethorpe, Ellen Carey, and Chuck Close, but also a fascinating selection of the technical objects and artifacts that speak to the sheer ingenuity that lay behind the art.
“On a hillside in the shadow of Mount Tamalpais, north of San Francisco, amid the redwood trees, lies what is arguably the most important outdoor deck in American dance history.”—New York Times
The Radical Bodies show and catalogue reunites Halprin, Forti, and Rainer for the first time in more than fifty-five years, examining the work and influence of the three artists. Placing the body and performance as political practice at the center of the aesthetic debate, each thereby developed a corporeal language and methodology that continues to influence choreographers and visual artists to the present day. Radical Bodies also made the news surrounding political protests in New York in January. Timely indeed.
Elementa publishes original research with the ultimate objective of accelerating scientific solutions to the challenges presented by this era of human impact. Structured into six distinct knowledge domains, the Ecology domain will consider research centered on the ways in which humans are intentionally and unintentionally altering the conditions for life on Earth and the resulting ecological implications. These anthropogenic effects manifest at molecular levels and can cascade into physiological, population, community, ecosystem, landscape and global responses. Elementa will report new breakthroughs across these levels of ecological organization as well as for all domains of life.
In addition to innovative features including a value-sharing business model and an article-promotion partnership with Kudos, Elementa articles are highly used and downloaded (see highlighted articles below). For the full Elementa story, visit our website at elementascience.org.
For Elementa news and updates, be sure to follow along on Facebook and Twitter.
There has never been a more important time to ensure that transparent, evidence-based, peer-reviewed research has the widest and most impactful dissemination as possible. Please consider submitting your ecological science papers to Elementa or developing a Special Feature or Forum, and feel free to get in touch with Donald R. Zak, University of Michigan, Editor in Chief for Ecology, should you have any questions.
Thirty-seven years ago today, a gunman fired a single bullet that took Archbishop Óscar Romero’s life as he said mass inside a small chapel. We just observed the fortieth anniversary of another notorious crime from that era, the murder of Romero’s friend, Rutilio Grande. The 1977 ambush of Father Grande began a string of death-squad attacks on priests and other religious figures in El Salvador, a bloody campaign that lasted more than a decade. The diabolical logic of the killers was summarized in the slogan, “Be a patriot, kill a priest.”
Despite years of slander in some sectors, legacies of Romero and Grande are now being honored. Pope Francis is likely to name Romero a saint of the Catholic Church by the end of the 2017. Religious leaders in El Salvador recently sent the Vatican evidence of a miracle they believe is attributable to Romero’s intercession, the last requirement on the road to sainthood. Rutilio Grande is now being considered for beatification as a martyr, the same hurdle that Romero’s cause cleared in 2015.
My new book, Assassination of a Saint: The Plot to Murder Óscar Romero and the Quest to Bring His Killers to Justice, examines the people who executed Romero and how they did so. Equally important, however, the book explains why the conspirators felt the almost incomprehensible need to target priests, nuns, and lay people who were merely practicing their faith. The answer to that question is found in part in Romero’s own homilies. Despite the danger, Romero regularly criticized the repressive power structure in El Salvador, including the small group of wealthy landowners and businesspeople whose interests were protected by a succession of military governments. Romero referred to them as people “who pile up spoils and plunder in their palaces, who crush the poor, who bring on a reign of violence while reclining on beds of ivory.” Organizations that represented their interests responded by defaming Romero and others, branding them as Communists and traitors. One tabloid, in a 1970s version of fake news, carried the headline “Monseñor Romero Directs Terrorist Group,” with the subtitle, “Archbishop Great Ally of Agents of Subversion.”
The day before his death, Romero delivered his most forceful sermon, calling on Salvadoran soldiers to disobey the orders of their tyrannical commanders. He instead implored them, in the name of God, to “stop the repression.” Father Bill Wipfler, an Episcopalian priest who attended the mass that day in San Salvador and later testified about it in our trial against one of Romero’s killers, turned to a colleague after hearing Romero’s plea and said, “I don’t think that the military is going to let this one pass by.” A day later, Romero was dead.
Despite the devastating impact of Romero’s murder in 1980, today his memory is a source of hope and inspiration to millions in El Salvador and around the world. His canonization will be a historic moment for the country and a validation of his courageous and unflinching message.
Matt Eisenbrandt is a human-rights attorney who has devoted his career to finding legal means to prosecute war crimes. In the early 2000s, he served as the Center for Justice and Accountability’s Legal Director and a member of the trial team against one of Óscar Romero’s killers. He is an expert in the field of U.S. human-rights litigation and now works for the Canadian Centre for International Justice.
Despite these disagreements, Americans are relatively liberal compared to countries across the world, where the consequences for gay or transgender citizens are far more dire.
In Europe and here in the Americas, only a minority of people believe that homosexuality is never justified. The percentage increases in places like Russia, India and China. In Africa, the Middle East and parts of Southeast Asia, attitudes become even more conservative.
Why are there such big differences in public opinion about homosexuality? My book, Cross-National Public Opinion about Homosexuality, shows that a key part of the answer comes in understanding how national characteristics shape individuals’ attitudes.
Within countries, a similar set of demographic characteristics tend to influence how people feel about homosexuality. For example, women tend to be more liberal than men. Older people tend to be more conservative than younger ones. Muslims are more likely to disapprove of homosexuality than Catholics, Jews and mainline Protestants.
Just like people, countries too have particular characteristics that can sway residents’ attitudes about homosexuality. I have analyzed data from over 80 nations from the last three waves of the World Values Survey, the oldest noncommercial, cross-national examination of individuals’ attitudes, values and beliefs over time. It is the only academic survey to include people from both very rich and poor countries, in all of the world’s major cultural zones. It now has surveys from almost 400,000 respondents.
My analysis shows that differences in attitudes between nations can largely be explained by three factors: economic development, democracy and religion.
Sweden, Switzerland and the Netherlands are some of the richest nations in the world. They are also some of the most tolerant. In sharp contrast, countries like Uganda and Nigeria are quite poor and the vast majority of residents disapprove.
How does the amount of money a country has shape attitudes? In very poor countries, people are likely to be more concerned about basic survival. Parents may worry about how to obtain clean water and food for their children. Residents may feel that if they stick together and work closely with friends, family and community members, they will lead a more predictable and stable life. In this way, social scientists have found that a group mentality may develop, encouraging people to think in similar ways and discouraging individual differences.
Because of the focus on group loyalty and tradition, many residents from poorer countries are likely to view homosexuality as highly problematic. It violates traditional sensibilities. Many people may feel that LGBTQ individuals should conform to dominant heterosexual and traditional family norms.
Conversely, residents from richer nations are less dependent on the group and less concerned about basic survival. They have more freedom to choose their partners and lifestyle. Even in relatively rich countries like the United States, some people will still find homosexuality problematic. But, many will also be supportive.
Regardless of how much money they make, most people living in poorer countries are likely to be affected by cultural norms that focus on survival and group loyalty, leading to more disapproval.
Freedom of speech
The type of government also matters. People living in more democratic countries tend to be more supportive of homosexuality.
Democracy increases tolerance by exposing residents to new perspectives. Democracy also encourages people to respect individuals’ rights, regardless of whether they personally like the people being protected.
Freedom of speech also allows residents to protest and not be arrested. When residents feel that they can freely express their ideas, they become even more inclined to speak up for themselves and others. This leads to more tolerance.
Dominant religious views
The final factor shaping individuals’ attitudes is religion. Countries dominated by Islam, Eastern Orthodoxy and those that have a mixture of conservative and mainline Protestant faiths are more likely to disapprove.
In contrast, nations dominated by mainline Protestant religions and Catholicism – such as Sweden, Spain and the United Kingdom – are much more liberal.
Why are people from Muslim majority nations so opposed to homosexuality? Both Islam and conservative Protestant faiths generate high levels of religious belief. Most religious texts say that homosexuality is problematic. More religious people are more likely to take these religious precepts seriously. When a large proportion of people are highly dedicated to their religion, everyone within the country tends to develop more conservative views.
In these countries, the media are likely to reflect dominant religious views. Schools and businesses are more likely to support religious perspectives that disapprove of homosexuality. The government may censor the media so that they do not violate religious sensibilities. They may also restrict nonprofit organizations and human rights groups that promote views inconsistent with conservative religious values. Religious friends and family members are likely to reinforce anti-homosexual views.
Finally, there may not be any gay bars or other places to meet people with friendlier attitudes in these countries. Likewise, there may be limited internet access where residents could get more information about gay men and lesbians. In these countries most people are likely to disapprove, regardless of whether or not they are personally religious.
Are most nations becoming more liberal?
In 1996, there were only six nations that allowed for civil union or marriage. Seventeen years later, 43 nations allowed for it.
However, there has also been an increase in the number of nations that have a constitution or legal ban on homosexuality, indicating that there seems to have been a small backlash. These actions could be a reaction against the liberal legislation put in place in other countries.
As people across the world develop more liberal attitudes, many still disagree. Countries that are highly opposed to homosexuality tend to put in place policies and laws that reflect this disapproval.
While religion, economic development and democracy have a major role in shaping attitudes, the march toward greater liberalization is less straightforward than these factors alone would suggest.
Nations are embedded in a global context. Many countries located in Europe and North America were the first to become wealthy and democratic. Because they were the leaders, they were not subject to the pressure that currently up-and-coming countries now face from more powerful countries that led the way for gay rights.
Eighty percent of the countries I examined are becoming more liberal. However, we can’t assume that these changes will always be linear or simple. While we’ve seen a general trend toward more liberal views regarding homosexuality, there are likely to be hiccups along the way that affect how these different socioeconomic and cultural influences take shape nationally and across the world.
The Journal of Musicology is pleased to make the following articles, which look at various aspects of American music (including an article on Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn) free through the end of March:
19th-Century Music celebrates #AmMusic17 and #SCMS17 by offering a selection of articles on American film music. As with the articles above, you can read the following for free through the end of the month:
With the annual meeting of the Society for Cinema & Media Studies beginning this week in Chicago, UC Press journals Feminist Media Histories and Film Quarterly are pleased to offer a collection of limited-time free articles on cinema, soundtracks, and film music. Enjoy free access to these articles today through the end of the meeting on March 26, and be sure to meet the editors if you are attending #SCMS17!
Editor: B. Ruby Rich Associate Editor: Regina Longo
SCMS attendees: connect with FQ at SCMS 2017! Associate Editor Regina Longo will be available for meetings at the UC Press booth on Thursday and Friday afternoons.
Just in time for #SCMS17, Film Quarterly is delighted to unveil a newly redesigned website at filmquarterly.org. The refreshed site is fully device responsive and features a stronger visual component with full integration of social media, audio, and video. Full journal content continues to be housed at fq.ucpress.edu, but subscribers and non-subscribers alike are invited to read a curated selection of articles and web-only features on the new filmquarterly.org site.
Given that the annual conferences for both SCMS and the Society for American Music are being held this week, Film Quarterly’s editors would like to call your attention to a selection of articles (all available for free on filmquarterly.org) that should interest attendees of both #SCMS17 and #AmMusic17.
One Step Ahead: A Conversation with Barry Jenkins,
Michael Boyce Gillespie’s interview with the director of the Academy Award-winning Moonlight appears in the newly published Spring issue of Film Quarterly (read online or stop by the UC Press booth at SCMS to peruse a print copy).
Grace Lee Boggs was a tireless activist for feminism, Black Power, civil rights, environmental justice, and workers’ rights. A recipient of many human rights and lifetime achievement awards, including a place in the National Women’s Hall of Fame, Boggs remained a crusader for social justice right up to her 100th year.
In her 2012 book The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century, written with Scott Kurashige, Boggs drew from seven decades of activist experience to redefine “revolution” for our times. During the presidential election, co-author Kurashige edited together the following excerpts from the chapter “These Are the Times to Grow Our Souls” to share how Boggs continues to motivate us. This post originally appeared on the Grace Lee Boggs Facebook page, and we turn to this excerpt during Women’s National History Month as a reminder of the life and work of an extraordinary activist whose revolutionary legacy continues to inspire fundamental change today.
These are the times that try our souls. Each of us needs to undergo a tremendous philosophical and spiritual transformation. Despite the powers and principals that are bent on objectifying and commodifying us and all our human relationships, the interlocking crises of our time require that we exercise the power within us to make principled choices in our ongoing daily and political lives—choices that will eventually although not inevitably (since there are no guarantees) make a difference.
How are we going to bring about these transformations? Politics as usual—debate and argument, even voting—are no longer sufficient. Our system of representative democracy, created by a great revolution, must now itself become the target of revolutionary change. For too many years counting, vast numbers of people stopped going to the polls, either because they did not care what happened to the country or the world or because they did not believe that voting would make a difference on the profound and interconnected issues that really matter. Now, with a surge of new political interest having give rise to the Obama presidency, we need to inject new meaning into the concept of the “will of the people.”
The will of too many Americans has been to pursue private happiness and take as little responsibility as possible for governing our country. As a result, we have left the job of governing to our elected representatives, even though we know that they serve corporate interests and therefore make decisions that threaten our biosphere and widen the gulf between the rich and poor both in our country and throughout the world. In other words, even though it is readily apparent that our lifestyle choices and the decisions of our representatives are increasing social injustice and endangering our planet, too many of us have wanted to continue going our merry and not-so-merry ways, periodically voting politicians in and out of office but leaving the responsibility for policy decisions to them. Our will has been to act like consumers, not like responsible citizens.