Now What? Exploring Babylon Stage Two

I launched the “Exploring Babylon” project on this blog in October 2017. Stage One was to run for roughly 40 weeks, from Sukkot through Tisha B’av. WordPress statistics tell me that I’ve posted 40 times in the category, “Exploring Babylon,” although not entirely on the weekly schedule I’d originally planned, and Tisha B’av is fast […]

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Strange and Familiar

Exploring Babylon Chapter 23 Although just published (May 2018), Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo” was completed in 1931, based on work begun in the 1920s. Zora Neale Hurston’s Barracoon relates the story of a West African and his experience, before, during, and after U.S. slavery. Some of the content, as well as […]

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The Powers and the Wealth

Exploring Babylon Chapter 15.1 The battle between God and Pharaoh reaches a crescendo in this week’s Torah portion — Bo (Ex 10:1 – 13:16) — and the denouement includes an exchange of treasure between the Egyptians and the Israelites. Rabbinic lore links these riches back to Genesis and forward through history, ending with the familiar […]

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Babylon and New Beginnings

Exploring Babylon Chapter 14 The Joseph Cycle, which closes out the Book of Genesis, has it all, in terms of story-telling: politics, sex, family drama, passages that touch on religious and cultural practices, plus a few dream sequences. The Book of Exodus is quite the drama as well, but it shifts focus to national struggle, […]

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The Five Powers, part 2

Before Chanukah is too distant a memory, let’s look at the remaining powers, Persia and Rome, associated with the holiday and the piyyut that includes them all.

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Chanukah and the Five Powers

Five foreign powers show up this week in the Jewish calendar. It’s worth examining each of these empires to see what light it sheds — on its own and in conjunction with the others.

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The Babylon Road

The biblical Rachel’s life and death link her to the Babylon of the past and future and to the precarious nature of Israel’s future on the land.

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