HARRY POTTER’S JEWISH MONSTERS: The “Harry Potter” series has no shortage of Orthodox Jewish critics, what with its focus on magic and its Shabbat release date. “But”, Rabbi Natan Slifkin notes in Brooklyn’s Jewish Press, “some of the most striking inhabitants of Harry’s world are very much part of Torah. Many of the strange beasts that Harry encounters, including mermaids, giants, centaurs and dragons, were described in the Talmud and Midrash long before J.K. Rowling ever took up her pen.” Slifkin, author of the books “Mysterious Creatures” and “Sacred Monsters,” investigates the monster’s place in Judaism.
SCHOOL OR SHUL?: The New York Jewish Week looks at the parallel debates surrounding a proposed Hebrew-language charter school in Florida and a planned Arabic academy in Brooklyn.
PING-PONG CHAMP: The Chicago Jewish News speaks with former U.S. intercollegiate table-tennis champ Steve Isaacson, who notes that Jews once dominated the sport in America. “There are a number of books on Jewish sports, and every time one of them comes out I furiously rush off a letter to the publisher: What happened to the table tennis players?” Isaacson tells the paper.
MEMBERS OR PHILOSOPHERS?: New Jersey Jewish News editor Andrew Silow-Carroll says that the debate over Harvard law professor Noah Feldman’s recent New York Times Magazine essay “Orthodox Paradox” reflects a growing divide among Jews: between those who see Jewish identity as focused on a “philosophy” and those who see it as a matter of “membership.”
TO SELL NAZI FLAGS, OR NOT TO SELL NAZI FLAGS: That is the question being debated in this week’s Jewish News of Greater Phoenix.
PALESTINE, POOF: The New Jersey Jewish Standard wipes Palestine from the face of the globe. Literally.
BABY BOOM: Israel isn’t the only place where a burgeoning ultra-Orthodox population is changing the character of the Jewish community. Haredim are a rapidly growing segment of British Jewry, according to a report in London’s Jewish Chronicle. One researcher says that a majority of Jewish births in Britain are to ultra-Orthodox families, and that the majority of British Jews will be Haredi in three decades. But another researcher places Haredi births at “between 33 and 39 per cent” of the total. At least members of Britain’s coming ultra-Orthodox majority won’t all be wearing black.
Also in the JC: Another East End shul bites the dust.
FOR THE RECORD: The Bergson Group gets a place in the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s permanent exhibition, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports.
P.C. ZIONISM?: Philadelphia’s Jewish Exponent defends a proposed Israeli law that would allow the Jewish National Fund to continue leasing land exclusively to Jews. The newspaper laments that the policy’s critics are advocating a “politically correct course.”
UNHAPPY ANNIVERSARY: Seattle’s Jewish Transcript marks the first anniversary of the shooting attack at the offices of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle that took the life of Pamela Waechter and wounded five others. The Transcript speaks with four of the survivors.
RABBI-FRIEND: Berkeley’s Aquarian Minyan has a new “rabbi-chaver,” San Francisco’s J. reports.
A MINYAN BY ANY OTHER NAME: Cleveland is getting a new independent minyan. It’s called “The Shul,” and it’s described as a “synagogue-without-walls.” “The Shul is descriptive of our physical reality, as we have no congregational building,” Rabbi Edward Sukol tells the Cleveland Jewish News. “A synagogue-without-walls is a metaphor for openness and inclusiveness both in regard to whom we want to attract and to the kinds of things we will do under the heading of The Shul.”
PORN TO PIETY: The L.A. Jewish Journal profiles a local legend: porn-and-Judaism gossip Luke Ford.