Masada and its scrolls

Jews? What Jews?When Yigael Yadin began to excavate Masada in 1963, the possibility of finding ancient manuscripts was but a dream. But this dream would be fulfilled in just a few weeks, as excavators combed a room inside the casemate wall of the fortress. When the manuscripts were opened, Yadin realized that he had found a copy of a quasi-mystical text entitled “Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice” or “Angelic Liturgy,” copies of which had been found at Qumran but which still awaited publication.

This discovery led to the obvious question: how did Masada and the texts discovered there relate to the Dead Sea Scrolls found at Qumran?

Read the rest of this article at The Jerusalem Report.

Why Accusations That NYU Is Anti-Semitic Are Unwarranted

Lawrence SchiffmanIn 1974, I came to New York University’s Washington Square campus as a young instructor of Hebrew. With my kipa and beard, it was obvious that I was an Orthodox Jew. Some 45 years later, I can look back and say that I have received all of the respect and friendliness that anyone could expect, never witnessing anything that can be described as anti-Semitism.

So, I was shocked to hear that I was working on a supposedly anti-Semitic campus, a charge stemming from a phony “boycott” of NYU Tel Aviv led by a single NYU department, the department of social and cultural analysis, which has nothing to do with NYU Tel Aviv, and a rogue student address delivered at a graduate school commencement. These actions violate the principles on which NYU was built and have been widely condemned on campus.       

Read the rest of this article at The New York Jewish Week.

Jews, Catholics, Parley

Much Accomplished in a Convivial Atmosphere

Jews, Catholics, ParleyFor three days, from May 13-16, about 50 Jewish and Catholic clergy, scholars and lay leaders gathered in Rome for  the 24th meeting of the International Catholic-Jewish Liaison Committee in an atmosphere of friendship and cooperation. As a result of these meetings and many other positive developments, the Catholic Church has indeed become a friend of the Jewish people and the State of Israel.

The Jewish side in the dialogue is represented by the unique International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations (IJCIC), which represents Jews from all over the world and includes rabbinic and synagogue organizations and defense agencies. It is my privilege to represent the  Orthodox Union on this committee. The group is a paragon of Jewish unity, working together
seamlessly to represent the Jewish people to international religious bodies, including some much less positively disposed to Jews than the Catholic Church.

Read the rest of this article in the Long Island Jewish World.