Then and Now
Wealth and Poverty

Poverty and its Relief

I recently had the opportunity to speak at Connecticut College on the topic of poverty and its relief in Jewish thought.  It was great fun, in part because the discussion helped me to better articulate something that has been bothering me for some time. The issue is this: Early rabbinic texts define a poverty line,...

The New Switzerland?

Congress is, or at least should be, busy.  Over the next few months it is supposed to tackle reforms to our health care system and tax code and produce a new budget.  Even if not enacted in their present forms (or outlines) – as I hope not – they are bound reshape our economic lives...

And Moses Said Unto the GOP…

The other day Nicholas Kristoff published a satirical take-down of Paul Ryan and his budget priorities in the New York Times.  He imagines a conversation between Ryan and Jesus, in which Ryan pushes back on Jesus’ call to have mercy on those who are poor .  Such mercy, Ryan essentially argues, amounts to a policy...

Paying for College in 1803

When I pay our son’s college tuition I am given a variety of options, from full payment up-front to installment plans, but no matter how I pay I must use U.S. currency.  Which raises the question, before there was a standard U.S. currency, how did students pay their college tuition? I have been reviewing the...

Jewish Charity in Antiquity

The online forum Ancient Jew Review recently published three essays on Jewish charity in antiquity, by Alyssa Gray, Gregg Gardner, and Yael Wilfand.  I highly recommend these essays which together provide an excellent introduction to the state of research in this field.  My own response to them was also published here.

Jews and Money: A New Course

Last year I co-taught a class called “Wealth: Religious Approaches” and ran a related workshop, “Jewish Approaches to Wealth and Poverty.”  I am now preparing the sources presented at the workshop for publication and will be teaching a new course based on these previous forays, called “Jews and Money.”  I had originally intended this course...

Gary Anderson Lecture on Jewish Attitudes Toward Wealth and Poverty

In early November I convened a workshop on Jewish Attitudes Toward Wealth and Poverty.  We spent most of our time at the workshop discussing translations of Jewish texts and we are in the process of assembling those (and other) texts to publish together as a kind of source book. One of the highlights of the...