Alt+SHIFT: Series Introduction

Yitzchak Blau Tradition Online | December 27, 2022

Alt+SHIFT is the keyboard shortcut allowing us quick transition between input languages on our keyboards—for many readers of TRADITION that’s the move from Hebrew to English (and back again). In this upcoming TraditionOnline series Yitzchak Blau will be offering his insider’s look into trends, ideas, and writings in the Israeli Religious Zionist world helping readers from the Anglo sphere to Alt+SHIFT and gain insight to worthwhile material available only in Hebrew. See the index of all columns in the series at the bottom of this page.

Even as the Internet makes cross-cultural pollination easier than ever before, due to language and cultural barriers, Israeli and American writers often remain unaware of intellectual currents produced on opposite sides of the ocean, missing out on content that can inform their interests. When R. Avraham Stav recently worked on a book on Judaism and vegetarianism, he was surprised to discover that most of the quality material on the subject had been published in English. Many other authors (from books to blogs) don’t even bother checking what happens in their non-native tongue.

While there is an equal responsibility from both Israelis and Americans to stay abreast of each other’s intellectual output, additional reasons exist for English speakers and readers to follow material produced in Hebrew. Religious Zionists worldwide correctly identify Israel as the center of Jewish existence and see in the story of our people’s return to its homeland one of the most remarkable events in human history. Surely, that should generate special interest in ideas under discussion in the Land of Israel. Furthermore, it seems to me that Israel currently possesses the most varied and interesting writers and thinkers on issues of concern to us as a people as a whole, and our specific religious community—particularly in the realms of Torah study and Jewish thoughts and culture. 

To promote awareness of these writers and trends among TRADITION’s readers, I have started to post summaries of Hebrew material, much of it from the Hebrew newspaper Makor Rishon, on my Facebook page. Numerous readers have expressed appreciation for my efforts and I am pleased to expand them here on TraditionOnline. Later this week we launch a short series on books studying aspects of the Dati Leumi world, with a summary of Yair Sheleg’s book on Hardalim, that interesting intersectional community of ultra-Orthodox Religious Zionists Given the ascendance of the Noam party in Netanyahu’s new government, the power over Israeli education given to its head, Avi Maoz, and the troubling accusations against the community’s most prominent Rosh Yeshiva, it is now particularly important to understand this segment of Israeli Orthodox life.

Peruse the various columns which have appeared as part of Alt+SHIFT.

Yitzchak Blau, Rosh Yeshivat Orayta in Jerusalem’s Old City, is an Associate Editor of TRADITION.

Leave a Reply