Tuesday, December 12, 2017

American Jews and charitable giving: An enduring tradition

By Hanna Shaul Bar Nissum, Brandies University

Even though only about one in 50 Americans is Jewish, U.S. Jews donate at high levels, both as individuals and as a community. Most Jews, regardless of their economic status, heed their religious and cultural obligations to give. In fact, 60 percent of Jewish households earning less than US$50,000 a year donate, compared with 46 percent of non-Jewish households in that income bracket. Interestingly, the same study also found that Jews, black Protestants, Evangelical Protestants, mainline Protestants and Roman Catholics give at similar levels to congregations and to other causes. However, Jews give relatively less to congregations and more to other causes. Two explanations involve education and wealth, traits strongly correlated with philanthropy. The Jewish community is among the nation’s most educated and wealthy demographic groups. [More]

Spanish police cordon off Catalan museum after religious artefacts seized

By Gareth Harris
The disputed tombs Xavier Zapater Lleida Museum
Unrest has broken out at the Lleida Museum in western Catalonia after Spanish law enforcement officers entered the institution [yesterday] morning. The move is the latest development in a long-running restitution saga centered on 44 religious artifacts housed at the museum, which have become a symbol of Catalonia’s bid for independence. The disputed pieces were removed from the Monasterio de Santa Maria de Sijena in neighboring Aragon under the post-war dictatorship of General Franco, and deposited in Catalonian institutions. Some objects have been returned but religious items, including medieval sarcophagi, remained at Lleida Museum. A spokeswoman for the museum tells us that “the objects are packed and will leave the museum today”. The Spanish ministry of culture declined to comment. [More]

Monday, December 11, 2017

Japanese Art and the two paths of Buddhism and Shintoism: Faith in the Snow

By Lee Jay Walker
“Art of Buddhism and Shintoism and Two Paths in the Snow,” by Utsumi shows that two religious paths can co-exist naturally without seeking to crush and humiliate the other.
TOKYO---The latest art piece by Sawako Utsumi, a contemporary Japanese artist who hails from Northern Japan, utilizes the snowy landscape by highlighting the respective strengths of Buddhism and Shintoism despite terrible adversity. Of course, the adversity applies to the terrible weather conditions faced by the holy men of Buddhism and Shintoism in this art piece. However, on a bigger nuance, then it applies to certain international events that have decimated Buddhism and Traditional Beliefs throughout history – and is still happening today. “Art of Buddhism and Shintoism and Two Paths in the Snow,” is an adorable piece of art by Utsumi. This is based on the amazing landscape, the three holy men of Buddhism and Shintoism, the terrible winter conditions, the power of faith, and the distant Buddhist temple and Shinto shrine. [More]

Bring Hanukkah in with a Tyrannosaurus Rex sized roar

By Meredith Goad
"Menorasaurus Rex" by Lisa Pierce
PORTLAND---When Hanukkah begins Tuesday, Lisa Pierce’s family will light her grandmother’s menorah, a family heirloom that looks like a traditional candelabrum with nine branches. Then, just for fun, she’ll light a dinosaur menorah. Or a hippo. Or a penguin. Pierce’s menorah menagerie consists of her own playful creations that she sells mostly through her Etsy.com shop, The Vanilla Studio. The most popular is “Menorasaurus Rex,” a fierce-looking Tyrannosaurus Rex, but she also makes other dinosaurs (a brontosaurus and a triceratops), as well as an elephant, alligator, turtle, hippo and yes, even a not-so-kosher lobster. [More]