Study social action, history, anti-Semitism on the Web

Social action is a big part of Judaism, American-style. Now there's a slick online magazine that's just the thing for Jews who want to more fully explore some of the connections between Jewish law and tradition and the world around us. should be a high-quality site; it's another project of cyber entrepreneur Yosef Abramowitz, whose "Jewish Family and Life!" e-zine sets the standard for Jewish online publications. retains the magazine format of Abramowitz's other publications. An opening page lists highlights for each issue. As Tisha B'Av approaches sundown Wednesday, Aug. 9, the themes are idolatry, Israel and intra-Jewish conflict.

Tabs across the top of the screen provide easy access to other sections. One of the most interesting: "Change makers," profiling Jewish individuals and organizations working to make a difference in today's world.

There's also a social action calendar, links and an extensive collection of resources for Jewish activists involved in a variety of issues.

The pages are lined with interesting quotes intended to spur readers to action. You can also sign up for weekly e-mail updates about the site's contents.

The site is filled with information and ideas, but navigation is easy; like all the Jewish and Family Life! Online publications, this is a model of good Web design.

Check it out at

On another topic, the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, a think tank in Great Britain, offers a country-by-country analysis of anti-Semitism.

Here's how the authors of this sober-minded page describe it: "Each entry provides key data about the overall political and economic situation in the country, information about racism and xenophobia and then a series of sections on various aspects of anti-Semitism."

Bet these guys are a stitch at a party.

Start by clicking on the "countries" link, and select the place you want to learn about. For each, you'll find a few paragraphs about the general economic and political environment, maps and more detailed information about the safety and security of the Jews.

Thailand, we learn, has experienced a few incidents of anti-Semitic vandalism in recent years, plus a plot to blow up the Israeli Embassy there.

The entry on Russia, sadly, is long, and apparently well balanced.

"Jewry's greatest concern is, as before, the inability and/or lack of will of the authorities to take adequate political and legal measures to deal with ultra-nationalist activists, particularly their publications," we learn.

There's also a modest collection of Web links on anti-Semitism, with an emphasis on British sources. Eventually, there will also be essays on global trends in anti-Semitism.

The tone here is business-like and unhysterical; the organization is efficient, but the site is marred by too many "under construction" pages.

Still, for those interested in the world's most enduring form of bigotry, this is a useful and interesting resource.

Check it out at

Does Jewish history float your boat? Then take a cruise on Dustin Wax's no-frills but informative Jewish history home page. Wax is a graduate student in cultural and historical anthropology. What he offers are the Web resources that have helped him in his own studies, along with a handful of his essays.

In fact, he said he created the site to store the links he regularly uses — so he wouldn't lose them in a Windows crash. The opening page is a whopper: Wax is interested in information, not fancy organization, and he basically just lays it all out in a single but well-organized page.

A section on Jewish museums offer a handful of Web-accessible institutions; a much bigger section points to miscellaneous Jewish historical archives and resources on the Web, ranging from the informal to the academic. Other categories: immigration and ethnicity, biography, radical and working class politics, Yiddish language and culture and Jewish women — who get a lot of attention here. A particularly nice touch: a "What I'm reading" section with reviews of the tomes this guy seems to read for pleasure. Not for the academically challenged, but definitely interesting.

Check it out at