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    "The Russians Are Coming" and Other Poems

    February 2, 2018

    by Sparrow From our 2018 art calendar, dedicated to the theme of music   THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING The Russians are coming; the Russians are coming. They stole our election, and they are drumming. The Russians are drumming; the Russians are drumming. The president hears them, and he is humming. The president’s humming; the president’s humming. He is in love with the Russians’ drumming. The Russians are drumming; the Russians are drumming; I hear their music and it is numbing. O Russians, O...

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    MIDRASH: The Stories We Tell

    November 28, 2017

    WHY THE TORAH REMAINS AN OPEN BOOK by Reba Carmel   Moses received the Torah at Sinai and he transmitted it to Joshua,  and Joshua to the elders, and the elders to the prophets, and the prophets transmitted it to the Men of the Great Assembly . . . [who] said three maxims: Be measured in the legal process, raise up many students; make a fence for the Torah.  —Ethics of the Fathers 1:1 WHY DOES A TEXT called “Ethics of the Fathers” (Pirkei Avot), compiled and edited in its final form in approx...

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    Bye, Bye, Boys' Club

    September 1, 2017

    WOMEN IN AN EXPANDING COMEDY SCENE by Raina Lipsitz From the Summer 2017 issue of Jewish Currents   COMEDY has become for the millennial generation what rock and roll was for baby boomers — the fantasy career option. Thousands of people pay upwards of $50 a class for improvisational and sketch comedy classes (organizations such as New York’s Upright Citizens Brigade require eight-class courses, meaning each student pays at least $400). Netflix, Amazon, Comedy Central, and other networks have...

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    Yiddish in the Age of Identity

    May 7, 2017

    It’s a rare occurrence when I present all my identities without someone expressing shock and wonderment at the idea that these identities can coexist.

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    Running for Congress at 24

    May 1, 2017

    AND GETTING ATTACKED BY NEO-NAZIS A CONVERSATION WITH ERIN SCHRODE From the Spring 2017 issue of Jewish Currents Erin Schrode, 25, has been an environmental activist her entire life. In 2005, at age 13, in response to skyrocketing cancer rates in Marin County, California, she and her mother Judi Shils co-founded Teens for Safe Cosmetics and set out to campaign against hazardous chemicals in beauty and personal-care products. Notwithstanding her precocious activism, Schrode was far from a publ...

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    Israel and Canadian Jews

    November 8, 2016

    HOW THE MAINSTREAM COMMUNITY MARGINALIZES DISSENT by Mira Sucharov From the Autumn 2016 issue of Jewish Currents WHEN the United Church of Canada voted in August 2012 to boycott West Bank settlement products, the Canadian Jewish community’s reaction was harsh and swift. Calling the decision “morally reckless,” the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), Canada’s dominant Jewish and Israel lobby, moved to cut ties with the church. ARZA, the Reform synagogue movement’s Zionist group, calle...

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    Maimonides for the 21st Century

    October 16, 2016

    EVALUATING THE RAMBAM'S VIEW OF A JUST SOCIETY by Rabbi Reba Carmel From the Autumn 2016 issue of Jewish Currents. Discussed in this essay: Maimonides and the Book that Changed Judaism: Secrets of The Guide for the Perplexed, by Micah Goodman. University of Nebraska Press, 2015, 296 pages. "GOD IS THE GREATEST THREAT to religion.” So begins Maimonides and the Book that Changed Judaism, by Dr. Micah Goodman, an Israeli scholar and fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute. In a mere 250 pages, G...

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    The Besere Velt Times: Good News for September, 2036

    September 2, 2016

    Artwork by Milton Glaser, used by permission. Words by Lawrence Bush. From the Jewish Currents 2016 arts calendar, "WPA 2016"...

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    You Don't Need Chicken Soup to Feed the Soul

    August 29, 2016

    VEGETARIANISM GOES MAINSTREAM by Rebecca Boroson I HELD a secret celebration at my synagogue’s seder this year: Each of the seder plates at the fifteen tables bore a roasted beet, a rabbinically-approved vegetarian substitute for the traditional shankbone. And not one of the 150 guests seemed to think this was anything out of the ordinary. Of course, this took place at the Woodstock Jewish Congregation,in a small upstate New York town famous for marching to its own beat (or beet). Still, it wa...

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    “We Are All Mahmoud”

    August 28, 2016

    OR WE SHOULD ALL PRETEND TO BE by Mitchell Abidor From the Summer 2016 issue of Jewish Currents 1. A PLAINT THESE LAST FEW YEARS have been terrible for us Muslims. The promise of the Arab Spring has ended in chaos and dictatorship in the best of cases, with our fellow Muslims feeling the weight of the death and violence. Yes, ISIS gets press for its killings in the West (where its victims almost always include Muslims), but the overwhelming mass of those they kill, or whose lives they make a l...

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    Resisting Authority

    August 15, 2016

    A Personal Account of the Milgram Obedience Experiments by Joe Dimow WHEN IS IT PROPER to refuse to obey authority figures, even if they have been democratically chosen for their positions? In 1961, I participated in a famous experimental study about obedience and authority — although I and other participants were led to believe it was a study of memory and learning. The experiment was designed by a Yale University professor of social psychology, Stanley Milgram, and resulted in a book, Obedie...

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    Hello, Deli!

    August 12, 2016

    CHRONICLING THE NEW YORK JEWISH DELICATESSEN by Mikhail Horowitz from the Summer 2016 issue of Jewish Currents Discussed in this essay: Pastrami on Rye: An Overstuffed History of the Jewish Deli, by Ted Merwin. New York University Press, 2015, 245 pages. IN THE MID-1980s, I worked for a daily paper in the Hudson Valley with an editorial staff that sported many Wisconsinites, fresh out of journalism school. None had ever been to New York City, so I decided to give several of them a tour, arran...

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    Tisha b'Av in the Age of Climate Change

    August 7, 2016

    BINDING OURSELVES TO ONE ANOTHER THROUGH ACTIVISM by Rabbi Judy Weiss from the Summer 2016 issue of Jewish Currents THE FIRST TIME I went to Tisha b’Av morning services, I was surprised by something rather insignificant: According to Ashkenazic custom, Jews don’t wear talleisim (prayer shawls) or tefillin (phylacteries) during the morning Tisha b’Av service. For me, not laying tefillin is a bigger deprivation than fasting. I love my weekday morning ritual of wrapping the tefillin strap around...

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    Jewish-Goyish

    August 2, 2016

    Lenny Bruce's Mission to America by Lawrence Bush from the Summer 2016 issue of Jewish Currents LEONARD ALFRED SCHNEIDER, who took the stage as Lenny Bruce, died half a century ago on August 3, 1966, age 40. He was not the nice Jewish boy you’d want your daughter or son to marry. A drug abuser, he died of an overdose; a hustler, he was arrested in 1951 on charges of falsely “soliciting funds for some non-sectarian organization that had sponsored a leper colony.” He cursed a lot, and went to ja...

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    The Besere Velt Times: August 2036

    August 1, 2016

    GOOD NEWS FROM THE WORLD TO COME From the 2016 Jewish Currents Arts Calendar Artist: Janet Walerstein Winston  ...

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    Is Social Democracy Un-American?

    August 1, 2016

    THE NEW DEAL AND THE GREAT SOCIETY IN RETROSPECT by Marc Jampole from the Summer 2016 issue of Jewish Currents Discussed in this essay: The Great Exception: The New Deal and the Limits of American Politics, by Jefferson Cowie. Princeton University Press, 2016, 438 pages. HISTORIAN JEFFERSON Cowie’s The Great Exception: The New Deal and the Limits of American Politics is a small volume with one big idea: that the period roughly from 1935-1975, dominated by the wealth redistribution policies of...

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    When Does Resistance Become Terrorism?

    July 27, 2016

    A PROVOCATIVE CONVERSATION ON PALESTINIAN VIOLENCE by Ron Skolnik from the Summer 2016 issue of Jewish Currents I WAS RECENTLY REMINDED of a conversation I had more than three decades ago, in 1984 or ’85, while doing my annual Israeli army reserve duty. I was stationed in the Lebanese village of Maaroub, with a unit of mostly young army conscripts (I was only about 25 myself). The government of Menachem Begin had ordered the invasion of Lebanon in June 1982, and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF)...

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    Wednesday Night Fiction: Ta-Da!

    July 27, 2016

    A SHORT STORY by Marilyn Ogus Katz from the Summer 2016 issue of Jewish Currents I DRAG the Victrola on to the porch, put the big black disk on the turntable and the needle into the first groove. When I hear “The Hesitation Waltz,” I run down the steps and lie on my side, with my arms stretched above my head. I press my legs close together, and roll down the grass slope until it gets flat at the road. I push hard against the ground until the hill takes over and I can give myself to the down...

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    The Legacy of Hannah Senesh

    July 15, 2016

    A SOCIALIST ZIONIST HEROINE by Isabel Pearlman Published in Jewish Currents in 1974; republished in Autumn 2015 HANNAH SENESH, born July 17, 1921, was Hungarian, Jewish, gifted, and attractive, with an exceptionally appealing personality. She lived in a large house in Budapest “that’s in a wonderful position, and has a beautiful big garden.” So she wrote her in her diary, which has been published by Schocken, with an introduction by Abba Eban. Senesh went to operas, plays, movies, and symphon...

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    Anti-Semitism: It's Back!

    July 15, 2016

    PROGRESSIVES HAD BETTER DEAL WITH IT An Editorial from the Summer 2016 issue of Jewish Currents [caption id="attachment_42677" align="alignright" width="300"] Cartoon in Al-Watan, Saudi Arabia, Sep­tem­ber 10, 2012, courtesy of the Anti-Defamation League.[/caption] THERE IS OFTEN a reluctance on the part of the left, even among progressive Jews, to “make a big deal” out of anti-Semitism, particularly when we see the issue exploited by conservatives to blunt or censor criticism of Israel, to su...

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    Gevalt, How Did This Happen?

    July 13, 2016

    GETTING OLD, STAYING VITAL by Zelda Gamson from the Summer 2016 issue of Jewish Currents Either you will go through this door or you will not go through. If you go through there is always the risk of remembering your name. Things look at you doubly and you must look back and let them happen. If you do not go through it is possible to live worthily to maintain your attitudes to hold your position to die bravely but much will blind you, much will evade you, at what cost who knows? The door...

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    Make Her Do It

    July 5, 2016

    Can Bernie's Movement Pressure Clinton to Tack Left? An editorial from the Summer 2016 issue of Jewish Currents THE STORY GOES that President Franklin Roosevelt, at the conclusion of a 1940 meeting with A. Philip Randolph about overturning racial discrimination in the defense industry, told the black labor leader: “I agree with you. Now go out and make me do it.” Can we make Hillary Clinton “do it”? The strength of the American labor movement and left pales today in comparison with its power a...

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    The Square of Tolerance

    June 19, 2016

    CROSSING NARROW BRIDGES AS A TRAVELER IN SOFIA, BULGARIA by Dan Grossman from the Spring 2016 issue of Jewish Currents ALL ACROSS THE BALKANS, as all across Europe, religious tensions won’t stay in the past. In Mostar (southern Bosnia and Herzegovina), a bridge divides the Bosniak Muslims from the Catholic Croats, with the church towers on the western bank mirroring the minarets on the east. In Skopje (Macedonia), deep divisions persist between the Macedonian Orthodox majority and the Albanian...

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    What Happened in Ukraine?

    June 13, 2016

    Voices from Maidan Square by Sam Friedman From the Spring 2016 issue of Jewish Currents FOR MANY JEWS, whatever their politics, Ukraine is first and foremost a land of anti-Semitism: where Bogdan Khmelnytsky’s Cossack uprising killed tens of thousands of Jews in the middle of the 17th century; where nationalist opposition to the Russian revolution killed thousands more; where the Orthodox Church rarely balked from instigating or justifying pogroms; where collaborators with Nazism helped prosec...

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    "Dearest Jung..."

    May 13, 2016

    Erich Neumann’s Lifelong Correspondence with C.G. Jung by Aryeh Maidenbaum From the Spring 2016 issue of Jewish Currents Discussed in this essay: Analytical Psychology in Exile: The Correspondence of C.G. Jung & Erich Neumann, edited by Martin Liebscher. Princeton University Press, 2015, 496 pages. IN APRIL 2015, the Israel Jung Group hosted an important international conference discussing the contributions of Dr. Erich Neumann (1905-1960) to the field of analytical psychology (another na...

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    Irving Howe and Secular Jewishness

    May 4, 2016

    Socialism, Zionism, and Jewish Identity by Gerald Sorin From the May-June, 2005 issue of Jewish Currents IRVING HOWE rose from Jewish immigrant poverty in the Depression-ridden East Bronx of the 1930s to become one of the most important public thinkers in America. His journey to renown in the fields of literary criticism, radical politics, and Jewish culture involved three rich and intersecting paths: from sectarian polemicist to broadly humane and erudite man of letters; from Trotskyist revol...

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    A Year of Learning: One Family's Bat Mitsvah Journey

    May 3, 2016

    by Vera Sandronsky From the Spring 2016 issue of Jewish Currents ABOUT TWO YEARS AGO, my husband Alan and I had to decide what we wanted for our daughter Rebecca’s bat mitzvah. Although we belong to a local synagogue and appreciate the importance of community in Jewish life, we felt that she needed to go through an independent process. Something seemed noticeably lacking in the synagogue’s b’nai mitzvah curriculum: an appreciation for Jewish culture, including the music, theater, and food trad...

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    In Memoriam: Theodore Bikel

    May 1, 2016

    May 2, 1924 — July 21, 2015 by Bennett Muraskin From the Spring 2016 issue of Jewish Currents THERE ARE FEW contemporary Jews who have been more steeped in the tradition of progressive yiddishkayt than Theodore Bikel. He grew up in Vienna, but after Nazi Germany took over the country in 1938, his family emigrated to Palestine. Bikel’s father was a socialist and a Zionist (he named his son for Theodor Herzl), fluent in both Hebrew and Yiddish, and he passed to Theo a love for Jewish languages,...

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    Genocide and the Destruction of Nation-States

    April 28, 2016

    Timothy Snyder's Analysis of the Holocaust by Anna Wrobel From the Spring 2016 issue of Jewish Currents Discussed in this essay: Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning, by Timothy Snyder. Tim Duggin Books, 2015, 480 pages. TIMOTHY SNYDER'S Black Earth, like his Bloodlands (2010), plumbs and synthesizes a great trove of primary and secondary sources. I appreciate Professor Snyder’s deep conviction regarding the historian’s role beyond chronicler, as indicated by his subtitle: “The ...

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    Thar’s Goldberg in Them Thar Hills!

    April 28, 2016

    A History of America’s Most Influential Mountains by Mikhail Horowitz From the Spring 2016 issue of Jewish Currents Discussed in this essay: The Catskills: Its History and How It Changed America, by Stephen M. Silverman and Raphael D. Silver. Alfred A. Knopf, 2015, 448 pages. BACK IN THE HALCYON DAYS of my arrested adolescence, I was booked to perform at a Catskills resort, the Homowack, in Spring Glen. Actually, it was not the Homowack that booked me and my partner, but the representative fo...

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    Wednesday Night Fiction: A Short, Short Story (by a 102-Year-Old Man)

    April 27, 2016

    by Jesse Zel Lurie HER NAME was Sarah Rose, after her grandmother, Sura Raisel, who never left Poland and was lost in the Holocaust. His name was Ismail, nickname Izzy. He was an Arab-American, the son of a Brooklyn restaurant owner born in Haifa when its population was mostly Arab. They met at Cornell University as juniors. He was studying civil engineering, to help build a Palestinian state in the country that he had never seen. She was studying marine biology, to rescue coral reefs all o...

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    The Memory Project

    April 26, 2016

    Trauma, Resilience, and Repair Through Art by Janlori Goldman From the Spring 2016 issue of Jewish Currents THIS IS THE STORY of Anna Huberman and her younger brother Kalman, how they were born in Wloclawek, Poland, and were later forced from their home into the Warsaw Ghetto, where they spent a hungry, desperate year as children, Kalman selling flint and cigarettes and Anna babysitting to make a little food money.  This is the story of their escape, how the young teens, one after the other, l...

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    Paris, the Pope, and the Planet

    April 22, 2016

    Opening the Door to 1.5º and a Carbon Market by Rabbi Judy Weiss I'M A RABBI, climate activist, and grandmother, and the way I mix these identities seems constantly to surprise my friends. In 2014 they asked: “Why go to the New York climate march just three days before Rosh HaShanah? One march won’t change anything!” My answer: “Participating in a large climate march with thousands of other people will change me, and rededicate me for a new year of more intensive climate activism.” The next y...

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    The Ethical Challenges Teachers Face

    April 12, 2016

    A Speech to New Teachers in a Test-Driven System by Richard Rothstein From the Spring 2016 issue of Jewish Currents FOR SEVERAL DECADES NOW, a bipartisan coalition of policymakers in both government and business have attempted to make public education and its teachers into scapegoats for racial and economic inequality. These self-styled education reformers have often said that teaching in impoverished, segregated communities is the “civil rights” activism of our time — a notion that suggests b...

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    The Importance of Gender Politics

    April 10, 2016

    The Millennial Generation Gets Behind a Radical Issue by Ilana Masad From the Spring 2016 issue of Jewish Currents THIS IS AN ESSAY about gender. But first, a brief foray into pop culture: Late in 1990, in the second season of David Lynch’s TV show, Twin Peaks, David Duchovny entered the scene as Drug Enforcement Administration Agent Bryson. Once known as Dennis Bryson, the agent surprises colleague Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan), the main character, by showing up wearing a wig, lipstick, and ...

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    Orthodox Women, Escaping

    April 2, 2016

    by Susan Reimer-Torn From the Spring 2016 issue of Jewish Currents FAIGY MEYER BECAME a tabloid headline last July when she leapt to her death from a Manhattan rooftop bar. Faige (shown below) was not a fictional character, nor did she write a memoir. She was a 30-year-old woman who had left behind her ultra-Orthodox upbringing for a secular life some six years before. Friends said she carried a darkness within that she could not dispel. Since I, too, broke with the Orthodox world of my childh...

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    Do Black Lives Matter?

    March 28, 2016

    Plagues that Oppress 42 Million of Our Brethren by the Editorial Board From the Spring 2016 issue of Jewish Currents [caption id="attachment_41050" align="alignright" width="228"] Harriet Tubman, the "Black Moses" of the Underground Railroad[/caption] AT PASSOVER, as part of the ritual of connecting to the Jewish spirit of liberation, Jews recite a list of the legendary plagues that marked the days of resistance to slavery in ancient Egypt. The recounting can sometimes feel rote, the plagues ...

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    McCarthyism in Israel

    March 27, 2016

    Suppression By the Government, Segregation in the Streets by Ron Skolnik From the Spring 2016 issue of Jewish Currents [caption id="attachment_41137" align="alignright" width="219"] Im Tirtzu poster condemning the New Israel Fund and MK Naomi Hazan for the UN’s GoldstoneReport.[/caption] WHEN THE KNESSET'S Education and Culture Commitee convened in early January to discuss the work of Breaking the Silence (BTS), one of Israel’s foremost anti-occupation organizations, it was clear in advance t...

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    O My America: My Democratic Ass

    March 16, 2016

    by Lawrence Bush From the Spring 2016 issue of Jewish Currents Lawrence Bush is the editor & publisher of Jewish Currents....

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    Comrade Mordecai

    February 11, 2016

    A Memoir from the Warsaw Ghetto by Dr. Emanuel Ringelblum, translated by Yuri Suhl From the Autumn 2015 special issue of Jewish Currents on the theme, "Honoring the Jewish Resistance." Originally translated and published in 1962. IN THE LATTER HALF of 1943, the famous Warsaw Ghetto historian, Emanuel Ringelblum, a Left Poale Zionist, while hiding together with his family and thirty-five other Jews in the cellar of a Polish worker in Warsaw, wrote in Polish a sociological study entitled Polish...

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    Reclaiming Kurt Lewin

    February 11, 2016

    A Father of Modern Social Psychology by Robert Kleiner and Gerry Kane From the Summer 2015 issue of Jewish Currents IF YOU GOOGLE “Kurt Zadek Lewin” (1890-1947), you will quickly learn that he is often referred to as the father of modern social psychology — and if you are in the habit of Googling people you want to know about, you are part of a rapidly changing world of social psychology that involves new and changing pathways of communication, about which Kurt Lewin would have had much to say...

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    Muriel’s Gift

    February 11, 2016

    Rukeyser’s Poems on Jewish Themes by Helen Engelhardt From the Summer 2015 issue of Jewish Currents To be a Jew in the twentieth century Is to be offered a gift. SO BEGINS the most well-known and beloved of the poems written by Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980), who was astonished when the Reform synagogue movement included it in their revised prayerbooks in the 1940s. “To Be a Jew” also appears under the heading, “Israel’s Mission” in the 1975 edition of Gates of Prayer. “One feels that one has...

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    The Farewell Letters of the Manouchian Group

    January 9, 2016

    Jews of the French Resistance in Their Final Hours Translated by Mitchell Abidor From the Autumn 2015 special issue of Jewish Currents on the theme, "Honoring the Jewish Resistance." THE MEMBERS of the Manouchian Group, twenty-three mostly foreign-born men and women fighting in the Communist Resistance in France, were captured in the fall of 1943. Tortured and interrogated, they were sentenced to death after a brief show trial. (See my article in the Spring 2015 edition of Jewish Currents.) Be...

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    The Sheep Were Legend, the Wolves Were Real

    December 18, 2015

    A Fighter in the Minsk Ghetto Recounts the Resistance by Hirsh Smoliar Translated from the Yiddish by Hershl Hartman From the Autumn 2015 special issue of Jewish Currents on the theme, "Honoring the Jewish Resistance." Originally published in 1959. I CAN REMEMBER it clearly: It was that wonderfully good person and great writer, Der Nister [The Hidden One, pen-name of the Soviet Yiddish writer, Isser Kahanovich], who had urged me a number of times: “Tell it to everyone... Tell them the truth...

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    The Khanike Rebellion, Before and After

    December 6, 2015

    by Yankl Stillman IT ALL STARTED over 2,300 years ago. Alexander of Macedonia (aka Alexander the Great) conquered an empire that stretched from the Aegean Sea to the Indus River. It might have been even bigger had he not died in Babylonia in 323 BCE, at the age of 32. When you have an empire that size and you die, there are all sorts of people interested in how to dispose of it. In this case, the empire was divided into three major parts, each headed by a general: Ptolemy in Egypt; Lysimachus ...

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    Saving Children in Buchenwald

    November 30, 2015

    Saved by the German Leftwing Underground, as Recounted by a Jewish Survivor by John Ranz From the Autumn 2015 special issue of Jewish Currents on the theme, "Honoring the Jewish Resistance." Originally published in 1993. THERE IS A LARGELY UNWRITTEN STORY, known to Buchenwald survivors like me, that needs to be told. It is the tale of the heroic role played by non-Jewish leftists in the German underground — mostly socialists and communists — in saving the lives of large numbers of Jewish child...

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    The Little Doctor: A Resistance Hero in Poland

    November 24, 2015

    by Leonard Tushnet From the Autumn 2015 special issue of Jewish Currents on the theme, "Honoring the Jewish Resistance." Originally published in 1961. JEWISH DOCTORS, distinguished in every branch of medicine, have not had a reputation as military leaders or organizers. Yet almost all the doctors in the Polish resistance movement were Jewish — and the entire Russian partisan force owes a great deal to a little Jewish doctor in Byelorussia. Dr. Yehezkel Atlas was born in 1910 in Chornski Gora,...

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