The Uncivil Servant: Where the Hell Did We Come From?

by Mitchell Abidor Discussed in this essay: The Origin of the Jews, by Steven Weitzman. Princeton University Press, 2017, 408 pages.   AT THE END of Steven Weitzman’s Origin of the Jews, a scholarly but eminently accessible account of the search for the origin of the Jews (which we should not confuse with their beginnings), the […]

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The Horse in Jewish Religious Text

by A.D. Paul   THE TORAH’s attitude to horses reveals a range of perspectives, based on the different experiences of the ancient Jewish people. Unlike the pig and the dog, which are not only forbidden as food but are widely scorned throughout the Torah, the horse, also forbidden as a food, often symbolizes great strength and courage, as […]

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All About Khanike-Hanukkah-Chanukah

A RESOURCE FROM JEWISH CURRENTS’ SCHAPPES CENTER FOR CULTURAL JEWISH LIFE (Sponsored, in part, by the Kurz Family Foundation. Illustration [above] from Richard Codor and Lawrence Bush’s Babushkin’s Catalogue of Jewish Inventions.)   KHANIKE (that’s the YIVO-style transliteration of the Yiddish pronunciation for Hanukkah, which we use to honor Yiddish culture) is one of the […]

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December 25: The Unconquered Sun

The Roman Emperor Aurelian established a feast of the birth of Sol Invictus (the Unconquered Sun), on this date in 274 CE. The move elevated the Sun God to a higher status among the divinities of Rome (which, of course, elevated the Sun God’s priesthood as well). Sol Invictus would be a popular god, considered […]

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June 2: The Tribe of Judah

According to the Biblical calendar, as calculated by the Lubavitcher hasidim and other believers in Biblical infallibility, Judah, the fourth son of Jacob and Leah, was born on this date in 1565 BCE and died on the same date 119 years later. Judah is best known for several scenes in the book of Genesis: He […]

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March 15: The Ides of March

Julius Caesar was assassinated in Rome on this date in 44 BCE. The Jews of Palestine had backed Caesar in his successful civil war with Pompey, who had massacred some 12,000 of them while conquering Jerusalem, violated the Holy of Holies in the Temple, and sold thousands of Jews into slavery. (Pompey’s ally Crassus additionally […]

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March 14: The Mishkan

Construction of the Mishkan, a portable tabernacle or tent to house “God’s presence,” was completed in the Sinai wilderness on this date in 1312 BCE, according to Biblical reckoning (as figured by the Lubavitcher khasidim). The design, according to the Torah, had been issued in lengthy detail to Moses on Mount Sinai, and the construction […]

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Ancient Jews and Modern Muslims

by Steve Sklar MODERN CONFLICTS SOMETIMES MIRROR ancient struggles. The United States and Muslims of the Middle East seem to be living out a tragedy that Romans and Jews suffered some 2,000 years ago. The United States helped Muslims drive the Soviet Union out of Afghanistan. A group of Muslim theological students, aided by Pakistan, […]

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September 2: Marc Antony and the Jews

Marc Antony and his ally and wife, Cleopatra, were defeated by Octavian (soon to be the Emperor Augustus) in the naval Battle of Actium off the coast of Greece on this date in 31 BCE, thirteen years after the assassination of Julius Caesar. Antony had appointed Herod “the Great” as king of Jerusalem and the […]

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March 16: Jerusalem Falls to Babylon

Jerusalem fell to Nebuchadnezzar II, the king of the Babylonian Empire, on this date in 597 BCE, following a four-month siege, according to the Babylonian Chronicles, a set of tablets currently possessed by the British Museum. Nebuchadnezzar pillaged  the city and the Temple and deported the Jewish king and his court, along with a substantial […]

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