Jack Benny

Jack Benny (Benjamin Kubelsky) was born in Chicago, Illinois, on this date in 1894. His parents were immigrants from Poland and Lithuania. One of America’s favorite comedians in vaudeville, on radio and TV, and in film, Benny was married to Sadye Marks, who some say was a cousin of the Marx Brothers and who played his […]

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Integrating Carnegie Hall

Benny Goodman blew the lid off Carnegie Hall on this date in 1938, in a legendary jazz concert — tickets had sold out weeks in advance — that made the “uptown” (i.e., Black) music respectable among the midtown set. The “King of Swing” was joined onstage by Lionel Hampton, Lester Young, Johnny Hodges, Teddy Wilson, and other […]

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Ben Hecht

Ben Hecht, a writer of wide-ranging accomplishments and great fame and influence who became especially active in American Zionist efforts to save Jews from the Holocaust, died at 70 on this date in 1964. Hecht’s screenplays included The Front Page (1931), Scarface (1932), Gunga Din (1939), Angels Over Broadway (which he also directed, in 1940), […]

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December 18: Hal Kanter and Diahann Carroll

Hal Kanter, a screenwriter, director, and producer who created “Julia,” the first television sitcom (1968-71) featuring a black professional character (Diahann Carroll), was born in Savannah, Georgia on this date in 1918. Kanter worked on films with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin, and Elvis Presley. For many years he was […]

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October 6: Editor of “Jewish Child”

Elma Ehrlich Levinger, the editor of Jewish Child magazine and author of more than thirty books for children about Jewish history and identity, was born in Chicago on this date in 1886. “Levinger used both drama and the short story as a means of educating young people and women about Jewish history and traditions, hoping […]

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Do Black Lives Matter?

Plagues that Oppress 42 Million of Our Brethren by the Editorial Board From the Spring 2016 issue of Jewish Currents 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 […]

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March 1: Africa Honors Anti-Apartheid Jews

The postal services of Liberia, Gambia, and Sierra Leone joined together on this date in 2011 to release a set of commemorative stamps honoring a dozen Jews who fought apartheid and racism in Africa. The black-and-white stamps show Helen Suzman, Eli Weinberg, Esther Barsel and Hymie Barsel (Liberia); Yetta Barenblatt, Ray Alexander Simons, Baruch Hirson […]

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The Terror and Trauma of Being Black

by Mark Naison Discussed in this essay: Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Spiegel & Grau, 2015, 176 pages LET ME SAY at the outset that I cannot be objective in reviewing Ta-Nehisi Coates new book, Between the World and Me, which is addressed to his 15-year-old son, who burst into tears when learning […]

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