The Subversive Power of Jewish Humor

by George Jochnowitz Discussed in this essay: Kvetching and Shpritzing: Jewish Humor in American Popular Culture, by Joseph Dorinson, foreword by Joseph Boskin. McFarland & Company, Inc., 2015, 248 pages. WHEN I FIRST saw the title of Joseph Dorinson’s book, I was a bit puzzled. I know that Yiddish kvetshn means “to squeeze” and can […]

Read More

OpEdge: Carson’s Alternative Reality

by Marc Jampole EVERY DAY we’re learning more about the fantasy world that presidential candidate Ben Carson inhabits. Carson believes in a curious hodgepodge of fantasies, discredited myths, false ideas, and inaccuracies, all of which he seems to have determined a priori, that is, before he considered any evidence outside his own longings or those […]

Read More

O My America: Bernie and the Christian Right

by Lawrence Bush NOW COMPLETING my semi-annual journey into the South to visit my daughter in South Carolina, I yesterday came upon this article in the Columbia Free Times, under the headline, “Should Christians Support Bernie Sanders?” Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders ventured into territory less likely to welcome his liberal message on September 14: […]

Read More

From Moses to Mean Joe Greene

Our Changing Cultural Vocabulary by Marc Jampole IT SEEMS as if it were only yesterday that America first saw the heart-rendering TV commercial in which Mean Joe Greene, a professional football player from the 1970s, throws a jersey to a young boy who offered him a Coke. The commercial, first introduced in 1979, makes all […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

February 26: The Birth and Death of Moses

According to classical Biblical reckoning, as calculated by the Lubavitcher Hasidim, Moses the son of Yocheved was born into slavery on this date in 1393 BCE and died on this date 120 years later. Moses is the dominant human figure of the Torah: liberator of the Hebrew slaves in Egypt, leader and miracle-worker during their […]

Read More

On the “Red Tent” Phenomenon

by Rabbi Elliot B. Gertel EARLY IN THE CURRENT TV season, the most read “underground novel” in American Jewish life, Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent (1997), was made into a movie on the Lifetime Network. It tells the story of Dinah, the daughter of Jacob and Leah, who is briefly mentioned in the Bible as […]

Read More

July 15: Smashing Tablets

Traditionally observant Jews will be fasting today: The Fast of Tammuz, which takes place three weeks before Tisha B’Av, commemorates the date (by biblical calculation) on which Moses, in 1313 BCE, descended from Mount Sinai, saw the idolatrous worship of the Golden Calf, and smashed the Tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments. The Fast of […]

Read More

May 31: The “Chosen People” Doctrine

According to the Jewish biblical calendar, on this date in 1313 BCE, known as Yom Hameyukhas, “The Day of Distinction,” God told Moses on Mount Sinai that the people of Israel “shall be My chosen treasure from among all the nations… a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:4-6). This notion of the […]

Read More