July 27: Israel's Bible Quiz

The adult version of Israel’s Tanakh (Bible) Quiz was revived in Jerusalem after a 29-year hiatus on this date in 2010. The first Tanakh Quiz had been presided over by David Ben-Gurion and broadcast on national radio on Israel’s tenth anniversary in 1958. The quiz was then held about every three years until 1981. A […]

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July 20: Ezra the Scribe

According to modern scribes of the Lubavitcher hasidic movement, this is the date in 348 BCE on which Ezra the Scribe arrived in Israel with about 1,500 Jewish men and their families, exiles from Babylon, as detailed in the biblical books Ezra and Nehemiah. Ezra, a descendant of the high priest of Jerusalem, is credited […]

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Susan Reimer-Torn: Upper West Side #3

by Susan Reimer-Torn A Riddle Q. What in this world has the power to sanctify a sovereign and repel an ordinary mosquito? A. Ever since antiquity, healing, fragrance and even sacred powers have been known to be concentrated in precious droplets of essential oils. These oils reside between the cells of plants. Found in roots, […]

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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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December 27: The Septuagint

According to legend, the translation of the Hebrew Pentateuch into Koine Greek — the lingua franca of the Mediterranean civilizations for centuries after Alexander the Great’s death — was completed on this date in 175 BCE. The Septuagint (Latin for “Seventy”), which is now the oldest extant version of the Bible, was said to be […]

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February 1: The Slavery Debate

Rabbi Morris Raphall, leader of B’nai Jeshurun in New York, became the first Jewish clergyman to open a session of the U.S. House of Representatives with prayer on this date in 1860, on the eve of the Civil War. On January 4th of the following year, however, Raphall published an essay in the New York […]

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