Rethinking the Exodus Story

A Curmudgeonly, Skeptical Look by Bennett Muraskin   THE PASSOVER HAGODE celebrates the liberation of the ancient Israelites from slavery in Egypt, but provides few details. Its source document is the Book of Exodus — which on this holiday deserves a closer look. Because Pharaoh fears that the burgeoning Israelite population will become a threat to his rule, he […]

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Martin Luther King Is My Rabbi

by Rabbi Jonathan Kligler From the online newsletter and Torah commentary of the Woodstock Jewish Congregation   VA’YAVO MOSHE V’AHARON el Par’oh va’yomru eilav, “Ko amar YHVH, Elohei ha’Ivrim: ad matai may’anta lay’anot mipanai? shalach ami vaya’avduni!” So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said to him, “Thus says the Source of Life, the […]

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Volunteers in Israel’s War of Independence

by Dusty Sklar THEY WERE CALLED Makhalniks, Makhal being an acronym for Mitnadvei Khutz Le’Aretz, or volunteers from outside the Land — the Land being Israel, the volunteers being mainly U.S. and British World War II veterans. They totaled close to 4,000 men and women, and represented fifty-eight different countries. The year was 1948, when […]

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O My America: Exodus to 2016

The Refugees By Lawrence Bush THE BOOK OF EXODUS will be floating into the collective Jewish consciousness beginning this Friday, New Year’s Day — the book of “Going Out” (that’s what ‘Exodus’ means in Greek) — which has me trying to find the emotional space to think about what we’re leaving behind in 2015 and […]

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August 3: Leon Uris

Leon Uris, the bestselling author of Exodus (1958, about the founding of Israel) and Mila 18 (1961, about the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising), was born in Baltimore on this date in 1924. A high-school dropout who failed English three times, Uris enlisted in the Marine Corps after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor; his first novel, […]

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The Bible as (Not!) History

by Bennett Muraskin PEOPLE OFTEN CLAIM that the history of the Jews dates back 4,000 years. Actually, it is closer to 3,000 years, but that’s still a long time, in human terms. Certainly, few non-fundamentalists take the Adam and Eve or Noah stories literally, but many people do insist, on no firmer historical basis, that […]

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April 10: Big Sister

Miriam, the sister who safeguarded the baby Moses during his journey in a basket along the Nile, and then led freed Hebrew women slaves in song and dance after they crossed the Red Sea, died at 126 on this date in 1274 BCE, according to Jewish biblical calculations (which count the Earth as 5,774 years […]

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Daughters and Fathers at Passover Time

by Susan Reimer-Torn A watercolor entitled Father and Daughter, painted in Poland in 1876, fills me with bittersweet longing. It was painted by a 21-year-old Maurycy Gottlieb just two years before the promising young man’s untimely death. (I wonder if that accounts for its intimation of inevitable parting.) A bearded patriarch is embracing a pre-adolescent […]

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October 4: Rose Warfman and the French Resistance

Rose Warfman (Gluck), a heroine of the French Resistance who survived internment in Auschwitz, was born in Zurich, Switzerland on this date in 1916. A direct descendant of the Magid Dov Ber of Mezeritch (1704–1772), the hasidic leader who was successor to the Baal Shem Tov, she lived with her Orthodox family in Paris from […]

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June 9: Joseph’s Tomb

By Jewish calendrical reckoning, today (1 Tammuz, 5773) is both the birthdate (in 1562 BCE) and death date (110 years later) of Joseph, the favored child among the twelve sons and one daughter of Jacob, the grandson of Abraham. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers at age 17, according to both the Torah […]

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