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Jewish License Plates

On this date in 1901, New York became the first state in the U.S. to require license plates on motor vehicles, simply the owner’s initials on a homemade plate. Two years later, official numbers were assigned, and in 1910, the state began issuing the plates rather than requiring drivers to make them. Vanity plates have […]

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February 16: Tsu Gesundt!

Pope Gregory is said to have declared on this date in 600 (though some say February 6) that “God bless you” is an appropriate response to a sneeze. According to the History Channel, “Gregory the Great . . . assumed the papacy in 590, at a time when the bubonic plague was raging through Europe. […]

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May 26: In Israel, Yiddish Language and Culture Day

The Israeli Knesset observed Yiddish Language and Culture Day on this date in 2009 at the behest of MK Lia Shemtov of Israel Beiteinu, a rightwing nationalist party with strong support among Jews from Russia. A Yiddish-Hebrew parliamentary lexicon was released for the occasion, with such phrases as Ordners, derveytert im fun zal! – “Ushers, […]

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What Remains

Finding Yiddish by Janice Segal Weizman YIDDISH TALES. The book lies casually, almost coyly, on my desk. It’s a hardcover bound in fading blue cloth, a 1946 reprint of a 1912 collection of Yiddish stories translated into English. I found it in a used book store in Tel Aviv, and though the volume’s dusty presence […]

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November 10: The First Hebrew Novel

Joseph Perl, whose 1819 epistolary novel ridiculing khasidism, Revealer of Secrets (Megaleh Temirim), is considered by some to be the first modern novel in Hebrew (Perl translated it into Yiddish to make it accessible to Jews), was born on this date in 1773 in Galicia. He was a follower of khasidism as a boy, but wrote […]

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I Owe My Life to My Attacker

by Rabbi Arik Ascherman Rabbi Arik Ascherman, the founder of Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR) in Israel and a very courageous activist on behalf of Israeli-Palestinian peace, was recently attacked by a masked settler while investigating the destruction of fruit trees on the West Bank. The following is his account of the event. Donations can […]

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Growing Up In Israel, Part 2

Yes to Peace, No to Violence by Ilana Masad Read other installments in this series here. MOVING FROM ONE COUNTRY to another involves a lot of getting ready and a lot of time spent in limbo. Even today, as my mother prepares to leave Israel twenty-two years after she arrived, the process of moving across […]

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January 28: Ibn Ezra’s World

Medieval philosopher, poet, grammarian and mystic Abraham Ibn Ezra died on this date (some say January 23rd) in 1167. He wrote the first book about the Hebrew language in Hebrew since ancient times, and also introduced the decimal system to Jews of his time, with his invention of a Hebrew symbol for zero. He also […]

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December 29: The First Hebrew Feature Film

Oded Hanoded (Oded the Wanderer), the first feature film made in Hebrew, directed by Chaim Halami, premiered at the Eden Cinema in Tel Aviv on this date in 1932. Based on a children’s story by Tsvi Liberman, the silent film portrays the adventures of Oded, a dreamy boy from a moshav who gets lost in […]

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December 15: Ludwig Zamenoff’s International Language

Dr. Ludwig Lazarus Zamenhof, an opthalmologist who created and promoted the world’s most successful language invented by an individual, Esperanto, was born in Bialystok on this date in 1859. Zamenhoff had native fluency in Yiddish and Russian, and his father, a language teacher, gave him knowledge of German and French. Zamenhof also learned Polish, and […]

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