The Uncivil Servant: Where the Hell Did We Come From?

by Mitchell Abidor Discussed in this essay: The Origin of the Jews, by Steven Weitzman. Princeton University Press, 2017, 408 pages.   AT THE END of Steven Weitzman’s Origin of the Jews, a scholarly but eminently accessible account of the search for the origin of the Jews (which we should not confuse with their beginnings), the […]

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We Are All Jews, But Where’s the Party?

by Marty Roth Discussed in this essay: Feeling Jewish (a Book for Just About Anyone) by Deborah Baum. Yale University Press, 2017, 296 pages.   “Modernization . . . is about everyone becoming Jewish [and no one] is better at being Jewish than the Jews themselves.” —Yuri Slezkine, The Jewish Century DEVORAH BAUM’S Feeling Jewish is a subtle […]

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The Plague and the Jews of Strasbourg

On this date in 1349, the city of Strasbourg, located along today’s French-German border, arrested its Jews and charged them with poisoning wells to cause the Black Death (in reality, bubonic plague), which was sweeping through Europe and ultimately killed between one-third and sixty percent of the continent’s population. The next day, according to Jakob […]

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Israel Declares Jerusalem Its Capital

On this date in 1950, Israel’s Knesset (pictured at its temporary location) declared Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel — defying the UN’s partition resolution of November 29, 1947, which had envisioned the city as a “corpus separatum [separated body] under a special international regime [to] be administered by the United Nations.” The Israeli declaration […]

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A Fascinating Revamp at the Jewish Museum

by Dan Grossman   “SCENES from the Collection,” the first permanent exhibition at New York’s Jewish Museum in over twenty-five years, pulls off the triumphant feat of being both rooted and experimental. The exhibition it replaces, “Culture and Continuity,” attempted to tell over three thousand years of Jewish history in only two floors. “Scenes from the Collection” turns […]

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Israel’s National Poet

Modern Israel’s “national poet,” Haim Nahman Bialik, was born in Ukraine on this date in 1873. By his mid-twenties, Bialik was widely acclaimed for his writings in both Yiddish and Hebrew and had translated Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Cervantes’ Don Quixote, and other classics of world literature into Hebrew. In 1903, Bialik went to Kishniev as part of a […]

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Ellis Island

On this date in 1892, a federal immigration depot opened at Ellis Island in New York harbor, replacing the Castle Garden immigration center, which had processed eight million immigrants during the previous thirty-five years. In Ellis Island’s busiest year, 1907, more than a million immigrants were processed. It became known as the “Island of Tears,” but only […]

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Robert Spitzer, the APA, and Homosexuality

On this date in 1973, the American Psychiatric Association (with Jews making up about 30 percent of its membership) declared that “by itself, homosexuality does not meet the criteria for being a psychiatric disorder” and removed it from the second edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-II). Dr. Robert L. Spitzer, […]

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All About Khanike-Hanukkah-Chanukah

A RESOURCE FROM JEWISH CURRENTS’ SCHAPPES CENTER FOR CULTURAL JEWISH LIFE (Sponsored, in part, by the Kurz Family Foundation. Illustration [above] from Richard Codor and Lawrence Bush’s Babushkin’s Catalogue of Jewish Inventions.)   KHANIKE (that’s the YIVO-style transliteration of the Yiddish pronunciation for Hanukkah, which we use to honor Yiddish culture) is one of the […]

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A Zionist Before Zionism

Rabbi Zevi Hirsch Kallischer, an Orthodox leader who published a widely circulated book in 1862 that endorsed Jewish resettlement in the land of ancient Israel, and traveled to several German cities to help spark the formation of colonization societies, died at 79 in Thorn, Prussia on this date in 1874. A vehement opponent of Reform […]

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