Second Vatican Council Announced

On this date in 1959, Pope John XXIII announced that he would be convening an Ecumenical Council — the first in almost a century — within the Catholic Church. The announcement of this “Second Vatican Council,” or Vatican II, shocked and disturbed the Church leadership as it implied that the Church was imperfect, thus contradicting […]

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Ruth Handler and Barbie

Ruth Handler’s Barbie doll was introduced to society at the New York Toy Fair on this date in 1959. Born Ruth Marianna Mosko in 1916 in Denver, Colorado, Handler was a child of immigrant parents from Poland. Her creation of Barbie (named after her daughter, Barbara) was designed as a quantum leap in how preadolescent girls approached doll […]

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Bill Graham and Fillmore East

Promoter Bill Graham (born Wulf Wolodia Grajonca) opened the Fillmore East in New York’s East Village on this date in 1968, with a concert that featured Big Brother and the Holding Company (with Janis Joplin). Graham was born in Berlin in 1931. At age 8, not long after Kristallnacht, he was placed in an orphanage by his Russian immigrant […]

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The Jewish Chicken Farmers of Petaluma: Why Remember?

Part 2 by Kenneth Kann To read Part 1, click here.   I CONDUCTED hundreds more interviews in the years ahead: the children of the immigrants, the grandchildren, and the new suburban settlers who inherited the community. The immigrant children were the generation of my own American-born parents. Here was an assimilation drama. They grew up […]

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Brian Epstein

The Beatles arrived in America on this date in 1964 and launched a cultural tidal wave. They were accompanied by their 30-year-old manager Brian Epstein, who had paid for the recording of their first demo record, convinced record producer George Martin to sign them, invented their “mop-top” hairstyles, outfitted them in suits, and arranged for […]

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The Uncivil Servant: After the Revolution

IN THE INTENSE NOW AND MAY ’68 IN FRANCE by Mitchell Abidor   WE ARE JUST a few months from the fiftieth anniversary of the events of May ‘68, the great uprising that seemed as if it would topple the French ruling class but which, in the long run, proved that ruling class’s flexibility and strength. […]

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The First Human Be-In

The first Human Be-In brought more than 20,000 people to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park on this date in 1967, as a prelude to the Summer of Love. Among the key organizers of this “Gathering of the Tribes” was Allen Cohen, a founder of the San Francisco Oracle, who had teamed up with the psychedelic […]

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Allan Sherman, “Folksinger”

Song parodist Allan Sherman (born Allan Copelon — he took his mother’s birth name after his parents’ divorce), was born in Chicago on this date in 1924. His 1962 debut song-parody record, My Son, the Folksinger, became the fastest-selling album until that time. Sherman’s strength was in setting silly lyrics to classical music (as in “Hello Muddah, hello Faddah, here […]

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Radical or Liberal in 2017?

REGARDING FEMINISM AND LOTS MORE by Raina Lipsitz from the Autumn 2017 issue of Jewish Currents   WHEN I WAS 17, I yearned for the “real” feminism of my mother’s era, the kind chronicled in Susan Brownmiller’s In Our Time: Memoir of a Revolution, which came out in 2000, during my senior year of high […]

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