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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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Petlyura and the Ukrainian Pogroms

On this date in 1919, Simon Petlyura, Ukrainian writer, Cossack commander, and head of the breakaway Ukrainian state during the civil war that followed the Bolshevik Revolution, began attacking Jews in a sustained wave of violence that took the lives of tens of thousands. Hundreds of cities and towns were attacked; thousands of Jewish women […]

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The “Double Genocide” Theory

THE NEW AND OFFICIAL FORM OF HOLOCAUST DENIAL by Dovid Katz from the Autumn 2017 issue of Jewish Currents Photo at top: A scene from the June 1941 Lietukis Garage Massacre in Kaunas (Kovno), Lithuania. An eyewitness wrote: “The behavior of the civilians present (women and children) was unbelievable. After each man had been killed they […]

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The Rightwing Specter

by Bennett Muraskin Discussed in this essay: The End of Europe: Dictators, Demagogues and the Coming Dark Age, by James Kirchick. Yale University Press, 2017, 288 pages, indexed.   A SPECTER is haunting Europe, but it sure as hell isn’t communism. It is rightwing nationalist populism. Its targets are the European Union, globalization of capital, and immigration. If […]

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Partisans in the Brody Ghetto

Liquidation of the ghetto of Brody, Poland (now Ukraine) was completed on this date in 1943. Some 3,000 Jews of a pre-war population of 9,000 (nearly 70 percent of the town’s total population) were deported to their deaths in Madjanek. In the preceding months, a resistance group of young people led by Samuel Weiler had […]

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It’s a Wonderful Life

Lyricist, screenwriter, and playwright Jo Swerling, who wrote or co-authored dozens of Hollywood screenplays in the 1930s and ’40s, including It’s a Wonderful Life, Lifeboat, Pennies from Heaven, Platinum Blonde, and The Pride of the Yankees, was born in Berdichev, Ukraine on this date in 1897. He grew up on New York’s Lower East Side […]

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Resistance in Skalat, Ukraine

Following the Nazi murder of some 750 Jews from the town of Skalat in the Tarnapol district of Ukraine on this date in 1943, a resistance group was organized under the leadership of a young man named Michael Glanz. The group collected weapons but was still unprepared for the next Nazi Aktion, on May 9, […]

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March 10: Lamed Shapiro’s Fiction of Violence

Yiddish writer L. Shapiro (Levi Yehoshua “Lamed” Shapiro), who wrote a series of Yiddish stories about pogrom violence that broke with traditional Yiddish satirical stories by presenting dark themes and psychological nuance, was born in the Ukraine on this date in 1878. He was brought to literary attention with the help of Y. L. Peretz, […]

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December 2: The Futurist Pianist

Leo Ornstein, whose “futurist” (later called “modernist”) piano compositions both scandalized and delighted critics and audiences in the early 20th century, was born in the Ukraine on this date in 1895 (official documentary sources say December 11, but Ornstein claimed December 2nd as his birthday). The son of a cantor, Ornstein was a piano prodigy […]

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