“Camp Kill Jews” and Other Sleepy European Towns to Avoid

January 25, 2016
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"Death to Jews" and Other Sleepy European Towns to Avoid

Planning a trip? There are a few places you may wish to avoid. An hour and a half southeast of Paris lies the sleepy hamlet of La Mort aux Juifs, otherwise known as “Death to Jews.” Dating back to the 11th century, this town’s name somehow escaped scrutiny until last…

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Marilyn Monroe’s Rabbi Marched in Selma With MLK, Jr.

January 24, 2016
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Marilyn Monroe's Rabbi Sent Fan Mail to MLK, Jr.

Rabbi Robert E. Goldburg was the beloved spiritual leader of Congregation Mishkan Israel in Hamden, Connecticut for 34 years. His sermons were energizing and sometimes controversial, tackling tough issues like civil rights and McCarthyism. He drew together lessons from the Talmud, Shakespeare and Dr. Martin Luther King (to whom he…

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Beverly Hills: Home of the Bark Mitzvah Since 1958

January 21, 2016
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Beverly Hills: Home of the Bark Mitzvah Since 1958

What’s your stance on whether dogs deserve equal access to the Torah? If you don’t have one, you’re about 60 years late to the party. The first documented bark mitzvah took place in Beverly Hills, CA in 1958, and celebrated Max and Janet Salter’s dog, Windy. Max, a former Mayor…

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Micanopy, Florida: The Moroccan Jewish Utopia That Might Have Been

January 21, 2016
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Micanopy, Florida: The Moroccan Jewish Utopia That Might Have Been

19th century America was a bit of a free-for-all, so when the wealthy Moroccan Sephardic businessman Moses E. Levy saw an opportunity for land, he took it. Levy, who was born in 1782 and made his money exporting lumber, bought 53,000 acres in North-Central Florida with the help of the…

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Why Sinatra’s Body Was Hidden in a Jewish Funeral Home

January 19, 2016
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Why Sinatra's Body Was Hidden in a Jewish Funeral Home

Frank Sinatra’s 100th birthday (on December 12, 2015) has brought on a flurry of centennial celebrations, books, exhibits and The Sultan of Swoon-inspired concerts. Jack Daniel’s even issued a Sinatra Century blend and Uber offered a fleet of vintage cars so people in New York City could ride in Sinatra…

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The Strange, Heroic Life of Jewish Meatpacking Heiress Muriel Gardiner

January 18, 2016
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The Strange, Heroic Life of Jewish Meatpacking Heiress Muriel Gardiner

In the 1920s, if you had lots of money and time, you might have done what Chicago meatpacking heiress Muriel Gardiner did and become a professional rescuer: first run off to Vienna to be analyzed by Freud (Gardiner was an analyst and psychiatrist herself), join the Austrian underground, smuggle some…

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Meet the Bal Ej, Ethiopia’s Other Jews

January 18, 2016
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Meet the Bal Ej, Ethiopia's Other Jews

Americans tend to think of Blacks and Jews as distinct groups: Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel marching alongside Martin Luther King, Jr.; Goodman, Chaney, and Schwerner going down South for Freedom Summer. Some evoke the Beta Israel community of Ethiopia, and a minority recall the Igbo Jews of Nigeria, or the…

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This Wild Performance Artist is Shattering Every Israeli Taboo

January 14, 2016
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thejewniverse.com/2015/this-wild-performance-artist-is-shattering-every-israeli-taboo

Israeli performance artist Natali Cohen Vaxberg is likely to be indicted for a video she uploaded to YouTube featuring her defecating on an Israeli flag, among others (warning: not for the faint of heart or stomach). The controversy surrounding the video is raising an outcry about the limits of artistic…

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Through These Poems, Lilith, Biblical Temptress, Speaks

January 13, 2016
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Lilith Speaks

 The biblical figure Lilith has been called a temptress, a “dark maid” and a feminist poster child. In a lot of Jewish folklore, Lilith is created as Adam’s first wife. She refuses to obey Adam, so her punishment is to give birth to one hundred demons every night. The demons…

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Photos from the World’s Most Isolated Jewish Communities

January 12, 2016
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Photos of the World's Most Isolated Jewish Communities

The wandering Jew is more than a stereotype and a striped houseplant. In their beautiful new book, Scattered Among the Nations: Photographs and Stories of the World’s Most Isolated Jewish Communities, Bryan Schwartz, Jay Sand, and Sandy Carter explore what it feels like to practice Judaism in far-flung corners of…

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Meet the Feminist Torah Scribe Behind Tefillin Barbie

January 11, 2016
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This Barbie Wears Tefillin and is a Torah Scribe

As one would expect, the rules for who can and cannot become a sofer (a Torah scribe) are pretty intense. As stated in the Talmud, “Sifrei Torah…written by a heretic, a star-worshipper, a slave, a woman, a minor…or an apostate Jew, are unfit for ritual use.” As it stands now,…

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Eva Hesse, The Extraordinary Sculptor Who Escaped the Nazis then Died at 34

January 11, 2016
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Eva Hesse, The Extraordinary Sculptor Who Died at 34

Minimalist art is characterized by a kind of machine-made reductiveness, a movement transgressive in its simplicity. So what would post-minimalism look like? Just check out the breathtaking work of the late Eva Hesse. Born to observant Jews in Hamburg, on this day, January 11, in 1936, Hesse escaped Nazi Europe…

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