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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Writing the Strange Land of the Gay Jewish South

January 8, 2016
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thejewniverse.com/2015/writing-the-strange-land-of-the-gay-jewish-south

One of the most classic setups in fiction is to place a stranger in a strange land. In Jason K. Friedman’s case—whose debut story collection, Fire Year, is out with Sarabande Books—the stranger is gay, Jewish, American Southern (or all three), and the strange land is Georgia. Friedman, born and…

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Israel’s Great Persian Deer Heist of 1978

January 6, 2016
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Israel's Persian Deer Heist of 1978

In the valleys of the Galilee, along the slopes of Mount Carmel, prance the rare Persian fallow deer. Their presence in Northern Israel is, you could say, a miracle. You could also call it the fruit of a madcap caper. Listed as one of the hoofed critters Jews can eat…

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The Japanese Tampon Named for Anne Frank

January 5, 2016
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The Japanese Tampon Named for Anne Frank

Remember how candidly Anne Frank described getting her period in her famous diary? “I can hardly wait,” she wrote. “It’s such a momentous event. Too bad I can’t use sanitary napkins but you can’t get them anymore, and Mama’s tampons can be used only by women who’ve had a baby.”…

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Baba Joon, Israel’s First Persian-Language Oscar Entry

January 4, 2016
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Baba Joon 7

Before a word is uttered in the new film, Baba Joon, we see the rolling Israeli countryside, and then the inside of a barn – full of trapped turkeys. The imagery is clear – this movie is a poignant debate between individual freedom and the confines of tradition. We see…

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Yiddish-Speaking Tigers and Klezmer-Playing Bears for Poland’s Jewish Kids

January 3, 2016
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yiddish zoo

Playful poems of a wise owl, a menacing tiger and a klezmer-playing bear that once delighted Yiddish-speaking Polish children are making an unlikely comeback in a soon-to-be-released children’s book for a new generation of Poland’s Jewish children. Once nearly lost to history, the delightful read-aloud poems are among others in…

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The Jew Who Got the Ball Dropping on Times Square

December 31, 2015
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The Jew Who Got the Ball Dropping on Times Square

One million people are expected to cram into New York’s Times Square tonight to watch a giant crystal ball descend. One billion people will tune in from all over the world. The man who started the tradition was newspaper magnate Adolph S. Ochs. The son of German-Jewish immigrants, he began…

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How the Jewfish Got Its Name

December 29, 2015
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Jewfish

Why does putting the word “Jew” in front of any object make it sound a little anti-Semitic? There are several theories for how the jewfish (Promicrops itaiara), an Atlantic saltwater grouper with fins and scales, got its name. It may derive from the Italian “giupesce,” which means “bottom fish,” or…

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Jewniverse Top 10 of 2015!

December 29, 2015
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best of 2015

We like to think that every post we publish will rock some reader’s world, tickling their hidden penchants for Jews on tropical islands, sex advice for 1930s Jewish girls, surprising chapters in Jewish epidemiology, and Holocaust-themed Passover haggadahs. But when we did a survey of our most popular posts of…

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When Jewish Palm Readers Rubbed Elbows With Pushcart Peddlers

December 28, 2015
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When Jewish Palm Readers Rubbed Elbows with Pushcart Peddlers

If you peel back the layers of wallpaper in any older New York City apartment, you’re bound to find something intriguing—even if it’s only more ugly wallpaper. A decade ago, though, renovations at 97 Orchard Street on the Lower East Side led to something more mysterious—an advertisement for a “palmist…

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This 260-Year-Old Church Ladder Shows Just How Much Jews and Christians Have in Common

December 24, 2015
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The 260-Year-Old Church Ladder That Shows Just How Much Jews and Christians Have in Common

If you’re feeling lonely on this most Christian of days, just think of all that Jews and Christians have in common. Namely: in-fighting. In the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, located in Jerusalem’s Old City, stands, or rather leans, a ladder. But this isn’t any ladder—this is the Immovable Ladder.…

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Why Hasids Celebrate Xmas Eve (Sort Of)

December 23, 2015
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Nittel Nacht

Christmas Eve has such a marked place in European Jewish history that it has its own name: Nittel Nacht. As a precaution against the violent acts by marauding Eastern European and Russian Christians, Jewish study houses would be shuttered, mikvehs would be closed, and many would stay home playing cards…

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