The Grateful Dead — Now in Hebrew!

April 20, 2015
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The Grateful Dead, Now in Hebrew!

Sagol 59 is the godfather of Israeli hip-hop — it’s not exactly a widely-contested title, but man, he’s good. Sagol has made a career out of doing what you’d least expect him to, releasing an American album at the height of his Hebrew-language popularity, then transitioned into a writer for…

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General Patton: Hero or Anti-Semite?

April 19, 2015
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General Patton: Hero, Anti-Semite

General George Patton was a real American hero—a legendary tactician with exceptional oratory skill, a giant of such combat prowess that the first tank designed after World War II bore his name. He was also a professional grade anti-Semite. After liberation, Patton oversaw United States operations for displaced persons camps…

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The Liqueur-Making Jews of Curacao

April 17, 2015
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The Liqueur-Making Jews of Curacao

The oldest continually active Jewish congregation in the Americas? Hint: check your margarita glass. Congregation Mikve Israel Emmanuel in Curacao — home of the liqueur of the same name — holds the honor, having served the island’s Jewish community since roughly 1654. The wheels of the community were put in…

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The Chinese Righteous Among the Austrian Nation

April 16, 2015
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The Chinese Righteous Among the Austrian Nation

The Holocaust revealed not only the extraordinary evil of people—but also the extraordinary good. Feng-Shan Ho is the perfect example of the latter. Ho served as the Chinese Consul-General in Vienna from 1938 to 1940 and, during his tenure, was able to rescue thousands of Jews. In the aftermath of…

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Abstract Painter Mark Rothko’s Jewish Roots

April 15, 2015
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Before Mark Rothko’s famous rectangles of color were found in college dorms everywhere, before he became a key figure of Abstract Expressionist painting, he was born Marcus Rothkowitz in 1903 in Tsarist Russia. His father, Yacov, was a self-educated secular pharmacist, but deadly pogroms in the Pale of Settlement convinced…

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Sex, Israeli Ultra-Orthodox Style

April 14, 2015
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Ever Wonder How the Ultra-Orthodox Teach About Sex?

Ori Gruder didn’t know how to talk to his 10-year-old son about the birds and the bees. Gruder is 44, a father of six, and a member of Israel’s ultra-Orthodox religious community, which forbids masturbation and reserves intercourse for after marriage. So he had to choose his words carefully. Or, he…

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Where Star Trek and the Great American Songbook Meet the Jews

April 13, 2015
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star trek

What happened to the classic songs of the 1930’s and ‘40s? The standards of the Great American Songbook crooned by Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee or Ella Fitzgerald (and later made unforgettable by Star Trek‘s Data)? “The B-Side” by Ben Yagoda reads like a detective story sniffing out a homicide, and…

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Jews vs. Aliens / Jews vs. Zombies

April 9, 2015
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Jews vs. Aliens / Jews vs. Zombies

Q: What happens when a rebbe goes shopping for lemons and comes face to face with an alien invasion? A: He learns deep humility and makes sure to leave a good tip. A few weeks ago, two e-book originals with the unlikely titles Jews vs Aliens and Jews vs Zombies…

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See the Only Woodcut Haggadah Made By and For Holocaust Survivors

April 8, 2015
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When Rabbi Abraham Klausner—a U.S. Army chaplain stationed in Munich after liberation—was planning the first seder for survivors after the war, he came across a haggadah created by survivors, for survivors. The haggadah, humbly titled a “Supplement to the Passover Seder,” was put together by survivors and displaced persons around Munich…

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Meet Ethan Hawke’s Jewish Piano Teacher

April 7, 2015
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Ethan Hawke's Jewish Piano Teacher

Seymour Bernstein is a musical genius. He is 88 years old and lives in a charmingly cluttered studio apartment in Manhattan, where he teaches piano and sleeps on a pullout couch. This is where he sat down to film this thoughtful documentary directed by Ethan Hawke, Seymour: An Introduction. Hawke…

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The Strange and Surprising History of the Maxwell House Haggadah

April 6, 2015
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The Strange and Surprising History of the Maxwell House Haggadah

In our worst nightmares, coffee is not kosher for Passover. In early 20th-century America, this nightmare was almost real: Jewish stores mistakenly classified coffee beans as legumes, making them forbidden during Pesach according to Ashkenazi tradition. But then American advertising came to save the day — in the form of…

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A Favorite Seder Song Like You’ve Never Heard it Before

April 3, 2015
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A Classic Seder Song Like You've Never Heard it Before

Can music change the world? Create peace? For some, that might be marketing copy. For the members of Diwan Saz, an incredibly skilled multi-faith and multi-ethnic 9-piece band, it seems to be an earnestly held belief. Part of its name, “diwan,” means “coming together of people” in Turkish, and Diwan…

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