The Jewish Chinese Revolutionary

October 23, 2012
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the-revolutionary

Did you know that during the Chinese Cultural Revolution a Jewish man headed the Chinese Broadcast Administration? The new documentary The Revolutionary (trailer here) explores the fascinating life of Sidney Rittenberg, who went from Southern Jewish gentleman to Cultural Revolutionary to prisoner, and back again. Rittenberg grew up in a prominent South Carolina Jewish family,…

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Meet the Middlesteins

October 22, 2012
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middlesteins

In Jami Attenberg’s new novel The Middlesteins, the relationships between members of one suburban Chicago family are riddled with emotional landmines that all seem to link back to one woman: matriarch Edie Middlestein, sixty-something and morbidly obese. The novel centers around the family’s relationships with Edie, her food addiction, and the spiraling health…

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Jewish Spies and Arab Wives

October 19, 2012
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jewish-spies-arab-wives2

In movies and TV, intelligence operations are often portrayed as glamorously dangerous human chess matches with a series of sexual entanglements and ingenious double crosses. The operatives are master manipulators, forming intimate relationships they must cast off at mission’s end. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised to discover just how closely these…

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How to Turn a Rotten Childhood into Immortal Beauty

October 18, 2012
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tolstoy-sendak

The artist and children’s book writer Maurice Sendak lived a full and fruitful life. Before his death in May 2012, his book was adapted into a feature film, and he was honored by everyone from the band Arcade Fire to satirist Steven Colbert. But Sendak wasn’t always convinced of his own genius. In 1961,…

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20- and 30-Something Jews: What Makes Them Tick?

October 17, 2012
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living-jewishly

In the new anthology Living Jewishly: A Snapshot of a Generation, 43 young writers weigh in on what Jewishness means to them. Edited by Stefanie Pervos Bregman, the anthology begins with the text of Andrew Lustig’s viral video spoken-word sensation, “I Am Jewish,” then goes on to tackle a range of topics, from…

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Gog and Magog: Biblical Supervillians

October 16, 2012
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Magog

Every superhero needs a supervillain to measure up against: Superman has Lex Luthor; Professor X has Magneto; Batman has the Joker, and more recently the mysterious strong-man Bane. In the book of Ezekiel, the hero/villain dynamic is embodied by the eponymous prophet and his (and Israel’s) nemeses of biblical proportions: Gog and Magog…

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Is a hairstyle grounds for divorce?

October 15, 2012
By
hairstyle2-jewniverse

Deuteronomy 24:1 says that if a wife “fails to please [a husband] because he finds something obnoxious about her… he writes her a bill of divorcement, hands it to her, and sends her away from his house.” Jewish law has extrapolated the rules for getting a divorce from this part of the Torah,…

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Breast Milk: Just Like Honey From a Bee?

October 12, 2012
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breastmilk-pareve

“Lactation Station,” a 2006 performance piece [see video here] by Toronto-based artist Jess Dobkin set out to challenge a deep cultural taboo. Dobkin invited audiences to taste samples of pasteurized human breast milk donated by a group of new mothers, and then facilitated a conversation between them. Six years later, Dobkin’s piece continues to stimulate…

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Hava Nagila at the Olympics

October 11, 2012
By
aly-raisman-nypost

At the 2012 Summer Olympics, Jewish gymnast Aly Raisman brought “Hava Nagila” to a global audience when she performed her gold medal winning floor routine to the song. But Raisman was not the first to tumble to this classic tune in major competition. There have been at least four gymnasts, all non-Jews,…

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The Sage Who Was Also a Gladiator

October 10, 2012
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gladiator

Strong, sexy rabbis bathing and talking about beautiful women. Sounds like a pitch for a new HBO show, but actually, it’s a scene from the Talmud. Though you might have always pictured the rabbis of the Talmud as bearded old men, the texts tell another story. Rabbi Shimon Ben Lakish, often known…

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Dr. Seuss Goes to War

October 5, 2012
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dr-seuss

Theodore Suess Geisel is best known for the 40-something children’s books he wrote and illustrated under his pen name, Dr. Seuss. But he had quite an interesting “adult” career, as well. From 1941-1943, Seuss was the chief editorial cartoonist for the New York newspaper PM, and during his reign, he drew…

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The Jewish Don Quixote

October 4, 2012
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don-quixote3

Miguel Cervantes’ Don Quixote is considered one of the greatest books of all time. So it’s no surprise that the epic is subject to plenty of parodies and spoofs, including a Jewish version, written by one of the founders of modern Yiddish and Hebrew literature, Shalom Yakov Abramowich, commonly known by the name of his…

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