The Secret Underbelly of the Shtetl

August 28, 2012
By
jewish-shtetl-hp

We suggest you spend some time exploring the secret history (and seedy underbelly) of the shtetl. It’s weirder than you think, we promise. Love in the shtetl—An animated short film about loving and leaving shtetl life. Talk of the shtetl—When hip hop comes to our small town. Dragons, Robots and…

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The Yummiest Things in the Jewniverse

August 27, 2012
By
challah-haye-sarah

The Jewniverse is a yummy place, so grab a fork and btayavon! Pork Memoirs—Tales of a complicated meat. A Brief History of Gefilte Fish—How do you know a gefilte fish when you see one swimming in the ocean? It has a carrot on its head! A Challah for All Seasons—Julie Seltzer…

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Escaping the Holocaust in the Circus

August 24, 2012
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circus-holocaust

In Europe, circuses used to travel across national borders, spending weeks moving through forests and little-used trails, and then set up shop in small villages. During the direst parts of World War II, villagers would flock to see the circus–especially in Germany. “Even during the Third Reich, a traveling circus meant…

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Fat Rabbis

August 23, 2012
By
scale

How fat can a fat rabbi be? The Babylonian Talmud (Baba Metzia 84a) reports that when Rabbi Ishmael and Rabbi Elazar met, “an ox could walk between them [under the arch formed by their bellies] and not touch them.” That, dear readers, is fat. The story continues with a woman making a certain remark, insinuating…

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How dirty can you get (in Hebrew)?

August 22, 2012
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There’s something about the comedy hip-hop group The Lonely Island that screams Jewish. The group is an assemblage of three comedians who’ve made videos together since junior high school, and eventually became regular features on Saturday Night Live. Two of them, Akiva Schaffer and Andy Samberg, are Jewish (Jorma Taccone is not). No doubt the…

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Frank Sinatra in Israel

August 21, 2012
By
SInatraShowinIsrael

What does a nice Italian Catholic boy have to do with Israel? For Frank Sinatra, a sincere appreciation of the Jewish people led to a lifelong advocacy for the Jewish state. In the film Frank Sinatra in Israel, from 1962, Sinatra narrates his tour of Israel, including live footage from his concert at Tel…

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Mitzvah Tantz

August 20, 2012
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mitzvah-tantz

The mitzvah tantz is one of  Hasidic Judaism’s most bizarre rituals. It takes place at weddings, when the leading members of a community–a prominent rabbi or the bride’s new father-in-law, or both–dance before her. According to the Talmud, it’s considered a great honor to entertain a new bride–and, specifically, to dance for her–during her wedding. In a…

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Man Ray

August 17, 2012
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manray-pg-hdr-20141109-7-4

If you think you know what Man Ray’s artworks symbolize, you’re probably wrong. A member of the Surrealist and Dadaist movements, Man Ray (1890-1976) was a proponent of art for art’s sake–he intended his work to be appreciated on its own merits, without reading in any meaning. Man Ray was born Emmanuel Radnitzky in…

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A Kabbalistic Spell Book

August 16, 2012
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kabbalistic-spellbook

Chaim Vital (1543-1620) was one of the most prominent students of the famed kabbalist Rabbi Isaac Luria. Vital was Luria’s chronicler, recording Luria’s mystical insights, spreading Luria’s teachings, and expanding on them. Vital also wrote his very own spell book. While Vital is known for his books Etz Hayim (Tree of Life) and Book of Visions,…

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In Grandpa’s House

August 15, 2012
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in-grandpas-house

Maurice Sendak illustrated over a hundred books, both his own stories and those written by others. The illustrated book In Grandpa’s House might be his most personal illustration project–the author of the text is Philip Sendak, Maurice’s father. Written in 1970, the year before Philip Sendak’s death–and just after the death of Philip’s wife…

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He Shall Be Released

August 14, 2012
By
Pollard

In 1968, Bob Dylan and Jacques Levy wrote “Hurricane,” a song about a man, Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, who many believed was falsely convicted of murder. The song became one of Dylan’s most successful singles, and it was credited with helping Carter receive a new trial. For literally decades, Jewish and Israeli activists have been…

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Hip-Hop Vaudeville

August 13, 2012
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Hip-Hop Vaudeville

Founded in the late 19th century, the Gebrüder Wolf (Wolf Brothers) were a renowned German-Jewish vaudeville troupe. They started as the three sons of a butcher, but rose to prominence in the 1920s as singers, dancers, and comics. They wrote the song “Tudelband,” which is still a popular German folk song. The…

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