Internment Camps

July 27, 2012
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internment-camp a

During World War II, Jews were rounded up by Nazis and put into concentration camps and death camps. Another type of racial profiling occurred during wartime in the United States –following the attack on Pearl Harbor, over 110,000 Japanese Americans and Japanese citizens living in the U.S. were placed into…

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Treasure Hunt in Prague

July 26, 2012
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treasure hunt in prague

In the late 1500s, Prague was a cultural hotspot. The reigning monarch of the Holy Roman Empire, Emperor Rudolf II, was a patron of the arts and humanities, including scholars, sculptors, and mystics. Rudolf also had a close relationship with the Jews of the region. Rabbi Judah Loew, the reputed creator of the…

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Preach, Leadbelly, Preach

July 25, 2012
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Preach Leadbelly Preach

When the U.S. joined the Allies in 1941, the Nazi party had been in power for nearly a decade, and they already murdered a million Jews. Nevertheless, in America, knowledge of the Holocaust was limited to rumors, suspicions and half-truths. People knew Hitler was invading Europe, but the specifics of his campaign against…

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Life (and Music) after Death

July 24, 2012
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life and music after death

Is listening to music a religious experience? The autobiographical book Automatic: Girls, Death, and R.E.M., by Matthue Roth–who you might also know as the founder of Jewniverse–is about music, but it’s also about friendship. Growing up Jewish in working-class Philadelphia, Matthue became friends with Patrick, a Catholic kid. Both were…

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Jews & Arabs Dancing

July 23, 2012
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jews and arabs dancing

Jews and Arabs really aren’t so different. Just check out their dance moves. A YouTube user, SpudXXXX, made a short video that mixes together traditional Arabic dancing with traditional Jewish dancing. First, a group of white-caftaned Arab men shimmies back and forth in a synchronized dance. Then the visuals cut to a…

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Reasons for Cholent

July 20, 2012
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cholent-recipe

Mark Kurlansky’s book Edible Stories (2010) is an indulgence for book-nerds and foodies: It’s a collection of 16 interrelated stories, each named after (and starring) a certain kind of food. Most of the featured cuisine tends to be on the highbrow side (espresso, boudin, crème brûlée), but our favorite is a short story called “Cholent,” about possibly…

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Smells, and Other Signs of Love

July 19, 2012
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woman-smelling-tree

Scientists believe that there has been an evolutionary decline in the human sense of smell. Perhaps it was more potent back when people were hunters and gatherers–but these days, our olfactory sense is good for little more than smelling hot dinner and old socks. In Judaism, however, smell is a holy experience. “What is something…

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When the Comic Stops Laughing

July 18, 2012
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when the comics

Israel Zangwill (1864-1929) was a British humorist, a writer, and an early Zionist activist. He eventually left the Zionist movement in order to lead a movement called Territorialism, which called for a homeland for the Jewish people wherever they could get it–be it South America, Germany, or elsewhere. Zangwill tried to arouse sympathy for Territorialism among Britain’s…

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Nature Boy

July 17, 2012
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girl blue dress

The 1947 song “Nature Boy,” written by eden ahbez, has a long and strange history. A jazz standard, it’s been performed by Nat “King” Cole and Miles Davis, and its lyrics were quoted at the end of the film Moulin Rouge (“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn/is to love and be loved in return”).…

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Sherlock’s Jewish Girlfriend

July 16, 2012
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adler 2

“To Sherlock Holmes she was always the woman.” This is the opening line of “A Scandal in Bohemia,” one of the most popular and enduring stories about the world’s favorite detective. “She” refers to Irene Adler, the closest thing to a love interest that Holmes ever had–in Arthur Conan Doyle’s original stories, at any rate (we won’t think…

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Bulletproof Stockings

July 13, 2012
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bulletproof stockings

Talk about alienating half your potential audience. The band Bulletproof Stockings, which formed in Crown Heights last year, will only play in front of all-women crowds. The two women in the band, pianist/singer Perl Wolfe and drummer Dalia Shusterman, are both Lubavitch Hasidim, and they adhere to a piece of Jewish law that says that men are not…

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Chaim Potok and the Rebbe Walk into a Bar.

July 12, 2012
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chaim potok and the rebbe

A farbrengen is a Hasidic spiritual gathering–it can be just a handful of people, or a few thousand. Stories and folktales are told, wordless niggunim are sung, and, more often than not, alcohol is consumed. At one such farbrengen (watch video here) in Crown Heights, held on Purim 1973, the Lubavitcher Rebbe entertained a throng of non-Lubavitch guests. Starting the previous year, the Rebbe…

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