Sexy Beijing

June 19, 2012
By
sexy beijing

Imagine a pool in a luxury spa in the center of China, with vaulted ceilings and exquisitely painted walls, filled with purified rainwater, and fit for an emperor to bathe in… Or, actually, an empress. Because this bath is a mikvah–a ritual bath designed for women who observe the Jewish laws of menstrual purity.…

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Health, Death, and Our Kids

June 18, 2012
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health deat and our kids

“What’s the difference between a doctor and God?” a cabdriver asks author A.J. Jacobs, while driving to see Jacobs’ grandfather in the hospital. When Jacobs doesn’t know, the cabdriver supplies the punchline: “God doesn’t think he’s a doctor.” Jacobs’ new memoir Drop Dead Healthy is about his quest to perfect his body–or, at least, to lose some of his…

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Jews and Coffee

June 15, 2012
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jews and coffee

The new book Jews Welcome Coffee is a history of the introduction of coffee into Europe–first brought into Germany by botanist Leonhard Rauwolf in 1573–and of the beverage’s strange and remarkable impact on the Jews living there. Coffee spread through Europe during the Enlightenment, at a time that Jews were being welcomed into many European societies. Coffee was first seen as…

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Flirting, Israeli Style

June 14, 2012
By
coupling

Like your craziest high-school friend, the TV show Coupling will try anything once. This British sitcom is actually a love story, a fictionalized version of the romance between writer Steven Moffat (currently the showrunner of Doctor Who and Sherlock) and his wife/producer Sue Vertue. It’s anything but romanticized–in the first episode, Sue and Steve’s first date…

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The Snake and the Mouse

June 13, 2012
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the snake and the mouse

The Israeli children’s picture book K’she-hanachash V’ha-achbar Nifgeshu Larishonah (“When the Snake and the Mouse First Met”) is a fable worthy of Aesop. A baby snake is wandering through the forest when it comes upon a baby mouse. They spend the day together, learning about each other. Each returns home and tells his mother about what happened.…

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Every Story is a Nazi Story

June 12, 2012
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Every Story is a Nazi Story

Jud Suss was a Nazi propaganda film. By many historians’ and film critics’ measures, it was the most successful film of its kind. It tells a story about Joseph Suss Oppenheimer, who was an 18th-century financial minister and court Jew of the Duke of Württemburg. In the film–directed by Veit Harlan but conceived…

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The Godfather in Yiddish

June 11, 2012
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the godfather in yiddish

Some parodies exist solely because it’s funny to mash up two disparate genres. Take, for instance, YouTube videos such as Ten Things I Hate about Commandments (Bible stories + high-school movies), and the Fiddler on the Roof/You Got Served trailer (1800s Jewish ghetto/2000s African-American ghetto). In a new Youtube video, the first scene of The Godfather is dubbed into Yiddish. (Watch it here–and don’t…

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Mahler on the Couch

June 8, 2012
By
Mahler auf der Couch

Gustav Mahler was a brilliant composer, and a bit of a control freak. He liked to be in charge of everything: As a composer, he conducted his own work. As a husband, he forced his wife to stop composing her own music. And, as a Jew, he converted to Catholicism, hoping that it would help his…

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The Jewnicorn

June 7, 2012
By
the jewnicorn

Legends of a single-horned goat or horse date back as far as the Bible. The prophet Daniel tells (8:5): “Behold, a male goat came from the west across the face of the whole earth, without touching the ground, and it had a conspicuous horn between its eyes.” In the Torah, God is compared to a re’em, which…

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Jewish Wild West Women

June 6, 2012
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jewish wild west women

Rebecca Cohen Mayer was born to German-Jewish immigrants in 1837 and raised in Mexico and Texas. When she was 15 years old, she married a man twice her age and set off on the Santa Fe Trail. In a company of over 50 explorers, she was the only woman. The new book With a Doll in…

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Matisyahu, the Exorcist

June 5, 2012
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matisyahu the exorcist

Horror movies are all about planting unexpected things in unexpected places to scare the hell out of you. The trailer for the new horror film The Possession, in theatres August 31 (watch the trailer) does just that. There’s Hebrew writing on a mysterious old box that, while nobody’s looking, sets free a demon. The demon is…

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Midnight Train to Zion

June 4, 2012
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midnight train to zion

Shlomo Carlebach revolutionized Jewish music by adapting it to the idiom of his time–’60s folk music–and writing new tunes to traditional liturgy that were not only likeable, but listenable. Now, jazz musician Jon Madof has upped the ante. He created Zion80, a 15-piece band (including a horn section and four percussionists), and interpreted some…

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