What Did the Torah Look Like?

July 5, 2012
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what did the torah look like

Have you ever wondered what font the Torah was originally written in? It might have been the font that the Mishnah calls Ashuri, which is what comes to mind when most of us think about Hebrew. But there’s another style of Hebrew writing called Paleo-Hebrew. Scholars today simply call it “Ktav Ivri,” or “Hebrew writing,” even though most contemporary…

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Did Ulysses S. Grant Hate Jews?

July 4, 2012
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did grant hate jews

In the middle of the Civil War, then-general Ulysses S. Grant was trying to control the illegal cotton trade stemming from the Confederate South. This smuggling project was operated, Grant wrote, “mostly by Jews and other unprincipled traders.” Therefore, Grant issued his infamous Order No. 11, expelling all Jews from the states of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi.…

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Autobiography & Israel

July 3, 2012
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Autobiography & Israel

Harvey Pekar was the subject and co-star of the 2003 Oscar-nominated film American Splendor, an adaptation of his comic books about being poor, Jewish, and Middle American. Until his death in 2010, he made a career out of writing what he calls “an autobiography written as it’s happening.” Pekar’s new memoir, published posthumously, is a mix of…

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Hot Dogs

July 2, 2012
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hot dogs

Where do hot dogs come from? We aren’t asking about what’s inside the super-processed meat–that’s a question for another time–but, rather, where the food developed. Historically, hot dogs are descendents of German meat products like frankfurters (traditionally made of pork) and wieners (traditionally a mixture of pork and beef). According to one Chicago foodie, the all-beef…

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A Tribute to Leonard Cohen

June 29, 2012
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leonardcohen460

Leonard Cohen is a modern-day renaissance man–musician, poet, philosopher, mystic. He’s both a practicing Buddhist and an observant Jew. And, as we have previously noted on Jewniverse (read it here), some of his songs are so intricately based on Bible texts, that he’s practically authored his own midrash. He’s also been incredibly influential to countless musicians, from small-town singer-songwriters to A-list…

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The Inspiration of Desperation

June 29, 2012
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holy-temple

There’s a way to be inspired by everything–even mourning. The three weeks leading up to Tisha B’Av, a period known in Judaism (cleverly) as the “Three Weeks,” is a traditionally somber period.  According to the Mishnah (Taanit 4:6), these weeks were the lead up to the destruction of the first and second ancient Temples in Jerusalem. It…

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Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

June 28, 2012
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me

In the new novel Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews, Greg Gaines is a lucky high schooler. He gets to hang out with popular girls at school, and then retreat to the safety of his home, where he and his best friend Earl descend into geekiness and film their own movies.…

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Jumping for Joy

June 27, 2012
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na nach

In Israel, the NaNach movement, a subset of Bratslav Hasidism, has attracted thousands of followers. The movement was founded in 1962 by Yisroel Dov Odesser, a Bratslav rabbi. Odesser claimed to have discovered a “letter from Heaven” that was sent by Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav, who’d died more than a century earlier. In the letter, Nachman said that anyone who…

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Jerusalem, in IMAX

June 26, 2012
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jerusalem-coast

You’ve never seen Israel like this. In the new IMAX film Jerusalem, lush forests and emerald coastlines go up against miraculously jagged mountains and deserts all filmed in a soaring panorama. It’s packed with the kind of visuals you can’t help but describe with superlatives. Sure, it doesn’t limit itself to just the city of Jerusalem–but with a…

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A Mix-and-Match Haggadah

June 25, 2012
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11HAGGADAH1_SPAN-articleLarge

Were all Egyptians pro-slavery? Children’s author Lemony Snicket suggests that even if most Egyptians started out in favor of subjugating the Israelites, they probably wavered after the Ten Plagues started. After burning hail, wild beasts, and lice, he says, “even Pharaoh’s son was probably an abolitionist–a word here which means ‘in favor of ending…

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Caring Enough to Hit “Send”

June 25, 2012
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someecards

SomeEcards is a fun website that creates snarky, informal cards–their motto is, “when you care enough to hit ‘send’.” The cards on the site are almost always sarcastic and funny–for instance, there’s a birthday card that says “Happy 24 Hours of Constant Facebook Notifications Day.” SomeEcards also offers specialty cards for holidays, from Christmas to…

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Log On to the Dead Sea Scrolls

June 22, 2012
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scrolls

Lately, there’s been a push to digitize everything–old family movies, record collections. Our lives are fleeting and fast. We want to save our cherished memories, and somehow make them last forever. So it shouldn’t be a great surprise that historians are also feeling the pinch. The Dead Sea Scrolls are an amazing collection of almost perfectly-preserved…

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