Jews and Muslims Vs. Nazis

March 26, 2012
By
free-men

In 1942, a young man named Younes is caught between a rock and a hard place. He’s a French black market runner who’s shuttling goods in German-occupied France. When he’s caught and discovered by the puppet government, Younes is given a choice: He can go to jail, or he can spy on the Arab resistance…

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Aliens in the Bible?

March 23, 2012
By
aliens in the bible

The earliest writings of Merkavah mysticism date back to the second century C.E. The word Merkavah literally means “chariot,” and this mystical study is named after the surreal vision at the beginning of the biblical Book of Ezekiel, in which “the heavens were opened,” and “four winged creatures…like burning coals of fire” emerged, surrounding a heavenly chariot. Some have speculated…

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Hard to Hear

March 22, 2012
By
hard to hear

“Being the hearing child of deaf parents,” says stand-up comic Moshe Kasher in his new memoir, Kasher in the Rye, “is a membership card to a very elite club. To other deaf people, we aren’t ‘hearing.’ We’re family.” Kasher’s parents, both deaf, met one year at the Deaf Olympics (yes, there is such a thing).…

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Bumble-Ardy

March 21, 2012
By
bumble ardy

The children’s author Maurice Sendak recently released Bumble-Ardy, the first book in three decades that he’s both written and illustrated. In fact, the story is not exactly new–it’s adapted from a short film Sendak made for Sesame Street in 1970. Bumble, the book, stars a pig (named, naturally, Bumble-Ardy) who invites a bunch of rowdy friends to a birthday party. Unsurprisingly, the…

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The Slam Poet Goes to Israel

March 19, 2012
By
bob-holman

“In the beginning was the word,” says Bob Holman, a slam poet and founder of the Bowery Poetry Club–one of New York‘s premiere poetry venues. “God said it. But who was He speaking to? Christians? Muslims? Jews?” Holman poses this question on his new television series, On the Road. The show tours the world, recording different peoples…

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The Art’s in the Saltshaker

March 16, 2012
By
Eva_Zeisel

Eva Zeisel (1906-2011) was trained as a fine artist in Hungary, where she was born. Her talent led her to move to Germany and then the Soviet Union, where she became a renowned glassworker. Glasswork was a government-regulated industry, and Zeisel was appointed to control virtually all the glassware being made in the USSR. It was especially notable,…

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Letters from the Dead

March 15, 2012
By
1

Imagine spying on letters written by other people–young lovers, long-separated families, runaway teenagers. Sounds vaguely intrusive and stalkerish, right? Now, imagine you’re reading letters written 70 years in the past–from tourists, refugees, World War II soldiers and their families. It’s less like a stalker, more like a historian. The Blavatnik Archive lets us all be…

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It’s Hip to Be Square

March 14, 2012
By
matzah

Most people have a definite mental image of what matzah should look like: It’s evenly perforated, crunchy, and square. However, if you showed a piece of contemporary Manischewitz matzah to a Jew of the past–whether they lived 200 years ago or 2000–it wouldn’t look anything like their matzah, which was most likely round, soft,…

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What Freedom Looks Like

March 13, 2012
By
katz haggadah

The Katz Family Haggadah, at first glance, is deceptively simple–it looks like a children’s picture book. It features big-eyed cartoon kids, large, readable text, colorful spreads of blue skies and yellow sand, frogs, and an amazing fold-out picture of the Crossing of the Red Sea. But that’s not all it is. The haggadah uses midrash, Talmud,…

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Sexy Geeks

March 12, 2012
By
Sexy Geeks

What makes a man? Today, the word “manly” suggests a specific picture, with bulging pectorals and an attitude. But according to Daniel Boyarin, an author and professor of Talmud at the University of California-Berkeley, that idea only came about in the Middle Ages, when notions of masculinity split into two ideals: scholarly, nerdy monks on one…

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Rabbi Cleopatra

March 10, 2012
By
cleopatra

There are all sorts of strange cameos and guest-starring roles in the Talmud. Just like a sitcom, where, unexpectedly, Larry David might be having lunch with Mayim Bialik, the ancient rabbis also had guests show up in unexpected places–for instance, the sage Rabbi Meir’s debate with Cleopatra. In the Babylonian Talmud (in Sanhedrin chapter 11), Rabbi…

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Putting the Book in Facebook

March 9, 2012
By
facebook

Alex Epstein left the Soviet Union at the age of 8, in 1979, and settled with his parents in Israel. Now he’s the author of seven books in Hebrew (two have been translated into English), and a recipient of the Israeli Prime Minister’s Prize for Literature. Epstein’s latest publishing venture, a series of ultra-short stories called For My…

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