One Book, Two Holocaust Novels

November 5, 2012
By
canvas

The next great Jewish novel is coming from the heart of Germany. The Canvas, by Berlin-born Benjamin Stein, is a mystery novel with an innovative form: It’s actually two books in one. Start from one side, read your way through, then flip the book over and find a distinct story that’s connected…

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How the Church Turned Jews into Moneylenders

November 2, 2012
By
money-lender

Ever wonder how Jews became synonymous with usury? Is it just because they were always “good with money?” Or was it, as Roman Catholic doctrine held, the devil that made them do it? Actually, it was the Church itself. By the time Shakespeare introduced Shylock to the theatergoing world in The Merchant…

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Degenerate Art

November 1, 2012
By
degenrate-art

Under the Third Reich, as the situation for Jews in Germany worsened, the fate of German art and artists was also in danger. Hitler, widely considered a failed artist himself, railed against art and artists he disliked, and he purged German museums of art deemed inconsistent with his philistine and puritanical aesthetic values.…

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Shanghai Ghetto

October 31, 2012
By
shanghai-ghetto

In 1938, in the aftermath of Kristallnacht, European Jews started looking for any and every escape path. When word got out that Shanghai, which was then under Japanese control, did not require a visa or passport for entry, thousands of Eastern and Western European Jews started flocking to the city’s Hongkew…

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Jews in Iran

October 30, 2012
By
light-and-shadows

According to the Bible, Queen Esther saved the Jews of Persia from being wiped out by the evil Haman. But what happened to the Persian Jewish community after that? “Light and Shadows: The Story of Iranian Jews,” a new exhibit at UCLA’s Fowler Museum, tells the rich history of one of the world’s oldest Jewish…

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Mazel Tov, K-Pop!

October 29, 2012
By
zea

Just a few months ago, Korean pop star Psy’s smash hit “Gangnam Style” launched K- pop into the global limelight. But years before “Gangnam Style,” K-pop was already rearing its head in the Jewish world thanks to the boy band ZE:A’s  single “Mazel tov!”. The rhythms of ZE:A’s song  are  irresistible, and may…

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Out of Orbit

October 26, 2012
By
Thoughtless-Sounds-Album-Cover-only-300x295

“How do you hold onto life/when it won’t seem to hold onto you?” sings multi-instrumentalist singer/songwriter Max Jared on his debut album Thoughtless Sounds. This question is from the ballad “Asaf Ramon,” a tender, sweet song about the eldest son of Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon. Ilan Ramon was killed in the 2003 Columbia explosion, and his…

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Up the Down Staircase

October 25, 2012
By
bel-kaufman

In 1923, a 12-year-old Russian girl named Belle Kaufman immigrated with her parents to America and, not knowing a word of English, was enrolled in the first grade. She caught up quickly, and decided that she wanted to become a teacher, too. But Kaufman came from a family of writers—her grandfather was Sholem…

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An Icy Jerusalem

October 24, 2012
By
city-of-ice2

Cold weather is unusual in Jerusalem—but in March of last year a snowstorm briefly coated the city in white. It was Jerusalem’s first snow in 4 years, and Israelis from all over the country crowded the roads to the city so they could frolic in the winter weather. Later that month…

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The Jewish Chinese Revolutionary

October 23, 2012
By
the-revolutionary

Did you know that during the Chinese Cultural Revolution a Jewish man headed the Chinese Broadcast Administration? The new documentary The Revolutionary (trailer here) explores the fascinating life of Sidney Rittenberg, who went from Southern Jewish gentleman to Cultural Revolutionary to prisoner, and back again. Rittenberg grew up in a prominent South Carolina Jewish family,…

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Meet the Middlesteins

October 22, 2012
By
middlesteins

In Jami Attenberg’s new novel The Middlesteins, the relationships between members of one suburban Chicago family are riddled with emotional landmines that all seem to link back to one woman: matriarch Edie Middlestein, sixty-something and morbidly obese. The novel centers around the family’s relationships with Edie, her food addiction, and the spiraling health…

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Jewish Spies and Arab Wives

October 19, 2012
By
jewish-spies-arab-wives2

In movies and TV, intelligence operations are often portrayed as glamorously dangerous human chess matches with a series of sexual entanglements and ingenious double crosses. The operatives are master manipulators, forming intimate relationships they must cast off at mission’s end. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised to discover just how closely these…

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