An American Folksinger With A Hasidic Twist

August 13, 2013
By
levi-robin1

When you first listen to Levi Robin‘s tender, breathy vocals and hypnotic fingerpicking, what comes to mind is likely Iron & Wine or Bob Dylan. But if you close your eyes and listen to the lyrics, you might be surprised. Instead of odes to long-haired beauties and urban chaos, Robin, a 21-year-old Lubavitcher Hasidic folksinger, delivers tried-and-true…

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Niels Bohr, The Righteous Physicist

August 12, 2013
By
bohr

Danish physicist and Nobel Prize winner Niels Bohr lived a busy life: When he wasn’t re-imagining atomic structure and quantum mechanics, he was saving over 7,000 Danish Jews from Nazi persecution. In 1943, after learning that Nazi occupiers sought to prevent him from working on the Allied Manhattan Project, Bohr evacuated to Sweden, whose government was…

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WTF Just Happened to “Oyfn Pripetchik”?

August 9, 2013
By
psoy

Meet Psoy Korolenko, the self-described “wandering philologist”and song-tinkerer who rewrites famous lyrics until their familiar meanings are blown to bits. One such tinkering, “Oyfn Pripetchik 2” (written in collaboration with Yiddishist Alexandra Hoffman), takes the famous Yiddish song about a rebbe and his cheder students (as heard in Schindler’s List), and stands it on its head.…

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Java’s Last Shul and the World’s Tallest Menorah

August 8, 2013
By
menorah

Until recently, the city of Surabaya, on the Indonesian island of Java, had one synagogue. But now it has none, and nobody’s quite sure why. Surabaya’s tiny Jewish population descends from Iraqi Jews, who in 1939 erected the Dutch-style Beth Shalom Synagogue. Though the building was a designated heritage site, in 2009, extremist…

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The Jewish Salami War

August 7, 2013
By
send-a-salami-to-your-boy

Although keeping kosher was not a priority for most of the 500, 000+ Jews who served in the US military during World War II, kosher salami was among the most sought after Jewish comfort foods. American rabbis worked unceasingly to satisfy the demand, and distributed salamis everywhere from Belgium to Burma. Archived correspondence of civilian rabbis and military…

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The Nazi-Hunter Who Might Secretly Be A Jew

August 6, 2013
By
wolfenstein

The 1992 video game Wolfenstein 3D was the first “1st-person shooter”—that is, a game where the screen mirrored the character’s field of vision, and the player’s presence is marked by the barrel of a gun in the lower-right hand corner of the frame. The game itself is simple. B.J. Blaskowicz, a Polish…

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Urban Jazz Metal Like The Rebbe Sang It

August 5, 2013
By
deveykus

The Alter Rebbe was the founding father of the Lubavitch Hasidic dynasty. He was also a prolific composer, who—in spite of not owning (and not knowing how to play) any instruments—composed several hundred nigunim, or wordless songs. These songs were meant to induce a trancelike, elevated spiritual state. One wonders what the Alter…

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Little Prince George and The Mohel of the Royals

August 2, 2013
By
royal-baby

What do you get a royal schmuck? A royal mohel, of course! Looks like little Prince George Alexander Louis—you know, Will and Kate’s kid—may have a date with the knife. Or not. It’s hard to say just yet, though that hasn’t kept Brits from speculating. Seems that royal history points both ways. For instance,…

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The First Jewish Boxer

August 1, 2013
By
mendoza2

Many of us know that Jews were a significant presence in the boxing world from the 1920s to the 1940s, but few realize that they followed in the footsteps of an 18th-century British fighter named Daniel Mendoza. Mendoza was a prolific pugilist from a young age, proudly billing himself “Mendoza the Jew.” Though…

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When Borscht Belt Comedy Went to School

July 31, 2013
By
comedy-school

“The birth of modern stand-up comedy begins in the Catskills Mountains,” so says When Comedy Went To School, a new film that traces the evolution of comedy as we know it. Narrated by Robert Klein, it’s peppered with reflections from comedy greats like Larry King, as well as footage of a younger Jerry…

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A Hidden German History of Palestine

July 30, 2013
By
templars

Jews weren’t the only European immigrants who arrived in Palestine in the late 19th century. Among those who’d journeyed for commercial, artistic, or missionary purposes was a German Christian group called the Templers. Starting with their arrival in the mid-1800s, the Templers had good relationships with both Jews and Arabs. They built…

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“Drop Dead Diva” and the Murder-Victim Exception

July 29, 2013
By
drop-dead-diva

There are plenty of TV shows that get Jewish law wrong (we’re looking at you, Grey’s Anatomy and Curb Your Enthusiasm), so we love it when one gets it right, and teaches us something in the process. Our latest favorite example is the legal dramedy Drop Dead Diva. In a recent episode, a Jewish murder…

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