The King’s Wand

March 7, 2012
By
scepter

One of the Talmud‘s oddest discussions has to be the debate over the length of King Ahasuerus’s royal scepter. At one point in the Purim story, Esther entered the king’s throne room to beg him not to put the Jews to death. According to the Megillah, when she did that, he lifted his scepter–a sign that permitted…

Read more »

Disney’s Anne Frank

March 6, 2012
By
disney-anne-frank

A death-defying chase down an Amsterdam sewer. A theme song called “Living Free (Until the Nazis Find Us Again)” that’s just begging for an Academy Award. A nest of musical rats living in an attic who meet Anne Frank and her family and help them escape the Nazis… These are just a few of the tropes of Disney’s Anne Frank, a…

Read more »

Kill Me Twice, Shame on Me

March 5, 2012
By
Kenny McCormickphoto courtesy: Comedy Central

One of the more famous Jewish customs surrounding the Festival of Lots (also known as Purim) is the liberal consumption of alcohol. The Talmud itself teaches (Megillah 7b), “People are obliged to drink on Purim until they cannot tell the difference between ‘cursed is Haman‘ and ‘blessed is Mordecai.’” However one time,  the Talmud recounts,…

Read more »

Cherubs

March 2, 2012
By
cherub

Cherubs–those sweet little babies with wings–have become a symbol of valentines and love. But they’re actually mystical creatures with a biblical basis, sometimes depicted as children and other times as animals, or a sphinx-like combination of the two. The word cherub is of uncertain origin. One midrash claims that the Hebrew word comes from ke-ravya, or…

Read more »

Uncle Feygele

March 1, 2012
By
10902551

“Who exactly are my people? Where do the borders of folk begin?” asks poet Yermiyahu Ahron Taub in his poem “Wandering Jew in Little Rome.” Community–the traditional Jewish community he was raised in, and the gay community he created for himself–is one of Taub’s favorite subjects. He was born into an Orthodox Jewish family in Philadelphia. When he…

Read more »

Masters of Jewish Culture

February 29, 2012
By
humor-marx

We know that Jewish culture goes beyond the kitsch of shows like Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm. But does the investigation of Judaism in popular culture warrant an entire school curriculum? According to Jenna Weissman Joselit, the answer is an emphatic yes. Joselit, a professor at George Washington University, is launching a master’s degree in Jewish Cultural Arts–the first…

Read more »

Jewish Privilege

February 28, 2012
By
images

Hailey is a recent college graduate, freshly relocated into her mother and stepfather’s luxury penthouse in Manhattan. Unemployed, she’s both the wealthiest and poorest 1% of the country…and she’s caught in both the economic crisis and a crisis of identity. Her story, told in Michelle Haimoff‘s new novel These Days Are Ours, takes place during Passover…

Read more »

Star of David

February 27, 2012
By
hebrew

Today, the Star of David is a ubiquitous Jewish symbol. However, this widespread use is a relatively recent development. In fact, if you asked King David about the star that bears his name, he’d probably have no idea what you were talking about. In the times of the Temple, rather than a star, the Jewish…

Read more »

Ten Lost Tribes

February 24, 2012
By
tribesmap

In the Bible, the Land of Israel was divided into twelve areas, one for each tribe (except for the priestly tribe of Levi) . But 2,700 years ago, ten of the twelve tribes were lost, exiled by invading Assyrian armies–and nobody knows for sure where they went. According to one legend (Targum Jonathan Exodus 34:10), the land…

Read more »

Rapping about Seinfeld

February 23, 2012
By
wale

The 1990s TV program Seinfeld was, according to its premise, a show about nothing. Everyday situations such as rivalries between old men and eating the tops of muffins, in Jerry Seinfeld’s worldview, came to embody major existential crises. The Seinfeld outlook offered a neurotic, cerebral way of living one’s life–and it sparked millions…

Read more »

Swimming and Judaism

February 22, 2012
By
michealpheolps

According to the sages of the Talmud (Kiddushin 29a), there are a few things a father is obligated to do for his son: 1. Circumcise him, 2. redeem him from the priests, if he’s a firstborn, 3. teach him Torah, 4. find him a wife, and 5. teach him a trade. In the context of Talmudic priorities, the list seems…

Read more »

Horror and Remembrance

February 21, 2012
By
king

Herman Wouk is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Caine Mutiny, War and Remembrance (a thousand-page epic about World War II), and several other books. He’s also 96 years old, and is still writing. His most recent book, The Language God Talks, a meditation on his fascination with science and his Jewish faith, was released last year…and he’s already…

Read more »

Jewniverse Email Newsletter