One Fat Pharaoh

December 10, 2011
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Fat_Pharaoh_by_WerecatBoy

How did the Israelites escape from their slavery in Egypt? If you trust Roy L. Moody, a doctor who visited Egypt in the 1920s, their miraculous rescue was due in no small part to the corpulence of Merneptah, generally believed to be the “Pharaoh” of the Exodus story–who was too fat to run after his own slaves.…

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Scenes from the Suburbs

December 9, 2011
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suburbs

Historian Arthur Hertzberg estimated that in the two decades between 1945 and 1965 one out of every three American Jews left the big cities for the suburbs. This was a trend that occurred throughout the general population, but it was much more pronounced among Jews. Several factors contributed to the general migration:…

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Dangerous Visions

December 8, 2011
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WWII map

What if the Nazis won World War II? This terrifying question has inspired books (such as Philip Dick’s The Man in the High Castle), movies, and even a recent photography exhibition. By far the most thought-provoking response that’s crossed our desk is Neu-York, a map drawn by the artist Melissa Gould. It’s based on a…

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Our Ancestors, Ourselves

December 7, 2011
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what-they-saved

“When my father died,” writes Nancy Miller, “I became a middle-aged Jewish orphan.” Miller had always been Jewish, of course, but this ethnic identity had never meant much to her. When she lost her father, however, Miller set off on a massive treasure hunt to uncover her family’s past. She tells the story…

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Aliyah for Pets

December 6, 2011
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treatment-animals

Immigrating to Israel is a lifelong ambition for some people, and a central tenet of many people’s Jewish beliefs. Several organizations such as Nefesh B’Nefesh have been created in order to make this radical life change easier for people. But only one company has been created to make the life change easier for pets. In…

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Johnny Cash in Israel

December 5, 2011
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cash

Johnny Cash’s moody, often dark music is matched only by his even more tumultuous life. For years he wrestled with marital infidelity, an addiction to amphetamines and other drugs, and attempted suicide. Then Cash became a born-again Christian, and developed a deep commitment to the Jewish roots of his religion. In 1968 Cash recorded…

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The Convert’s Burden

December 2, 2011
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book

In the 1800s and early 1900s, many Jews in European countries converted to Christianity. The stakes were low, and the burden of staying Jewish was high–pogroms and poverty. But converting didn’t always erase people’s Jewish pasts. The new novel Until the Dawn’s Light follows a woman, Blanca, who converted out of Judaism when she married…

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Pulling Punches

December 1, 2011
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boxing

The new documentary Star in the Ring captures the Golden Age of Jewish boxing, even as the era’s last remaining greats are almost gone. “I only lost two or three fights,” says Izzy Zerling, a lightweight champion in the 1930s–one of several great interviews in the film. “The first fight I lost, I…

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Shlemiels and Shlemazels

November 30, 2011
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logo

“A shlemiel,” explains Matthew Menachem Feuer at the beginning of the new documentary Shlemiel, “is a dreamer. And his dreams don’t match up with reality.” Feuer, a recent devotee of Orthodox Judaism, is the subject of the film. He’s also the crazy, flamboyant singer for a Toronto-area jam band–and a husband and father. As the film begins, shots…

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Was Moses Black?

November 29, 2011
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moses

The story of Moses leading the Israelites out of slavery is one of our culture’s most enduring legends. From the Bible (the book) to The Ten Commandments (the movie), it has been adapted countless times. The novel Moses, Man of the Mountain (1939) is another retelling of the Exodus story, this time in African-American dialect, mixing biblical rhetoric and slave folklore and song. In…

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The Future of Jewish Music Is Not Adam Sandler

November 28, 2011
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mac-miller-jewish

Is Mac Miller the future of secular Jewish culture? The Pittsburgh-born 19-year-old rapper is regarded in the music world as something of a prodigy. Born to a Jewish mother and a Christian father, he was raised Jewish and had a bar mitzvah. At sixteen, he released The Jukebox, his first mixtape–an industry term for a free album…

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Maus in the Closet

November 25, 2011
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maus

Art Spiegelman is haunted by his history. Not only his father’s history as a Holocaust survivor–which was depicted in the graphic novel Maus (1986), regarded as one of the great works of Holocaust literature–but also his own history. The new MetaMaus is Spiegelman’s 300-page, full-color, illustrated history of Maus. Part biography, part critical document, Spiegelman recounts his…

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