A Pair of Rabbis & a Pair of Nuns

November 23, 2011
By
Tailor_Boys

Jewish jokes aren’t like regular jokes. Granted, there’s the standard Q-and-A-style “Why did the rabbi cross the road?” setup. But often, Jewish jokes take the form of stories, with a slow buildup, wacky characters, and punchlines that really do pay off. The short film “The Tailor,” written and directed by Gordon Grinberg, is…

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Literary Gymnastics

November 22, 2011
By
etgar-keret

Etgar Keret is one of the most versatile writers in Israel today. His short stories–which include such memorable characters as an accident-prone insurance salesman, a manic-depressive clown, and a suicide bomber who’s having second thoughts–are often funny and always provocative. The stories’ combination of universality and weirdness makes them easy, almost natural, to adapt into…

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Lost in Tel Aviv

November 18, 2011
By
eric-orner

Eric Orner is a comic book artist who is disconnected from his Jewish identity…except that he recently moved to Israel. In the autobiographical comic story “Weekends Abroad”– which was just reprinted in The Best American Comics 2011 –Orner takes us inside his new life. He came to Israel for a job, but he doesn’t…

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How to Command Demons

November 17, 2011
By
demon

The Testament of Solomon is considered part of the pseudepigrapha–it is an ancient text written around the time parts of the Hebrew Bible were written, but it was not included in the Jewish biblical canon. Its opening line, “The testament of Solomon, son of David, who was king in Jerusalem” is almost exactly the start…

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Bagel Fever

November 16, 2011
By
bagels

The bagel has long been a basic codifier of Askenazic Jewish identity. The hip-hop parody group 2 Live Jews, in their anthem of Jewish identification “Shake Your Tuchus,” said, “If you don’t know what a bagel is, I guess I’ll have to clue ya–it’s doughy, round, and can be found at a deli close…

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A Secret History of Yiddish

November 15, 2011
By
120678987

If languages had personalities, then Yiddish would probably be gruff and sardonic, with several unexpected surprises up its sleeve–much like the admired comic book writer Harvey Pekar who died last year. One of Pekar’s last projects was co-editing Yiddishkeit–a new, gorgeously illustrated cartoon history of the Yiddish language and its speakers. Though Pekar’s books were…

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Debbie Friedman in Uganda

November 14, 2011
By
abayudaya-jews

Until her untimely death last year, Debbie Friedman was one of the most vital voices in Jewish music. She set Jewish liturgy to original music that was catchy, heartfelt, accessible, and easy to sing along to. If you’ve ever attended Friday night services at a synagogue and been able to jump right in…

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The Things We Left Unsaid

November 11, 2011
By
urbesque (1)

Moshe Zvi Marvit is an absorbing writer, the kind of author whose descriptions linger in your brain long after you stop reading. His attention to detail is like something between Sherlock Holmes and a stalker. His subjects are sometimes the Hasidic Jewish community in which he lives, and sometimes a Kafkaesque world of uncertainty and…

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Murder Most Foul

November 10, 2011
By
grey

In 1945, British forces liberated concentration camps in Germany, Poland, and throughout Nazi Europe. Accompanying them was a crew of documentary filmmakers, tasked with recording the horrors. One of those filmmakers was Alfred Hitchcock. At that point, Hitchcock was already a talented director–the previous year, he directed Lifeboat, a collaboration with author John Steinbeck that showed some…

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Karaoke Shabbat

November 9, 2011
By

“One! Two! Three!” counts singer-songwriter Elana Jagoda. As she does, three stars appear in a twilight sky. The music kicks in–and thus begins “Havdalah,” one video in a new three-part series depicting Jewish rituals. The three videos–one for Friday night blessings, one for Shabbat’s conclusion, and one teaching how to build a sukkah–are friendly,…

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Buried, but Alive

November 8, 2011
By
prague-cemetery-eco.ashx

There’s a saying among the Jews of Prague that a people’s history is recorded in its cemetery. Indeed, the Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague has a lot of stories to tell. Its earliest resident, Avigdor Kara, was interred in 1439, and Jews were buried there, stacked up to twelve atop each other, until…

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The Earliest Yiddish Poem

November 7, 2011
By
joseph

When we think of Yiddish, most of us envision an 18th-century Jewish shtetl in Poland or Russia, with Hasidic men in fur hats and bubbies in babushkes. But Yiddish, the Hebrew-German hybrid, actually started out much earlier, according to scholars of the language. The first extant written example of Old Yiddish is the…

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