T.S. Eliot Vs. the Jews

December 28, 2011
By
litvinoff-by-brick-lane-1972

Last month, the writer Emanuel Litvinoff died at the age of 96. Litvinoff wrote poetry, a memoir, and several novels. But history might remember him most for one poem, “To T.S. Eliot,” a lambasting and inspired statement against the titular poet’s anti-Semitism. In his poem “Burbank with a Baedeker: Bleistein with a Cigar,” as well as other poems,…

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Curious George and the Nazis

December 27, 2011
By
curious'

When the Nazi party was gaining popularity in Germany, Hans Augusto Rey, a Jewish salesman, knew it was a good time to get out. He moved to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. There, he met and married an old flame, Margret, who’d also come to escape the Nazis. Together, the couple moved to Paris in 1935.…

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Holocaust Freaks

December 26, 2011
By
miss p book cover with border

Young Holocaust survivors are the unexpected subject of the science fiction novel Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Jacob Portman, a maladjusted sixteen-year-old living in Florida, knew that his grandfather, Abe, was a Holocaust survivor. The old man used to show Jacob strange photos of the orphanage where he lived after the war–pictures of a…

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Christmas Chess

December 23, 2011
By
chess

There’s a lot that’s Jewish about Christmas. It’s the birthday of a Jew (Jesus)–okay, it’s probably not his real birthday, but it’s the day that most people celebrate it. And, in the contemporary Western world, Jews have accrued so many makeshift Christmas traditions, from going out for Chinese food to filling movie theaters to…

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Six Little Words

December 22, 2011
By
6

Can you tell your life story in six words? In our new world of 140-character breaking news and micro-sized Facebook updates, we’ve trained ourselves to think in brief bursts. But we haven’t necessarily dumbed ourselves down. Smith Magazine‘s Six-Word Memoir Project has tried to hold up the intellectual end of this brevity craze. They’ve enlisted…

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A Holiday from the Black Plague

December 21, 2011
By
decameron

In The Decameron, a group of 10 young people–three women and seven men–leave the city of Florence, where the black plague is running rampant, to vacation at a country villa. The introduction to this 14th-century medieval Italian work of fiction, by Giovanni Boccaccio, tells how these young people pass their time–by flirting, keeping up the…

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Hanukkah Music

December 20, 2011
By
beernukiah

Lighting the family menorah can be a two-second affair. How much time does it take to strike a match and light a fire, anyway? But you can also make it last longer. Singing is one time-honored thing to do while sitting around the menorah. While there are no strict laws about the order of songs,…

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Hanukkah Presents

December 19, 2011
By
hanukkah-gifts

Before the 19th century, there wasn’t a Jewish tradition to give Hanukkah presents. Then again, points out Brandeis University professor Jonathan Sarna, before the 19th century, there also wasn’t much of a Christian tradition to give gifts during the Christmas season. Then American stores started encouraging the giving (and buying) of gifts, and the modern…

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Pop Sabbaticals

December 16, 2011
By
maor

Maor Levi is a DJ and producer based in Ashkelon, Israel. Under his various pseudonyms (including 123XYZ, M.A.O.R., and Pillow One), Levi has released nearly 20 singles since the age of 12. He’s been working on his first full-length album since 2007. It’s been “nearly finished” for the past 18 months. However, he hasn’t had much…

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Jesus and Irving Mandelbaum

December 14, 2011
By
smile

Leonard is 15 years old, the child of Jewish atheist intellectuals in Berkeley. He’s deeply entrenched in the 1970s, surrounded by burnt-out hippies and disco music. Then he meets Rick, a charismatic hippie in his twenties–who also happens to be a preacher for a sect of fundamentalist Jesus freaks. In Alvin Orloff’s new novel Why Aren’t You Smiling, Leonard’s…

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Bagels and Lox, Russian Style

December 13, 2011
By
vlada

When Jewish immigrants left the Soviet Union and arrived in North America, they experienced huge culture shock. The way Vlada Bilyak tells it in her new documentary, much of her own cultural confusion came from the way her Canadian classmates connected to Judaism–attending religious services or eating bagels. These had nothing to do with what Biyak’s parents had…

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Special Needs in the Bible

December 12, 2011
By
esau

Did the biblical character Esau have ADHD? Did Isaac have a cognitive disability? The new book Esau’s Blessing: How the Bible Embraces Those with Special Needs looks at our biblical ancestors through the lens of contemporary psychology and medicine. When viewed this way, writes author Ora Horn Prouser, Esau “no longer appeared an evil man with misplaced priorities, but rather,…

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