Tag Jewish history

Jewish Life during the Interwar Period

Todd M. Endelman and Zvi Gitelman— The new states that emerged in Europe and the Middle East from the collapsed German, Austro-Hungarian, Russian, and Ottoman empires were insecure, fearing their neighbors and their demands to change the borders created by the treaties ending World War I. They were suspicious of

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The Moment of Parallel Emancipations in Jamaica

Stanley Mirvis— Thirteen years ago, Yale’s Center for British Art, in collaboration with the Institute of Jamaica Museum, commemorated the bicentennial of the abolition of the slave trade with an exhibition focused on the 1834 emancipation of slaves. The exhibit centered on the work of the Jamaican artist Isaac Mendes

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Ben Hecht’s First Day

Adina Hoffman— Ben Hecht was always falling in love—though he never tumbled harder and faster into that ecstatic state than he did when he met Chicago. “The city of my first manhood,” he called it. The place enthralled him with its blur of rooftops and chimneys, its signage and streetcars,

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Did Houdini Really Die after Being Sucker Punched?

Adam Begley— When I tell someone I’ve written a book about Harry Houdini for the Yale Jewish Lives series, usually the first thing they say is, “I didn’t know Houdini was Jewish.” Well, he was; in fact, his father was a rabbi. The next thing I’m asked is whether it’s true that

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Rav Kook: Mystic in a Time of Revolution

Yehudah Mirsky— Though he died in 1935, Rav Avraham Yitzhak Kook (Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook) still towers in contemporary Israeli politics and Jewish spirituality; neither can properly be understood without him. His controversial life and the colossal body of writing he left behind offer powerful lessons and pose difficult questions.

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Why Jewish Writers Avoid the “Jewish Writer” Label

Adam Kirsch— Several years ago, I moderated a discussion between two novelists at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Manhattan. The setting seemed appropriate, since these were Jewish writers who wrote about Jewish characters and themes. But when I asked them if they considered themselves Jewish novelists, both answered emphatically

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America’s Long Jewish History

Jonathan D. Sarna— New Amsterdam, part of the remote Dutch colony of New Netherland in present-day New York State, was among the New World’s most diverse and pluralistic towns. A French Jesuit missionary in 1643 reported that “eighteen different languages” were spoken by local inhabitants of different sects or nations.

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Oppenheim’s Library: A Window into Jewish Culture

Joshua Teplitsky— In January of 2019, Netflix launched a new television program for audiences who had enjoyed previous “home improvement” style shows about living more efficiently with greater style and less clutter called “Tidying up with Marie Kondo.” The show’s primary goal was to help people get rid of unnecessary

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The Gospel of Matthew: Within and Without Judaism

John Kampen— Matthew is usually regarded as the “most Jewish gospel” since it bears evidence of more direct and more informed interaction with texts, concepts, and institutions usually identified with Jewish life at the conclusion of the first century CE. While the noted connections have not always been well-informed by

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A Time to Write and a Time to Resist

David G. Roskies— Writing, we are told, is a form of resistance. The act of writing is an assertion of one’s selfhood, one’s right to live, think and feel in the face of all that negates it. But writing can just as easily be an escape from reality, an exercise

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