Tag Jewish history

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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Who Was Ben Hecht?

Adina Hoffman— Ben Hecht was “a genius,” Jean-Luc Godard declared in 1968. “He invented 80 percent of what is used in Hollywood movies today.” He “wrote stories—and he made history,” proclaimed Menachem Begin four years earlier, at Hecht’s standing room-only Manhattan funeral. When Hecht was still alive, and invariably kicking,

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To Go or Not To Go

Hasia R. Diner— Balancing the choices open to them—staying put; going to a big city in Europe, the Ottoman Empire, or North Africa; or emigrating to the new world— consumed the Jews in the old one. Joseph Austrian was born in 1833 in a small village, Wittelshoffen in Bavaria. His

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Divided Lands

Hasia R. Diner— Nearly every place the immigrant Jewish peddlers went, with the exception of the British Isles and Scandinavia, they stumbled into societies in which color mattered. In some places—Canada, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand—the color divide followed a native-versus-European colonist divide. Where one stood across the native-European

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Foreigners and Strangers: Irène Némirovsky’s Jewish Protagonists

Susan Suleiman— The French word étranger means both “foreigner” and “stranger,” meanings that overlap but are not synonymous. One can be a stranger to a community or group without being a foreigner, while some foreigners are not strangers to a given individual or group—many people have foreign friends. But both

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