By Ephraim Kanarfogel for Tablet Magazine
Opposing rabbinic conceptions of marriage and matchmaking in Ashkenaz and Sepharad
Recent studies have traced the parameters of matchmaking in medieval European Jewish society, seeking as well to identify attitudes toward marriage more broadly in both the northern and southern regions (Ashkenaz and Sepharad). Based on the many texts that have been published or are still in manuscript, it is possible to propose an overarching theory that accounts for differences between the two regions, encompassing both those that have been noted heretofore and others that have not yet received attention.
Gil Troy for The Daily Best
There would have been no Tom Brady or Johnny Unitas if it hadn’t been for one determined son of Orthodox Jews from Cleveland, Ohio.
Originally, football was all scrimmage in a no-pass zone, with rules and machismo sensibilities dismissing passing as wimpy. The game was a grinding ground war, a smash-up derby for big galoots, with occasional breakaway survivors fleeing the pack.
The revolutionary who gave football an air war, who freed it from being all-Blitz-all-the-time, the disruptor who spawned the Hail Mary Pass and the Bomb, Joe Namath and Johnny Unitas, John Elway and Tom Brady, was a now-forgotten all-American with the body of a Greek God but the name of a Jewish accountant: Benny Friedman.
by Ilana Strauss for FromtheGrapevine
Discover the area's largest archaeological dig in the last half-century.
Currently, researchers are excavating Tzeelim Canyon, an area near Israel's Dead Sea. These archaeologists, who consist of Israeli and foreign volunteers, are searching for ancient artifacts hidden in the cave.
They're hoping to find 2,000-year-old writings and other objects in a spot that yielded abundant archaeological wealth in the past, and the project looks something like this:
By MaNishtana for Tablet Magazine
Five Seder Traditions From Around the Globe to Spice Up Your Own
Jews are not monolithic, and nowhere is that clearer than when it comes to one of Judaism’s oldest rituals
My Jews, the seder is nigh upon us. Clocking in at over 1,500 years, it is not only among the most universally practiced Jewish rituals, it is also currently the oldest continuously practiced ritual service on the planet. True story.
With a resume like that, the seder was bound to have picked up a few tricks and variants over the centuries, something a little bit more robust than you generally see in your standard Haggadah from Artscroll–or, if you’re from a truly venerable Jewish family, Maxwell House–and something a little more nuanced than the Ashkenaz/Sephardic binary of kitniyot/non-kitniyot, Slivovitz/Arak, and salt/actual seasonings besides salt.
Here are five seder traditions swiped from across the globe to possibly liven up your own:
Passover is coming, check out our Passover Resource Kit.
By Shira Hanau for The Forward
A new addition to the Harry Potter saga is about to hit the shelves — this time in the form of a Haggadah.
Rabbi Moshe Rosenberg of Queens, New York is set to release his “Unofficial Hogwarts Haggadah” within the next two weeks.
“The entire Harry Potter series, and each book, contains many of the key elements and lessons of the Exodus story,” says Rosenberg. “Uplifting the downtrodden, sharing our current wealth and prosperity with others, education” and the list goes on. “The enthusiasm for ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ really assured me that there’s still an enormous appetite out there for Harry Potter.”
By Lawrence H. Schiffman for MyJewishLearning.com
Three views of the Jewish-Christian schism.
The split between Judaism and Christianity did not come about simply or quickly. It was a complex process which took some one hundred years, starting from the crucifixion [of Jesus], and which had different causes and effects depending on whether it is looked at from the point of view of Judaism or Christianity. Further, the question of legal status as seen through Roman eyes also had some relationship to the issue.
The Christian View
Sue Eisenfeld for The Forward
There are 51 names on the list of the dead and the dying. They range in condition from having been diagnosed with a fatal disease, to being in the throes of death, to having already passed from this world, nothing left but a memory. They are in Auburn, Maine, and Niagara Falls, New York, and Lake Charles, Louisiana, and Sumter, South Carolina, and for all of them, they have exhausted all hope of survival.
They are some of the once-thriving small-town Jewish communities of America — places that many Northerners and Southerners, Jews and non-Jews alike, never even knew existed, now or throughout history. They were the places where Jewish people — merchants, often — settled in large numbers as early as the 1700s and were thriving contributors to civic life; places where Jews fought in the Revolution, the War of 1812, and on both sides of the Civil War.
By Noah Lederman for Tablet Magazine
How does it feel to live next to a concentration camp? I visited the Polish village next to Majdanek—where my great-grandfather was murdered, and my grandparents were imprisoned—to find out.
I grew up in a family with secrets; most of the mysteries were centered around the Holocaust. While stories of Auschwitz and the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising occasionally slipped through tight lips, my grandparents kept the lid on Majdanek. It was one of the two concentration camps where they had both been imprisoned and survived. But in comparison to Auschwitz (their other shared prison) and Treblinka (the camp that had turned 8,000 of their neighbors into human smoke), Majdanek haunted them most. They told me nothing of the camp when I was a kid.
BY NATHAN JEFFAY for The Jewish Week
The history-making WWI fight for Beersheba and more in the southern city.
Almost everyone has heard of the Balfour Declaration, and many people know that this year will be its centenary. But what about the anniversary of the remarkable event which, just two days earlier, set the stage for Arthur Balfour’s history-changing missive?
It was Nov. 2, 1917 when Balfour, the United Kingdom’s foreign secretary wrote in a letter to Walter Rothschild, a preeminent Zionist and a friend of Chaim Weitzman, “his majesty’s government views with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people” — and was on board with making this happen. But at what point did he and his cabinet colleagues realize that Britain was going to be in the driver’s seat in the Middle East after World War I, and able to shape the region’s future?
When Rebecca Melsky, a Jewish Day School teacher in Washington, D.C., found out she was having a girl five years ago, she and her husband were determined not to put her in pink. But when her daughter became a pink-loving, dress-wearing toddler who also enjoyed space ships and dinosaurs, Rebecca was surprised that she couldn’t find a dress featuring a science theme. She teamed up with her friend Eva St. Clair to start Princess Awesome, a small clothing company offering hand-sewn dresses with patterns from pirates to pi, trucks to trains, and of course, dinosaurs. After their first run of dresses nearly sold out, they launched a Kickstarter to fund factory production of their designs and quickly became the highest funded children’s clothing project on Kickstarter to date. Rebecca was kind enough to talk with me about how Princess Awesome got started and the overwhelming response they’ve received so far.
By Mordechai Ben Avraham Hazzan for MyJewishLearning.com
For some people, fitting into the status quo is soothing, comforting, peaceful. Not for me. For me, seeking a life of truth has brought me peace. Knowing truth exists is comforting, and experiencing virtues of truth has been soothing to my soul.
Today I am a yeshiva student studying Torah full time. Before this, I was a Republican candidate for Congress. Before that, I was an entertainment executive. And before that, I was a Christian who was born in a small farm town, raised by thoughtful, hard working spiritual seekers.
BY ZACHARY SOLOMON for Jewniverse
Long before city-dwellers affectionately called them “sky rats,” homing pigeons could occasionally serve a higher purpose.
For one such purpose, look to the operations of Nili, the Jewish espionage network that aided the British fight against the Ottomans in Palestine during World War I.
Alan Rubenstein for Mosaic
Although it does not seem to be about romantic attachment at all, the tale of Ruth and Boaz is the quintessential example of a biblical love story.
Where in the Hebrew Bible can you find expressions of human love and the part it plays in life? There’s Jacob and Rachel’s enchanting kiss at the well in Genesis; there’s the Song of Songs, that fantastic and mysterious poem of sexual and romantic longing. And then of course there’s the book of Ruth, the most complete example of a biblical love story: a tale of two highly sympathetic characters, Boaz and Ruth, one an older bachelor and the other a young widow, who navigate a series of obstacles that seem to prevent their union from ever taking place until, in the end, it does—and, in a final scene, bears fruit in the birth of a child.
Laurie Gwen Shapiro for The Jewish Daily Forward
I met retired Hollywood film and literary agent Sam Adams while I was on a research trip for my forthcoming book. When I introduced myself, he was reading a dog-eared copy of perhaps the greatest of true Antarctic tales, Apsley Cherry-Garrard’s “The Worst Journey in the World.”
Sam, now just shy of his 90th birthday, was then 88, full of energy, and very funny. Although he adored his wife, a harpsichordist he married after a dozen years as a widower, she simply didn’t share his passion for traveling to the coldest spot on Earth. Sam was solo for our journey, the oldest passenger on a rather rough expedition route, and one of the trio of Jews (including me) aboard the ship.
BY PENNY SCHWARTZ for The Times of Israel
Manuscript by Luis de Carvajal was missing for 75 years until spotted by a keen-eyed collector. Now it joins others on display at the New-York Historical Society
In the closing years of the 16th century, as the Holy Inquisition reached across the ocean to Spanish and Portuguese territories, Luis de Carvajal the Younger was put on trial by the Mexican Inquisition, suspected of being a Jew. The Spanish-born de Carvajal (1567–1596) was from a family of “converso” Jews who had converted to Catholicism. He was living in Mexico, where his uncle served as the governor of Leon.
Under torture, de Carvajal betrayed more than 120 people who continued to practice their faith in secret. He and many of his family were burned at the stake.