Before the apparent effort by political rivals to poison Ukrainian presidential candidate Viktor Yuschenko last fall, there may have been the Purim poisoning of Joseph Stalin.Dr. Alexander Rashin, a biophysicist from the former Soviet Union who now lives in Teaneck, N.J, is convinced that the notorious Soviet dictator was poisoned by his closest political close associates on March 1,1953, and did not die of natural causes, as has long been believed.
Separated by a thousand years, Queen Esther and Scheherazade were both the second wives of betrayed and humiliated kings. Both were selected by these kings from a harem, after a thousand women came before them. And both women’s lives were hanging by a thread, yet they chose to stand up for themselves and others and save lives.
On the way into Manhattan earlier this week to teach my seminar in the Rabbinical School of the Jewish Theological Seminary, I had my radio tuned to WCBS, an all-news station. The ride took about twenty-five minutes, and I don’t think I would be exaggerating if I said that the entire twenty-five minutes on the radio was taken up with bad news and worse news about the economy. The only thing that bordered on something other than that was a report about Bill Clinton, complaining that President Obama was too focused in his public pronouncements on how bad the economy is.
Thursday, February 26th, 2009
(Because of a formatting error on the main site, here’s a corrected version of this week’s “Edge of Town” column).
Uncanny Tales Of Survival
“Small Miracles of the Holocaust,” and the mysteries of coincidence
by Jonathan Mark
Of all the holidays in the Jewish calendar, Purim is the most theatrical. Throughout the ages, Jewish communities worldwide have naturally performed the story in different ways, in accordance with their own native theatrical traditions. In 18th-century Prague, since itinerant puppeteers provided much of the entertainment seen by the common people, a marionette version of “Queen Esther” was one of the hits of the day.
Belfast — Behind the concrete walls and ongoing tensions that divide Catholic and Protestant populations, a tiny but lingering Jewish community read the Megillah and cranked groggers last Thursday here in the capital of Northern Ireland.
Capped in a golden speckled party hat, wrapped in a long black coat and sporting a characteristically chasidic beard, Rabbi Menachem Brackman, 26, led Purim services at the Belfast Hebrew Congregation.
"A rabbi walks into a bar..." Laughter usually follows; it's practically guaranteed if the rabbi brings along seven comedians who've earned their chops writing for shows like "Saturday Night Live" and appearing on the downtown alternative comedy circuit.