Eastern Europe

From Overseas, With Dreams

08/06/2008
Staff Writer
Israel, which has won only six Olympic medals ever — its first gold, in sailing, came at Athens in 2004 — is sending 41 athletes to the Beijing Games, which open Aug. 8. Israel’s Olympic delegation attended a recent two-day seminar in Tel Aviv where members were briefed on everything from security to Chinese culture. Past Israeli Olympians discussed their experiences with this year’s athletes, most of them first-time Olympians.



Jewish Professor, Black Culture

01/26/2010
Staff Writer

About five years ago, Vincent Brown, a historian at Harvard, had to teach a seminar on the birth of black studies. Though the discipline has flourished since the 1960s, its origins were not well known, so Brown, an iPod-generation professor, thought a documentary on the topic might help. He was an amateur filmmaker himself, deft with a Camcorder, and figured he might try to make one on his own.

Jewish Professor, Black Culture

Documentary chronicles the controversial ideas and internal conflicts of a
Northwestern University anthropologist who pioneered African-American studies.

01/28/2010
Staff Writer

About five years ago, Vincent Brown, a historian at Harvard, had to teach a seminar on the birth of black studies. Though the discipline has flourished since the 1960s, its origins were not well known, so Brown, an iPod-generation professor, thought a documentary on the topic might help. He was an amateur filmmaker himself, deft with a Camcorder, and figured he might try to make one on his own.

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The Shoah Torah Scam?

Washington Post article questions the legitimacy
of a prominent rabbi who claims he’s rescued
Holocaust-affected scrolls.

01/28/2010
Staff Writer

Two years ago, philanthropist David Rubenstein offered to buy a Torah scroll for Manhattan’s Central Synagogue. The story of the scroll was as impressive as the object itself: Rabbi Menachem Youlus, a Maryland Torah scribe and Jewish bookstore owner, said he had discovered the sefer Torah in a cemetery in Oswiecim, the Polish town the occupying Germans called Auschwitz.

The scroll was dedicated in a gala ceremony at Central Synagogue on Yom HaShoah 2008. On Rosh HaShanah that year, Rabbi Peter Rubinstein repeated the Torah’s story of survival.

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Taking Mussar Into Prisons

Special To The Jewish Week
01/16/2009
Mussar — ethical teachings originally developed in 19th-century Eastern Europe primarily by Rabbi Israel Yisrael Lipkin Salanter to help Jews integrate their daily behavior with Torah commandments and values — has recently come back into vogue. Jews across denominations, and in settings from synagogues to JCCs, have renewed studying these texts. Many people turn to mussar to help them address career frustrations, health setbacks, family difficulties — or simply learn how to deal better with others.

In Rambam’s Footsteps

12/08/2009
Born Uriah Rapoport in Minsk, my grandfather changed his last name to Harris when he immigrated to the United States in the late 1870s at the age of 9. I was told he stayed with the Harris family only for one night, but kept their name for the rest of his life. I have nothing against the name Harris, but “Rapoport” connects me to a past before my grandfather. I looked up the name. There were many distinguished Ashkenazi rabbis named “Rapoport” in Eastern Europe, even in Minsk. My great-grandfather was not one of them: he was in the lumber business.

Taking Mussar Into Prisons

Behind bars, many inmates find meaning in the traditional study of Jewish ethics.

01/16/2009
Special To The Jewish Week
Mussar — ethical teachings originally developed in 19th-century Eastern Europe primarily by Rabbi Israel Yisrael Lipkin Salanter to help Jews integrate their daily behavior with Torah commandments and values — has recently come back into vogue. Jews across denominations, and in settings from synagogues to JCCs, have renewed studying these texts. Many people turn to mussar to help them address career frustrations, health setbacks, family difficulties — or simply learn how to deal better with others.

The Thoroughly Modern Shtetl

06/07/2002
Staff Writer
Theodore Bikel says he identifies so closely with his stage role as Tevye the Milkman that he sometimes lapses into character. And, Bikel told an audience in New York this week, "people still approach me on the street to ask, 'How are things in Anatevka?' ": the fictional shtetl where "Fiddler on the Roof" is set.   

On The Road Again, In The Diaspora

10/03/2003
Staff Writer
In "A Jew is Not One Thing," a film at the end of The Jewish Museum's permanent exhibition, a group of American, Israeli and European Jews (a rabbi, an educator, a psychologist, artists, scholars and even day school students) comment on themes that have shaped the Jewish people.  

East of Auschwitz

In shifting the focus to the millions who died at the hands of mobile firing squads Yale historian Timothy Snyder puts the Holocaust in a broader context.

12/23/2009
Staff Writer

Every few years a poll comes out showing how little the general public knows about the Holocaust: in 2005, a poll found that only 40 percent of Canadians could correctly identify the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust, while one in six thought the number was less than a million. A BBC poll that year revealed that half of Britons had never even heard of Auschwitz.

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