history

Carlo Ginzburg On Jewish Identity

Italian historian Carlo Ginzburg held a packed audience spellbound last Monday at the New York Public Library where he gave the Joy Gottesman Ungerleider lecture. Ginzburg, whom the New York Times has called “the preeminent Italian historian of his generation,” is best known for his pioneering work in microhistory, the study of finely delimited times and events. He turned that evening to his own microhistory with a talk entitled “Being Jewish, Becoming Jewish.”

Carlo Ginzburg, courtesy of the New York Public Library

Jason Guberman-Pfeffer, Illuminating Mizrachi history

Staff Writer
05/22/2012

Jason Guberman-Pfeffer, 24

Twitter: @DiarnaProject
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So why’s an Ashkenazi boy making the reclamation of Mizrachi history his life’s mission?

Jason Guberman-Pfeffer, 24, gets asked that question a lot. His great-grandfather was a survivor of the infamous Kishinev pogrom; his namesake was a Litvak.

Jason Guberman-Pfeffer

The Death of the Father: How Did Benzion Netanyahu Influence His Son?

How will the death of Benzion Netanyahu, the father of Israel’s prime minister who died in Jerusalem on Monday, at 102, affect his powerful son?  I don’t have a clue, though some, like Jeffrey Goldberg, have posited that it might—might—make the prime minister a little bit more willing to compromise with Israel's Arab neighbors.  Rather than play Nostr

Bibi Netanyahu: On History and Its Abuse

All eyes were on Bibi Netanyahu yesterday as he delivered his AIPAC speech.  At times he was disarming, at others bellicose, both emphasizing that Obama has Israel’s back, but that if need be, Israel would go it alone.  “The purpose of the Jewish state is to secure the Jewish future,” he thundered. “That is why Israel must always have the ability to defend itself, by itself, against any threat.”

How Bad Was the Inquistion? What Adam Gopnik Gets Right--and Wrong--about Our Jewish Nightmare

[Update: The book discussed in this blog, "God's Jury: The Inquisition and the Making of the Modern World," by Cullen Murphy, gets a nice review in today's New York Times. Check it out here.]

The Military and Me: Or, How Jews Changed the Army and the Civil War

I recently started reading Eric Foner’s “The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery,” which won a Pulitzer this year.  It’s a subtle yet fast-moving narrative about Lincoln’s evolution from a man merely averse to slavery to the one who would abolish the institution forever in America. Slavery in America is inexhaustible topic for historians, but a subject harder to come by is Jews in America, at least before the late 19th century.

Dead Sea Scrolls: From Qumran Caves to Museums to the Web

After the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in a cave in Qumran in the winter of 1946–47 by Muhammed edh-Dhib, a Bedouin boy, and his cousin, it still took two decades until they were placed on display in a museum.

The Dead Sea Scrolls are now online thanks to Google

Death, and "Fiddler of the Roof"

My story this week is about the scholars who are pushing hard against myths about the shtetl, especially the kind peddled by "Fiddler on the Roof."  

As it happens, the composer of that Tony-winning classic died yesterday: Jerry Bock, at 81.  Eerily, the writer of the musical's book, Joseph Stein, died ten days before.  They both will be missed, deeply.

Another Kiefer Controversy?

The Gagosian Gallery in Chelsea will open its Anselm Kiefer exhibit, "Next Year in Jerusalem," this week.

I can't wait.

Kiefer has been courted controversy ever since he established himself in the '60s, taking pictures of himself doing the Nazi salute. As a non-Jewish German born the year the war ended, in 1945, there was always a layer of suspicion added to any explanation he gave.  But he always gave one, maybe frustratingly plain to some, but never coy.

Kosher Couscous: Or, How Paris Got Its Jews Back

The publishing trend of telling history through food may be approaching its end. In any event, Mark Kurlansky pretty much has the genre cornered, telling history through oysters, cod and salt.

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