Jewish history

Why Scientists Are Fighting About The Origins Of Yiddish – And The Jews

05/26/2016 - 11:30

Science has finally provided evidence of what Jewish “Star Wars” fans long suspected: Yoda is a member of the tribe — or at least he speaks like one.

The “Star Wars” character Yoda’s uncommon grammar is used by a geneticist to explain his theory on the origins of Yiddish. JTA

The Imperative of Empathy

04/28/2016 - 11:23

Every year, as Passover arrives and I review the Haggadah in advance of yet another set of Seders, I struggle with the true significance of this holiday. This year was no different… just more so.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

Dustin Hoffman Breaks Down On ‘Finding Your Roots’ After Discovering His Jewish history

03/10/2016 - 17:07

Dustin Hoffman didn’t know the names of his paternal grandparents when he appeared Tuesday on the PBS show “Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates.”

Dustin Hoffman on the PBS show “Finding Your Roots,” March 8, 2016. JTA

The Lost Cause, Jewishly

As Confederate flags come down, remembering a forgotten history.

07/14/2015 - 20:00
Associate Editor

In this season of Tisha b’Av, remembering our Temple and kingdom destroyed for our sins, the humbled Jewish heart contemplates the Confederacy, also destroyed for its sins. Were there ever two nations less inclined to accept defeat, convinced we will “rise again?” And though few Jews think of the Confederacy as “we,” we were there. Even the Confederate flag, today more embattled than at any time since last carried by the Army of Northern Virginia, has something Jewish about it.

The pained yet powerful Confederate leader Judah Benjamin.  Wikimedia Commons

How The Blood Libel Began

07/06/2015 - 20:00
Special to The Jewish Week

The summer solstice has passed, and with it that anomaly of the season: just as summer begins, the days start getting shorter, hinting of the fall ahead. I’m always sad to see the summer days waning just when I want them to stretch out forever. And now, in July, at the height of sunshine and cheer comes the next blow. In a brief few weeks we will commemorate the saddest day on the Jewish calendar — Tisha b’Av (July 26). It is a day of disasters, marking not only the destruction of the first and second temples in Jerusalem and the exile of the Jewish people from their homeland, but also other catastrophes of Jewish history.

Francine Klagsbrun

Nailing It Down

Getting a manicure, complete with a Jewish history lesson.

09/30/2014 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Before every major holiday, I indulge in a special manicure featuring Jewish-themed nail decals with my son’s girlfriend Vivyan. For Chanukah, the tiny blue dreidels spin with every wave of our hands. On Passover, the plagues are upon us — hail on our thumbs, shank bones on our pinkies. Even though I never intended a manicure to be anything other than a manicure, this fun tradition has also unexpectedly become a painless opportunity to explain Jewish customs and history to Vivyan, a Buddhist Vietnamese-American.

Angela Himsel

New YIVO Project Digitizes Pre-War Archive

09/30/2014 - 20:00
Staff Writer

Imagine 1,000 years of Jewish history at your fingertips.

The YIVO Institute for Jewish research is digitizing some 1.5 million documents in its collection. Getty Images

Tiger Mom Brings Jews Into The Fold

But sociologists say ‘Triple Package’ argument ignores real reasons for Jewish success.

02/11/2014 - 19:00
Staff Writer

Stuyvesant High School, that bastion of hyper-competitiveness that regularly sends students off to Harvard and Yale, is thought by many to be the best public high school in New York City. The most recent student-body figures show that nearly three out of four students there are Asian.

Jed Rubenfeld and Amy Chua. (L) Fadil Berisha, (R) Gianluca Battista

An Arresting Development In Jerusalem

10/15/2013 - 20:00

The “crime” of praying as a Jew has a long, and dishonored place, in Jewish history.

Move Over Mendelssohn: Why Everything You Know About the Jewish Enlightenment Is Wrong

Ask anyone about the Jewish Enlightenment, or Haskalah, and the first person they’ll likely mention is Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786).  Few would disagree that Mendelssohn played a key role in the Haskalah’s earliest stages, attempting as he did to modernize Judaism in 18th century Germany and bring it in line with the broader intellectual trend of his time—that is, the Enlightenment, or what historians often call the Age of Reason.

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