Special Sections

The Sephardic World Preserved

05/02/2011 - 20:00

Close to one million Jews lived in an area stretching from Morocco to Iran as late as the middle of the twentieth century. Their sojourn in the Middle East dates back to ancient times. Many of these communities housed refugees expelled from Spain and Portugal in the fifteenth century, forming original cultures that blended indigenous and newer Iberian cultural elements. Over the course of the centuries, each community developed highly original indigenous civilizations while also sharing many cultural bonds with other Middle Eastern Jewries.

Travel document issued by the Government of Greece to David Matza. Ioannina, Greece, 1920 American Sephardi Federation

Revisiting the American Soviet Jewry Movement

05/02/2011 - 20:00

In scholarship, as in all matters of taste, fashion rules. Soon after the 1989 fall of Communism, to cite but one example, the formerly overstuffed field of “Sovietology” was emptied almost entirely.

Rally on Simhat Torah in support of the movement to free Soviet Jewry,  San Francisco, 1983. American Jewish Historical Society

Making Jewish Culture Come Alive

05/02/2011 - 20:00

 In a recurrent dream of mine through the 1980s, I approach the YIVO building in New York at the corner of 86th Street and Fifth Avenue—and find it reduced to a pile of rubble. The image of ruin came straight out of postwar footage of the former Jewish sections of Vilna and Warsaw, and the anxiety was almost certainly prompted by rumors that this citadel of Yiddish learning was about to be sold. I wondered what would happen to Yiddish culture without its “address” — a term used in Yiddish for a hub, a meeting place, the focal point of a movement or group.

Ov HoRachmon Sheet Music New York, ca. 1910 YIVO Institute for Jewish Research

Collecting History, Preserving Heritage

05/02/2011 - 20:00

 No culture saves everything. Time passes, timber burns, stone is eroded, documents are misplaced and memories become distorted and rendered unidentifiable.

All the more so for a people without a central political or religious authority; for a peripatetic people, like the Jews, without vaults that held treasures for millennia or longstanding archives. Who was there to gather the remnants of the past, to determine what must not be lost?

Editor’s Note

05/02/2011 - 20:00

 As the Center for Jewish History begins its second decade, it has placed a sign on a glass wall leading to its 10th anniversary exhibition highlighting 600 years of Jewish history; the sign, which overlooks the sculpture garden, invites its visitors to “look up.” From that vantage point one can suddenly glimpse the scale of the 12 stories of stacks and archives that tower over the research rooms and exhibit spaces of a Center that draws all streams of Jews seeking to learn about their past and thus their future.

Seth Lipsky is the Founding Editor of the New York Sun and the English-language Forward. The New Yo rk Sun Photo Archi ve

Center for Jewish History

A Decade of Distinction- A Special Advertorial Section
05/01/2011 - 20:00

Upon the 10th anniversary of its founding, the Center for Jewish History is proud to celebrate its success in joining together the collections of 5 distinguished Jewish cultural and archival organizations. Since opening to the public in October 2000, the Center has achieved recognition as a venue of unrivaled historical documentation and scholarship, imaginative exhibition of Judaic art and artifacts, and vital public dialogue.

Center for Jewish History - A Decade of Distinction Advertorial Section

Celebrate Showcase

Tradition never goes out of style.
 

A Different (Second) Night

How do you make the second seder distinctive? Readers offer a variety of suggestions.
Staff Writer
04/12/2011 - 20:00

You sit down at the seder table, start the holiday meal with Kiddush, then déjà vu hits you: didn’t we do this last night?

For many people, the second seder — Yom Tov Sheni Shel Galiuot, which takes place only in the diaspora — is a challenge. Going through the same readings and rituals seems repetitive. Those who already asked “why is this night different from all other nights?” strain to make the second seder different from the first.

passover_second_seder.gif

A Warsaw Ghetto Passover

‘I never missed a seder,’ says survivor who risked his life to join family at a seder in the doomed Jewish quarter.
Staff Writer
04/12/2011 - 20:00

Near the start of the seders I conduct, mostly in former communist countries, I usually cite, then refute, the statement by Ahad Ha’am, the early Zionist leader, that “More than Israel has kept the Sabbath, the Sabbath has kept Israel.”

The seder, I say, has preserved the Jewish people; most are not shomer Shabbat; most go to a seder, even it involves a sacrifice.

That’s not bull. It’s Bull.

Irving Milchberg, spent a memorable seder in the burning ruins in 1943. Ontario Jewish Archives

Parceling Out The Passover Story

Niche publishing comes to the Haggadah.
Staff Writer
04/12/2011 - 20:00

In a trend that has been growing in recent decades, the publishing industry – which has brought printing into everyone’s hands and allowed publishers to gear their products to particular segments of the market – now offers Haggadahs and related Pesach books that appeal on the whole, to specific parts of the Jewish community.

The Szyk Haggadah. (Abrams, 128 pages, $16.95)
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