The story of Esther, who courageously foiled a plot to exterminate the Jews of ancient Persia (modern-day Iran), is the keystone of the Purim tradition and Iranian Jews have always strongly identified with that singular Jewish heroine. Even today, Iran’s remaining 25,000 Jews go to pray at the tomb of Esther and Mordechai ‒ yes, there is such a place ‒ and the Jewish queen is remembered on a daily basis through amulets seeking her protection and beautifully illustrated renderings of the megillah (scroll) telling her story. No surprise that modern Iranian Jews are occasionally referred to as Esther’s children.
Don’t go to this exhibition in a hurry; and don’t go with children; but if you have the slightest interest in mathematics or Jewish history of the twentieth century, then go. Seeing “Transcending Tradition: Jewish Mathematicians in German-Speaking Academic Culture” at the Center for Jewish History is like reading a short illustrated book mounted on plywood, but your patience will be rewarded. Where does the interest lie for the non-mathematician? In the characters of the people whose histories it tells; and for the glimpses of people at work on fundamental problems.
With the almost invisible strings of Fort Washington’s eruv stretching from pole to pole above us, we followed Rabbi Adam Mintz and Brother John Glasenapp, OSB up the hill where we found welcome refuge from Manhattan’s May heat inside the medieval walls of The Cloisters. An unlikely tag team, the rabbi and the monk were leading a group of 25 on a two hour walk and discussion sponsored by Yeshiva University Museum and The Cloisters museum to tease out the public/private nature of the eruv and Cloister, and how they create religious structures and community.
An exhibit at the Yeshiva University Museum, “It’s a Thin Line,” describes the history of the eruv and its evolution both nationally and across the globe, but it is the story of the Manhattan eruv, established in 1907 -- and a source of controversy since its inception -- which makes up the core of the exhibit.