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One Joke Too Far: the Real Story of Hershele

There are so many Jewish jokes and tales out there, with hardly anything to do with real events or people. Take for example the case of the wise men of Chelm: though Chelm is an actual city, it had a perfectly normal population of both wise and stupid. No one really knows why Chelm entered […]

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Forget the Troubles and Laugh – 30 years of Dzigan and Schumacher

The comedy duo Dzigan and Schumacher was for three decades the most successful pair on the Jewish-Yiddish stage, more than any other comedian or ensemble. Their story is also the story of Jewish entertainment, and also the historical story of the Jewish people in the 20th century. Their repertoire included dozens of acts in Yiddish, and a […]

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Maimonides and the Jews of Yemen – Hand in Hand for Eight Centuries

The middle of the 12th century was quite a dramatic era for the Jews of Yemen. The Fatimid Caliphate who ruled over Yemen for long time were losing territories to a religious charismatic preacher called Ali Ibn Mahdi, whose name means in Islam the Messiah, redeemer, savior. Indeed Ali referred to himself as the savior […]

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Nazi Germany and the Farhud in Iraq

The most traumatic event in the collective memory of Iraqi Jews — the Farhud — took place during Shavuot 1941. During these violent riots in Baghdad thousands were raped and/or wounded, Jewish shops and synagogues were plundered and destroyed, and a staggering 180 people were brutally murdered. This unprecedented attack on the theretofore flourishing, peaceful […]

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The Story of Bertha Pappenheim – Anna O

It is well known that Sigmund Freud was Jewish, as were many of his successors. But the first psychoanalysis patient ever was also Jewish – she was a Viennese young woman called Bertha Pappenheim, referred to as Anna O in the book about her case. Who was Anna/Bertha, and what was so special about her life […]

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Joseph Trumpeldor’s Amazing Days of Glory in Japanese Captivity

“It is good to die for our country” is undoubtedly one of the most famous quotes in Israeli collective ethos, referred to Joseph Trumpeldor before dying from his wounds in the battle of Tel Hai in 1920. At that point Trumpeldor was already a famous hero, mainly for his glorious actions in the Jewish Legion […]