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All in the family: The debate that ripped apart 18th-century Polish Jewry

Winter 1759. Some 2000 Jews – men, women, and children – gathered in the central square in front of Lvov, Poland’s cathedral. All but the wailing infants were mum. The frigid bone-penetrating cold was beginning to claim victims. The occasional sound of a body hitting the ground was heard. Elisha Shor – of the famous […]

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Berlin Syndrome: The Greatest Political Philosopher of the 20th Century

While Isaiah Berlin was on his deathbed, Oxford University dean Roy Jenkins asked if he wanted the traditional memorial service in London’s iconic Westminster Abbey afforded to the kingdom’s celebrated figures. Berlin barked, “Hell no. I’m gonna have it in the Hampstead Synagogue.” The British Isle’s best and brightest gathered in the Orthodox Hampstead Synagogue […]

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Master Rosenzweig: The extraordinary genius who rediscovered Judaism

During the second season of Israel’s “Master Chef,” contenders were asked to cook a meal for someone close to their heart. One of them, Emanuel Rosenzweig, dedicated his meal to his grandfather Franz Rosenzweig, the renowned philosopher whom he sadly never had the privilege to meet. The studio fell silent. The judges – whose menus […]

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Pride and Prejudice: The Story of Rabbi Israel of Salant’s Musar Movement

“Fart Proudly” (also titled “A Letter to a Royal Academy About Farting”, and in some cases “To the Royal Academy of Farting”) is an essay published in 1781 by Benjamin Franklin, who served as the American ambassador to France at the time, about the study of wind passing. Franklin published the essay as a response […]

Noticias en español

Sobre el Orgullo y Otras Virtudes: El Movimiento Musar y El Día del Juicio Expiatorio

Sobre el Orgullo y Otras Virtudes: El Movimiento Musar y El Día del Juicio Expiatorio “Fart Proudly” (“Tirarse un pedo orgullosamente”, también intitulado “Una carta a la Real Academia sobre el Pedo”, y en algunos casos “A la Real Academia del Pedo”), es un ensayo sobre el estudio del “viento humano”, publicado en 1781 por […]

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Deep Shtetel: Jewish elections 300 years ago

Cliché has it that Election Day is a holiday for democracy. It’s the political moment in which citizens use their mandate to shape the economic, judicial, cultural, educational future and other aspects of the society in which they live to reflect their wishes. Israel’s 71 years of democracy are just a blink of the eye […]

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How the abduction of a Jewish boy led to the founding of “Alliance”?

The Alliance school network has been considered for years an educational empire. More than a million students have graduated from its hundreds of schools in dozens of countries around the world, since its founding in 1860. Much has been written about Alliance’s educational message. Its leaders’ proficiency in integrating the old and the new, tradition […]

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Marcel Bloch Dassault: The Jewish engineer who conquered the sky

The possibility of imitating winged creatures has always sparked the French imagination. The Montgolfier brothers were the first to fly a human-carrying hot air balloon, and Louis Blériot was the first inventor-adventurer to complete an international flight – from France to Britain in July 1909. Several months after Blériot crossed the La Manche (English) Channel, […]

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The Selfish Gene: the Story of Rosalind Franklin 

In 1887, American-Jewish physicist Albert Abraham Michelson developed the interferometer, a remarkably precise system for measuring the speed of light rays. Two decades later, another Albert – Albert Einstein – used Michelson’s system to discover the theory of special relativity. It’s a fair bet that none of you have heard of Michelson. His portrait is unknown; his name has […]

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Glorious Bastards: Incredible Story of “The Ritchie Boys”

These European Jewish boys fled the Nazis to America, leaving parents, siblings, friends and the beloved continent that stabbed them in the back behind. They did not imagine in their wildest dreams that they would return to the scene of the crime as soldiers in the Allied Forces’ special corps. No, this is not a […]

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Einstein, Szilard, Hiroshima, Nagasaki: The letter that changed history

In 1926, Albert Einstein and his student Leo Szilard worked on the invention of a new refrigerator that did not rely on electricity or polluting gases. The new refrigerator did not catch on. But the sale of its patent to Swedish giant Electrolux earned Szilard the handsome sum that allowed him to devote his time […]

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No Entry for Ethics and Jews: The 81st Anniversary of the Conference of Shame

Like many Jews, Herschel Grynszpan and his uncle Abraham were glued to the radio on March 12, 1938 when Nazi militias marched into the streets of Vienna in what would come to be called the Anschluss, the Third Reich’s annexation of Austria. Herschel and his uncle listened with great trepidation to the Austrian chancellor’s obsequious […]

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Marcus-mobile: The Jewish genius who invented the car and was erased by the Nazis

Peugeot, Citroen, Ford, Honda, Ferrari, Bentley, Renault. Before these brands became megacorps employing hundreds of thousands, they were flesh-and-blood people. Armand, Andre, Henry, Soichiro, Enzo, Walter, and Louis – the visionary engineers, inventors, and industrialists who entered the Industrial Revolution’s pantheon – are etched in human memory as masters who changed our lives forever. And […]

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The Avenger: The Jewish watchmaker who killed a Ukrainian despot

“Behind me stand hundreds of thousands of saints, a camp full of tortured victims staring silently at you and demanding justice. Not mercy – only justice. I stand before you here with them, with all my heart and soul.” If those lines sound familiar to you, you have a healthy grasp of history.  These words […]

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The Name Is Levin, Alter Levin: A Poet, an Insurance Agent – but Mainly a Spy

Long before the Israeli Mossad became the best espionage organization in the world, Jewish spies in Israel stripped off and donned disguises, crossed enemy lines and brought back quality intelligence – intelligence that did not come under the heading of “the public’s right to know.” Among the most important, least well known and most forgotten […]

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Who Is a Jew? Depends on Who’s Ben-Gurion’s Asking

“The Land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people,” declared Israel’s first prime Minister David Ben-Gurion on the stage at Beit Dizengoff, 71 years ago today. To avoid desecrating the imminent Shabbat, he scheduled the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel for Friday afternoon, several hours before the cancellation of […]

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Slavery to freedom with a hijacked plane: Refuseniks’ Operation Wedding

In Jungian terms, Israel’s sweeping victory in 1967 symbolized an archetypal revolution of the common Jew. The archetypal passive, docile, and persecuted Diaspora “galut Jew” – whom Bialik slammed in his poem “City of Slaughter” in 1903 – morphed into that of the brave, heroic, flawless “Jewish soldier” who destroyed his mortal enemy in six […]

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Frankfurt school: The Jewish intellectuals who made the 60s

Shame. That word seems to best define what Orthodox Marxists felt after World War I. “How did the tweedy high-brow men who filled the salons of Berlin, Vienna, and London screw up our proletarian revolution?” they asked each other. Why was it a Russian nation comprised mainly of illiterate farmers that adopted the collectivist utopia […]

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Bibo King: The Jewish chief of a Native American tribe

Israel is awash in a wave of nostalgia. Hipsters model 60s styles in Tel Aviv. Khaki pants star in Fashion Week. And retro raves attract hundreds of victims of the Static and Ben-El era, who gather to trade stories about the First Gulf War to the strains of Queen songs. Foreign media notes that nostalgia […]

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The Sorrows of Young Walther: Weimar’s forgotten Jewish leader

We can venture a guess as to what Walther Rathenau had on his mind during the few moments he lived after extreme right-wing assassins riddled his upper body with bullets in his hometown of Berlin. Perhaps one of the early 20th century’s greatest statesmen thought: My lifelong conflict has finally been solved. I am finally […]

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Despite it all, a Funny Girl: The story of Jewish comic Fanny Brice

Itzig Stern did everything possible to hide his Jewishness. He took pains to lose his Yiddish accent, read only anti-Semitic papers, and underwent dozens of plastic surgeries to fix his beaked nose, doe-like eyes, meaty lips, and thick tongue. His efforts paid off when he married a German-Christian bride. But the charade was revealed when […]

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Ben-Gurion’s battle against bringing Jabotinsky’s bones to Israel

Use of Hitler’s accursed name to slam one’s adversaries is not the invention of poets. At least in this sense, Yitzhak Laor is in “good company.” One of the first to drop the German despot’s name for the sake of debasement is none other than Israel’s first prime minister David Ben-Gurion. A diplomatic genius with […]

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Last Jews on Earth: 400 Years of Living Underground

Hiroo Onoda was a high-rank intelligence officer in the Japanese army. Sent during World War II to the Lubang island in the Philippines, his orders were to do literally everything to prevent the enemy from invading the island. Should he failed, he’d better not return to Japan, they said. Hiroo Onoda had no intentions to defy […]

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The apothecary’s daughter who swept Romania’s King off his feet

The guide to “how an entitled man should behave” recommends – particularly in the #MeToo Era – that he refrain from publicly remarking that Jane Doe’s legs rouse his libido. That is to say, he can do it, but he has to also be prepared to eulogize his career. In the past, men of status […]

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Matza in Damascus: The Middle East’s Blood Libel

A bizarre phenomenon took place in Europe during the months of Spring. People claimed during that time of year that a significant number of people had disappeared from the face of the earth. Rigorous investigations – based mainly on the work of advanced medieval Identification and Forensic Science divisions – determined that those missing persons […]

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Fischer King: Geniuses and One Deranged Master in the Jewish Game of Kings

He was paranoid, provocative, racist and chauvinist. But most people forgave him all of it, because he was a singular genius with an IQ over 200 and the memory of a Google server farm. Bobby Fischer, World Chess Champion from 1972-1975, harbored neuroses that spilled over into his personal and public lives. As a teen, […]

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Political Zionism vs. Spiritual Zionism: The Ugly Battle

The match was about to start. In one corner of the ring, a skinny Jew with a goatee, round glasses on his nose, and a deep penetrating stare. In the other corner, an imposing looking man wearing a modern top hat and a thick beard from which only a pair of black piercing eyes could […]

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Holy Nacht: When Jesus Paid a Visit to Bnei Brak on Christmas Eve

There is a Talmudic Agada about Moses, who traveled forward in time and landed in Rabbi Akiva’s Beth Midrash. He sat in the eighth row and listened to Rabbi Akiva splitting hairs over every verse – or as the story puts it: “(Rabbi Akiva) is destined to derive from each and every thorn of these […]

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Uriel da Costa: the Story of a Nonbeliever

A quote that religious Jews in Israel enjoy hurling in heated arguments with secular Jews is that of the founder of the Hashomer Hatzair Movement and spiritual leader of the kibbutz movement, MK Yaakov Hazan: “We wanted to raise a generation of apikorsim [non-observant Jews], but instead raised a generation of amei haaretz  [unlearned Jews].” This […]

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Liberté, Egalité – Yes, Fraternité – No: The Philosopher Who Challenged the Socialist Model

Two contradictory ideologies dealing with distributive justice were dominant in modern history: the model of the Socialist State, that strive to expand government’s power and interference in the lives of citizens, and the opposite model of the Liberal State, that focused on individual rights and wished to limit governmental interference in private lives. In a […]

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Two Hanukkah Narratives – Choose Yours

In the early 1930’s, an unknown young Jewish lyricist called Aharon Ze’ev published the poem “We are carrying torches” – Anu Nos’im Lapidim, which became popular overnight among Zionist sing along lovers. It was a one-liner essence of all Zionist core ideas: No miracle happened for us / No cruise of oil did we find […]

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The Patria Disaster: Forgotten Zionist Mass Tragedy

November 25, 1940, 9 am. The illegal immigration ship “Patria” is docking in Haifa port. Suddenly, a loud blast rips the side of the ship. Huge amounts of water flood the ship and within minutes the old ocean liner, carrying 2,000 passengers, starts to sink. Chaos and panic all around, old people slip and fall […]

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The Mysterious Childhood of King David

You can tell a lot about religions by their archetypal protagonist. Generally speaking, Christianity is fond of pure, untarnished guys, those who turn their other cheek. The Muslims adore men who sacrifice their lives to reach paradise, whereas the Buddhists respect he who can live an entire life doing one thing – avoiding. Avoiding over […]

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Black Hole: When the Worst Holocaust-Denier was Defeated

If we had to choose a date for “The Memorial Holocaust Denial Day”, it must be November 11. On this day in 2005 the historian David Irving, considered the greatest Holocaust deniers in the world, was arrested. This dubious title Irving owes to Deborah Lipstadt, a Jewish Professor from Emory University in Georgia. Lipstadt came from […]

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Menasseh Ben Israel and the Return of the Jews to England

Hear this out: Hitler wasn’t just a diabolic psychopath, but also a wretched plagiarizer of symbols and ideas. The yellow badge, for example, was borrowed from another Jew hater, who lived centuries before the Nazis came to power in Germany: Edward I King of England (1239-1309). Old Ed hated and loathed the Jews so much, […]

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Queen of the Desert: The Amazing Story of “Jewish Khaleesi”

A ruthless steadfast warrior, as well as a merciful leader who liberated thousands of slaves – this was Dihya al Kahina, a Jewish Berber Northern African woman. The Jewish Khaleesi, if you will, but unfortunately, not nearly as famous as that the Game of Thrones fictional character. Dihya al Kahina lived in Northern Africa at the end of the […]

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Who Was “the Other”? The Wise Sage Who Became the Greatest Heretic

Try to picture this: Shabbat morning, a synagogue in Bnei Brak, and the late rabbi Elazar Shach delivers his sermon to his listeners, in sheer atmosphere of silence and holy awe. Then suddenly, a loud defying horn sound from a nearby sport car is heard just outside the synagogue. Now which scene is more likely […]

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Rosh Hashanah: The Politics and Theology Behind Jewish Time

He who has control over time, has control over agendas. Therefore, it is not surprising that the greatest revolutions in history always sought an opportunity to change or replace the calendar in use: the leaders of the French revolution replaced the Gregorian calendar with a new one, in which each month had three weeks, ten […]

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Sacred Orgies: the Extremist Sabbatean Sect of Jacob Frank

Surely, some concepts delivered by Judaism hit Jews back like a boomerang: God; the atom bomb; summer vacation, to name just a few, and also, the sociological concept of the excommunication. Such sanctions weren’t invented by the BDS movement, who simply adopted an old Jewish concept and used it against the Jews. The origin of the […]

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The 1901 Case: How Herzl Tried to Bribe the Sultan

The kind of bribe a leader receives or offers can reveal a lot on his set of values. Think, for example, about the elephant granted by Sultan Harun Al Rashid to Charles the Great, or the shoes that “Norman” the hustler bought for Prime Minister Micha Eshel in Yossef Cedar’s film, or the cash packed envelopes […]

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Jews and Occupation: How One Hand-Fan Started French Colonialism

Anti-Semites, the people who brought us The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and the belief that any evil is caused by Jewish fortune, would probably rejoice at knowing that while the English branch of the Rothschild family funded the English wars against Napoleon in early 19th century, two wealthy Jewish families from Algeria supported Napoleon […]

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The Jewish Blast of Journalism in Hungary

“If journalism aims to serve the public, it must strive for as large circulation as possible. And the reason is simple – larger circulation means more publicity, which means more money, which means optimal journalistic freedom” – said Joseph Pulitzer, the Jewish journalism magnate who immigrated to America in the 19th century and was one […]

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The Fearless, Politically Incorrect Lenny Bruce

Miki and Sally Schneider’s only son was born in Long Island in 1925. He was circumcised when he was 8 days old, and named Leonard Alfred, or “Lenny”. Little did his parents know then, that this baby was about to smash the idols of his time and announce a new religion: counter-culture. “Lenny Bruce was […]

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The Great Speeches: Menachem Begin’s Civil War Threat

What makes a great speech? A great speech confronts two universal values with one another and forms an unsolvable conflict. Such was the steering speech by Elazar ben Yair, which led to mass suicide on the Masada. A great speech can be addressed in a seemingly insignificant occasion, and still enter indifferent hearts, like Elie […]

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The Jewish Mother: From “A Yiddishe Momme” to Philip Roth

A short while after losing her beloved mother in 1928, the Jewish-American singer Sophie Tucker recorded the song “A Yiddishe Momme” which made her famous. Every time she performed the song the used to tell the audience about her late mother, “a woman with a pure Jewish heart, with eyes reflecting endless devotion”. The song […]

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Green Park: The Most Famous Jewish Hotel in England

Green Park hotel was standing upon four things: tradition, religion, family, and food – as declared in the opening scene of Marsha Lee’s award winning film about the most famous Jewish hotel in England. The story of Green Park reflects the story of the entire Jewry of England. First, mass immigration due to pogroms in […]

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Ruth The Moabite: The Foreigner Who Taught Us Compassion

If Ruth was living among us today, how would we categorize her? An illegal immigrant? A refugee? An infiltrator? A work seeker? If Ruth was living among us today, she probably would not be considered “Jewish” enough to be converted by the chief rabbinate, nor “Israeli” enough to represent Israel in the Eurovision song contest. […]

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Medieval Tycoons: The Amazing Story of the Radhanites

On January 30, 1939 Adolf Hitler addressed a historical speech, in which he announced publicly for the first time his intention to exterminate the entire Jewish people. In his address he mentioned several times “the world Jewish capital” as the source of all humanity’s evil. Many researchers asserted that Hitler’s pathological hatred of the chosen […]

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Who’s A Real Hero? An Historic Glimpse on Simon Bar Kokhba

Every Israeli child knows these lines by heart: “He (Bar Kokhba) was a hero, he struggled for freedom, the whole nation loved him. Hero!”. Written by Levin Kipnis in 1930, this children song depicts Bar Kokhba as a Jewish version of Che Guevara – tall, handsome, riding a roaring lion, wasting Romans in one hand, […]

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The Story of the Yekkes – Jewish Germans in the Land of Israel

After the Nazis came to power in Germany 1933, some half a million German Jews were gradually leaving Germany. The vast majority of those descendants of Ashkenazi communities, who lived along the Rhine since the ninth century fled to America and Great Britain, while a small 10% chose to immigrate eastwards to the Land of […]

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Big Ben: The Hollywood Screenwriter Who fought the Code of Silence

It was a cold night in January of 1943. Two friends were walking in the fifth avenue in New York. Children were making snow men on the sidewalks and the showcases still had remains of bright neon lights decoration from New Year’s Eve celebrations. Then the two men sat on a bench under a street […]

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Bloody Matsot? Passover, Blood Libels and Kidush Ha-Shem

As Prof. Israel Yuval was standing with his three daughters at the bottom of the deep cistern under the famous basilica in the German town of Trier, he felt it was a life changing moment for him. 900 years beforehand, at that very spot, Jewish parents were willing to throw their children into the pit […]

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Osnat Barazani – The Brilliant Woman Who Headed a Yeshiva

It is safe enough to state that humanity is progressing, even without delving into philosophers such as Hegel. True – slavery still exists, classes still count, women and minorities are still being discriminated – but not as much as they used to. In a long perspective, human history is indeed moving forward. On the other […]

Noticias en español

El traductor judío de Colón en su viaje al Nuevo Mundo

¿Será que el estereotipo antisemita sobre los judíos, que son un factor contaminante se originó en relación al intérprete judío Luis de Torres, quien es en gran parte el responsable por la llegada de los primeros cigarros a Europa? No, no tiene nada que ver. Los antisemitas modernos les atribuían a los judíos la culpa […]

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Samuel Pallache – The Famous Jewish Pirate

Back in the 16th century, “explorer” and “traffic” certainly did not mean what they mean today. These two concepts actually used to mean physical motion through lands and seas. Those were the days of the flourishing seamanship industry, in which some of the sharpest minds of that period were involved. The leading “startup nation” of […]

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The Jewish Tunisian Girl Who Became the Legendary Habiba Msika

What triggered the butterfly effect 50 years before Habiba Msika became the most famous Jewish Tunisian woman in the world, was in fact not a butterfly, but bacteria – the tuberculosis that entered the body of a poor little baby named Edgardo Mortara, born in 1851 to a Jewish family in Bologna, Italy. His Christian […]

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Beit Hatfutsot 40th Anniversary – Our Building is an Architectural Icon

“Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months” (Oscar Wilde) In this postmodern era of ours, when the concept of “truth” is undermined every single minute and dissected into numberless narratives, the building of Beit Hatfutsot is here, maliciously annoying all relativists. For five decades it […]

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Star of David: Birth of a Symbol – Legends vs. Facts

In April 1959, the chamber of the Arab League Boycott of Israel submitted a demand that the Swiss watch company Ardath remove the Star of David from their logo, as it was an ancient Jewish emblem. A short while after, the Maariv newspaper delegate,  Yosef  “Tommy” Lapid  Z”L, published an item about the British tea […]

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Himmler’s Healer – the Story of Felix Kersten

Oscar Schindler used his enamelware factory as a cover in order to save Jews; Jan and Antonina Żabiński used the zoo they were running for this very same purpose; and Jaap Penraat from Holland used to smuggle Jews dressed as construction workers. All of them justly received the Righteous Among the Nations honorific from the state […]

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Forgotten Torch: The Untold Story of the Jewish Resistance in Algeria

26,000 Jews were living in Algeria in 1830, when France invaded Algeria and made it a French colony for 130 years. The Jews of Algeria enjoyed freedom and equality thanks to Adolphe Crémieux, who was minister of justice in the second French republic and gave the Jews full equal rights in 1870. The Crémieux decree […]

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Once a Prodigy, always an Outsider: The Amazing Story of Salomon Maimon

In a new Israeli Reality Show “Married at First Sight”, couples meet for the first time at their wedding. 250 years ago, this format was an acceptable practice, having quite the same motives – mostly financial ones. Our tragic hero had such an experience. Salomon Ben Yehoshua was born in 1753 in the town of […]

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A Miserable Hanukkah in Paducah – Ulysses S. Grant’s General Order no. 11

Hanukah eve, 25 Kislev 5623 – 1862. A heavy snow blister was raging outside, while the town’s Jews gathered in their homes, around the Hanukia. Scents of fried latkes filled the warm living rooms, dreidels were spinning, blessings were sung. Suddenly, strong bangs on the door and loud calls were yelled: “Jews Out!”. Copies of […]

Noticias en español

El Viaje Maravilloso De Keter Aram Tzuva, Desde Alepo A Jerusalén

Traducción al español: Kalman Gabay Esta es la maravillosa historia del manuscrito más antiguo de la Biblia, el diamante de la corona. Como corresponde a quien refleja en sus páginas la epopeya bíblica plena de drama y misterio, su historia también está compuesta de innumerables tramas y giros sorprendentes. La Festividad de Simjat Torá nos […]

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70TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE U.N. VOTE IN FAVOR OF THE PARTITION PLAN: THE UNTOLD STORY

The Jewish People are characterized by dualities: exile and redemption; slavery and liberty; Holocaust and revival; calamity and heroism; restraint and uprising; Memorial Day and Independence Day. This duality was, in fact, the historical backdrop behind the United Nations’ final vote in favor of the Partition Plan for Palestine on November 29, 1947 in the […]

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SCHUND LITERATURE: THE YIDDISH PULP FICTION

The renowned author Shalom Aleichem thought Schund was trash literature and called for casting it entirely out; the critic Simeon Dubnow claimed that Schund characters are all flat and cheesy; and I.L. Peretz, the founding father of Yiddish literature loathed it altogether. But the more the refined intellectuals scorned upon Schund, the more young authors such as […]

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“HINENI” – when Leonard Cohen and Martin Buber Met in Heaven

“You want it darker” was Leonard Cohen’s last album, released shortly before the great musician’s death. The album’s theme song is “Hineni” in which Cohen added extracts from the Kaddish prayer. In the dramatic peak he cries: “I’m ready my lord. Hineni! Hineni!” He passed away 17 days later, on November 7, 2016, at 82. […]

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The Great Speeches: “The Perils of Indifference”, Elie Wiesel

“Fifty-four years ago to the day, a young Jewish boy from a small town in the Carpathian Mountains woke up, not far from Goethe’s beloved Weimar, in a place of eternal infamy called Buchenwald.” These were the opening words of “The Perils of Indifference” by Elie Wiesel – a holocaust survivor, author, philosopher and intellectual. […]

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The Myth of the Vampire Jew and Blood Libels

“For hours the black-haired Jew boy, diabolic joy in his face, waits in ambush for the unsuspecting girl whom he defiles with his blood and thus robs her from her people … The end is not only the end of the freedom of the peoples oppressed by the Jew, but also the end of this parasite […]