Browsing Archive

March, 2014


The Dyke and the Dybbuk

By On March 31, 2014

It’s not easy being a dybbuk. Jewish tradition holds that dybbuks are demons who drive people crazy, but what happens when the Head Office assigns a dybbuk to haunt someone who’s already pretty nuts? In… Read More


Is Chutzpah Dead?

By On March 28, 2014

When Jewish diners complete their annual tradition of eating Chinese food on Christmas, their fortunate cookies exhort them to learn Chinese. The Chinese, it seems, have also been learning Yiddish. We already know that Chinese… Read More


The 1930s Lesbian Boarding School Flick Banned by the Nazis

By On March 27, 2014

Quick, a riddle: Who wouldn’t love a lesbian boarding school story? Answer: Nazis. Believe it or not, the first widely-released film featuring a lesbian plot came out in Germany just as Hitler was rising… Read More


Politics, Protest, and Klezmer in Ukraine’s Freedom Square

By On March 26, 2014

  What does Kiev’s Maidan Nezalezhnosti, also known as Freedom Square, sound like? There’s of course plenty of chanting, talking, and arguing. And thanks Kiev’s Pushkin Klezmer Band, there’s also traditional Jewish music. Ukrainian… Read More


The Jew Who Taught the Mormons Hebrew

By On March 25, 2014

Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon Church, wanted to learn Hebrew. In 1835 he set up the School for the Elders where Mormon men were taught grammar, writing, and history. But not long… Read More


The Bathtub Carp that Inspired the Architect

By On March 24, 2014

Inspiration can come from the strangest places. Famed architect Frank Gehry once explained how fish became such a popular motif in his work. Like many good Jews, Gehry, née‎ Goldberg, traced his fascination with… Read More


How Minnesota’s Goyish Governor Passed for Jewish

By On March 21, 2014

Could there be a more goyishe name than Floyd Bjørnstjerne Olson? Believe it or not, the 22nd governor of Minnesota, born of Scandinavian parents, was so steeped in Yiddishkeit that he often passed for Jewish.… Read More


Why this Houseplant is Called the Wandering Jew

By On March 20, 2014

Have you watered your Wandering Jew? As you may know, the popular spiderwort (tradescantia) is a convenient and flexible houseplant—it can be planted in soil or set to hang in a pot,… Read More


Not Your Grandmother’s Shtetl

By On March 19, 2014

Pogroms. Fiddlers. Poverty. Coziness. Tradition! Are those the words that come to mind when you hear “shtetl?” Rutgers-based historian Jeffrey Shandler’s recently-published volume will shed some light on why these images spring to… Read More


How the West Was Won (By Jews)

By On March 18, 2014

Typically, when we think of Jews in California, what comes to mind, for better or for worse, are the showbiz types. But a new film points our attention about 400 miles up the Pacific coast,… Read More


The Little Prince’s Jewish BFF

By On March 17, 2014

It’s probably a bit surprising that The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s beloved 1943 children’s book, is dedicated to an adult. Even more surprising is that that adult, Léon Werth, was a Jewish anarchist and leftist Bolshevik supporter.… Read More

Latkes Versus Hamantaschen

The Ultimate Jewish Question: Latkes or Hamantaschen?

By On March 14, 2014

As we approach the holiday of noshing hamantaschen, scholars will once again take on a pressing argument. Which is superior: the latke or the hamantasch? Is such a quibble worthy of any high-minded… Read More