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Feathers worth more than diamonds

For forty years around the turn of the 20th century, ostrich plumes were the height of fashion, and a major industry: at its peak, ostrich feathers were, ounce-for-ounce, nearly as valuable as diamonds, so much so that £20,000 of feathers went down with the Titanic. The market for feathers was, in large part, run by Jews: Sephardi Jews exported feathers, Jews in London and New York traded them, and Eastern European Jews left Russia and Lithuania in the thousands to farm feathers, flocking to Oudtshoorn "The Jerusalem of Africa." In 1914, the boom ended, leaving many destitute and leading to anti-semitic backlashes. A brief but entertaining history of the feather trade can be read in this PDF excerpt. Some of the beautiful "Feather Palaces" of Oudtshoorn still survive, as does a small Jewish community and some vintage fashion.
posted by blahblahblah on Apr 8, 2014 - 10 comments

I assure you, the death notice I'm looking for will be on the front page

Quite unlike many similar Wikipedia entries, the Russian Jokes, Russian Political Jokes and Jewish humor articles are treasure troves of actual jokes and anekdoty.
posted by griphus on Mar 7, 2014 - 33 comments

Jewish-Muslim unity

10 images of Jewish-Muslim unity that go beyond the headlines.
posted by Wordwoman on Feb 17, 2014 - 12 comments

conspiracy of kindness

A Japanese Holocaust rescuer, it is estimated that Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese diplomat who served as Vice-Consul for the Empire of Japan in Lithuania in WWII, facilitated the escape of more than 6,000 Jewish refugees to Japanese territory, risking his career and his family's lives. The profoundly moving story is now on YouTube: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6. [more inside]
posted by nickyskye on Jan 4, 2014 - 9 comments

במבי

Bambi's Jewish Roots [more inside]
posted by overeducated_alligator on Dec 4, 2013 - 17 comments

"family, nationhood, verbal imperative, and accountability"

"Trading Faith for Wonder: On Judaism's Literary Legacy". The LARB reviews Jews And Words, by Amos Oz and Fania Oz-Salzberger. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on May 29, 2013 - 6 comments

"I am always the last person to eat."

David Arenberg on being the only Jewish inmate in a state prison.
posted by reenum on May 1, 2013 - 49 comments

Yiddish Theatre in London

In this virtual exhibition you can find out more about the people, buildings and plays that made Yiddish theatre in London so special, as well as explore the unique collection of Yiddish theatre photographs, documents and objects held at the Jewish Museum London.
posted by Deathalicious on Apr 5, 2013 - 6 comments

Oy Vey, Christian Soldiers

Maud Newton, who grew up as a Charismatic Christian in a heavily Jewish community, asks: What could be wrong with Bible-believing evangelicals giving their son a bar mitzvah? [slnyt, mostly] [more inside]
posted by Westringia F. on Mar 24, 2013 - 112 comments

The Mazel of the Irish

"[The Loyal Yiddish Sons of Erin]'s biggest event was the annual Erev St. Patrick's Day Banquet. It was a formal gala at the Americana Hotel, complete with a big band, kosher corned beef and green bagels." American-Irish-Jews still celebrate St. Patrick's Day: “It’s an American-Irish holiday, surely not Jewish. It has nothing to do with Jewish people. But I’m Irish, and I have a feeling for it.” [more inside]
posted by ChuraChura on Mar 17, 2013 - 36 comments

The Shuls with Sandy Floors

There are only five functioning Jewish synagogues with sand floors in the world, and four of them are in the Caribbean. How has the tradition been maintained for hundreds of years? [more inside]
posted by zarq on Feb 26, 2013 - 5 comments

X-Mensch

Magneto the Jew
posted by Artw on Jan 29, 2013 - 60 comments

Beate Sirota Gordon, 1923-2012; "The Only Woman In The Room"

Beate Sirota Gordon, Long-Unsung Heroine of Japanese Women’s Rights, Dies at 89: a NYT obituary relates the fascinating story of a young woman who was just the right person in just the right place at just the right time and managed to strike a blow for gender equality. [more inside]
posted by flex on Jan 4, 2013 - 20 comments

Latkes

Hanukkah draws nigh and that means latkes. [The oil in which the potato pancake is cooked symbolizes the miraculously long-burning fuel that lit the Second Temple.] Bubala Please shows you how to keep it real. [more inside]
posted by Egg Shen on Dec 2, 2012 - 75 comments

"Warning: May cause Pastrami On Rye cravings"

Deli Man Trailer on Vimeo. In 1931, there were 1,550 kosher delis in NYC. Today: 150 Jewish delis in all of North America [more inside]
posted by growabrain on Nov 28, 2012 - 28 comments

"May you be reunited in the world to come with your ancestors, who were all socialist garment workers."

Yiddish Curses for Republican Jews (Single-link Jewish Humor)
posted by neroli on Aug 23, 2012 - 33 comments

A Queer and Pleasant Danger

Gender outlaw Kate Bornstein has written a memoir about her years in the Church of Scientology.
posted by Wordwoman on Jul 16, 2012 - 20 comments

Religion is based on the idea that God is an imbecile.

I talked with Chomsky about his upbringing in a Jewish home in Philadelphia by Cultural Zionist parents who devoted their lives to the revival of Hebrew language and culture, and about some of the strange bedfellows that he has acquired in five decades of impassioned crusading. I left his office with a sense of a specifically Jewish Chomsky that in three decades of engagement with his political writing, his academic work, and a few dozen of his radio appearances had never really struck me before, and now seems obvious and unavoidable.
posted by latkes on Jun 13, 2012 - 31 comments

Gertrude Berg

Winner of the first Emmy Award for Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, winner of a Tony Award in 1959, a pioneer for women as writers and producers in radio and television, and the inventor of the situation comedy, Gertrude Berg is - in the words of her film biographer Aviva Kempner - "the most important woman in America you never heard of". [more inside]
posted by Trurl on Jun 3, 2012 - 10 comments

We have officially run out of pigeonholes

Formerly Hasidic black rapper Y-Love has come out of the closet and is now probably the only person who could beat Sammy Davis Jr.'s famous quip.
posted by Joe in Australia on May 17, 2012 - 26 comments

"...now I am the Jew here, I am the boss."

Afghan Jewry may date back 2700 years. Today, there is but one: Zablon Simintov. [more inside]
posted by timshel on Mar 2, 2012 - 36 comments

Gray zone, schmay zone

Almost immediately upon my arrival in my first teaching job, I became the go-to guy for the Holocaust. Of course, this was partly due to my dissertation, but in larger part, I suspect, because of my Jewishness. This was fine with me for a number of reasons. First, as a junior faculty member, this identification, though merely professional, could only help in my quest for tenure. An expert on the Holocaust carried infinitely greater weight, I thought, than an expert on ministerial instability during the French Third Republic.

Dissolution: My life as an accidental Holocaust expert—and why I decided to quit
posted by timshel on Feb 25, 2012 - 13 comments

Won’t Be Silenced

Chaim Levin appeared in a video as part of the It Gets Better project (previously). A staff reporter for the Jewish Press criticised Chaim (referred to as "Dovid") in an op-ed; Chaim's response led to threats against the paper, which has now supported Chaim and declared that it "won't be silenced". [more inside]
posted by Joe in Australia on Feb 1, 2012 - 34 comments

Israel is closing the books on a rare millennia-old Jewish tradition.

Nearly three decades after Israel began airlifting Ethiopia's ancient Jewish community out of the Horn of Africa, Israel's rabbis are now working to phase out the community's white-turbaned clergy, the kessoch, whose unusual religious practices are at odds with the rabbinate's Orthodox Judaism. [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Jan 21, 2012 - 31 comments

Yom HaShoah, in history and current day Israel

Yom HaShoah, also known as Holocaust Remembrance Day, is Israel's day of memorial for those killed during the Holocaust and those who were part of the resistance.

At 10:00 am on Yom HaShoah, sirens are sounded throughout Israel for two minutes. During this time, people cease from action and stand at attention; cars stop, even on the highways; and the whole country comes to a standstill as people pay silent tribute to the dead.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Nov 7, 2011 - 68 comments

Jewish Problems

This is a special collection of problems that were given to select applicants during oral entrance exams to the math department of Moscow State University. These problems were designed to prevent Jews and other undesirables from getting a passing grade. (via Hacker News)
posted by veedubya on Oct 11, 2011 - 48 comments

Orange safety vests may be worn by men and young girls, they bring too much attention to ladies.

Orthodox Jewish newssite Voz Iz Neias provides some Rulings Regarding Shabbos Observance And The Impending Hurricane. FrumSatire provides a counterpoint.
posted by griphus on Aug 27, 2011 - 96 comments

But what does God think?

How Christian is Terrence Malick's Tree Of Life? [more inside]
posted by philip-random on Jul 31, 2011 - 88 comments

The Sabich

The Sabich is a popular Israeli pita sandwich based on the traditional Babylonian-Jewish Shabbat morning meal. It it is usually seasoned with Amba, the mango pickle condiment of Indian Origin which the Baghdadi Jewish community of India brought to Baghdad (along with Sambusak, a variant of the Simosa). [more inside]
posted by beisny on Apr 23, 2011 - 15 comments

Song of Songs

Tablet Magazine has published a list of The 100 Greatest Jewish Songs [more inside]
posted by beisny on Apr 15, 2011 - 64 comments

Google Exodus

What the Exodus from Egypt would have looked like if Moses had a laptop, Google Maps and Facebook. [more inside]
posted by nickyskye on Apr 8, 2011 - 36 comments

Jewish holiday music videos

Forget Adam Sandler. Over the past few years, there has been a proliferation of Jewish take-offs of popular songs. The Fountainheads have produced Purim and Pesach (Passover) covers. The Maccabeats had a good amount of exposure with their Hanukkah and put out a Purim, too. Of course, not all of these songs are covers.
posted by dzkalman on Apr 5, 2011 - 8 comments

"But I am angry, even though I cannot always explain who I am angry at."

Nice Jewish Girl is an unmarried orthodox Jew. She started a blog six years ago. She wrote about being Shomer Negiah (not allowing herself physical contact with men other than relatives or a husband) and being a woman in her mid-thirties that has never kissed a man. Over the run of the blog, she decided to stop being Shomer Negiah while still looking for an Orthodox husband, kissed a man, and then broke up with him. For the last three years, she has been silent. Recently, she has returned to discuss the effect of Jewish law on her view of sex.
posted by ignignokt on Feb 28, 2011 - 154 comments

“I started when I was thirteen, I’ve still got my indenture papers”

“I wake up every day and I stretch out my arms and if I don’t feel any wood on either side, then I know I can get up.” The remarkable story of Maurice Franklin, Wood Turner.
posted by essexjan on Jan 25, 2011 - 23 comments

Henry Roth

Henry Roth had one of the most anomalous careers in modern letters: a brilliant novel at age twenty-eight, the incomparable Call It Sleep, lost for thirty years but never quite forgotten, then a torrent of words let loose in his seventies and eighties. ... Roth continued to resist any single explanation for his catastrophic writer's block, but it became evident that it was the incest, and the self-loathing that accompanied it, that threw the biggest roadblock across his path. [more inside]
posted by Joe Beese on Jan 12, 2011 - 7 comments

RIP Debbie Friedman

Debbie Friedman passed away today. She was the most well known and influential composer of Jewish music and litergy in the United States. The Jerusalem Post says that "Friedman’s music is performed in synagogues around the world more than that of any other modern composer." Her most well known song is a setting of Mi Shebeirach, a prayer for healing.
posted by kdern on Jan 9, 2011 - 24 comments

Special Command Unit

"SonderKommando Revolt is a Wolf3D mod about real WWII revolt against the Nazis in the famous Auschwitz extermination camp." [more inside]
posted by griphus on Dec 9, 2010 - 26 comments

What Matisyahu, Adam Sandler, and Orrin Hatch have in common

The real reason Jews don’t have more Hanukkah music is that historically, American Jewish singer-songwriters were too busy making Christmas music. ‘White Christmas,’ ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,’ ‘Silver Bells,’ and ‘The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting)’ were all written by Jews. Both Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand have their own Christmas albums. The No. 1 best-selling Christmas album of all time is from Kenneth Bruce Gorelick, the Jewish smooth-jazz legend Kenny G. American Jews have always produced a lot of holiday music, just not Hanukkah music. American Hasidic Jewish Reggae musician Matisyahu (not the other Matisyahu) offers an opinion on why there isn't more Hanukkah music and releases his own Hanukkah song called Miracle. On the flip-side, Mormon senator Orrin Hatch wrote and recorded his own Hanukkah song last year called Eight Days of Hanukkah.
posted by albrecht on Dec 2, 2010 - 75 comments

Dentō!

Fiddler on the Roof, in Japanese. [more inside]
posted by overeducated_alligator on Dec 1, 2010 - 27 comments

U! RU! URU ACHIM!

The one song played at every bar mitzvah isn't "Celebration," or "I Gotta Feeling," or even "New York, New York" -- it's "Hava Nagila." But what is it? A 9-minute documentary tells the story of how a wordless meditative nigun became a song everybody in the world, Jewish or not, could sing. Seriously, everybody. Harry Belafonte and Danny Kaye. Harry Dean Stanton with Bob Dylan backing up on harmonica. Polish metal band Rootwater. A guy who plays the ukulele behind his head. The Modern Female Choir of Zhejiang. The Dark Knight. What appears to be a group of comedy fiddlers ("featuring John and Pancho") from John Hagee's church in San Antonio. Even ... um... this guy. (Previously on MetaFilter: The closest you're going to get to the Beatles covering "Hava Nagila.")
posted by escabeche on Sep 3, 2010 - 36 comments

Survey says Whhhhhhaaaaaaaat?

The Pentagon is currently surveying the troops to gauge their opinion towards gays and the repeal of Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell.  It has recently come to light that previous surveys were done about the fighting man's opinion of 'blacks' and 'jews'. [more inside]
posted by rzklkng on Jul 22, 2010 - 71 comments

I Will Survive

Dancing Auschwitz
"Jewish artist defends YouTube video 'Dancing Auschwitz'"
posted by andoatnp on Jul 10, 2010 - 28 comments

Tenement Goose Farms

A story of moose snouts, tenement animal husbandry and Crisco - the Lower East Side.
RAZ: Now, you describe the markets in this part of the Lower East Side, around the Bowery that Mr. Glockner's wife would often go to to find fresh produce, I was amazed to read about what you could get in New York City in the 1860s. I mean, there were a lot of choices.
Ms. ZIEGELMAN: You could buy bear. You could buy moose. And not only moose, you could buy moose snout. This was considered a particular delicacy.
RAZ: By whom?
Ms. ZIEGELMAN: That I don't know.
[more inside]
posted by caddis on Jun 9, 2010 - 11 comments

Next Coffee Break in Jerusalem

Good to the Last Seder: "The Jews are known as the people of the Book, and that book, which has sustained them is... the Maxwell House Haggadah." The brainchild of the Joseph Jacobs Advertising firm, Maxwell House Coffee has provided copies of the haggadah for Jewish-American coffee purchasers celebrating the Passover Seder since 1934, a fact that led one rabbi to claim that the coffee company "did more to codify Jewish liturgy than any force in history." Although the Maxwell House Haggadah has received criticism from both secular and religious Jews, the haggadah is still so ubiquitous that it has even surfaced at the official Obama seder at the White House
posted by jonp72 on Mar 30, 2010 - 25 comments

People of the (face)book

Is Facebook chametz? An interview with two rabbis about their Facebook group, encouraging Jews to consider giving up Facebook for Passover next week. While the word "chametz" strictly refers only to leavened bread, which is prohibited during Passover, the group is inspired by a Chassidic interpretation that connects the leavening of bread to an "over-inflated sense of self."
posted by albrecht on Mar 24, 2010 - 77 comments

What's a Coastie?

What's a Coastie? Two University of Wisconsin undergrads record and post to YouTube an ode to "Coasties," out-of-state students who live in expensive off-campus apartments, wear Spandex tights with Uggs, spend their parents' money on designer handbags and Starbucks, and -- oh yeah, like 15% of their classmates but only 1 in 200 Wisconsin natives, are Jews. Controversy ensues.
posted by escabeche on Dec 24, 2009 - 143 comments

Holy Night

The little-known Jewish holiday of Christmas Eve. Seriously.
posted by andoatnp on Dec 23, 2009 - 38 comments

Jewish Exorcisms

“We got a bit excited because we realized that people have collected lots of dybbuk stories, but our fragment describes a real event, where you see how they come together and pray in order to exorcise the ghost from a widow,” [more inside]
posted by ServSci on Dec 21, 2009 - 11 comments

Kotel everybody?

A women's prayer group was expelled from the area of Jerusalem's Western Wall on Wednesday for wearing tallitot and reading from the Torah, in violation of an Israeli Supreme Court ruling that restricts these activities to men in the area directly in front of the wall. Meanwhile, in the U.S., the majority of non-Orthodox rabbinical students are female, with the Reform movement being the most female-dominated, leaving some communities struggling to revitalize men's participation in the religion.
posted by albrecht on Nov 20, 2009 - 51 comments

Lt. Brad Pitt and his Howling Commandos

Jack Kirby's Inglorious Basterds
posted by Artw on Nov 18, 2009 - 33 comments

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