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 -
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
. [more inside]
posted by nickyskye
on Jan 4, 2014 -
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 -
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 -
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.
: My life as an accidental Holocaust expert—and why I decided to quit
posted by timshel
on Feb 25, 2012 -
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
Of course, not
all of these songs are covers.
posted by dzkalman
on Apr 5, 2011 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
“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 -