Yisrael Mizrachi, a 28-year-old Sephardic Jew, runs a book store in Brooklyn through which the written flotsam of Jewish history flows. His mission is to hunt the rare and obscure. However, his store serves all, including the casual lovers of stories as well as seekers of pieces of their family's past.
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
Obsessed with Jews is a hilariously delightful documentary short about Jewish memorabilia collector, Neil Keller. Keller speaks effusively about Jews in basketball ("Ossie Schechtman, great story. Ossie Schechtman scored the first basket in NBA history.") and Jews in hockey ("The first Jew in hockey was Samuel Rothschild."), although contrary to the Chanukah Song, Keller provides a letter where Rod Carew explains he's not Jewish. The documentary is by Jeff Krulik, that mensch responsible for Heavy Metal Parking Lot. For more Jeff Krulik documentary shorts and a great article on Krulik's days in cable access TV, check the multimedia article here. (Click through the pages. It's worth it!)
The Khazars were semi-nomadic Turkic people, of which many apparently converted to Judaism. Some believe they are the ancestors of many East European Jews. The Khazars were the subject of Arthur Koestler's controversial 1972 book, The Thirteenth Tribe, as well as anti-Semitic lore. Now a Russian archaeologist says he found a gold-mine of evidence about this once-great nation. No Jewish artifacts yet, however.
The Prague Bible (1489) is a splendid three-volume MS of the Tanakh, once in the possession of Enlightenment luminary Moses Mendelssohn. There are several other beautiful examples of medieval and early modern Hebrew MSS online, including the Illuminated Hebrew Manuscripts collection (New York Public Library), the Illuminated Haggadah Exhibit (Klau University), selections from Moses Maimonides' Moreh Nevukim (Leiden University), and the Prato Haggadah (Jewish Theological Seminary). See also the introduction to the Hebraic Collections at the Library of Congress.
The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash may be the most elaborate parody of the Beatles ever constructed, including satirical tributes to the appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show, Yellow Submarine, and the rooftop concert at Apple Records. Check out some other fine parodies who picked up where the Rutles left off: The Mosquitoes on Gilligan's Island, Chris and the Alphabeats on Sesame Street, Letter B and Hey Food by the Beetles, the Be Sharps on the Simpsons, A Hard Day's Night of the Living Dead by the Zombeatles, Peter Cook & Dudley Moore's L.S. Bumble Bee, the Powerpuff Girls Meet the Beat Alls (parts 1 and 2 with commentary by Mojo Jojo), Beatles spoofs in a Polish sitcom and a Bollywood musical, Beatallica sings A Garage Dayz Nite, the Chasers' I Am Thesaurus, and the Beatles go bar mitzvah.
Elvis: King of the Rock 'n' Roll Jews? Unlike George Allen, Elvis proudly embraced his Jewish heritage. Through his mother's side of the family, Elvis could trace his lineage back to his Jewish great-grandmother, Martha Tackett, which makes Elvis Jewish by matrilineal descent. A former shabbos goy who did chores on the Sabbath for a rabbi in Memphis, Elvis had his biggest-selling success with a #1 hit by a Jewish songwriting team. Known to wear a Hebrew Chai pendant and to donate to Jewish charities in Memphis, Elvis also put the Star of David on his Mom's gravestone.
Hitler and the Sea Monkeys. When Harold von Braunhut "discovered" a new species of brine shrimp, artemia nyos, he made millions marketing them as Sea Monkeys. Using profits from that and his other inventions (such as X-Ray Specs), von Braunhut funded anti-Semitic groups, including the Aryan Nations, despite being Jewish himself.
I'm a Jewish Yankee Doodle Dandy and other Yiddish sheet music on topics ranging from the Dreyfus affair to interreligious romance. How Broadway evolved from Yiddish theater.
Though it makes the list of weird food, Passover means the week of the gefilte fish. Not particularly pretty in either preparation or final form, the dish appeared in written records as early as 1350, and its popularity has waxed and waned ever since. At least this year, there are no records of gefilte fish issuing prophecies, though there is a screensaver. With Easter and Passover on the way, are there any other dubious holiday food traditions out there?
The Russian Avant-Garde Book is an online version of the MoMA exhibit, featuring 112 books originally published in Russia during the intensely creative period between 1910 and 1934, before Stalin outlawed any style but social realism. The site is separated into three chronological themes and includes examples of futurist works, constructivist graphic design, children's books, propaganda, photography and photomontage, revolutionary imagery, architecture and industry, war themes, folk art and judaica...