JBuzz Features April 4, 2014: All The 2014 Haggadah Info You’ll Ever Need




All The 2014 Haggadah Info You’ll Ever Need

Source: Jewish Daily Forward, 4-4-14

Likewise, the “Ultimate Digital Haggadah,” released too late for our Haggadah roundup last year, is an exquisite visual presentation (with accompanying narration)…READ MORE

JBuzz Features January 26, 2014: Holocaust Told in One Word, 6 Million Times




Holocaust Told in One Word, 6 Million Times

Source: New York Times, 1-26-14

The book “And Every Single One Was Someone” — meant as a kind of coffee-table monument or conversation starter — consists of the single word “Jew,” printed six million times….READ MORE

JBuzz Reviews May 31, 2013: New York Times Reviews Ruth R. Wisse: No Joke: Making Jewish Humor




‘No Joke,’ by Ruth R. Wisse

Source: NYT, 5-31-13

No Joke: Making Jewish Humor
Ruth R. Wisse

Princeton University Press

Reviews | Table of Contents | Introduction [PDF]


“No Joke,” a subtle and provocative new book by Ruth R. Wisse, who teaches Yiddish literature at Harvard, recounts the long history of Jewish humor and brings it up to date. She includes the effects of the Holocaust and Stalin on Jewish storytelling; she discusses American humorists from the borscht belt stand-ups of the 1940s to Larry David, and novels from Philip Roth’s “Portnoy’s Complaint” to Howard Jacobson’s “Fink­ler Question,” which won the Man Booker Prize in 2010. And she reviews the lively state of humor in Israel today….READ MORE

JBuzz News May 26, 2013: Naomi Schaefer Riley: Why do Jews intermarry, and who’d marry a Jew anyway?




Why do Jews intermarry, and who’d marry a Jew anyway?

In her new book, Naomi Schaefer Riley takes a look at why so many in the American Jewish community are marrying out of the faith.

Jewish wedding

Jewish wedding Photo: Thinkstock
Over the past half century, intermarriage has become increasingly common in the United States among all religions – but among Jews at the highest rate.

Why that is the case is one of the questions Naomi Schaefer Riley probes in her new book, “‘Til Faith Do Us Part: How Interfaith Marriage is Transforming America” (Oxford University Press).

One of the main reasons, Riley finds, is that the older people get, the more likely they are to intermarry….READ MORE

JBuzz News March 23, 2013: 101 Years of the Maxwell House Haggadah




101 Years of the Maxwell House Haggadah

Source: Forward, 3-23-13

If you’ve been to a Seder in the United States some time in the last 80 years, you’ve probably come across the Maxwell House Haggadah.

The iconic blue cover and dual-column Hebrew and English translations have arguably become almost as emblematic of the holiday as the Seder plate and Elijah’s cup among Jews of the Diaspora. It has appeared in the suitcases of Soviet immigrants bound for Israel, been carried onto every battlefield the US military has fought on since 1933, and been the guest of honor at the Obamas’ White House Seder….READ MORE

JBuzz News March 23, 2013: Passover and the tradition of sharing a Seder meal and a Haggadah story




Passover and the tradition of sharing a Seder meal and a Haggadah story

Source: Toledo Blade, 3-23-13

Detail from  "The Four Questions" as depicted in Arthur Szyk's "The Szyk Haggadah".  Leonard Baskin's "A Passover Haggadah", Ben Shahn's "A Haggadah for Passover", and Arthur Szyk's "The Szyk Haggadah"  all owned by the Toledo Museum of Art. Detail from “The Four Questions” as depicted in Arthur Szyk’s “The Szyk Haggadah”. Leonard Baskin’s “A Passover Haggadah”, Ben Shahn’s “A Haggadah for Passover”, and Arthur Szyk’s “The Szyk Haggadah” all owned by the Toledo Museum of Art. THE BLADE/JETTA FRASER Enlarge | Buy This Photo
Many Jews and other religious people mark Passover with the tradition of sharing a Seder meal and a Haggadah story, which tells about the Hebrew people during the scriptural time of their captivity in Egypt and their exodus to freedom. It is a time for family, including children, and friends.

Seder meals are often served the first two nights of Passover; Hasidic and other Orthodox Jews might have a third meal on the last day, for the messiah who has not yet come. Passover, or Pesach, begins at sundown Monday and the holiday lasts eight days, ending when daylight is over April 2….READ MORE 

JBuzz News March 8, 2013: Richard Breitman, Allan J. Lichtman: “FDR and the Jews” New Book Tries for Balanced View on Roosevelt and Jews




Book Tries for Balanced View on Roosevelt and Jews

Source: NYT, 3-8-13

FPG/Getty Images

A new Harvard University Press book examines President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s broader record on Jewish issues.

https://i0.wp.com/www.hup.harvard.edu/images/jackets/9780674050266.jpgIn “FDR and the Jews,” Richard Breitman and Allan J. Lichtman, professors at American University, contend that Roosevelt hardly did everything he could. But they maintain that his overall record — several hundred thousand Jews saved, some of them thanks to little-known initiatives — exceeds that of any subsequent president in responding to genocide in the midst of fierce domestic political opposition….READ MORE

JBuzz News February 28, 2013: Five authors named Sami Rohr Prize finalists




Five authors named Sami Rohr Prize finalists

Source: JTA, 2-28-13

Five authors from three countries were named the finalists for the 2013 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature.

The Jewish Book Council on Wednesday announced the nominees for their works of Jewish fiction.

The nominees are Shani Boianjiu, for “The People Of Forever Are Not Afraid”; Ben Lerner for “Leaving Atocha Station”; Stuart Nadler for ” The Book of Life”; Asaf Schurr for “Motti,”  translated by Todd Hasak Lowy; and Francesca Segal for “The Innocents.”…READ MORE

JBuzz News February 6, 2013: Ira Sheskin: University of Miami’s Judaic Studies Center announces the revival of the ‘American Jewish Year Book’




UM’s Judaic Studies Center announces the revival of the ‘American Jewish Year Book’

Publication returns after 4-year hiatus

Source: Eureka Alert, 2-6-13

IMAGE: This is the cover of the 2012 edition of the “American Jewish Year Book. ”

Click here for more information.

The University of Miami Sue and Leonard Miller Center for Contemporary Judaic Studies and the George Feldenkreis Program in Judaic Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences announce the return to print of The American Jewish Year Book: The ‘Official’ Record of the North American Jewish Communities.

After a four year hiatus, the newly released American Jewish Year Book (AJYB) contains important findings about the Jewish population in the United States. Despite concerns about the decline of the Jewish community’s numbers, figures in the AJYB’s chapter indicate that the numbers remain stable at approximately 6.5 million, according to Dr. Ira Sheskin, UM professor and co-editor of the AJYB. This is important in view of the continuing debate over which community, Israel or the United States – has the world’s largest Jewish community. The other very important finding is the growth of the number of Jews, 500,000, who identify themselves as secular members of a community rather than as Jews by religion….READ MORE

JBuzz News January 20, 2013: Deborah Dash Moore: History of Jewish New York takes 2012 National Jewish Book Awards honors




History of Jewish New York takes 2012 National Jewish Book Awards honors

Source: JTA, 1-20-13

A history of New York Jewry took Jewish book of the year honors in the 2012 National Jewish Book Awards.

The three-volume “City of Promises: A History of the Jews of New York,” published by the New York University Press and edited by Deborah Dash Moore, won the Everett Family Foundation Jewish Book of the Year award, the Jewish Book Council announced Jan. 15….READ MORE

JBuzz News December 19, 2012: Jewish Publication Society & University of Nebraska Press: A Jewish Publisher and a University Press Make Their Marriage Work




A Jewish Publisher and a University Press Make Their Marriage Work

Source: Publishers Weekly, 12-19-12

Few Jews know it, but the Torah translation they crack open after they slide into the pews of their synagogue or temple was published by the nation’s oldest nonprofit Jewish press: the Jewish Publication Society (JPS).Neither do they know that JPS nearly shuttered last year, but has found new life through a collaborative relationship with the University of Nebraska Press.

That partnership has allowed JPS to continue its mission of delivering classical Jewish texts into the hands of scholars, students, and ordinary synagogue-goers…..READ MORE

JBuzz News December 11, 2012: Christoph Dieckmann: British professor awarded Yad Vashem book prize




British professor awarded Yad Vashem book prize

Source: JTA, 12-11-12

A British university professor was awarded the Yad Vashem International Book Prize for Holocaust Research.

Christoph Dieckmann of Keele University was recognized for his two-volume book “German Occupation Policy in Lithuania 1941-1944.”

The Yad Vashem International Book Prize for Holocaust Research, in memory of Holocaust survivor Abraham Meir Schwarzbaum and his family members murdered in the Holocaust, is awarded for path-breaking scholarly research on the Holocaust….READ MORE

JBuzz News November 9, 2012: Robert Weiner & Professors Chronicle French Jewish Community of Dijon in New Book




Professors Chronicle French Jewish Community of Dijon in New Book

Source: Lafayette College Campus News, 11-9-12

Robert Weiner, Jones Professor of History, and Richard Sharpless, professor emeritus of history, have completed An Uncertain Future: Voices of a French Jewish Community, 1940-2012, published in August by University of Toronto Press….READ MORE

JBuzz News September 14, 2012: Yosef Yerushalmi: Remembrance of Jews’ Past Yosef Yerushalmi’s ‘Zakhor’ Remains as Relevant as Ever




Remembrance of Jews’ Past

Yosef Yerushalmi’s ‘Zakhor’ Remains as Relevant as Ever

Source: Robert Zaretsky, Forward, 9-14-12

Speak, Memory: One of our most prolific and profound writers on Jewish history, Yosef Yerushalmi died in 2009.

Courtesy The Jewish Museum
Speak, Memory:One of our most prolific and profound writers on Jewish history, Yosef Yerushalmi died in 2009.It was 30 years ago that Yosef Yerushalmi’s” Zakhor: Jewish History and Jewish Memory” was first published. The shortest book by Yerushalmi, a prolific professor of Jewish history at Columbia University until his death in 2009, it has had the longest reach. The issues raised in the book, Yerushalmi suggested, are not “necessarily confined to Jewish history.”He was right. With the new school year beginning, teachers and parents should recall the reason that a book devoted to “zakhor,” or the Jewish injunction to remember, resonates in fields far beyond Yerushalmi’s original subject.

Yerushalmi’s reflections begin with a paradox: For a people so preoccupied by the past, Jews were remarkably indifferent to history….READ MORE

JBuzz News August 25, 2012: Jews: A religious group, people or race?




Jews: A religious group, people or race?

Source: Jerusalem Post, 8-25-12

Now, Prof. Harry Ostrer has produced a 264-page, English-language volume melding together science, history and biography to better understand the complex subject….READ MORE

JBuzz News August 2, 2012: Eugene R. Sheppard, Samuel Moyn & Sylvia Fuks Fried: New Brandeis Book Series Bringing US, Mideast into Jewish Canon




Book series bringing US, Mideast into Jewish canon

Project is opening doors to a new generation of scholars

Source: Brandeis Now, 8-2-12

Photo/Charles A. Radin

Eugene Sheppard, associate professor of modern Jewish history and thought, and Sylvia Fuks Fried, executive director of the Tauber Institute.

From the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and LifeSection of a painting by Moritz Daniel Oppenheim of an imagined meeting of Moses Mendelssohn (seated left), Gotthold Ephraim Lessing and Swiss theologian Johann Kaspar Lavater at Mendelssohn’s Berlin residence.

With remarkably little fanfare, the Tauber Institute for the Study of European Jewry and Brandeis University Press have launched a new book series that promises to alter profoundly the canon of modern Jewish thought.

Two volumes – one featuring the writings of Moses Mendelssohn, the other recapturing Jewish thinking on race – have already been published. Two more volumes, dealing with diaspora nationalism and Middle Eastern Jewish thought, are due out in the coming academic year. A half dozen more are in the pipeline. And this may be just the beginning for the Brandeis Library of Modern Jewish Thought.

“The idea was born out of frustration,” says Eugene R. Sheppard, associate professor of modern Jewish history and thought, who is co-editing the library with Samuel Moyn, a Columbia University professor of history. “Sam and I were working in these areas of intellectual history in which we could have conversations about texts, but we could only introduce them to our students in a second-hand way” because of a lack of translations.

The two editors collaborated with Sylvia Fuks Fried, executive director of the Tauber Institute and associate editor  of the Tauber Institute Series with Brandeis University Press, to conceive an ambitious set of goals for the project –  introducing new elements to the canon with volumes such as “Modern Middle Eastern Jewish Thought” and “Jews and Race,” reintroducing canonical figures, like Mendelssohn with new texts and perspectives, and opening participation in the library to a new generation of scholars in the field….READ MORE

JBuzz Reviews July 17, 2012: Bruce Kesler Reviews Edward Alexander: Historian Traces Anti-Semitism from Antiquity to the Present




Historian traces anti-Semitism from antiquity to the present

Source: San Diego Jewish News, 7-17-12

Review of Edward Alexander’s The State of the Jews: A Critical Appraisal

Edward Alexander’s latest book, The State of the Jews: A Critical Appraisal, would better have been titled “The State of the Anti-Jews.” Edward Alexander is a professor emeritus of English as well as one of the better informed writers on matters Jewish, who brings this broad knowledge to a series of “critical appraisals” (using Matthew Arnold’s definition of “criticism”: “to see the object as in itself it really is”) that weave the continuity of anti-Jewish ignorance, indecency, inhumanity, cowardice, and illusion from the paragon of liberty, John Stuart Mill, to today’s Boycott, Divest, Sanction activists….READ MORE

JBuzz News July 15, 2012: Nancy Petrey: Former Columbian Explores Church’s Jewish Roots




Former Columbian explores church’s Jewish roots

Source: The Commercial Dispatch, 7-15-12

“Jewish Roots Journey: Memoirs of a Mizpah” is a chronicle of Nancy Petrey’s exploration of the Jewish roots of the church, and the deeper understanding she came to of scripture, church history and the history of modern Israel through intensive study….READ MORE

JBuzz Op-ed May 21, 2012: Dovid Katz: An Open Letter to Yale History Professor Timothy Snyder




An Open Letter to Yale History Professor Timothy Snyder

Source: Algemeiner, 5-21-12

Professor Timothy Snyder of Yale University, the author of the famous (and controversial) book “Bloodlands” was brought to Lithuania last week for a symposium on the Holocaust attended also by the director of YIVO in New York. In the course of the same week, the Lithuanian government repatriated, reburied with full honors and held a series of events honoring the 1941 Nazi-puppet prime minister who signed off on the German order for all Jews in Kaunas (Kovno) to be forced into a ghetto.

Dear Tim,

Greetings, and sorry we missed each other in Vilnius this time. I write in the context of our ongoing and respectful conversation, which started in the Guardian (thanks to Matt Seaton, and prominently including Efraim Zuroff) back in 2010 (I, II, III, IV); continuing through our meeting at Yale, the Aftermath Conference in Melbourne, Australia, in 2011 (thanks to Mark Baker, and with participation of Jan Gross and Patrick Desbois), and more recently, via my review of your book Bloodlands (along with Alexander Prusin’s The Lands Between), in East European Jewish Affairs.

In that review, I dealt with a number of areas of disagreement that are on the table concerning the Holocaust in Eastern Europe and the efforts underway to use state funds to downgrade it in a number of countries, particularly the Baltics.

But these debates are inherently separate from the troubling issue on which I’m addressing you today: the ongoing instrumentalization and abuse of your important work by well-oiled government-financed ultra-nationalist and often antisemitic forces in Eastern Europe who have (wrongly) found in your work the ammunition for a discernible slide in the direction of the Double Genocide movement, which reached its zenith with the 2008 Prague Declaration (critiques here), and in the direction of positing the sort of “complexity” that is regularly invoked, particularly here in the Baltics, as euphemism for what is now called Holocaust Obfuscation.

There is, alas, in nationalist and antisemitic circles in some East European states a movement to sanitize or actually glorify local Holocaust collaborators and perpetrators (who were after all, usually quite reliably “anti-Soviet” and “anti-Russian”). In Lithuania alone, this effort has gone hand in hand with a tragic effort to concurrently blame the victims by trying to criminalize, in the absence of any evidence, Holocaust survivors who are alive because they joined the anti-Nazi resistance. Not one of these kangaroo cases has yet led to a public apology, not even to 90 year old Dr. Rachel Margolis in Rechovot, who still dreams of one last visit to her native Vilna.

As reported in DefendingHistory.com last September, a foreign-ministry hosted event in Vilnius in September 2011 included a speech by a leading local historian in which he claimed (wrongly) that your book offers support for the condemnation of Jewish partisans who fought against the Nazis. In May 2011, a historian speaking on Lithuanian radio boasted that “It’s not all hopeless” because of Bloodlands.

Even before that, in late 2010, a far-right film production cited you as an expert consultant in a project to glorify the Lithuanian Activist Front (LAF) perpetrators who unleashed murder and mutilation of Jewish civilians in dozens of Lithuanian towns before the Nazis even arrived (and who announced their intentions before the war even started). (I trust you withdrew from that project, and offer my belated congratulations for so doing).

But that episode somehow connects with this week. The same ultranationalist filmmakers recently announced their premiere on Sunday 20 May 2012 in Kaunas of a new “documentary” (promo clip here) adulating Juozas Ambrazevičius (later Brazaitis), the 1941 Nazi puppet “prime minister” in Kaunas who signed off on orders for the setting up of a concentration camp for Jews, and the requirement that “all the Jews of Kaunas” be moved within four weeks to a ghetto.

The new film premiered yesterday in Kaunas as the grand finale of four days of Lithuanian government financed events (May 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th) focused on the reburial with full honors and the elaborate honoring of the World War II Nazi puppet prime minister.

What do these events have to do with you, or with the director of Yivo from New York who joined you? Directly speaking – absolutely nothing. In fact, people in the Jewish community here in Vilnius feel certain that when you (and he) accepted the invitations for the May 2012 symposium and related events here in Lithuania that you had no idea your presence would coincide with the long-planned glorification of a major Holocaust collaborator.

But when such things happen, it becomes necessary to react, if not by postponing one’s trip then by speaking out unambiguously with moral clarity.

Events featuring a Yale historian and the head of Yivo, coming at the same time as the state-sponsored events to honor the collaborator, have been used, first:  to deflect foreign and diplomatic attention from the Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis outrage, which has drawn protests this past week from B’nai B’rith, the Wiesenthal Center, an international petition, and critically, the remnant Jewish Community of Lithuania; second: to use your appearance to legitimize those events. After all, if a Yale professor and the head of Yivo are happy to appear the same week about the Holocaust and not come out publicly and firmly against the concurrent glorification of the collaborator, well, then it can’t be such a big deal…

It was sad that neither of you publicly condemned the Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis events during your symposium on the Holocaust in Lithuania. However, it did come up in an interviewer’s question to yourself.

According to the interview published on 15min.lt on 18 May 2012 (and for the sake of the Almighty, please do tell us if they misquoted you), your answer to the question about the repatriation, honoring and reburial of the Nazi puppet prime minister underway during your visit was as follows:

“I am going to choose my words very carefully here. I think before you rebury anyone, you should think very very hard and probably wait a very very long time because once you rebury somebody once, you can’t rebury them again.”
Is that really all you have to say to Lithuanian society, during your visit here, regarding the latest in a litany of government sponsored events to honor collaborators and perpetrators of the Lithuanian Holocaust and not seldom to use your own name and book as artillery?

During this past week, very courageous Lithuanian citizens (who remain here and may even have to face this or that consequence in their careers) have raised their proud voices in dignified protest. They include the members of parliament Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis and Algirdas Sysas; member of the European Parliament Leonidas Donskis; political scientist  Darius Udrys; former editor of the Jewish newspaper here, Milan Chersonski; dozens of Lithuanian citizens who have signed Krystyna Anna Steiger’s petition; and, not least, the small remnant Jewish community itself, which issued a bold statement in partnership with the Jewish museum.

As a famous professor soon returning to Yale, would it be too much respectfully to ask you to reconsider your public reaction to the week’s events. You can phrase this much more eloquently and elegantly. Here is just a first thought:

“There are certainly many historical complexities, but as a true friend of Lithuania, I have to tell you frankly that state financing of the honoring of a Nazi-puppet prime minister on whose watch the mass murder of Lithuanian Jewry got underway, one who actually signed orders separating out for persecution and worse those citizens who were Jewish, is the worst possible message your government could be sending. It is a tragic mistake, and if I had known it would coincide with my visit, I would have asked to come some other week out of respect for the victims of the Holocaust. As someone who passionately shares your cause of educating the West about Stalinist crimes, I have to tell you that this sort of thing undermines that noble effort through and through.”

Wishing you, as ever, the best of everything,


Dovid Katz was visiting professor in Judaic studies at Yale in 1989-1999. From 1999 to 2010 he was professor of Yiddish language, literature and culture at Vilnius University, Lithuania. He is based in Vilnius, where he edits wwwDefendingHistory.com. His personal website is http://www.dovidkatz.net.

JBuzz News April 30, 2012: Posen Library of Jewish Culture and Civilization: A Ten-Volume Look at Jewish Culture




A Ten-Volume Look at Jewish Culture

Source: NYT, 4-30-12

Yale University Press and the Posen Foundation are embarking on a 10-volume anthology that covers more than 3,000 years of Jewish cultural artifacts, texts and paintings. “This monumental project includes the best of Jewish culture in its historical and global entirety,” the editor in chief, James E. Young, a professor of English and Judaic Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, said in a news release. “It will provide future generations with a working legacy by which to recover and comprehend Jewish culture and civilization.”

The series, called the Posen Library of Jewish Culture and Civilization, is starting at the end, with Volume 10, a collection of works that date from 1973 through 2005 and include cultural figures like the writers Saul Bellow and Judy Blume, the architect Frank Gehry, the sculptor Louise Nevelson, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the Harvard law professor Alan M Dershowitz. (Volume 1 will begin in the second millennium B.C.) More than 120 scholars are expected to work on the project, according to John Donatich, director of Yale University Press.

Volume 10 is scheduled for publication in November, as is a companion book titled “Jews and Words” by the Israeli author Amos Oz and his daughter, Fania Oz-Salzberger, a history professor.

JBuzz April 18, 2012: Yom Hashoah: Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day 2012




Yom Hashoah: Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day 2012

Source: Israel Embassy, 4-18-12

Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day (Yom Hashoah in Hebrew) is a national day of commemoration in Israel, on which the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust are memorialised. It is a solemn day, beginning at sunset on the 27th of the month of Nisan (April 18, 2012) and ending the following evening, according to the traditional Jewish custom of marking a day. Places of entertainment are closed and memorial ceremonies are held throughout the country.

The central ceremonies, in the evening and the following morning, are held at Yad Vashem and are broadcast on the television. Marking the start of the day – in the presence of the President of the State of Israel and the Prime Minister, dignitaries, survivors, children of survivors and their families, gather together with the general public to take part in the memorial ceremony at Yad Vashem in which six torches, representing the six million murdered Jews, are lit.


The following morning, the ceremony at Yad Vashem begins with the sounding of a siren for two minutes throughout the entire country. For the duration of the sounding, work is halted, people walking in the streets stop, cars pull off to the side of the road and everybody stands at silent attention in reverence to the victims of the Holocaust. Afterward, the focus of the ceremony at Yad Vashem is the laying of wreaths at the foot of the six torches, by dignitaries and the representatives of survivor groups and institutions. Other sites of remembrance in Israel, such as the Ghetto Fighters’ Kibbutz and Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, also host memorial ceremonies, as do schools, military bases, municipalities and places of work.

Central theme for this year: My Brother’s Keeper – Jewish Solidarity During the Holocaust

Documents and testimonies from the Shoah indicate that within the impossible reality into which Jews were thrust, mutual help and a commitment to the other were quite common. The individual had little chance of survival without the sense of togetherness, and this Jewish unity is what carried people and helped them endure another day.

“Unto Every Person There is a Name”

Six million Jews, among them 1.5 million children, were murdered in the Shoah while the world remained silent. The worldwide Holocaust memorial project “Unto Every Person There is a Name” is a unique project designed to perpetuate their memory as individuals and restore their identity and dignity, through the public recitation of their names on Yom Hashoah – Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day. By personalising the individual tragedies of the Jewish victims of Nazi Germany and its collaborators, this project counters persistent efforts by enemies of the State of Israel and the Jewish people to deny the reality of the Holocaust and cast it as history’s seminal hoax.

“Everyone has a name” – Poem by Zelda
[translated from Hebrew]

Everyone has a name given to him by God and given to him by his parents.
Everyone has a name given to him by his stature and the way he smiles and given to him by his clothing.
Everyone has a name given to him by the mountains and given to him by the walls.
Everyone has a name given to him by the stars and given to him by his neighbors.
Everyone has a name given to him by his sins and given to him by his longing. Everyone has a name given to him by his enemies and given to him by his love. Everyone has a name given to him by his holidays and given to him by his work.
Everyone has a name given to him by the seasons and given to him by his blindness.
Everyone has a name given to him by the sea and given to him by his death.

“Unto Every Person There is a Name” is conducted around the world in hundreds of Jewish communities through the efforts of four major Jewish organisations: B’nai B’rith International, Nativ, the World Jewish Congress and the World Zionist Organisation. The project is coordinated by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority, in consultation with the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and enjoys the official auspices of the President of the State of Israel Shimon Peres. In Israel, “Unto Every Person There is a Name” has become an integral part of the official Yom Hashoah commemoration ceremonies, with the central events held at the Knesset and at Yad Vashem with the participation of elected officials, as well as events throughout the country.

Lists of names

Architecture of Murder: The Auschwitz-Birkenau Blueprints

Auschwitz is universally recognised as the ultimate symbol of evil the worlds largest death factory. It is estimated that approximately 1.1 million people were murdered there, of whom a million were Jews. From a single camp in 1940, Auschwitz was transformed into a massive complex, including 3 main camps and 40 sub-camps. The establishment of the Auschwitz complex was a project that lasted years, and was never completed. In the course of the planning phase, SS draftsmen prepared hundreds of drawings and plans of the construction sites and the various buildings. These included detailed drawings of the gas chambers and the crematoria.

Over 4 million names in Central Database of Shoah Victims

The Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names is a unique international undertaking led by Yad Vashem. It is the endeavor to recover the names and reconstruct the life stories of each individual Jew murdered in the Shoah. It is our moral duty to respect their last behest and remember them. We estimate that the number of Jews commemorated in the database to date is 4 million. The database is comprised of Pages of Testimony, historical documentation and additional sources.

Millions of names that appear in historical documents have not yet been identified or recorded in the database; many additional names still linger in the memories of survivors or in their family folklore. Building the database is a work in progress.

The Names’ Database enables visitors to search for the names of any of the over 4 million Shoah victims recorded to date. In addition, it allows users to submit new Pages of Testimony – special forms containing biographical details of individual victims – for those victims as yet unrecorded. About half of the names in the Database were obtained from the more than 2.5 million Pages of Testimony submitted to Yad Vashem over the past 50 years, nearly all of which have now been digitised. Other names have been gleaned from additional computerized lists, including deportation, camp and ghetto records.

Holocaust Remembrance Day Books

Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah) begins in the evening of Wednesday, April 18, 2012, and ends in the evening of Thursday, April 19, 2012 



JBuzz Features April 5, 2012: Passover Seders: 18 Haggadahs To Retell The Exodus Story




Passover Seders: 18 Haggadahs To Retell The Exodus Story

Source: Huff Post, 4-5-12

Haggadah Passover

Why is this book different from all other books?

The Haggadah — a Jewish ritual book used on the holiday of Passover to tell the story of the biblical Exodus from Egypt — has some 7,000 iterations, reprinted and retranslated perhaps more than any other Jewish book.

This year, Jonathan Safran Foer and Nathan Englander published their “New American Haggadah” (as editor and translator, respectively) hoping to set the new standard for “intellectually and aesthetically satisfying” Haggadahs. The art, commentaries and new translation are remarkable, but perhaps the most interesting aspect of the New American Haggadah is the timeline that runs across the top of each page, telling the history of the Jewish affair with this text.

The timeline — just like the Exodus from slavery — doesn’t end. Someday, there will be a New New American Haggadah. For now, though, there are thousands of versions to choose from. Here is a round up of some of the most interesting.

Birds’ Head Haggadah (1200s)

The earliest known illustrated Ashkenazi Haggadah, the Birds’ Head Haggadah gets its name from the fascinating depictions of humans with birds heads, thought to be a result of strict compliance to the Jewish prohibition against graven images.
The earliest known illustrated Ashkenazi Haggadah, the Birds’ Head Haggadah gets its name from the fascinating depictions of humans with birds heads, thought to be a result of strict compliance to the Jewish prohibition against graven images.

JBuzz Reviews April 5, 2012: Jonathan Safran Foer and Nathan Englander’s ‘New American Haggadah’




Jonathan Safran Foer and Nathan Englander on their ‘New American Haggadah’

Source: The Takeaway, 4-5-12

The Haggadah, the Jewish religious text read at Passover, is 3,000 years old. It has been translated more than any Jewish book, from ancient times, to 14th-century Sarajevo, to the just-published “New American Haggadah.” The new version, edited by Jonathan Safran Foer and translated by Nathan Englander, began as a personal project for Jonathan. He started to realize how little he truly understood about his own belief system, and that many American Jews feel like immigrants to their own religion. “I went to Hebrew school, I was bar mitzvah’d, I’ve been to Israel a number of times, but as I started to work on this book, I realized that I really had to confront my ignorance, my lack of Jewish literacy.”

Nine years after the project began, Jonathan Safran Foer and Nathan Englander have constructed a new Haggadah, religious, yet modern, for the American Jews of their generation.

Produced by:

Jillian Weinberger


Why a Haggadah?

Oded Ezer, from “The New American Haggadah” (Little, Brown and Company, 2012)

Source: NYT, 4-1-12

I SPENT much of the last several years working on a new Haggadah — the guidebook for the prayers, rituals and songs of the Seder — and am often asked why I would want to take time away from my own writing to invest myself in such a project.

All my life, my parents have hosted the Seder on the first night of Passover. As our family expanded, and as our definition of family expanded, we moved the ritual dinner from our dining room to our more spacious, mildewed basement. One table became many table-like surfaces pushed awkwardly together. I always knew Passover was approaching when my father would ask me to take the net off the ping-pong table. All were covered in once matching, stained tablecloths.

At each setting was a Haggadah that my parents had assembled by photocopying favorite passages from other Haggadot and, when the Foers finally got Internet access, by printing online sources. Why is this night different from all others? Because on this night copyright doesn’t apply.

In the absence of a stable homeland, Jews have made their home in books, and the Haggadah — whose core is the retelling of the Exodus from Egypt — has been translated more widely, and revised more often, than any other Jewish book. Everywhere Jews have wandered, there have been Haggadot — from the 14th-century Sarajevo Haggadah (which is said to have survived World War II under the floorboards of a mosque, and the siege of Sarajevo in a bank vault), to those made by Ethiopian Jews airlifted to Israel during Operation Moses.

But of the 7,000 known versions, not to mention the countless homemade editions, there is one that is used more than all others combined. Since 1932, the Maxwell House Haggadah — as in the coffee company — has dominated American Jewish ritual….READ MORE

Jonathan Safran Foer is a novelist and editor of “New American Haggadah.”

A version of this op-ed appeared in print on April 1, 2012, on page SR10 of the New York edition with the headline: Why a Haggadah?.

Two Novelists Take on the Haggadah

Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times

Nathan Englander, left, translated the liturgical text for the “New American Haggadah,” which Jonathan Safran Foer edited. Four writers contributed commentary.

Source: NYT, 3-9-12

AFTER a lengthy interview with President Obama in the Oval Office two weeks ago, Jeffrey Goldberg, a national correspondent for the Atlantic, had one more question, and it had nothing to do with Iran.


Jake Guevara/The New York Times

The new version of the text for the Seder liturgy.

The latest version courtesy of Maxwell House.

“I know this is cheesy …” Mr. Goldberg started, but before he could finish, the president interrupted him. “What, you have a book?” Mr. Obama asked. Turns out, Mr. Goldberg did, but “it’s not just any book,” he replied.

Mr. Goldberg reached into his briefcase and handed the president an advance copy of the “New American Haggadah,” a new translation of the Passover liturgy that was edited by Jonathan Safran Foer and contains commentary by Mr. Goldberg and other contemporary writers.

After thumbing through the sleek hardcover book, Mr. Obama looked up and asked wryly, “Does this mean that we can’t use the Maxwell House Haggadah anymore?”

Mr. Goldberg was impressed. “Way to deploy the inside-Jewish joke,” he later said. Since the 1930s, Maxwell House has printed more than 50 millions copies of its pamphlet-style version of the Haggadah. It has been the go-to choice at the Obamas’ White House Seders, though Mr. Goldberg hoped the president would consider using their version this time around.

In the end, the White House decided to stick with the Maxwell House next month. But the book’s advance buzz is an unlikely triumph for a version of a ritualistic text that was spearheaded by two lauded experimental novelists from Brooklyn, Mr. Foer and Nathan Englander.

“The Haggadah is the user’s manual for the most widely celebrated Jewish holiday, Passover, ” Mr. Foer said on “The Colbert Report” last Tuesday. “It’s one of the oldest continually told stories, and one of the most well-known across cultures.”…

One might assume that Mr. Foer’s version would end up being almost unrecognizably postmodern. A critical darling since his mid-20s, Mr. Foer, 35, has been celebrated and excoriated for his use of avant-garde literary devices in novels like “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close,” which ends with a 14-page flip book.

And starting out, that was the direction in which its creators were leaning. As Mr. Englander, who grew up in an Orthodox house on Long Island, put it, “I originally thought we’d be making some sort of hipster Haggadah.”

Indeed. The book’s minimalist design, by Oded Ezer, looks like a catalog for a MoMA typography exhibition, and the text is rendered both vertically (for the Exodus story) and horizontally (for commentary and a timeline). In place of storybook illustrations of Moses are abstract watercolor illustrations based on Hebrew typography.

The idea was to draw readers into the story and invite them to linger, since “the Haggadah must be the most skimmed book of all,” Mr. Foer said. After a pause, he added, “maybe Stephen Hawking’s ‘Brief History of Time’ beats it.”…READ MORE

A version of this article appeared in print on March 11, 2012, on page ST10 of the New York edition with the headline: Two Novelists Take On the Haggadah.

JBuzz Features April 4, 2012: Haggadah Guide: From the classic to the newfangled: haggadahs for Seders of every shape, size, and stripe




On the Bookshelf

From the classic to the newfangled: haggadahs for Seders of every shape, size, and stripe

Source: Tablet Mag, 4-11-11

With thousands of haggadahs having been produced throughout history, and hundreds currently in print, how do you possibly choose? On the Bookshelf offers the following non-exhaustive primer.

Most refreshingly upfront about its goals: Robert Kopman’s 30 Minute Seder: The Haggadah That Blends Brevity With Tradition (30 Minute Seder, 2011). Who needs all that blah blah blah about Rabbi Elazar ben Azaryah and Rabbi Tarfon? This haggadah isn’t appropriate, though, if your guests are the types to say, “What? It’s time to eat already? Can’t we please spend more time discussing whether there were 50, 200, or 250 plagues at the Red Sea?”

Least appropriate for a Seder in Lilongwe, Malawi: Yehuda Berg’s The Kabbalah Haggadah: Pesach Decoded (Kabbalah Publishing, 2009) would, it seems, be something of a faux pas over there this year.

Perfect if you find yourself in a Brewster’s Millions situation: For $18,000, the Premier Edition of The Szyk Haggadah gives you Arthur Szyk’s signature embossed in gilt on the cover, plus “22 carat gold tooling” throughout. Guaranteed to match your gold-plated karpas! For the non-insane, there are reasonably priced editions of Szyk’s 1930s anti-fascist allegorical masterpiece, such as The Szyk Haggadah: Freedom Illuminated (Abrams, 2011).

If your guests don’t like all these newfangled Seder elements: Take them back to the 15th century with The Washington Haggadah (Harvard, 2011), which offers a full-color reproduction of a manuscript illuminated in 1478 by a scribe named Joel ben Simeon (and which is named for its contemporary home, at the Library of Congress in D.C.).

The haggadah we’re still waiting for: When, when will Jonathan Safran Foer and Nathan Englander deliver that hipster haggadah they’ve promised? It tarries, but according to Amazon.com, it will finally arrive in October 2011: just in time for Thanksgiving! Next year in Park Slope, then?

Likely to disappoint the Shakespearean actors at the table: The intrepid Sue Fishkoff reports that the new edition of the Maxwell House Haggadah—the haggadah of choice of the Obama White House—includes, for the first time since 1934, an updated translation that has removed all those fusty faux-Renaissance linguistic touches we’ve all gotten used to, like “thee” and “thou.” Alas, alack! How art we supposed to worshippeth our Lord in just plain American English?

If you believe that the Holocaust should be invoked at every Jewish public event: A Passover Haggadah (Simon & Schuster, 1993) features Mark Podwal’s drawings and Elie Wiesel’s commentary and poems, which link the ritual to recent historical trauma: “A camp./ An inmate. … It is night,/ The first night of Passover. … The parable of Had Gadya is misleading:/ God will not come/ To slay the slaughterer.”

For big families who don’t understand the idea of economy of scale: If all you want is the traditional, Orthodox text, Artscroll’s Family Haggadah (Artscroll, 1981) is a bargain: only $3.59 a copy, bound in sumptuous-sounding leatherette (or $2.24 with a laminated paper cover). But it seems that somebody’s tam son must be responsible for the price on the slipcovered, leatherette set of eight, which costs $33.29 (that is, $4.16 per copy), as if to punish those who buy in bulk.

Good for fans of chanting: Eliahu Klein’s A Mystical Haggadah: Passover Meditations, Teachings, and Tales (North Atlantic Books, 2008) includes “a mystical meditation” before most of the rituals, drawn from the Zohar or from such gurus as the Rashash. These, along with anecdotes about the Hassidic masters and a dash of playful gematria, help Seder-goers in “achieving cosmic consciousness.”

For those who actually do want to tell the story of the Exodus, over and over, until the break of dawn: A Passover Haggadah: Go Forth and Learn (JPS, 2011) comes equipped with the extensive commentaries of Rabbi David Silber. The founder of the Drisha Institute in New York, Silber knows a thing or two about Jewish textual study and offers enough textual readings to keep you talking until the sun comes up.

Looks sharpest in your NPR tote bag: Our Haggadah: Uniting Traditions for Interfaith Families (HarperCollins, March) allows you to greet Elijah alongside Cokie and Steven Roberts. The book comes to you straight from the D.C. intelligentsia, and brims with optimistic religious pluralism: as its authors told Vox Tablet a couple weeks back, Passover is by far the most Jesus-friendly of the Jewish holidays (blood libels notwithstanding).

For the tikkun olam crowd: Last year’s In Every Generation: The JDC Haggadah (Devora Publishing, 2010) features a forward by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin praising the Joint Distribution Committee for its outreach to threatened Jews all over the world, plus commentaries by Ari Goldman—but it’s the photographs of Seders across the globe, from Yemen to Lithuania, that make an impression.

If you have a favorite Orthodox superstar rabbi: Then he has a haggadah for you, whether it’s Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’ Haggadah (Contiuum, 2007), or Norman Lamm’s The Royal Table (Orthodox Union, 2010), or The Carlebach Haggadah: Seder Night With Reb Shlomo (Urim, 2001), or Seder Night: An Exalted Evening (Orthodox Union, 2009), which includes “commentary based on the teachings of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik.”

Closest you’ll get to a Family Circus or Marmaduke haggadah: Richard Codor’s Joyous Haggadah (Loose Line Productions, 2008) features an energetic comic strip retelling of the Exodus—nothing cries out for the Sunday Funnies treatment like the Death of the Firstborn, right?—plus, charmingly, the Four Sons as performed by the Marx Brothers.

Most appropriate for a Seder fueled by psychotropic drugs: Newly available for shipping to the United States, Asher Kalderon’s Haggadah (Urim, 2011) features the artist’s lush, gradient-shaded images, which have all the trippy verve of 1960s rock posters.

Josh Lambert, a Tablet Magazine contributing editor and comedy columnist, is the academic director of the National Yiddish Book Center and Visiting Assistant Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

JBuzz March 23, 2012: Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi: Haggadah and History — Historical Passover Haggadahs




Long before the Maxwell House Haggadah, thousands of other versions retold Passover story

Source: JointMedia News Service, 3-23-12

<br /> A page reprinted from a Cairo volume Agudat Perahim (1922) which also includes the Passover haggadah. This illustration depicts an Arabic translation of the festive song &ldquo;Dayenu.&rdquo;<br /> Photo reprinted from “Haggadah and History” by Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi, JewishPublication Society of America, 1975.

A page reprinted from a Cairo volume Agudat Perahim (1922) which also includes the Passover haggadah. This illustration depicts an Arabic translation of the festive song “Dayenu.” Photo reprinted from “Haggadah and History” by Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi, Jewish Publication Society of America, 1975. For the past three years, President Obama and his family have hosted a Passover Seder in the White House for a select group of invited guests, both Jewish and non-Jewish. A Maxwell House haggadah — probably the most widely used Passover Seder text among American Jews — was placed at each table.

The haggadah (the Hebrew word means “telling”) has a venerable and remarkably varied history, which long precedes the often wine-splotched classic published by the coffee maker. Scholars have identified more than 3500 extant editions and there is hardly a Jewish community in the world that has not produced its own haggadah. Although the earliest manuscripts have been lost, the oldest complete text was found in a prayer book compiled by the philosopher and rabbinic scholar Saadia Gaon during the 10th century.

The haggadah reportedly emerged as an independent volume during the 15th century. Some scholars speculated about the origins of an edition that was published in Guadalajara, Spain, in 1482, but the publication location has never been confirmed nor has it been definitively established as the first separately-published haggadah.

In 1486, the Soncinos, a noted Italian Jewish family of printers, published a siddur to which a haggadah was bound. Although it is not known whether such binding was common during this time, some historians consider this Soncino volume a separate and independent work.

The history of haggadahs and the Soncino edition is recounted in an erudite and elegant 1975 volume entitled Haggadah and History.

Written by the late Harvard professor Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi, this work traces the evolution of this classic Passover text, which reflects the variegated and tumultuous history of the Jewish people.

Most of this nearly 500-page work contains reprinted haggadah pages from around the world. The range of publishing locations and languages employed is remarkable: a Poona, India, text was published in the Indian language Marathi; the Istanbul, Turkey, edition is bilingual, written in Ladino and Hebrew; a Tel Aviv haggadah in Hebrew was produced in pre-state Palestine.

Also depicted is an unusual item: a parody of the haggadah. Published in Odessa, Russia, in 1885, this text used the Four Questions to highlight the poor pay and treatment of east European elementary school teachers, comparing their plight to that of Israelite slaves in Egypt!

Yerushalmi notes that only 25 haggadahs were published during the 16th century, but the production increased to 234 in the 18th century and more than 1200 during the 19th.

Although this Passover text has been published for more than 600 years, the majority of individual editions were issued in the last century. Early haggadahs featured handdrawn illustrations and in more recent times, pictures were inserted to stimulate the “curiosity of the children…[and served] as a lively medium of visual instruction, much like today’s picture books,” Yerushalmi writes.

The Sarajevo haggadah is the most famous such work, a beautifully illustrated text originating in Barcelona in the 14th century, smuggled out of Spain during the Inquisition, transported to Italy and eventually ending up in the former Yugoslavia. Unlike many Jews, the Sarajevo haggadah somehow survived the Nazi onslaught. The remarkable story of its survival has been evocatively told in the novel People of the Book, by Geraldine Brooks, and in a network television documentary.

The Birds’ Head Haggadah, the oldest surviving Ashkenazi illuminated manuscript, was produced in Germany during the 14th century. This strikingly beautiful volume derives its name from the birdlike human figures depicted in the margins. Scholars claim that this animal motif is related to the Second Commandment that prohibits the creation of graven images. In lieu of drawing a human figure, the volume depicts distorted heads of birds, often wearing a headpiece and other garments.

The Sarajevo Haggadah is permanently displayed in the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina while the Birds’ Head Haggadah is found in the Israel Museum. Unlike the ever present and dependable Maxwell House haggadah found at many Seders, these precious volumes are securely spared from matzoh crumbs, spilled wine and drippings of horseradish.