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

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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

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JBuzz News April 30, 2012: Benzion Netanyahu: Noted historian father of Israel’s prime minister, dies at 102

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Noted historian Benzion Netanyahu, father of Israel’s prime minister, dies at 102

Source: JTA, 4-30-12

Benzion Netanyahu, a noted Jewish historian and Zionist thinker, and the father of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has died.

Netanyahu died early Monday morning at his home in Jerusalem. He was 102.

Benjamin Netanyahu visited his father for the last time on Sunday evening, according to a statement issued Monday from the Prime Minister’s Office.

Netanyahu was born Benzion Mileikowsky in Warsaw in 1910, and immigrated to Mandatory Palestine in 1920.

Netanyahu studied at the David Yellin Teachers’ College and later at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. His research focused on the history of the medieval Spanish Jewish community and the history of Zionism. Among his books are a biography of Don Isaac Abravanel; a history of the Spanish Marranos; and his major work, “The Origins of the Inquisition in Fifteenth Century Spain.” He also authored “The Founding Fathers of Zionism,” about the lives of the founders of political Zionism — Leon Pinsker, Theodor Herzl, Max Nordau, Israel Zangwill and Ze’ev Jabotinsky.

Netanyahu was the editor in chief of the Hebrew Encyclopedia for more than a decade beginning in the 1950s. He served as a professor of Jewish studies at various universities in the United States, concluding his academic career as professor emeritus at Cornell University.

From his time as a student in Jerusalem, he was involved in public Zionist activities. Netanyahu was a supporter of Ze’ev Jabotinsky and edited a newspaper that also featured Joseph Klausner and poet Uri Tzvi Greenberg on its staff…READ MORE

JBuzz News April 23, 2012: Todd Endelman: Holocaust victims remembered through music, reflection

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ANN ARBOR: Holocaust victims remembered through music, reflection

Source: Ann Arbor Journal, 4-23-12

Holocaust survivor Henry Brysk shares a photo of his family and the story of an aunt who was killed during World War II. Photo by Chris Nelson.

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Victims of the Holocaust were remembered through prayer, reflection and music on April 19 at the Jewish Community Center in Ann Arbor.

The memorial service, the first of its kind in the Ann Arbor area, was created by a group of Holocaust survivors as a way to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive.

University of Michigan Professor of Judaic Studies, Todd Endelman, gave a keynote address about how the Holocaust is remembered and its effects, so far, on Jewish culture.

Endelman said there are two factions of thought behind Holocaust remembrance. The first is that it is not talked about enough and the second is that it’s talked about too much and has morphed Jewish identity and definition into one of suffering.

The effect of the Holocaust, Endelman said, might be unknown still.

“We don’t know the impact of the Holocaust,” he said. “Maybe because not enough time has passed. Sometimes things are so large, are so horrific, are so transcendent of existing categories of thinking, are so out of the ordinary that it takes a long time for the whole impact to be made.”

Regardless, Endelman said, the important thing for people to do is to be aware.

“I want us to remain, particularly those of my generation and younger, attentive, listening to whatever new themes or emphasis arise,” he said. “Because we want to hear them clearly when they make their appearance and we want to absorb what they have to say to us.”…READ MORE

Rabbi Scott L. Shpeen: Giving thanks is essential

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Rabbi Scott L. Shpeen: Giving thanks is essential

Source: Times Union 11-18-11

I learned a very important lesson in understanding history while a student at the seminary in Cincinnati in a class on American Jewish history. Our professor, Jacob Rader Marcus, began by discussing when the first Jewish settlers came to North America.

It was assumed the year was 1654 when a ship arrived in New Netherlands from Recife, Brazil. The forebearers of the group aboard had fled the Inquisition in 1492 and now a century and a half later the settlers were seeking greater freedom in the Dutch colony. That is what was in the annals of history and accepted as fact. Yet Dr. Marcus noted that a document had been uncovered years before, handed down by the settlers describing their arrival: As they disembarked they was greeted ashore by an unknown co-religionist welcoming them with a hearty “shalom.”

It is with the same trepidation that I share the unofficial history of our Union Thanksgiving Service in Albany — because there are several versions of what was believed to have been the first joint Thanksgiving service. Some documents say it took place in the fall of 1927 while others say 1928 or 1929. I have yet to meet anyone who actually attended the first service, so we are still not sure which date is correct.

This much we know to be fact: The Thanksgiving ritual of coming together from different segments of Albany and the surrounding area, committed to mutual respect, understanding and friendship is a long-standing tradition that connects Congregation Beth Emeth, Trinity United Methodist Church, the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Albany and Westminister Presbyterian Church….READ MORE

Scott Shpeen has been the spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Emeth since 1985.

Yosef Yerushalmi: Wanderings This Time In Fiction

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Yosef Yerushalmi: His short story in The New Yorker is the only fiction the noted historian ever wrote.

Yosef Yerushalmi: His short story in The New Yorker is the only fiction the noted historian ever wrote.

Not long after Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi — perhaps the most esteemed Jewish historian of the last half century — died two years ago, at 77, his wife Ophra got a frequent question: “Is there anything else he’s written that hasn’t been published?”

What they meant, presumably, was other academic work, certainly not fiction. But it was fiction — particularly, a short story called “Gilgul,” which The New Yorker published last week — that was the only other thing Ophra knew of. “Nobody knew about it, just me and my son,” she told The Jewish Week in a phone interview. “Not even our friends knew he wrote fiction.”

Ophra remembered Yerushalmi working intensely on something for a few weeks in 2004, but not telling her what it was. Only when he finished, did he say, “Let me read it to you,” Ophra recalled. “He got very emotional about it.”

Yerushalmi never tried to publish it. But after all the questions following his death, Ophra decided to show it to a friend of theirs in Paris. The friend told her it was good enough to publish. A month ago, Ophra pitched it to The New Yorker.

“I didn’t know if they’d take it,” she said, “but it was my first choice.”

That the magazine published the only piece of fiction Yerushalmi ever wrote is all the more surprising. “I was impressed that it came from someone who has never written fiction before,” said Deborah Treisman, the fiction editor at The New Yorker. “It has a lovely lyrical line to it.”

The story follows a character not unlike Yerushalmi. Simply called Ravitch, he’s a scholar of Jewish history living in New York, who, on a whim, flees to Israel….READ MORE