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  • Originally published 08/20/2013

    Yiddish-speaking wizards and dragons invade the Shire in ‘Der Hobit’

    For one of his first translation projects after his retirement, Barry Goldstein, a former computer programmer, found an empty table at his local Starbucks in Boston and settled in to work on the “Treebeard” chapter from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. But Goldstein soon realized that he needed something more sizable to occupy his time: 95,022 words later, he had translated the entire text of The Hobbit, the prequel to the Ring series, into Yiddish.Only a little more than 130 copies of Goldstein’s translation have sold since it was released in December. But as Goldstein tells it, he always knew Der Hobit wouldn’t be a best-seller, and the sales were still double his original two-figure estimate.

  • Originally published 08/15/2013

    Archives readies a schoolgirl’s records and a trove of Jewish treasures for return to Iraq

    The girl’s name was Farah. She had thick, dark hair. And in the school snapshot found in the flooded basement of Saddam Hussein’s ­secret-police headquarters, she is smiling and wearing a pretty dress.She was probably about 13 when the picture was taken in the 1950s. She was a student at the Jewish intermediate school in Baghdad, where she scored a 94 in English and an 88 in history.In another time, her life might have passed unnoticed outside of her family and friends.But her school records, and those of other Iraqi Jews, as well as a trove of water-logged treasures from Baghdad’s Jewish past, are being conserved at the National Archives for their return to Iraq next year....

  • Originally published 05/21/2013

    Spanish Jews still waiting for citizenship

    MADRID — Six months after announcing a significant easing of the naturalization process for Sephardic Jews, the Spanish government has yet to put the rules into practice, leaving many applicants for citizenship frustrated.The change, announced in November by the foreign and justice ministers, was presented at the time as a conciliatory gesture toward Sephardic Jews, whose ancestors were expelled more than five centuries ago during the Spanish Inquisition, one of the darkest chapters in Spanish history.Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo said the time had come “to recover Spain’s silenced memory.”...

  • Originally published 05/08/2013

    May is Jewish American Heritage Month

    What do Bob Dylan, J.D Salinger, Harrison Ford, Jon Stewart, Barbara Walters, Barbara Hersey, and Leonard Nimoy all have in common, aside from being awesome? They're all Jewish Americans. May is Jewish American Heritage Month, and this year's theme is American Jews in entertainment.(With apologies to William Shatner, who was born in Canada, and judging by his acting he's probably not kosher anyway.) Jewish American Heritage Month was established by presidential decree in 2006, after lobbying efforts by the Jewish Museum of Florida, the South Florida Jewish community, Florida congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and Pennsylvania senator Arlen Specter (Fittingly, Manischewitz is one of the major corporate sponsors.)

  • Originally published 04/19/2013

    Poland honours Jews who fought Nazis in Warsaw Ghetto

    A major ceremony is under way in the Polish capital Warsaw to honour Jews who fought overwhelming Nazi German forces 70 years ago in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.Sirens wailed and church bells tolled in the city, where several hundred Jews battled the Nazis in World War II.About 13,000 Jews died in the ghetto when the Nazis reduced it to rubble. Survivors were sent to death camps.Poland's president praised the Jews' "last stand" in a speech on Friday.President Bronislaw Komorowski and Israel's Education Minister Shai Piron spoke at the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes, on the site of the former ghetto...

  • Originally published 04/18/2013

    Old Jews Telling Jokes

    Old Jews Telling JokesWestside Theater 407 W. 43rd Street New York, N.Y.For generations, the Borscht Belt was the capital of humor in the United States. The Borscht Belt was the chain of resort hotels in New York State’s Catskill Mountains, just a ninety-minute drive from New York City. It was its own ocomic nation in the 1940s and ‘50s.Many of the top comedians performing there -- not to mention most of the audience -- were Jewish (hence the name, as most New York Jews came from eastern Europe). The highlight of these comic routines were well plotted and perfectly timed stories about Jewish, and urban, life in America.They were hysterical.Now the whole country gets a chance to hear the old stories that rattled the funny bones of Americans for generation in Old Jews Telling Jokes, an hilarious historic review of the old stories that just opened at New York’s Westside Theater. It is one of the funniest shows to debut in New York in decades.

  • Originally published 02/14/2013

    Only surviving synagogue near Auschwitz on verge of collapse

    A synagogue near the former Nazi death camp Auschwitz is on the verge of collapse, officials warned on Wednesday.The head of the Auschwitz Jewish Center Foundation, which maintains the historic building in the southern Polish city of Oswiecim, said in a phone interview that the synagogue is on unstable ground and if it is not reinforced soon, it may crumble."There are already small cracks visible," Tomasz Kuncewicz said. "A thorough examination found that the ground is unstable and with heavy rain or something similar, anything can happen."...

  • Originally published 02/14/2013

    Only surviving synagogue near Auschwitz on verge of collapse

    A synagogue near the former Nazi death camp Auschwitz is on the verge of collapse, officials warned on Wednesday.The head of the Auschwitz Jewish Center Foundation, which maintains the historic building in the southern Polish city of Oswiecim, said in a phone interview that the synagogue is on unstable ground and if it is not reinforced soon, it may crumble."There are already small cracks visible," Tomasz Kuncewicz said. "A thorough examination found that the ground is unstable and with heavy rain or something similar, anything can happen."...

  • Originally published 01/29/2013

    Poignant photograph that proves pensioner's family died at Auschwitz

    It finally proved what the Dorset pensioner had long suspected – that his parents and grandmother perished in the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz nearly seven decades ago.Mr Grenville and his sister were among 10,000 Jewish children evacuated from Germany to Britain before the war as part of the Kindertransport refugee mission.They knew their parents Jacob and Klara Greilsamer and grandmother Sara Ottenheimer had been sent to an internment camp in Czechoslovakia and had been able to exchange brief messages with them via the Red Cross....

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