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Did Rabbi Meir of Rothenberg Refuse Release from Prison

One of the most important figures in Jewish history during the Middle Ages is Rabbi Meir of Rothenberg (Maharam), author of hundreds of responsa and communal leader. A tragic episode of his life is his imprisonment (1286) after a failed attempt to flee Germany, his eventual death in prison (1293), and that it was forbidden […]

New Book: Practicing Piety in Medieval Ashkenaz

I can’t wait to get my hands on this new book by Elisheva Baumgarten, Practicing Piety in Medieval Ashkenaz: Men, Women, and Everyday Religious Observance. In the urban communities of medieval Germany and northern France, the beliefs, observances, and practices of Jews allowed them to create and define their communities on their own terms as […]

New Book: Between the Borders of the Land of Israel

There is a new book published by Yad Ben-Zvi that addresses approaches to the borders of the Land of Israel during the Second Temple, Mishnaic, and Talmudic Periods and perceptions relating to territory and borders. (HT) מהם תחומיה וגבולותיה של ארץ ישראל ? האם מאשקלון שבדרום ועד עכו בצפון או שמא בין הנילוס והפרת? האם […]

Panel Discussion at CJH-Not By Bread Alone: How Traditionalists Survived Modernity

This Thursday night, November 14, at the Center for Jewish History will be the following panel discussion: Join a provocative discussion on the resilience and adaptability of traditionalism. During the late 19th century, most East European Jews still consented to rabbinic authority, conformed to traditional gender norms, and remained attuned to the rhythms of halakhah. […]

Yankel’s Tavern: Jews, Liquor, and Life in the Kingdom of Poland

Glenn Dynner, the author of Men of Silk: The Hasidic Conquest of Polish Jewish Society, has a new book that is available for pre-order, Yankel’s Tavern: Jews, Liquor, and Life in the Kingdom of Poland. In nineteenth-century Eastern Europe, the Jewish-run tavern was often the center of leisure, hospitality, business, and even religious festivities. This […]

Video-Rabbi Benny Lau on Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef

For those who want a very good introduction to the importance of Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef, this recent talk by Rabbi Benny Lau is worthwhile. It is in Hebrew and HT goes to Rav Tzair.

The Ninth of Av as a Day of Celebration

Moshe Benovitz of the Schechter Institute has a thought provoking post about Tisha B’av and Yom Ha’atzmaut. Both the Bible and rabbinic literature do single out a number of days, and one day in particular, as the day on which to celebrate the restoration of the land of Israel and the holy city of Jerusalem […]

Ancient Maps of Jerusalem

This is a nice site that includes dozens of ancient maps of Jerusalem.

New York Times Report on Reunification of Jerusalem

The following news article appeared on the front page of the New York Times on June 30, 1967. It describes the removal of the barriers that once divided Jerusalem. I have a special affinity for this article and not only because of the joyous news that it reports, but also because it appeared in the […]

A New Explanation for Jewish Success

At PBS Newshour Maristella Botticini and Zvi Eckstein write about their recent book The Chosen Few: How Education Shaped Jewish History, 70-1492 . (HT to the Israeli website Compress that posted a translation of this article.) The key message of “The Chosen Few” is that the literacy of the Jewish people, coupled with a set of […]

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