Viewing entries tagged
Judaism

Illuminating the Book of Esther

Illuminating the Book of Esther

For decades, scholars have written pages and pages attempting to solve the enigma of the so-called “Birds’ Head Haggadah,” an illustrated manuscript of the Passover Haggadah probably created in Germany in the early 14th century. Scholars have described the work as the earliest-known illuminated version of a Haggadah; its remaining 47 folios are preserved in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. The mystery so many academics have been fascinated by lies in the way the characters are depicted around the text—with human bodies and sharp-beaked, bird-like heads.

A professor of Jewish studies at Vassar College in upstate New York, Marc Michael Epstein has introduced a series of provocative theories to the long-running academic conversation about this Haggadah. Now, after questioning the existing theories, claiming that those illustrated creatures are in fact griffins, and even challenging the academic community to rename the manuscript, he’s taking his research one step further. He’s creating a new illuminated manuscript, in the style of the Haggadah—but this time, it’ll be a Megillah.

Mutiny In Milan: Meet Italy’s First Orthodox Woman Rabbi-To-Be

Mutiny In Milan: Meet Italy’s First Orthodox Woman Rabbi-To-Be

Miriam Camerini is the first Italian woman to enroll in an Orthodox rabbinical studies program in Israel.

She revealed it earlier this winter in an article she wrote for JOI (Jewish, Open & Inclusive) Magazine, an independent Jewish publication. The comments ensued: But, contrary to expectations, they were overwhelmingly positive. On social media, fellow Jewish Italian women congratulated Camerini. Someone wrote: “It reminds me of a beautiful movie with Barbra Streisand…”, referring to Yentl, the fictional character of a short story written by Isaac Bashevis Singer who pretended to be a man so that she could study in a yeshiva.

Unlike Yentl, Camerini won’t have to cut her hair short or wear a yarmulke.

A Walk Through Bukharian Queens — Just Don’t Call It ‘Russian’

A Walk Through Bukharian Queens — Just Don’t Call It ‘Russian’

The most common misconception about Bukharian Jews?

Manashe Khaimov hesitates for a few seconds, then answers: “That we are Russian Jews. The only thing we share with Russian Jews,” he continues, “are the 70 years we lived under the Soviet Union. For 2,000 years, we had a different history, a different culture.”

A community little-known even to other Jews, Bukharian Jewry claims two millennia of history in Central Asia, namely in today’s Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, most of them migrated to Israel and the United States. Khaimov estimates that, today, some 70,000 Bukharians live in Queens, New York.

This $500 Pure Silk Tallit Is Produced In An Italian Village — Alongside Hermes Scarves

This $500 Pure Silk Tallit Is Produced In An Italian Village — Alongside Hermes Scarves

Like many traditional Jewish brides, Dora Piperno wanted to give her future husband a tallit — a Jewish prayer shawl — as a wedding gift. With one difference: She wanted to give him a tallit made of silk, the same material the ones worn by her Italian ancestors were made of.

“Back in the day,” Piperno said, “women would sew incredible embroideries on their grooms’ tallitot, or they would pay someone else to do it.”

To her surprise, Piperno discovered that silk tallitot today reside mainly in some European Jewish museums and in private homes as a memento of the past. Due to the war, migrations, the changes in the local Jewish communities and the decline of silk production, which is costly and time-consuming, the tradition faded in the mid-1900’s. Today, most Jews wear wool or polyester-made tallitot.

Together with her younger sister Sofia, Dora decided to start her own production.

Think Orthodox Students Don’t Want To Talk LGBTQ Issues? Not Anymore At YU

In a rare, student-led effort to address LGBTQ issues, dozens of Yeshiva University students crowded a classroom in the university’s Midtown campus on Tuesday evening for an event on topics such as coming out as gay on campus, creating social change and becoming allies to queer peers.

Guest speaker Ben Katz, a Yeshiva University graduate and Ph.D. candidate in clinical psychology at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, discussed his work at Shoval, an Israeli organization that promotes dialogue and education on sexual orientation and gender identity in religious schools and communities.

The fact that the event was taking place at all, and the high turnout, was deemed by many of the attendees as impressive. The Modern Orthodox university, just like much of the Orthodox world, historically has had a reputation for its unease with LGBTQ issues.