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.

Italy’s Far Right Is on the March

This fall marks 80 years since Fascist Italy passed the racist laws that reduced Italian Jews to second-class citizens. Overnight, children like my grandparents were barred from attending public schools and many of their parents from performing their jobs. In the following years, almost 8,000 Italians of Jewish descent were killed in the Nazi death camps.

Eight decades later, the Jewish population in Italy has shrunk, but it thrives. There are several Jewish day schools, kosher restaurants, and active synagogues spread all the way from Turin to Naples. Jewish culture and history are also flourishing: Public institutions are paying for a software-assisted translation of the Babylonian Talmud and the annual European Day of Jewish Culture involves the participation of nearly 90 cities across the country. And yet, thousands of Benito Mussolini’s nostalgics still visit the fascist dictator’s burial place to pay homage, and pigs’ heads are left at synagogues before Holocaust Memorial Day.

Enter the new government. 

The Algorithms Translating Talmud

Nearly 500 years after the Babylonian Talmud was printed in full for the first time in Venice, the same text is being printed once again in Italy, this time accompanied by an unprecedented Italian translation. The true innovation is not the translation itself, but the language parsing algorithms developed by a small, state-funded start-up company that were essential to this ambitious project.