▪︎Superman was created by two Jewish teens: Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster. ▪︎Superman’s vestments cause him to stand out from the masses and include a cape (tallit?). ▪︎His identity is Kryptonian (viz. Crypto-Jew): Superman finds safety in America only if dressed up as a “gentile” instead of a foreign alien. Disguising himself as Clark Kent is a nod to Jewish immigrants trying to “pass” in the Gentile community into which they had newly integrated after escaping the Holocaust (the comic featuring his first appearance went on sale 18 April 1938). Just as “kryptonite” exposed Superman’s weakness, being found out as Jews was detrimental to many Crypto-Jews in 1930s Europe. ▪︎DC superheroes, across the board, were based on The Talmudic Tales, which were in turn representations of the heroes of the Tanakh who exhibited supernatural abilities to achieve great salvific feats inspite of their inherently human nature/mortal shortcomings. ▪︎See also: https://www.dcuniverseinfinite.com/news/20-greatest-jewish-super-heroes-dc-universe/; and https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/jews-in-comic-books/
The Other Cassius Clay by Brian Tice (Yiddishkeit 101, 2020) is a historical stageplay chronicling the life of controversial emancipationist Cassius Marcellus Clay. His name may sound familiar, as one of the slaves he freed was the ancestor of American pro boxer Muhammad Ali (formerly Cassius Clay). His anti-slavery activism in central Kentucky earned him a large number of enemies and several attempts on his life. Lincoln appointed him US Ambassador to Russia to protect his life, and he held that post well into the Grant Administraton, but he would consider his greatest achievement to be his role in the founding of the nation’s first integrated college — Berea College in Kentucky. The play was first performed by Rockhill Free Theatre Players in Kalamazoo, Michigan on February 7 & 8, 2003 as an unpublished work sponsored by Kalamazoo Valley Community College and the Kalamazoo Russian Festival. Purchase of the book includes public performance rights.
Perhaps the greatest crisis in Jewish history was the period known as the Babylonian Captivity. It was actually the apex of a progression of calamities beginning with the Assyrian Captivity of 711/12 BCE. Though the Assyrian siege targeted only the northern kingdom of Israel, more than just the tribes of the North were impacted. There was a great influx of northern kingdom citizens into the southern kingdom of Judah in the frenzy to escape exile, so that all 12 Israelite tribes came to be represented in the population of Judah. Many (but not all) were taken into captivity in Assyria.
Babylon would later seize control over the Assyrian kingdom and inherit all of her captives, including the exiled Israelites. The Israelites proved to be very self-sufficient, making good lives for themselves outside the Land of Israel. Nebuchadnezzar recognized this and in 607 BCE took captive 4 men of renown from the southern kingdom of Judah: Daniel, Shadrach, Meshak, and Abed-Nego. A second wave of captive-taking occurred in 597 BCE, and a third and final wave followed in 586/587 BCE.
During the next fifty years, closing with the Cyrus Decree of 536/537 BCE, a Diaspora court called the Anshei Knesset HaG’dolah (Men of the Great Synagogue) was convened. It consisted of 120 Sages with the Scribe Ezra presiding. This court aimed to unite the scattered synagogues which had emerged throughout the Babylonian Empire around a common liturgical system. They developed the parasha schedule, dividing the Torah Shebikhtav into 54 portions, one for each week of the Biblical calendar, so that every synagogue would be on the same passage on any given Sabbath. They also determined that seats should be made available in the synagogues. Up to this time, worship was conducted with all in attendance standing for the duration of the service, from sunup to sundown. These kinds of adjustments are called in Hebrew takkanot. Both of these innovations have stood the test of time, continuing to enjoy a central place in worship settings around the globe to this day.
Just as Ezra and the Men of the Great Synagogue got creative during the Babylonian Captivity in order to unify a Jewry which had become disconnected from Jerusalem and scattered, we now find ourselves doing the same thing… with new technology. Here are some examples.
Congratulations to the recipients of the 5777 (2016-17) Yiddishkeit 101 Literature Awards!
K-2 Level: The Chamelion that Saved Noah’s Ark by Yael Molchadsky This book presents a unique twist of the familiar story of Noah’s Ark. Orit Bergman’s illustrations make this a joy to read for ages 5-8. In the end, The Chameleon That Saved Noah’s Ark delivers a wonderful message for children. Younger siblings may feel that because of their age or size, they aren’t needed as much as an older sibling. This story demonstrates how everyone has an important role to play. http://amzn.to/2oZFF3h
3-5 Level: Our Sages Showed the Way: Stories for Young Readers and Listeners from the Talmud, Midrash, and the Literature of the Sages by Yokheved Segel Our Sages Showed the Way: Stories for Young Readers and Listeners from the Talmud, Midrash, and the Literature of the Sages (by Yokheved Segel) is a classic work beloved by children throughout the Jewish world. http://amzn.to/2q0CqIX
Middle School Level: Talmud with Training Wheels: An Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Talmud by Joel Lurie Grishaver The Talmud with Training Wheels series breaks down the Talmud so that early teens can make sense and application of it. It serves to make accessible what can seem like a daunting body of work! http://amzn.to/2q0vhs4
High School Level: Judaisms: A Twenty-first Century Introductionto Jews and Jewish Identities by Aaron J. Hahn Tapper Aaron J. Hahn Tapper’s Judaisms is a fact-packed opus highlighting the diversity that comes under the label of Judaism, and has for centuries. This book provides the proof for the legitimacy of the familiar statement: Wherever you find 2 Jews, you will encounter at least 3 opinions. A great resource! http://amzn.to/2q0AC2L
College Level: Reflecting on the Rabbis: Sage Insight into First-Century Jewish Thought by Brian Tice Reflecting on the Rabbis draws on the Sages of old and top modern scholars to bring 1st Century Judaism new life! Professor Tice is well-studied, thorough in his presentation, and generously provides a glossary of Jewish Jargon, a comprehensive index, and other helpful appendices. For these reasons and more, we select this treasured book to receive the 5777 Yiddishkeit 101 College-Level Literature Award and our sincerest recommendation! http://amzn.to/2r7RbsX
Parent/Adult: A Code of Jewish Ethics by Joseph Telushkin
A Code of Jewish Ethics (Joseph Telushkin) exists in two volumes, to date, and is the most recent endeavor toward a new codification of Jewish Ethics in several decades. It is organized into chapters and verses, following the method of Pirqei Avoth, Shulchan Arukh, etc. A treasure, to be sure!
Volume 1: http://amzn.to/2pzBXfr & Volume 2: http://amzn.to/2paTgAG
I’m pleased to have my contributor’s copy of Paul the Jew: Rereading the Apostle as a Figure of Second Temple Judaism, ed. Gabriele Boccaccini & Carlos A. Segovia (Fortress Press, 2016, the publisher’s online catalogue entry here). This volume presents edited versions of twelve papers given in an invitational conference held in Rome in 2014. […]
Yiddishkeit 101 has just opened up a free mini-course on teachable to help newlyweds of faith get their finances to work for them. Check it out (and even enroll for free) by following the link (image) below.
The word עֶ֫צֶב (generally translated “pain”) occurs only 7 times in the whole of Scripture, making it fairly easy to pin down its meaning based on context. It is sometimes translated “sorrow” or “grief.” The passages, for the sake of reference, are: Genesis 3:16; Psalm 127:2 (in the plural form); Proverbs 5:10; 10:22; 14:23; 15:1; and Jeremiah 22:28.
As these passages are all poetic, it seems that this term is one principally devoted to poetic language, so some variety is to be expected in its usage and semantic range. In the Jeremiah passage, most translations yield “idol” rather than anything related directly to grief, sorrow, or heartache… but it might be argued that the worship of idols is a cause of such emotions for HaShem.
The word “pain” in Genesis 3:16 “And I will greatly increase your pain in child-rearing” is עֶ֫צֶב (‘étzev) in Hebrew… which means “emotional travail; heartache.” I think what it is really focused on is that parenting sometimes hurts.
There is no greater sorrow than that of a mother grieving for her deceased child. As the protoeuangelion (first iteration of the Gospel) precedes Genesis 3:16 by only 1 verse… it is possible that this verse is likewise prophetic, looking ahead to the grieving mother of Yeshua after the Execution Stake.
Parents suffer for and with their children throughout their lives. The concern and empathy they feel does not end when their children grow up and leave home. The responsibilities may change and end, but the love never does.
image information: “tear face” by e5ther (deviantart)