Just Published!

Cassius Marcellus Clay colorizedThe 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 The play was first performed by Rockhill Free Theatre Players in Kalamazoo, Michigan on February 7 & 8, 2003 as an unpublished work sponsored by Kalamazoo Valley Community College and the Kalamazoo Russian Festival.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.


5777 Literary Awards Announced!

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 Introduction to 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

Hebrew Word of the Week

tear_face_by_e5therThe 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.

Scarlett Stough expounds:

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)


Hebrew Word of the Week

kallahIt is interesting that in Hebrew, the word for “bride” (כַּלָּה; pronounced “kallah”) comes from the primitive shoresh (root) כָּלַל, which means “to complete” or “to perfect.”  We can see, then, that in Hebraic thought, the very word “bride” implies that this is the person who completes the picture of who the groom is; he is considered incomplete until he finds his bride.  This certainly gives us a deeper dimension to the verse “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and has obtained favor from HaShem” (Proverbs 18:22).

מָצָ֣א אִ֭שָּׁה מָ֣צָא טֹ֑וב וַיָּ֥פֶק רָ֝צֹ֗ון מֵיְהוָֽה׃