Avraham Zacuto, Jewish Astronomer to Columbus (This Week in Jewish History)

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Brief video describing the life and activity of Avraham Zacuto, Spanish-Jewish Astronomer and Historian whose work contributed directly to the travels of Christopher Columbus and other 15th-century explorers.

Jews, Tisha B’Av, and World War I (This Week in Jewish History)

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Brief discussion of the anniversary of Tisha B’Av, the onset of World War I, and its implications for Jewish History.

Warsaw Ghetto Deportation (This Week in Jewish History)

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In July of 1942 (coinciding with Av 5702), the Nazis began a major deportation of Jews from the Warsaw ghetto to the Treblinka concentration camp. By September, 235,000 Warsaw Jews were murdered in the gas chambers.

Rashi (This Week in Jewish History)

Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo ben Yitshak) was a great 11th century commentator on the Torah. This brief video outlines his major scholarly contribution within historical context.

What is Yud Shvat? This Week in Jewish History

Yud Shvat, the tenth day of the Hebrew month of Shvat, is an auspicious date for Chabad Hasidm, commemorating the passing of the 6th Rebbe in 1950 and the ascension to leadership of the 7th Rabbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, one year later on January 17, 1951.


The Septuagint (This Week in Jewish History) Dr. Henry Abramson


The Septuagint, an ancient translation of the Torah into Koine Greek, had a tremendous impact on the later Christian understanding of Jewish theology.



Irving Berlin and the Creation of Popular American Culture (This Week in Jewish History)

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At this time of year it’s impossible to escape the ubiquitous holiday music that assults us whenever we turn on the radio or walk through a shopping mall. Few listeners are aware, however, that the syrupy, commercialized versions of holiday cheer have their origins in the musical genius of a Jewish immigrant from Siberia, the phenomenal Irving Berlin. Whatever we may think of the 21st century interpretations of his work, it is undeniable that Berlin had the amazing ability to express the core values of American culture in a way that transcended religious ideology.


Here’s some additional useful comments from Dr. Carl Singer:

His actions were acknowledged with such accolades as the Army’s Medal of Merit from President Truman in 1945; a Congressional Gold Medal for “God Bless America” and other patriotic songs from President Eisenhower in 1954; and the Freedom Medal from President Ford in 1977. In 2002, the U.S. Army at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, named the Army Entertainment Division (AED) World Headquarters “The Irving Berlin Center” in his honor. Also that year he was commemorated on a U.S. postage stamp.
Irving Berlin “God Bless America” – The Ed Sullivan Show   God Bless America     Irving Berlin on Ed Sullivan May 5, 1968
Irving Berlin – ‘Oh, How I Hate to get up in the Morning’   Oh how I hate to get up in the morning  1943  “this is the Army”
Kate Smith, God Bless America        Kate Smith – God Bless America  introducing “a new song”
I believe there was a slight error towards the end of the presentation:  “Congressional Medal of Honor” — is likely a misnomer.  To the best of my knowledge there is no such medal.
There is the Congressional Gold Medal.   The “Medal of Honor” (no “Congressional“) is the nation’s highest military award.

The Nuremberg Laws of 1935 (This Week in Jewish History) Dr. Henry Abramson

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The Nuremberg Laws of 1935 defined, for the purposes of the Nazi regime, exactly who was considered a Jew. This was an essential element in the unfolding of the Holocaust, as the Nuremberg Laws allowed the Nazis to first identify, then exclude, and finally attempt to eliminate Jews from German society. Part of the “This Week in Jewish History” series by Dr. Henry Abramson. More videos available at http://www.henryabramson.com

The Chofetz Chaim (This Week in Jewish History)

Israel Meir Kagan (photo courtesy Baruch Chafetz via Wikimedia Commons)
Israel Meir Kagan (photo courtesy Baruch Chafetz via Wikimedia Commons)

Brief video highlighting the life and work of Rabbi Israel Meir Kagan (1838-1936), one of the most influential Rabbis of the 20th century.  Better known as the Chofetz Chaim (*one who desires life,” taken from Psalm 34).



Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch (This Week in Jewish History)

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch via Wikimedia Commons
Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch via Wikimedia Commons

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch (1808-1888) articulated a strategy to allow Jews their traditional observances while participating actively in the modern world.  Criticized from both the left and the right, his thought remains highly influential into the 21st century.