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

Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at 12.28.05 PM

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.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/TKRXyBgDw70]

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.

Who Was Aaron of Lincoln? Jewish Biography as History

Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 1.51.26 PM

Reputed to be the wealthiest man in 11th century England–wealthier even than the King–Aaron of Lincoln was a hugely successful moneylender whose achievements included the financing of many cathedrals. His story, while exceptional in terms of scope, is nevertheless instructive of the Jewish experience in the medieval economy as a whole.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/1GsvLP6fmpM]

 

Who was Eldad ha-Dani? Jewish Biography as History by Dr. Henry Abramson

Screen Shot 2014-11-27 at 10.34.47 AM

Claiming descent from the long-lost Ten Tribes of Israel, Eldad was a ninth-century traveler with a fantastic story: beyond the “River Kush” lay an intact civilization of Jews who enjoyed political sovereignty, in preparation for their eventual return to the Land of Israel in messianic times. Surviving shipwreck, cannibals and attack from fire-worshipping pagans, Eldad’s story of the mystical river Sambatyon and the Jews who lived there captivated the Jewish mind for centuries, and had a lasting impact on the development of Christian thought as well. But was he for real?

Dr. Abramson is way better in print (and taller, too):

kof cover DMA_FotorThe Sea of TalmudTHUMBNAIL_IMAGE

prayer-for-the-government-coverart of hatred cover

Who Was Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai? Jewish Biography as History Dr. Henry Abramson

rashbi thumbnail

Emerging from a cave after twelve years of isolated Torah study, Rabbi Shimon Yohai went on to become one of ancient Israel’s most celebrated Kabbalists and leaders of the Jewish people.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/XP-MwKLC5tw]

 

Dr. Abramson in Print (and eBooks!)

Prayer for the Government coverart of hatred coverRTT Cover 2

kof cover DMA_FotorRambam CoverThe Sea of Talmud

Who Was Babatha? Jewish Biography as History Dr. Henry Abramson

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 4.33.36 PM

Rolling her precious documents and carefully wrapping them in a leather pouch tied with twine, Babatha buried her entire legal history in the floor of the cave she shared with Bar Kochba’s rebels. They would remain entombed in that desolate refuge for 1800 years until their discovery by archaeologist Yigael Yadin, and then the life of an otherwise forgotten 2nd-century woman suddenly came to light: her marriages, custody battles for her son, property disputes, and much more. The Babatha archive constitutes an amazing source of information for the history of Jewish women in ancient Israel.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/xp5OLZKC8Xw]

Who Was Bar Kochba? Jewish Biography as History Lecture by Dr. Henry Abramson

BK thumbnail

“Akiva, grass will grow from your cheeks,” said the talmudic Rabbi Yochanan ben Torta, “and still the messiah will not have come.” A stinging rebuke for the most prominent supporter of Bar Kochba’s would-be messianic leadership of the Jewish people in his 2nd-century rebellion against the Roman oppressors. Who was Bar Kochba, and what did his rebellion signify for Jewish history?

Dr. Abramson in print:

kof cover DMA_Fotor The Sea of Talmud  Rambam Cover  rtt2  art of hatred coverPrayer for the Government cover

Free Download of The Kabbalah of Forgiveness (Expires October 19, 2014)

kof cover DMA_Fotor

 

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IC7HkJWBorE

Please visit https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/464044 and enter coupon code YT52E (Expires October 19, 2014).

Please click here for excepts and supporting videos.

 

 

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.

Rabbi Hayim of Volozhin (This Week in Jewish History)

The Yeshiva of Volozhin via Wikimedia Commons
The Yeshiva of Volozhin via Wikimedia Commons

Founder of the famous Yeshiva of Volozhin, Rabbi Hayim ben Yitshad was one of the most influential proponents of traditional Talmudic study of the early 19th century.  The author of Nefesh haHayim, he articulated a cogent response to the growing Hasidic movement.

Nicholas Donin and the Disputation of 1240 (This Week in Jewish History)

1413-disputation (1)

In 1240 Nicholas Donin, a Jewish convert to Christianity, engaged in a public debate with his former teacher, Rabbi Yechiel of Paris. Donin charged that the Talmud was a noxious document that prevented the Jews from embracing Christianity, and brought a total of 35 distinct accusations against this ancient holy text. Ultimately, 24 carriage loads of Talmuds, representing 10,000 priceless manuscripts were burned in Paris on June 6, 1242.

Personal note to my subscribers: I was so impressed with the NCSY Learnathon that my son Alexander completed, that I decided to join on my own! Please visit http://learn.ncsy.org/learner/hmabramson/ to support this great organization that does so much for Jewish youth (and encourage me to study more Talmud)!