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A Discussion with
Editor Menachem Z. Rosensaft
General Counsel of the World Jewish Congress and founding chairman of the International Network of Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors. He teaches about the law of genocide at the law schools of Columbia and Cornell Universities.


Dr. David Kraemer, Joseph J. and Dora Abbell Librarian and professor of Talmud and Rabbinics, JTS, served as moderator.

 

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(Caption: The building of the Tabernacle in the desert for the Levites’ service.)

Petrus Cunaeus, Republyk der Hebreen (Amsterdam, 1700), Vol. 2, p. 474
RBR DS 116 C915 1700 v.2

The Hebrew Republic (De Republica Hebraeorum in the original Latin) was written in the aftermath of Dutch independence from Spain.

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The Hebrew Bible in which this engraved frontispiece is found was printed in Venice in 1739 at the request of a physician named Isaac Foa. In addition to the Hebrew text, it contains Italian explanations of difficult passages. The engraver, Francesco Griselini (1717–1787), illustrated many non-Jewish works as well as notable borders for megillot, and later became known for his scholarly writing on natural history.

This is the most elaborate of the four frontispieces in this Bible, with images from the story of the Akedah (Binding of Isaac) in this week’s parashah.

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Dr. Vera Basch Moreen’s Catalog of Judeo-Persian Manuscripts in The Library of The Jewish Theological Seminary of America (Brill, 2015) serves as an essential reference work for scholars in the fields of Judaica and Iranica about the range of subjects—such as history, poetry, medicine, and philology—that engaged Iranian Jews between the 15th and 19th centuries, and the extent to which an understanding of classical Jewish texts was enmeshed in the literary and artistic sensibilities of the Iranian environment.

The exhibition Judeo-Persian Manuscripts in the JTS Library Collection, curated by

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ABOUT THE PROGRAM

Dr. Johanna Spector (1915–2008), who taught Ethnomusicology at JTS, was a Holocaust survivor who documented Jewish music from around the world. This special Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration will highlight her life and work, as well as The JTS Library's Johanna Spector Archives and Holocaust-related materials.

Etta Abramson (GS '14, DS '14) will perform songs from Dr. Spector's Ghetto-und KZ-Lieder aus Lettland und Litauen (Ghetto and Concentration-Camp Songs from Latvia and Lithuania), and read excerpts from Dr. Spector's diaries.

By Dr. Alan Mintz | Chana Kekst Professor of Hebrew Literature in the Department of Jewish Literature

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The Torah is replete with lists of every kind: the generations before and after Noah, the enumeration of the tribes and their chieftains in the desert, the catalogs of forbidden foods, the inventories of priestly garments. The book of Numbers, which begins with a census, is especially true to its name.

By Rabbi Samuel Barth | Senior Lecturer in Liturgy and Worship

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Several decades ago, many ceremonies commemorating the Shoah attempted to tell the entirety of the story, with numbers that defied comprehension and broad-sweeping trends of history that submerged the experience of individuals in the story of a world run amok. In more recent years, I have observed that the experience and testimonies of individuals have become more prominent, perhaps serving as holographic slivers that represent the wider context. As survivors of the Holocaust are fewer in number each year, we turn to the writings, art, songs, and recordings born out of those years.

As we look

By Rabbi Eliezer Diamond | Rabbi Judah Nadich Associate Professor of Talmud and Rabbinics

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What does it mean to celebrate Passover in the shadow of death?

I ask this question for two reasons. First, I am awed but also mystified by those who celebrated the festival of freedom in the gulags and death camps. Why did they not see such a celebration as cruel joke, commemorating a freedom granted in the distant past while suffering cruel and often inhuman oppression in the present? And second, I ask myself, what can I learn from them that should inform my own celebration of Passover?

To address the first question, let’s attend to the words of Simcha Bunim Unsdorfer, a former inmate of

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Dr. Jonathan Rieder delves deeper than anyone before into Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "Letter from Birmingham Jail," illuminating both its timeless message and crucial position in the history of civil rights. Dr. Rieder has interviewed Dr. King's surviving colleagues, and located rare audiotapes of Dr. King speaking in the mass meetings of 1963. Gospel of Freedom: Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Letter from Birmingham Jail gives us a startling perspective on the "Letter" and the man who wrote it: an angry prophet who chastised US whites, found solace in the faith and resilience of the slaves, and

By Rabbi Robert Harris | Associate Professor of Bible

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“Come and listen to my story ’bout a man named . . . Jethro!” OK, I will admit it: when as a young teenager and first really learning Torah in my post–bar mitzvah stage, every time I heard the name “Jethro” in the Exodus narrative, I thought first about Jethro Clampett (Jed’s nephew) from The Beverly Hillbillies. OK, I will admit it: I still do.

Now that we have cleared that up, what do we actually read about Jethro in this week’s portion, Yitro(the phonetical spelling of Jethro’s name in Hebrew)? While most of us eagerly turn to the Bible’s narrative of God’s Revelation on Mount Sinai (in

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