In Essays, Judaism and Society, Spring 2011 Issue on May 21, 2011 at 12:24 am
By Ethan Tratner
The Mel Brooks comedy film Blazing Saddles (1974) features a Native American chief (played by Brooks) speaking Yiddish. Although this scene is used for comic effect, some people believe that the Native Americans are descended from the Ancient Hebrews. This belief recently resurfaced when the History Channel aired a special entitled Who Really Discovered America?(2010)1 which they questioned whether Christopher Columbus was the first person to stumble upon the Americas on his way to Asia. They propose many new theories about who may have first landed in the Americas ranging from the Welsh to the Indonesians. In one segment, the special proposes that the ancient Hebrews discovered America first. Unlike many of the other theories, the basis for the theory of the Native Americans’ Jewish origins has had deep roots in European Jewish and Christian thought for hundreds of years and continues to this day. Read the rest of this entry »
In Poetry, Winter 2011 Issue on May 20, 2011 at 10:11 pm
By Zora Raskin
Nuclear proliferation has become so much a part of the constant buzz of the Washington hive that we have ceased to question
We are building and building and building to destruction
We have accepted the narrative that if we possess 500 times the power of the sun our enemies will crawl back into the holes from where they came from?
That their violence, fears our violence
Break that linear bullshit, everything is a circle. Read the rest of this entry »
In Essays, Jewish Culture, Winter 2011 Issue on May 20, 2011 at 5:05 pm
By Ethan Tratner
For thousands of years, Jews have lived as a marginalized people exiled throughout the world. After massive immigrations to countries such as Israel and America and thousands of years living as a minority, the question emerged: what makes Jews unique and where do they belong? In America, many Jews acculturate into society, yet they manage to retain uniquely Jewish traditions. One such aspect of Jewish culture that sets Jews apart from their surrounding cultures is language. Jews have always used their own language, Hebrew, in religious ceremonies and texts. Within their communities, however, a variety of secular languages were spoken in everyday life. Many of these distinctly Jewish languages are in danger of extinction. It is imperative that Jews attempt to preserve their many languages because it adds vibrancy to our culture.
The ancient Jews spoke Hebrew. This is in the Semitic language group that includes Aramaic, Assyrian and Arabic. These languages originated and were spoken throughout the Middle East. The ancient Jews were subject to attack from various expanding empires fighting over the region. After the loss of the kingdoms of Judea and Israel the Jews were scattered across the Middle East, North Africa and Europe. With the loss of a singular homeland, the Jews integrated into these new empires. Although the Jews are now living in the Diaspora or exile, they have not dissolved into their new nations. Hebrew remained the Jewish language of prayer and new languages formed within the now dispersed Jewish communities. Read the rest of this entry »