Blacks, Jews, and the Post-Racial Candidate

This week I’m in New York City for the New Voices Conference in Independent Jewish Student Journalism. “Blacks, Jews, and the Post-Racial Candidate” was the subject of last night’s (May 28) panel discussion at the Center for Jewish History (CJH).

Moderated by Marissa Brostoff (New Voices contributing writer), the panel consisted of Sam Freedman (Columbia . . . → Continue reading: Blacks, Jews, and the Post-Racial Candidate

On Frida Kahlo’s Jewish Identity

Frida Kahlo’s genealogy, at least on her father’s side, was finally established by historical researchers Gaby Franger and Rainer Huhle for their book on Guillermo Kahlo’s photographic work, >Fridas Vater: Der Fotograf Guillermo Kahlo (2005). The historians learned that Guillermo Kahlo was the scion of a long line of German Lutheran Protestants. Left uncertain was whether Frida’s Jewish ancestry was 1) via her paternal grandmother, Henriette Kaufmann, 2) via crypto-Jewish roots on her mother’s Spanish-Mexican side, or 3) a complete fiction. Personally, I’ll take Frida at her word. As cruel as it seems to me for an art exhiition curator to ignore Frida’s Jewish identity, it seems even more obnoxious to question it. I imagine that Henriette Kaufmann’s family was Jewish and hailed from Arad, not very distant from my own ancestral roots in Nagyvárad, Transylvania. . . . → Continue reading: On Frida Kahlo’s Jewish Identity

Seven Kings

In the beginning, there were seven kings

One created a kingdom of earth and became suffused with it. One created a kingdom of one and hid himself in it. One created a kingdom of love and filled it with two and a challenge to entice them. One created a kingdom without number and became lost . . . → Continue reading: Seven Kings

An introduction and archive for Piyutim (sacred Jewish musical poetry and song)

An introduction to Piyutim (

A piyut (piyutim, pl. hebrew) is a sacred musical poem, sung as part of a communal prayer service but just as often after a good meal with friends and family. I was raised with these songs and tunes, learning a new one occasionally while eating as a guest at someone’s . . . → Continue reading: An introduction and archive for Piyutim (sacred Jewish musical poetry and song)

From Moineşti

Moineşti (pronounced MOI-nesht) is a small city in north-eastern Romania, in the Moldavian region, and in the county of Bacău. According to Wikipedia,

The name is derived from the Romanian word moină, which means fallow or light rain. Moineşti once had a large Jewish community; in Jewish contexts the name is often given as . . . → Continue reading: From Moineşti

Rejoining Tetragrammaton

Here is one more attempt at trying to explicate the mystery of Leviathan and Behemoth. This is a work in progress, but for those among you interested in myth and esoterica and/or Judaism, you may forgive its rough edges. Writing this took me most of yesterday evening and much of the morning, a work that’s . . . → Continue reading: Rejoining Tetragrammaton

Mardi Gras and Purim

This year, the Jewish holiday of Purim is on March 12th, which is so close to Mardi Gras (Feb 28th), the parallels are impossible to miss. I experienced Mardi Gras in Lafayette and Kaplan, the latter, far enough into the countryside where you can still find the vestiges of some extremely old traditions in practice. . . . → Continue reading: Mardi Gras and Purim

Jews in the Bayou

Fruity Jews in the Woods, or just plains Jews in the Woods, is the name of a community which is getting larger, that meets and organizes collectively over the internet via a listserve and wiki, and gathers together once or twice a year for Shabbat at a rural retreat of some sort. The values of . . . → Continue reading: Jews in the Bayou

A Story of a Fly

Once upon a time there was a fly, big and hairy as some flies are. He was born in a city nearby a large river in Mesopotamia. There the young fly ate the flesh of a corpse until he was no longer a squirming maggot and had to find a bride to birth a new . . . → Continue reading: A Story of a Fly

update 2002-08-08

I’m working on a proposal for a project that I’m calling the “Open Siddur”. The goal of the project is to bring back the creative power of t’fillah to the individual while encouraging the feeling of solidarity with and awareness of the larger Jewish community and their diversity. The draft proposal is located here. Growing . . . → Continue reading: update 2002-08-08