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A Jewish Magician Among the Spirits

Efram Sera-Shriar remembers Harry Houdini’s investigations into spirit and psychic phenomena at the turn of the twentieth century. In 1926, the famous American magician Harry Houdini (née Ehrich Weisz) participated in a series of congressional hearings to determine whether ‘fortune telling’ should be made a criminal offence in the District of Columbia. For many observers […]

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A flashy new diamond

Sue Fox visits the revamped Manchester Jewish Museum and bemoans the lack of storage for an umbrella and raincoat. My father, Jack Fox, who was an insurance broker, had his office in St Marks Lane, Cheetham Hill. There was a kosher slaughterer/ chicken shop and Mr Perlman the greengrocer in the narrow alley, On a visit back […]

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The Jewish Jaffanator

Nathan Abrams considers the Jewishness of a new flavour of Maryland Cookies. I have just discovered Burton’s chocolate orange range of its Maryland Cookies brand. Named the ‘Jaffanator’, their tagline is, ‘I’ll be snack’. To be fair, as I have written previously, despite the name, there is nothing Jewish about Jaffa oranges that take their […]

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Benjamin Franklin and the Parable against Persecution

Shai Afsai explores how Benjamin Franklin’s parable has a Jewish source. According to Ben Franklin’s correspondence with Benjamin Vaughan, the inspiration for two of his parables was taken ‘from an ancient Jewish tradition.’ One of these parables — commonly referred to as either the Parable against Persecution or as Abraham and the Stranger — is […]

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The Real-Life Inglourious Basterds

Nathan Abrams reviews a new book about the true history of those Jewish commandos who fought against the Nazis and helped to win World War II. The idea that Jews went like sheep to the slaughter during the Holocaust is a common one. But a spate of recent books is challenging that idea. One of […]

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Jews and Dogs

To mark the release of Cruella, Nathan Abrams reflects on the relationship between Jews and dogs. Even though I own two of them (or they own me), Jews and dogs are widely believed to be an oxymoron. Consider the Yiddish proverb, ‘A Jew with a dog? It’s either not a Jew or it’s not a […]

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Napoleon and the Jews of Europe

On the bicentenary of Napoleon’s death, François Guesnet reflects on his relationship with Europe’s Jews. During a stagecoach journey in the north of France in 1799, an agent of the secret police struck up a conversation with a Jewish fellow traveller to find out what he thought of the revolution. The answer was prudent enough: […]

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The Jewish Actor Accused of Being a Nazi Spy

To mark the publication of his new biography, James Downs explores the life of Anton Walbrook. It must be fairly unusual for someone who was referred to as a ‘Jewish actor’ and was admired for his generous support of Jewish refugees during World War II, to have also been boycotted by Jewish groups due to […]

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The Duke of Edinburgh z”l

Michael Berkowitz reflects on his personal relationship with Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh. One of the most important duties of parents is to embarrass their children. None other than Her Royal Highness, Queen Elizabeth, has helped me — prodigiously, I may add — in this vocation. My daughter Rachel and son Stephen grew up in […]

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A Forgetting of Benjamin Franklin

Shai Afsai marks the passing of Ben Franklin on 17 April 1790. Rabbis and Jewish scholars have often been unaware of, confused about, or uncomfortable acknowledging American founding father Benjamin Franklin’s influence on Judaism. Franklin specialists have been largely oblivious to it. Though the mussar (practical Jewish ethical instruction) classic Sefer Heshbon Hanefesh (Book of […]

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