Speaking of Exodus: Beshallah

Speaking of Exodus: Beshallah

Jan 29, 2021 By David G. Roskies | Commentary | Beshallah

My mother, Vilna-born, spoke a very idiomatic Yiddish. When she wanted to convey how delicious something was she would say: “ketsa-PIKH-is bi-DVASH.” Although I studied Sefer Shemot in seventh grade, in a Yiddish day school, it wasn’t until my first year as a member of Havurat Shalom, where we read, translated, and subjected the weekly parashah to open debate, that I was able to identify the source of this delicious expression: “The house of Israel named it manna; it was like coriander seed, white, and it tasted like wafers in honey” (Exod. 16:31).

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Voices from the Warsaw Ghetto: Writing Our History

Voices from the Warsaw Ghetto: Writing Our History

Jan 22, 2020 By David G. Roskies | Public Event audio

A discussion with JTS’s Dr. David G. Roskies about his powerful new collection of writings from the Warsaw Ghetto, recording the Holocaust from the perspective of its first interpreters, the victims themselves.

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Israel’s Heroic and Traumatic Journey

Israel’s Heroic and Traumatic Journey

Jun 22, 2018 By David G. Roskies | Commentary | Hukkat

For 39 years the children of Israel had been making their perilous way through the desert. At long last, on the first new moon of their 40th year, they set out on the last leg of the journey, as it is written, “The Israelites, even the whole congregation, came into the wilderness of Zin” (Num. 20:1). The road ahead was by no means assured, however, for no sooner did they arrive there than Miriam died, followed shortly thereafter by her brother Aaron, with Moses, the third member of this incomparable first family, mere days away from losing favor with God. The people were still reeling from Korah’s revolt, which had just claimed the lives of 15,000 rebels. Who would stand between the living and the dead were another plague to descend upon them?

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Change a Story and You Can Change the World

Change a Story and You Can Change the World

Feb 1, 2017 By David G. Roskies | Podcast or Radio Program

By learning the power of twice-told tales, three restless, rebellious Jews—Rebbe Nahman of Braslav, I. L. Peretz, and I.B. Singer—were reborn as Yiddish storytellers. By returning to fantasy and the live, spoken language of the people, they turned storytelling into an autonomous, highly creative and potentially explosive activity. A series of three podcasts.

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Itzik’s Journey

Itzik’s Journey

Nov 18, 2016 By David G. Roskies | Commentary | Vayera

He was our Bob Dylan and Dylan Thomas: a Yiddish troubadour and hard-drinking lyric poet who wrote in regular rhymes and rhythms about the lives and unrequited loves of the downtrodden. His name was Itzik Manger, and the Bible was the book he loved most in the world, especially those parts that told an inside, personal story.

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The Heavens, the Poet, and the People

The Heavens, the Poet, and the People

Sep 25, 2015 By David G. Roskies | Commentary | Ha'azinu

Between May and December 1943, the poet Yitshak Katzenelson was incarcerated with his last surviving son, Zvi, in Vittel, a German transit camp in France. There Yitshak kept a diary-cum-journal in Hebrew and completed The Song of the Slaughtered Jewish People in Yiddish, the longest epic poem to have survived the Holocaust. The pivotal ninth canto is a bold, even blasphemous, response to Parashat Ha’azinu.

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Our Gifts to the World

Our Gifts to the World

Feb 5, 2011 By David G. Roskies | Commentary | Terumah

Most visibly, most palpably, this portable structure is what set the Israelites apart from the nations, that bodied forth their difference, their chosenness. It is by carrying out God’s design with such zeal, artistry, and precision, with such an outpouring of gifts, of terumah, that this ragtag of former slaves turned itself into a nation of priests.

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