Select Section Jewish Culture & Yiddish: 24JEWISH ALERTS large selection videos and feeds in each section

jewish music Fiddler on the Roof + Mi Ha Ish klezmer music yiddish music jewish music ZOHAR \YUSTUS


jewish music jewish music jewish music klezmer music klezmer music yiddish music music yiddish music yiddish music ISRAEL

Yiddish vs. German: an experiment.


A comparison between Yiddish and German. I made up a bunch of sentences to highlight some of the differences between German and Yiddish with respect to vocabulary, grammar (especially word order), phonology (sounds) and vowels. The sentences were read aloud in English and my friend Frank, a native German speaker from Bavaria (but speaking Hochdeutsch/standard German) translated them into German and I translated them into my non-native Ukrainian Yiddish. Even if you don’t speak either language you can hear where the two are different and perhaps pick up a bit of either one or both. German speakers should note that other Yiddish dialects (Litvak, northern Ukrainian) pronounce “u” the same way as in German so “und” (and) is “und” but in my dialect it becomes “in”. Otherwise all of the differences in the vowels between the two languages are pretty normal. You may also notice that there are words in Yiddish that exist in German dialects but not Hochdeutsch (“epes” for “etvas”, “do” for “hier”) and there are words in German that Frank uses that are also used in Yiddish (Geschaft, Stunde) but which I don’t use. Of all the German dialects Yiddish is probably closest to some forms of Badisch and Swiss German. Yiddish was the language of Eastern European (Ashkenazi) Jews until the Holocaust and is now primarily spoken in Hasidic communities in Israel, the USA, England, Australia, Canada and Belgium. It is written in the Hebrew alphabet.

, דײַטש, ייִדיש, אידיש, שפּראַך, דיִאַלעקט, דײַטשיש , גרמנית, ידיש, דיאלקט, שפה, מדגישה, בלשנות

Jewish Life – Yiddish Show


In this Jewish Life Show, we interviewed Arthur Schwartz (head of the SB Yiddish Club,) heard a Yiddish song by Lorraine Klein, and saw a Yiddish Play based on a famous Jewish Story. Join us for a Yiddish Night!

The Yiddish Book Center’s Great Jewish Books Summer Program



Rediscovering Sepharad, last segment In this colorful neighborhood of narrow streets and grand buildings, we find remnants of a Jewish culture that once characterized the district.

Haredi: The Ultra orthodox society in Israel


This is a documentary  that follows a variety of people in the Ultra orthodox community in Israel, and tells different stories. First of is the Israeli election, in a feud between the sides in the community whether they should vote or not vote, second issue is the issue regarding education and poverty, where two women try to change the enviroment regarding haredi education and family planning, and the third part is about the controversy surrounding the internet in the Haredi world. Should internet be allowed or not?


Adar I 25, 5774 · February 25, 2014

They brought the Sanctuary to Moses, the tent and all its furnishings . . . Moses saw all the work, and behold, they had done it as G‑d had commanded . . . and Moses blessed them.

Exodus 39:33–43

Moses blessed them: He said, “May it be the will of G‑d that His presence dwell within the work of your hands.”

—Rashi’s commentary

Often, a person may feel inadequate in the face of a spiritual challenge, and contend that he is simply not equipped to reach for “lofty” attainments. For example, one may argue that while the perfection of his behavior is a matter of choice, he lacks the mental and emotional fortitude to transform his character. This, he maintains, is best left to individuals of a greater spiritual stature than himself.

Says the Torah: You do yours. Apply yourself to constructing the external edifice, and the Almighty will provide the “soul” to dwell therein. Do your utmost to make yourself a fitting vessel, and G‑d will fill it with the sublime resources which seem so elusive to you now.1

—Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi

Once, a certain individual was condemned to Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi as a hypocrite. “He considers himself a chassid (‘pious one’),” the rebbe was told, “and has assumed all sorts of pious customs and practices. He acts like a real holy fellow. But it’s all superficial: internally, his mind and heart are as coarse and unrefined as ever.”

“Well,” said the rebbe, “in that case, may he meet the end that the Talmud predicts for such people.”

The “informers” were taken aback. They had merely desired to “warn” the rebbe about this individual. But now, what sort of calamity had the rebbe called down upon him?

Rabbi Schneur Zalman explained: In the final mishnah of Tractate Pe’ah, the Talmud discusses the criteria for a pauper to be eligible to receive charity. The section concludes with the warning: “One who is not in need, but takes . . . one who is not lame or blind, but makes himself as such—will not die of old age until he is indeed as such.”

“In the same vein,” concluded the rebbe, “one who makes of himself more than he is in matters of righteousness and piety, will eventually find that these traits have become ingrained in his character and very being.”

1. In his Tanya, Rabbi Schneur Zalman applies this to the beinoni (“ordinary man”) who feels that he lacks the spiritual credentials to aspire to the level of tzaddik, the perfectly righteous individual, who has utterly transformed himself both “inside” and “out.” In the words of Rabbi Schneur Zalman: “Habit reigns supreme in any sphere, and becomes second nature. So, if one accustoms himself to despise evil, it will to some extent become despicable in truth; likewise, if one accustoms himself to gladden his heart in G‑d through reflection upon His greatness, his self-impulsion will bring on inspiration from on high. If he pursues this path, perhaps a spirit from above will descend upon him and imbue him with the soul of a tzaddik.

VOICES: It’s a Dark World

It’s a Dark World
Adar I 25, 5774 · February 25, 2014
Unless we open the shutters

I don’t know what I expected from an around-the-world flight . . . but it wasn’t this. On my flight from California to Australia, it has been dark for more than 16 hours. I remember the sun setting. It was around 5 PM. Since that moment, it has remained the darkest of nights.

Well, fine, I’ll be honest. I know that the plane is not surrounded by a coal-black sky. But here inside the plane, it is dark. All windowshades are sealed shut, and the stewardesses are desperate to convince us that it’s time to sleep. For all intents and purposes, it is nighttime.

At this very moment the sun is shining, but we don’t see even a hint of its glow.

And why would we want to? We, the people of the plane, are content. Our eyes have adjusted; we have acclimated to the darkness. Some of us are dozing, and the alert among us are happily entertained by their self-powered devices.


It has been dark for more than 16 hours

down,” the stewardesses smile, as they lure us with boxed meals and orange juice. “Relax, and you won’t even miss the sun.”

And we almost don’t. It is peaceful up here, 50,000 feet above the earth. We could almost forget that this is not the way that things are meant to be.

We are trapped in a cage of blackness, while the sun begs to warm our skin and light our lives. If only we would look outside.

It happens on the ground, too, you know? Just in a different way. We go about our lives. We get used to the rush. The darkness. The deceit that we so often encounter. We grow accustomed to the necessity of stretching truth and limiting kindness for our own protection.

We don’t even realize that this is not the way things are meant to be. That we must fight the darkness, not get used to it. That we must strive to pry open the shutters and reveal the light. And that every tiny bit of light chases away an abundance of blackness.

It is akin to an allegory of old, in which a few families are thrown into a pit due to their inability to pay rent. They construct beds and chairs from mud and straw, and pray for freedom. They make do, but pine to see their homes once more. They whisper memories of a better life into the ears of their sons and daughters.


We must fight the darkness, not get used to it

children grow up having never seen trees. Having never felt grass beneath their feet. They grow older thinking that this is life. That the color scheme of the world is brown, black and gray. That the most comfortable bed in the world is one of straw. As these kids grow, they smile pityingly at the delusions of their parents.

And that? That is true exile. When the prisoner does not even know that he is incarcerated.

But there is life beyond the pit, and there is a sun shining outside this plane, and there is a utopian world waiting for us to reveal it.

There awaits a light and a life that is more vibrant than anything we can imagine. We need not get used to the dark realities of the world. We must fight them with light. One action at a time. One more dollar for charity. One more smile for the downhearted. One more visit to a sick friend.

I just peeked outside my window.

It’s brilliant.

By Rochel Spangenthal    More articles…  |   RSS Listing of Newest Articles by this Author

Rochel Spangenthal recently acquired a BA in psychology and biology from Yeshiva University. A native North Carolinian, Rochel is now a freelance writer, photographer and world traveler. Her topics of writing include chassidic philosophy, Judaism, psychology, and the tiny details of life. You can read more of her writing on her blog or Facebook page, and can view her photography here.

Harold Ramis; Oldest Holocaust Survivor Dies; Yelling at Delta Rep – February 25, 2014

To the Ticket Agent at the Delta Counter

by Josh Misner, Ph.D.
A powerful lesson in forgiveness: and being a role model for your kids.

Harold Ramis’ Search for Meaning

by Yvette Alt Miller
The writer and director of Groundhog Day passes away, leaving behind a legacy of funny, thoughtful films.

Video: The Truth about the UN

by Danny Ayalon
Welcome to the theater of the absurd where hypocrisy and cynicism reign.

Looking Good for Your Husband

by Emuna Braverman
It tells him: you’re the most important person in the world to me.

6 Tips on Encouraging Your Kids to Help Out

by Adina Soclof
Make your kids feel appreciated and valued at home.

Editor’s Pick:

Video: Everything Is a Present

by Anthony Robbins
The inspiration behind an Oscar-nominated documentary, Alice Herz-Sommer passed away a week before the Academy Awards at age 110.


On havdalah

On havdalahPosted: 24 Feb 2014 07:59 AM PST

Image002On a recent Saturday at my shul, we paused in an evening program to make havdalah. Afterwards, someone emailed me asking to learn more, pointing out that havdalah was entirely new to them, and perhaps to others as well.

Probably you know we begin Shabbat with a simple ritual: we light candles, bless the fruit of the vine (a symbol of joy and holiness), bless bread (which for most Ashkenazi Jews means challah, though in other parts of the world Jews bless other forms of bread, from tortillas to naan) and in many households also bless our children. Before this ritual, it’s still work-week; after the blessings are spoken and the candles are lit, we’ve entered into the time-apart-from-time which we call Shabbat. Havdalah is the mirror reflection of that; as those blessings began Shabbat, havdalah is how Shabbat ends. The word havdalah means “separation.”

At havdalah, we light a braided candle with many wicks, and hold it aloft for all to see. In the most traditional paradigm no fire is kindled during Shabbat, so the striking of the match to light the havdalah candle is a powerful first sign that Shabbat is ending. We bless the fruit of the vine once more. We bless fragrant spices, and pass them around to inhale their heady scent. We bless God who separates one thing from another: separates light from dark, one community from another, the rest day of Shabbat from the six days of work. And then we extinguish the candle in the wine. With that sputter and hiss, Shabbat comes to its end.

After the candle is extinguished, many of us have the custom of singing “Eliahu HaNavi” and/or its twin song “Miriam HaNeviah” — songs expressing hope for redemption. Then we might sing “Shavua Tov” — “A good week, a week of peace, may gladness reign and joy increase!” And with that, the new week begins.

I love havdalah. It’s one of my favorite rituals in Jewish practice. And it is very much a ritual, not a ceremony. What’s the difference? A ceremony, such as a graduation, celebrates and makes official something which has already occurred — in the case of a graduation, it marks the fact that a student has completed a course of study. (But the course of study is complete already, whether or not the student walks across the stage to receive the diploma.) A ritual, such as havdalah,creates a spiritual change while it is taking place.

I love havdalah because it’s the second bookend, the close-parenthesis, which balances the ritual of making Shabbat in the first place. On Friday night we light candles and bless wine; on Saturday night we bless wine and extinguish a candle. On Friday night we begin something special and sacred, and on Saturday night we bring it to its close. On Friday night we open a door, and on Saturday night we close it. We both start and finish Shabbat with mindfulness, taking a few minutes to be aware of a moment in time when something changes. Havdalah is a hinge, a fulcrum-point, balancing between the Shabbat which is ending and the new week which is beginning. We teeter at the top of the hill for a moment and then tumble down the other side.

Orion-Jupiter-and-clouds-Nov16_2012S-1024x682I love havdalah because it’s so poignant. Usually the ritual is done in semi-darkness; we’re supposed to be able to see three stars in the sky, so night is really falling. The day of Shabbat is coming to its end. And we gather together, sometimes standing in a circle with our arms around each other, and sing these last songs and gaze at this candle and smell the sweet spices which are meant to revive us from the impending departure of that second Shabbat soul. It feels as though we’re coming together to savor the last moments of Shabbat sweetness before they’re gone for the week.

I love havdalah because there are so many beautiful teachings about its additional layers of meaning. For instance: when the braided candle is held aloft, there is a custom of holding up one’s hands to see the light illuminating our fingernails and our skin. The Hebrew word for light (אור) and the Hebrew word for skin (עור) are homonyms: they are both pronounced or. When we hold up our hands before the havdalah flame, we remember the teaching (from the Zohar) that in the world to come we will wear skins made out of light, garments woven out of the brightly shining mitzvot we performed in this life.

But most of all I love havdalah because even without all of the extra teachings and interpretations we can lay on top of it, it works. It makes a difference. Spending five minutes in a darkened room holding that braided candle aloft, making these blessings, breathing in the sweet spices, and then plunging the candle into the wine — it does something. You can feel the change in the energy of the room. Something has ended and something else has begun.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.