Methuselah: The Tree That Defied Time

A tree now grows in the arid soil of Kibbutz Ketura in southern Israel. A subspecies extinct for nearly a thousand years, this Judean date palm was resurrected from a tiny 2,000-year-old seed found in an ancient clay jar unearthed in 1963 by archaeologists excavating around Herod the Great’s palace at the ancient fortress of Masada.

Continue reading

Jewish Word | When the Past Is Present and the Present Is Past

We Jews are obsessed with history. From ancient to modern times, from the Flood to the Exodus to the destruction of the Temples and the exiles, from the Middle Ages to the Inquisition and the pogroms to the Holocaust to the establishment of the State of Israel, we recall and retell our history.

Continue reading

Moment Zoominar: Stolen Legacy—Nazi Theft and the Quest for Justice with Dina Gold

When she was growing up in England, Moment senior editor Dina Gold used to listen to her grandmother’s stories about her glamorous life in 1920s Berlin and of her dreams of one day recovering the building which, she claimed, had been stolen from the family by the Nazis, Dina talks about her search to unearth the details of her long-dead grandmother’s claims and the legal case she launched to recover the property.

Continue reading

The Girl in the Blue Sweater: One Pandemic later

A year later, we speak every day, staying close during this pandemic. Helena, soon to turn 96, is quarantined alone inside her apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. It’s a home filled with memories. Photographs, books and artwork, much of it from her travels, cover walls and shelves. But her kitchen calendar, once abrim with engagements—lunches, dinners, concerts, plays—is now blank.

Continue reading

Confronting Passover, 1865

By 1865, it seemed self-evident that American emancipation resonated with biblical emancipation in powerful ways. But it had not always been so: This new resonance of meaning captured the hearts of American Jews only during the vicissitudes of the Civil War. Before the Civil War, most American Jews did not oppose slavery. There were exceptions, but most Jews voted Democrat, and Democrats were tolerant of slavery. The anti-slavery parties were tarred with nativism, which was distasteful and threatening to a Jewish community composed largely of immigrants and first-generation Americans. And many, including such luminaries as the Reform rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise and the Orthodox rabbi Morris Raphall, considered acceptance of American slavery consonant with the Bible, which documents slavery and sets parameters for its practice within the Israelite community. 

Continue reading