When we began our Zoominars at the beginning of the pandemic with the hopes of connecting with and educating our audience in a new and accessible way, who would have guessed it would grow to be one of our most popular projects? The most popular Zoominars of this year are a hodgepodge of fun, food and Jewish celebrities—a good sight cheerier than our most popular articles of 2021! Here’s to another year of digital discussions!
1. Crack, Bam, Dot: The Sounds and Stories of Mahjong with Annelise Heinz and Moment Deputy Editor Sarah Breger
Tiles clicking and clacking, women chatting—these are the childhood memories many of us have of our mothers playing mahjong, a game still enjoyed today. Annelise Heinz, author of Mahjong: A Chinese Game and the Making of Modern American Culture, explains how this Chinese game made its way to America and became so intertwined with Jewish culture. Was it childhood nostalgia or love of the game that catapulted this Zoominar to the top of our list?
2. RBG’S Brave and Brilliant Women with Nadine Epstein and Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt
Earlier this year, Moment editor-in-chief Nadine Epstein published RBG’s Brave & Brilliant Women: 33 Jewish Women to Inspire Everyone, a book she began collaborating with Justice Ginsburg on a year before her death. This inspirational and insightful Zoominar featured her discussing personal memories of RBG and her favorite female Jewish role models with Rabbi Holtzblatt, who officiated at her funeral.
3. A Tale of a Niggun by Elie Wiesel with Elisha Wiesel and Mark Podwal
A Tale of a Niggun is a little-known narrative poem by Elie Wiesel based on an actual event during the Holocaust. Rediscovered shortly after his death, this moving poem was eventually turned into a book, with an introduction by Elie’s son Elisha and illustrations by his dear friend, artist Mark Podwal, who joined us to discuss the poem’s history, why it is so important and the power of wordless Jewish melodies. Moment was founded by Elie Wiesel and fellow writer Leonard Fein, and we’re fortunate to be able to continue to spread his powerful and essential work.
4. Becoming Dr. Ruth with Ruth K. Westheimer and Tovah Feldshuh
Long before Ruth K. Westheimer became a world-famous sex therapist, she escaped the Holocaust on the Kindertransport to Switzerland, was a teenage sharpshooter in the Haganah and studied and taught at a Paris university. This incredible Zoominar is filled with her wonderful, witty and wise stories.
5. Things Calvin Trillin Forgot To Say
In 1975, beloved journalist and humorist Calvin Trillin wrote about Jacob Schiff and his uncle Ben Daynovsky in the first issue of Moment, trying to figure out why his family entered the United States through Texas, rather than not Ellis Island. The “deadline poet” joined us and his many fans with a long-waited update on his Jacob Schiff adventures and his many other projects.
6. Rosh Hashanah in an Instant with Cookbook Author Paula Shoyer
Paula Shoyer, the “Kosher Baker”, invited us into her kitchen to demonstrate how to make both a beet and quinoa salad and tzimmes using traditional methods as well as an instant pot. This charismatic and easy-to-follow chef has hosted hundreds of digital cooking classes since the pandemic began, making this a perfect resource for holiday recipes!
7. Henry Ford and Antisemitism Between World War I & World War II with Historians Pam Nadell and Daniel Greene
In the years between World War I and World War II, American society became increasingly xenophobic and prejudiced against minorities; these years also are considered the apogee of American antisemitism. One man, perhaps more than any other, played an outsized role in disseminating it; his name was Henry Ford. Two award-winning historians joined us to discuss these often-overlooked sources of antisemitism.
8. Blood Libel: An Investigation Into The Origins of a Virulent and Enduring Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theory with Historian E.M. Rose
Another timely Zoominar on a cornerstone of modern antisemitism, this time studying the origins of one of the most notorious antisemitic conspiracy theories. E.M. Rose joined us to discuss her award-winning book on the fascinating micro-history of a mysterious 12th century murder, its ensuing court case, and its groundbreaking work tracing the definite origin and ensuing spread of the concept of blood libel.
9. Charoset From Around the World
There’s more to charoset than just apples, walnuts and sweet red wine. Chef Vered Guttman demonstrated how this symbolic Passover food is prepared around the world, as well as how to make homemade horseradish and other Passover specialties. It shouldn’t be any surprise that two Zoominars on holiday food made it on the list!
10. Jewish Pioneers in Television
Time for another dive into Jewish history—and it would be a shame if, of all things, the legacy of Jews in show business went unacknowledged! Television historians Walter J. Podrazik and Harry Castleman walked us down memory lane to meet the fascinating characters who started CBS, NBC and ABC, as well as the creators and actors behind programs like Your Show of Shows, The Goldbergs, All in the Family and so many m0re.
11. What’s So Funny About Jewish Humor with William Novak
Jewish jokes are a precious commodity and a special part of our heritage—we did an entire symposium on them last summer, and got countless letters in response from readers telling us their personal favorites! William Novak, co-editor of The Big Book of Jewish Humor, explored what these jokes tell us about our values and how they can be treated as secular Jewish texts. Check it out for a dose of Jewish culture and commentary with a heaping side of laughs!