Sorry to break it to you, but Hanukkah is not that unique.
Almost every culture has a midwinter holiday in which light is the main protagonist. From the Norse Yule, to Christmas, to Diwali. It seems that, as the days shorten and the sun retreats, the fear of darkness inscribed in the human DNA takes over.Read more
22 years ago, Mikhail Gorbachev found himself in a situation he never imagined he’d be in: broke.
This was the man who had led a world superpower, signed groundbreaking nuclear arms control agreements, and initiated a transformation of the Soviet Union that eventually transformed it into a free market economy before collapsing its domination of Eastern Europe into an outbreak of freedom.
In 1997, however, he was on the brink of bankruptcy. In what must have been an excruciating decision, and one which brought him ridicule, he agreed to film a commercial for Pizza Hut.Read more
Stop me if you’ve heard this one: Israel is locked in conflict over how to treat non-Jewish people living in the land. Stark divisions are growing between radically different visions of what being Jewish means. Tensions are rising as lines blur between religious and civil authority. And the nation’s relationship with the world’s dominant superpower grows both closer and more fraught.
Welcome to 100 BCE.Read more
Question: What did the first three-headed clown juggling live baby goats say to the second three-headed clown juggling live baby goats?
Answer: I don’t know, but if I told you, you’d remember.
We tend to remember unusual and surprising things. That’s how our brain is wired; it’s an evolutionary mechanism that helps us notice new threats and opportunities in our surroundings. From ancient times to the present, memory masters have used this principle. In his book Moonwalking with Einstein, Joshua Foer explains how competitive memory champions use strange and unusual images to memorize the order of an entire deck of card in just seconds. The 7 of diamonds alone is just a card, but a 7 of diamonds being held by Einstein as he bounces around in lunar weightlessness is something unforgettable.Read more
Persephone was a unique goddess in Greek mythology. She lived an idyllic and lonely life in communion with Nature, far from the other gods and the endless intrigues of Zeus’ gang. The most eligible bachelors on Mt. Olympus, Apollo and Hermes, courted and wooed her to no avail. She preferred to spend her days picking wild flowers and nurturing the Earth. Hades, however—the wicked Greek god of the underworld—didn’t waste time on courtship. Instead of spending his drachmas on fancy dinners or expensive Olympian champagne, he simply opened a wedge in the Earth’s crust, emerged from his darkness, and forcefully abducted the beautiful Persephone. With Persephone gone, the Earth plunged into cold and darkness. The trees lost their leaves, flowers withered and died, and the land become bare and desolate. Humans were hungry and the gods sad.Read more
In 1972, during Richard Nixon’s visit to China, Premier Zhou Enlai was asked what he thought about the French Revolution. He responded, “Too early to tell”. His answer is celebrated to this day as an illustration of the supposed Chinese ability—and the Western need—to take the long view of history.Read more
As somebody who grew up in the Southern Hemisphere, the wintery nature of Chanukah used to elude me. During my childhood, Christmas fell in summer, and people celebrated it with open air barbecues and outings to the beach. We had our fair share of snowy Santa Clauses dispatched by department stores and charities, but they tended to gradually melt until becoming red and white puddles on the boiling pavement. For Jewish Day School students, Chanukah usually fell outside of the school year and was celebrated by youth movements and summer camps with sports jousts that reminded more of the Greek foes than of the Maccabean liberators.Read more
We take a break from grating onions and potatoes for the latkes to remind you that Chanukah is about more than presents and fried foods. Honest. The holiday is actually a great time to create new giving rituals with your family. And there will be plenty of latkes ready for when you’re done.Read more
We're just three days away from Thanksgivukkah, the ultimate holiday mash-up (really ultimate, as it won't happen again for almost 80,000 years).Read more