Purim is an extraordinary festival in the Jewish calendar. It can be distinguished from all the other festivals by the character that it was granted in later generations, but mainly by its most primary source - Megillat Esther itself.
A Libyan Jewish exile attempting to restore Tripoli's main synagogue will leave the country following angry protests.
In Los Angeles and New York and elsewhere in the West, families who had left Iran "for the summer," to"wait out the troubles" and "return in time for the kids to start school in September" realized there was no going back.
It's been 30 years since I left Iran, and I still know I'm going back some day, because I have to see that house again, to stand before the yard door and discover if it's indeed 12 feet high, or if I've imagined it so, to ring the doorbell and see if I can hear its chime echo up and down the street.
Thirty years have passed since the massive and violent demonstrations against the Shah of Iran that began in September 1978, and for many, the start of that country's bloody revolution might seem a faded memory. Yet I have carried those shattering events with me all of my life: I was born on in Tehran on Sept. 11, 1978, as chaos unfolded on the streets outside
I don't know what will become of the legacy of Iranian Jews outside of Iran, how history will judge us in the context of the opportunities we had and the extent to which we helped make the world a better place with what we were given.
The opening line from the documentary "The Last Jews of Libya" begins a nostalgic visit to an ill-fated community of 25,000 people living between the Mediterranean Sea and North African desert at the dawn of World War II. It's a story we know too well -- pious, successful and family-oriented Jews living in coexistence with their neighbors suddenly become targets of racial hatred and are ultimately expelled or destroyed. Once in the United States, the immigrants struggle to find their place within an American Jewish life rooted firmly in Eastern European culture.
It's 8 p.m. on a Wednesday, and I'm at the studios of KIRN -- a Persian-language AM radio station on Barham Boulevard near Universal Studios. I'm a guest on a program called "Live From Hollywood."
During the Sandinista's regime, the country's synagogue, damaged in a 1978 fire, was converted into a secular school. It is being used now as a funeral home. The country's Torah remains in exile in Costa Rica.
7 days in the Arts.
Jewish piracy has been around since well before the Barbary pirates first preyed on ships during the Crusades. In the time of the Second Temple, Jewish historian Flavius Josephus records that Hyrcanus accussed Aristobulus of "acts of piracy at sea."
"The Flying Camel: Essays on Identity by Women of North African and Middle Eastern Jewish Heritage," edited by Loolwa Khazzoom (Seal Press, $16.95)
On the last night before her family would flee Libya in 1967, Gina Bublil Waldman recalls that she had to choose between taking her only warm sweater or a photo album with the words "Souvenir of Libya" on the cover. Its hand-painted image of a peaceful seascape was in absolute contrast to the political turbulence and danger her family faced. She packed the photos, remnants of a life she wouldn't know again.
Her essay is included in a compelling collection, "The Flying Camel: Essays on Identity by Women of North African and Middle Eastern Jewish Heritage," edited by Loolwa Khazzoom.
Now that we've just finished two seders celebrating our escape from Egypt, a new exhibit at the Skirball Cultural Center demonstrates that not every Jew got out of Egypt -- or wanted to.
If Golus is recalled, then the entire state of California will be transported to the Holy Land, and we won't have to worry about a budget crisis, Davis's lack of personality or unsavory Arnold Schwarzenegger interviews -- which definitely makes recalling Golus something worth thinking about.
"Welcome to Heavenly Heights" by Risa Miller (St. Martin's Press, $23.95).
Many writers have imagined the Jewish immigrant experience, setting their novels and short stories on the Lower East Side and places like that, where newcomers can forge their way to become Americans. Risa Miller's debut novel, "Welcome to Heavenly Heights," is a different version of that story, with American Jews making new homes in Israel, reversing the exile. This transition can be more pressure cooker than melting pot, mixing idealism, religion, bureaucracy, family complexities, shifting expectations, love and, never far away, violence.
About 20 years ago the Israeli author A.B. Yehoshua wrote an essay called "Exile as a Neurotic Solution," in which he endeavored to explain why so many Diaspora Jews, for many centuries and in our own day, have avoided coming to live in the Land of Israel.
Exiled from Paradise, Adam and Eve lived together east of Eden, struggling to raise children, to scratch a living out of the hard earth, to stay alive.
In 1961, a saddened and disheartened 23-year-old Algerian school teacher and musician named Gaston Ghenassia was merely one of the thousands of refugees on a ship bound for France, leaving his homeland in the aftermath of the Algerian Revolution. Little did he know at the time how defining a moment it was to become in his life.
In an ironic twist that Bertolt Brecht would have appreciated, his legendary Berliner Ensemble will make its American debut at UCLA July 7 to 11, and then lower the curtain permanently.