Tag Archives: miracle

Israel

You can also download the full hour-long documentary for $5 at: http://www.israelinsidethemovie.com/

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January 25, 2013 · 11:36 am

Jews – Not Least In Music

A friend of mine sent me this last night. I thought it was worth a post. It’s piece by Brian Magee from his book Aspects of Wagner. The piece is taken from the chapter Jews – Not Least In Music.

The book is about Richard Wagner, a German 19th century composer. There’s a chapter about Jews in this book because he was a vehement antisemite and published the essay “Das Judenthum in der Musik” (“Jewishness in Music”). The essay attacked Jewish contemporaries (and rivals) and accused Jews of being a harmful and alien element in German culture. The Nazis used parts of Wagners thought that were useful for propaganda.

Here’s what Magee has to say (it was written in 1968 so it is slightly outdated):

In the last hundred years three people have produced theories about man and his environment which in depth, originality and scope are equal to almost any before them – Marx, Freud and Einstein. The theories are not compatible, but each is a creative achievement of the highest order, and their influence has been immense. Marx, in fact, has had more influence in less time than anyone else in history: within a mere seventy years of his death a third of the human reach was living under governments calling themselves Marxist. The intellectual achievement of Einstein is more impressive, and may prove in the end of be as important in its practical application, if only because of the hydrogen bomb. As for Freud, he has done more to extend our vision inward, into ourselves, than anyone else; doing work required unimaginable courage, and unlike that of the other row its good consequences are more obvious than its bad. All three, I think, must be ranked among the greatest of the world’s creative geniuses.

All three were Jews. This fact is remarkable for many reasons. One is that there had been only one Jew of comparable achievement, Spinoza, in the previous eighteen hundred years. Another is that, in spite of this, these three pioneered a Jewish renaissance of fantastic proportions. Jewish philosophers since Marx include Bergson, Husserl, Wittgenstein and Popper. Not only Freud but most of the famous psychoanalysts have been Jews: in the sciences not only Einstein but Nobel Prize winners so numerous it would be tedious to list them (since the Nobel Prize began in 1901 it has been award to more than forty Jews). All this is doubly amazing when one remembers that the total number of Jews in the world is only about thirteen million – the population of Greater London.

In no field has their contribution been more outstanding than in music. Mahler was Jewish, as were Schoenberg and most of his famous pupils. The greatest instrumentalists of this century have been Jews. Even if one forgets Kreisler, Schnabel and all the other great dead, and considers only the living, the best violinists are nearly all Jews (and, oddly enough, from Russia) – Heifetz, Menuhin, Stern, Milstein, Zukerman, Perlman, Oistrakh. Jewish pianists include Gilels, Serkin, Rubinstein, Solomon, Horowitz, Ashkenazy, Boman, Perahia, Ax and Barenboim. And the conductors Solti, Bernstein, Ormandy, Dorati, Levine, Previn and Maazel. These lists themselves grossly incomplete, can not be matched by the 99.5 per cent of the human race who are not Jews. If anyone wants to tell me this is coincidence my reply is that this is simply not credible. The intellectual and artistic output of Jews in this century relative to their numbers if a phenomenon for which I can think of no parallel in history since Athens five centuries before Christ. It is something that calls for explanation.

Magee then attempts to explain this phenomena. I think his explanation is quite poor and I hope to update this post in the future with my thoughts about it.

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Filed under Entertainment, Music, Nobel Prize

Made in Israel

And if you’d like to read more about Israel’s hi-tech success over the past two decades, I highly recommend the book Start Up Nation. Awe-inspiring stuff.

In other hi-tech and Israel related news, Apple plans to open its first ever development centre outside of its California headquarters in the near future. The development center will focus on semi-conductors. Well done Israel! See here for more about this.

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Filed under Computers, Hi Tech, Start Up

Famous Jewish Actors, Performers and Musicians

Adam Sandler

Here are some lists of lots of famous Jews:

Actors (IMDB). There are some surprising names on this list. I had no idea there were so many Jewish actors.

Musicians (JINFO.org). The JINFO website is a fascinating in general. I highly recommend scanning through it.

Actors, Comedians, Athletes, Producers, Singers, Politicians, Economists (site contains pictures of immodestly dressed women).

There are also a lot of lists of famous Jewish performers at Wikipedia: Actors, Classical Musicians. There are many more lists of famous Jews on Wikipedia, but you can look them up for yourself.

The actors and athletes don’t particularly inspire me, but they’re Jewish and famous, so they deserve a post. I might do a more thorough post in the future which focuses on particular categories as opposed to lumping all types of performers into a single post.

The real question is whether Jews are over-represented in each category and by how much? The world’s Jewish population is about 0.2% (13 million out of 7 billion), so I can pretty confidently say yes, the Jews are massively over-represented across the board. JINFO.org has lots of statistics if you’re interested.

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Purim

king

Tonight is the 14th Adar which is the date of Purim in most places. As a resident of Jerusalem I will be celebrating Purim tomorrow on the 15th of Adar.

On Purim we commemorate and celebrate the salvation of the Jewish people in ancient Persia from Haman’s plot “to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews, young and old, infants and women, in a single day.”

We read Megillat Esther which tells the story of our survival. One of the points that stands out most in the book of Esther is that God’s name is never mentioned. This is the only book of the Tanach that does not mention God at all. The title of the book, Esther, also alludes to God being hidden throughout the story as the name Esther comes from the Hebrew verb “l’hastir” which means to hide. One of the basic messages of the book of Esther is to point out that even when it seems that God is far away, that He has “hidden His face” from us, He is still pulling the strings behind the scenes and watching our backs.

This is an extremely pertinent message for any Jew living in the past two thousand years, including us today. We’re a people that have journeyed from country to country, wandered the globe, been persecuted almost everywhere we go, but somehow survived it all. It’s remarkable we’re still around. It’s incredible that we’ve returned home after a two thousand year exile. This is easy for me to say sitting in Jerusalem and I wouldn’t be able to say it were I living in Europe and we turned back the clock 70 years. Nor would I be able to say it if everyday there was the constant worry of another pogrom. Nor could I say it living in Israel during the Crusades or in Spain during the Spanish inquisition or in Yemen in the Middle Ages, etc.

But we don’t live in any of those time periods and nowadays we do have the benefit of hindsight and being able to see that things worked out at the end of the day. The history books don’t mention God guiding the Jewish people through the difficult times and neither does the book of Esther. But the message of the book is clear. God is there even if He isn’t mentioned, even when it seems like He’s hiding.

To this day the miracle of the Jewish people continues. It is a people that continues to thrive, continues to survive, a people that refuses to give in. In every generation it seems like another of our foes rises up against us to annihilate us, but we survive. Today, we have the Arab world desperately trying to wipe us out. Palestinian terrorists firing rockets at our homes whenever they get the chance. Others blowing themselves up on our streets or taking captive innocent Israelis. From Iran we have the threat of nuclear warfare. Ahmadinejad threatening to destroy us. The central idea we celebrate on Purim is that God is with us. No matter how bad things get “I will not reject them, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break My covenant with them; for I am the LORD their God.” (Vaykira 26:44).

The message of the Purim has never been more relevant than it is today. In a world where we may struggle to see God’s role in our day to day lives. A world where the weather can be predicted a couple of days in advance, where it seems more than ever that we are totally in control of our fates. The Purim story challenges us to see God working behind the scenes, leading us as a people, every step of the way.

Two articles I recommend reading about Megillat Esther:

R Leibtag’s – Purim and its Hidden Message

Yehuda Radday – Chiasmus in Hebrew Biblical Narrative (the bit on Esther)

Purim Sameach

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Filed under Festivals

I am Jewish

Really great video. The opening words particularly resonated with me:

I am the collective pride and excitement that is felt when we find out that that new actor, that great athlete, his chief of staff… is Jewish. And I am the collective guilt and shame that is felt when we find out that that serial killer, that Ponzi schemer, that wife beater… is Jewish.

Enjoy! Shabbat Shalom

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Israeli team brings home the gold for debating

For the past three years Israel has won the World University Debating Championships for English as a second language. You can read more about it at JPost: http://www.jpost.com/NationalNews/Article.aspx?id=252217.

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Filed under Academics, Israel