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Articles written by andrew silow carroll

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  • The Torah supports me in an argument with my wife that I will never win

    Andrew Silow Carroll|Jul 15, 2022

    (JTA) — For years I worked in an office where, in order to make an outside phone call, you had to dial 9 plus 1 plus your number. At least once a week, the police would show up in the lobby because someone had accidentally dialed 9-1-1. The head of HR would scold us for not being more careful, and I would think, just change the system! In Jewish law there is a name for rules or actions that would tempt even the innocent to make a mistake — or worse, a sin: “lifnei iver.” It comes from Leviticus 19:14: “You shall not … place a stumbling b...

  • What is a Jew? Israel's renovated Diaspora museum attempts a three-story answer

    Andrew Silow Carroll|Jun 10, 2022

    JERUSALEM (JTA) — I was on a short visit to Israel last week, and spent time with a friend with whom I have been engaged in a 30-year argument. Elli Wohlgelernter and I met when he was the managing editor of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency and I was a staff reporter. We would argue about the future of Jewish life in the Diaspora, which even then he considered in unstoppable decline. We continued the argument after he moved to Israel not soon after. Over the years we’ve both dug in our heels: I am convinced, even after living for a time in Isr...

  • The Ukrainian Jew who saved Yiddish music from oblivion

    Andrew Silow Carroll|Apr 1, 2022

    (JTA) - Late last year, months before a Russian missile landed near the Babyn Yar memorial outside of Kyiv, Ukraine, the site's foundation announced plans for a new museum to honor the 33,771 Jews slaughtered there by the Nazis in September 1941. Natan Sharansky, chair of the memorial's supervisory board, described Babyn Yar as a "symbol of attempts to destroy the memory of the Holocaust," and that the new institution would be called the Museum of the History of Oblivion. "The History of...

  • 'Never Again' is shorthand for – for what, exactly?

    Andrew Silow Carroll|Mar 25, 2022

    (JTA) — Seventy-nine years ago this month, crowds twice filled Madison Square Garden for a pageant, “We Will Never Die,” meant to draw attention to the slaughter of Europe’s Jews by the Nazis. Screenwriter Ben Hecht organized the spectacle and wrote the script; German refugee composer Kurt Weill wrote the score. A young Marlon Brando had a leading role. Two million Jews had already been killed. The performance included the lines, “No voice is heard to cry halt to the slaughter, no government speaks to bid the murder of human millions end. But...

  • Charles Entenmann wasn't Jewish. - but Jews saw his cakes and cookies as part of the family

    Andrew Silow Carroll|Mar 18, 2022

    (New York Jewish Week via JTA) - Nothing seemed so Jewish as a box of Entenmann's cake or cookies. "All of the Jews I know bought Entenmann's," wrote Nancy Kalikow Maxwell, in her 2019 book "Typically Jewish." The bakery earned a place in Tablet magazine's list of "100 Most Jewish Foods," with an essay by TV producer and foodie Phil Rosenthal singing the praises of their chocolate-covered donuts. Jodi Luber, who runs a Jewish food site, once wrote that, "When someone opened up an Entenmann's...

  • Israel's never-ending, and very human, 'Who Is a Jew?' saga

    Andrew Silow Carroll|Mar 4, 2022

    (JTA) — Jared Armstong has an emotional story to tell, and he told it in an oped I edited last week for our opinion section (Heritage ran it last week as an article). Armstrong made headlines recently when the Israeli government refused his application for citizenship. Armstrong, a recent college graduate from Philadelphia, says he grew up Jewish, as did his mother. His grandmother, he said, embraced Judaism as an adult. For all those reasons he was shocked when Israel’s Foreign Ministry rejected his initial application for aliyah, but he agr...

  • Fed up with its tenant, a NYC synagogue seeks to replace board of historic Touro Synagogue

    Andrew Silow Carroll|Feb 4, 2022

    (New York Jewish Week via JTA) – The historic New York City synagogue that controls the equally historic Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Is-land moved to terminate the lease of the congregation that worships there. But don’t call it an eviction, leaders of Congregation Shearith Israel in New York say: They describe the filing as an effort to restructure the board of Congregation Jeshuat Israel, which has met at Touro for 120 years, and install a new slate of officers who will “ensure that Touro Syn-agogue is properly maintained into the f...

  • Jewish museums team up to create new tool for researching Holocaust victims

    Andrew Silow Carroll|Jan 21, 2022

    (New York Jewish Week via JTA) — In a boon for scholars and amateur researchers, records from Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust authority, are now publicly available through JewishGen, the largest online Jewish genealogy resource of its kind. The agreement announced Tuesday by Yad Vashem and New York’s Museum of Jewish Heritage/A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, an affiliate of JewishGen, provides easy access to millions of names commemorated in Yad Vashem’s database. “Pages of Testimony,” documents collected by Yad Vashem since the 1950s, incl...

  • No one lost their Jewish last name at Ellis Island

    Andrew Silow Carroll|Sep 24, 2021

    (New York Jewish Week via JTA) — Shortly before he died, my dad gave me a trove of family documents, some dating to the 19th century. For the first time I had confirmation of what our family name was before a great-uncle changed it to Carroll when he and his brothers immigrated to America. My father’s parents moved from Russia to Paris before coming to the United States. Among the papers is a yellowed French immigration document signed by my grandfather on March 13, 1913; there he spells his last name Karoltchouk. On my grandmother’s “Perm...

  • Meet the 27-year-old amplifying the sounds of the Borscht Belt

    Andrew Silow Carroll|Apr 23, 2021

    (New York Jewish Week via JTA) - Growing up, Aaron Bendich would spend lots of time with his grandfather Max in the North Bronx, in a house "filled to the brim" with records, videotapes and CDs. Among Max's collection were recordings of Yiddish songs and other Jewish music. Fast forward a few years and Aaron is the manager of the radio station at Vassar College and taking Yiddish classes. Inevitably he started a show featuring Yiddish music and spent his free time scouring thrift shops and used...

  • AOC meets with top NYC Jewish group for first time

    Andrew Silow Carroll|Apr 16, 2021

    (JTA) — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez sat down for a public interview with a top New York City Jewish group, ending what some had considered a snub of Jewish leadership since the progressive New York Democrat’s election in 2019. In her April 1 talk with Michael Miller, head of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, Ocasio-Cortez acknowledged that she hadn’t engaged with national and citywide Jewish groups, saying “I was really focused on our backyard.” But she did say she worked on projects with local Jewish groups, including...

  • What Jewish comedians made of Michael Che's Israel Joke

    Andrew Silow Carroll|Mar 5, 2021

    (JTA) — During this time of Purim, I am busy writing jokes that poke fun at the stuff we do and obsess about as Jews without offending too many people. Not always easy, and that’s when I am writing for an audience that I know extremely well. Now imagine writing Jewish jokes outside the bubble. “Saturday Night Live” found out the hard way after a joke about Israel went viral for the wrong reasons. Here’s the joke Michael Che told on the Feb. 20 show: “Israel is reporting that they’ve vaccinated half of their population, and I’m going to guess...

  • Clemency for more than a dozen Jews

    Andrew Silow Carroll|Jan 29, 2021

    (JTA) — In the final hours of his presidency, Donald Trump awarded clemency to more than a dozen Jews who had been convicted of crimes — but not Sheldon Silver, the disgraced former New York State Assembly speaker. Silver was not on the list of 143 people granted clemency, a traditional act for outgoing presidents. That means the former Democratic power broker will continue serving a prison term on corruption charges. The New York Times reported that Trump abandoned a plan to give clemency to Silver at the urging of New York Republicans and...

  • Every question-and-answer period at every Jewish event ever (a little Purim fun)

    Andrew Silow Carroll|Mar 6, 2020

    NEW YORK (JTA)—The guest expert’s talk at the local JCC/synagogue/federation is wrapping up. Speaker: ...and in conclusion, if we don’t remember this history, we are doomed to repeat it. As Hillel said, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me?” And finally, as Rabbi Tarfon put it so eloquently, “It is not our duty to finish the work, but neither are we free to neglect it.” Thank you. Moderator: Let’s thank our speaker for what we all can agree was a beautiful and powerful presentation. At this point we can take a few questions, but please,... Full story

  • I'm dreaming of a Chanukah song as good as 'White Christmas'

    Andrew Silow Carroll|Dec 13, 2019

    (JTA)—A Facebook friend is looking for nominations for the Great Chanukah Song. I’m not impressed by the candidates. The classics—“Maoz Tzur (Rock of Ages),” “Oh Hanukkah Oh Hanukkah,” “Sevivon” and “I Have a Little Dreidel” -- have a nostalgic appeal, and I couldn’t imagine this minor holiday without them. But no one one would call any of them a great song. Newer suggestions range from “Tom Lehrer’s “(I’m Spending) Hanukkah in Santa Monica” to Adam Sandler’s frequently revised “Hanukkah Song.” The former is really a riff on multiple Jew... Full story

  • How Valerie Harper's Rhoda embodied a very Jewish type

    Andrew Silow Carroll|Sep 13, 2019

    (JTA)-Theater folk in England are debating a recent revival of the musical "Falsettos," asking whether non-Jews should be playing its Jewish characters. In an open letter, critics of the religion-blind casting complain that non-Jewish actors can at best portray only a "secondary understanding" of Jewish mannerisms but have no awareness of the "psychology, geography, culture and history that have framed these outward signifiers of Judaism." To the perennial debate over whether non-Jewish actors... Full story

  • It can't be anti-Semitism if you're not an anti-Semite, right?

    Andrew Silow Carroll|Aug 9, 2019

    (JTA)—Earlier this month—or 16 years ago in Trump years—the White House disinvited a cartoonist named Ben Garrison to a meeting of right-wing media influencers. It had been pointed out that Garrison had once drawn a cartoon that could be interpreted as anti-Semitic. The cartoon depicts two administration officials being manipulated by a puppeteer labeled “George Soros,” who is in turn having his strings pulled by a puppeteer labeled “Rothschild.” Soros, the Jewish financier, often figures in far-right anti-Jewish conspiracy theories. But he als... Full story

  • Top Trump officials headline conference focusing on the 'new anti-Semitism'

    Andrew Silow Carroll|Jul 26, 2019

    WASHINGTON (JTA)-U.S. Attorney General William Barr called anti-Semitism a "cancer" at a Department of Justice summit on the topic notable for its focus on anti-Israel activity and for speeches by the top leaders of the departments of Education, the Treasury and the FBI. Monday's Summit on Combating Anti-Semitism, held at the DOJ headquarters here, featured panel discussions and an audience of about 150, mostly men representing various Jewish organizations and government agencies that deal with... Full story

  • Your guide to Shavuot, now with 50 percent less facts

    Andrew Silow Carroll|Jun 7, 2019

    (JTA)—In terms of popularity, Shavuot is the National Hockey League of Jewish holidays. Passover, the High Holidays and Chanukah are the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball, while Shavuot has a much smaller, albeit intense, following. I don’t know if Shavuot is more popular in Canada. For the sake of the analogy, let’s presume yes. Rabbis and Jewish educators lament that Shavuot isn’t more widely known or celebrated. It is, after all, a festival linked to the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, which not only transformed an oppressed band of... Full story

  • Don't eat off the seder plate

    Andrew Silow Carroll|Apr 12, 2019

    (JTA)—Every year at Passover, many Jews enjoy inviting non-Jewish guests to the seder, the big family meal during which they recount the tale of the Exodus. Such invitations are extended in a tradition of interfaith cooperation and the conviction that at least one person at the table should actually enjoy himself. For non-Jews who might be intimidated by attending their first seder, we offer the following tips on seder customs and ways to avoid what Yiddish-speakers call a “tsimmes.” Tip #1: Avoid the tsimmes. The word is Yiddish slang for a... Full story

  • Omar is right about money in politics-wrong on AIPAC

    Andrew Silow Carroll|Feb 22, 2019

    NEW YORK (JTA)—Rep. Ilhan Omar picked a funny week to tweet about the power of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Last week, the Senate passed a bill that targets the boycott Israel movement. The 77-23 vote was a nice win for AIPAC, which backed it, but also held some worrying news for the pro-Israel lobby. While Republicans were nearly unanimous in their support, Democrats were mostly split: 25 for and 22 against. Even if you were able to erase AIPAC from the picture, it’s not clear how much the landscape would change. Israel is a p... Full story

  • The Forward's woes deal the Jewish world a blow to the kishkes

    Andrew Silow Carroll|Jan 25, 2019

    NEW YORK (JTA)—My dad, who grew up in a time and place where his Judaism only marked him as an outsider, never really got my professional fascination with all things Jewish. That all changed when nearly 20 years ago I got a job with the Forward, the English-language offspring of the venerable Yiddish daily. He recalled how the Forverts would arrive at his family’s home in New York state’s rural Orange County, one of his parents’ few links to the bustling Jewish community downstate and a window into a wider world. “My father learned to be Americ... Full story

  • Rashida Tlaib should at least learn the history behind the dual loyalty canard

    Andrew Silow Carroll|Jan 18, 2019

    (JTA)—A great American Jewish jurist once argued against the idea of a “hyphenated American.” He said there was no place in America for immigrants and their children to hold on to differences based on “race or creed.” “[T]o keep alive difference of origin or to classify men according to their religious beliefs are inconsistent with American ideas of brotherhood, and are disloyal,” he argued. A few years later, a great American Zionist leader argued that there is nothing more American or patriotic than holding “multiple loyalties”—to G... Full story

  • Amos Oz is dead at 79

    Andrew Silow Carroll|Jan 4, 2019

    (JTA)-Amos Oz, one of Israel's most widely read and best-known writers, has died. He was 79. The cause was cancer, the Israeli media reported. Barely older than the country he chronicled in dozens of novels, essays and nonfiction books, Oz represented a generation of writers who traced the country's emotional arc from its adolescence to the present. He also was one of the country's most vocal peace activists, calling on successive governments to resolve the Palestinian issue and embrace what he... Full story

  • New York's 'Snowvember' and the kindness of friends and strangers

    Andrew Silow Carroll|Nov 30, 2018

    (JTA)—I don’t mean to get mushy about what for tens of thousands of people was a miserable night—and certainly won’t complain about an ugly snowstorm when dozens have died in California wildfires—but Thursday night’s “Snowvember” taught me a lot about the kindness of friends and strangers and the strength of Jewish community. In case you don’t happen to live in the center of the universe, a recap: New York City and environs were expecting the first snow of the season Thursday afternoon. The predictions were for two to three inches, with slop... Full story

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