14
Feb

My Funny Valentine

(Photo: Library of Congress/ New York World-Telegram & Sun Collection)

(Photo: Library of Congress/ New York World-Telegram & Sun Collection)

We here at 4Zion love music of all kinds. Many of the standards of the American songbook were penned by Jews. Foremost among these songwriters might be Richard Rodgers (who later wrote so many memorable Broadway musicals with Oscar Hammerstein II) and Lorenz Hart.

Rodgers and Hart were both Jews of German extraction, and both were born and raised in New York in the time before World War I. After meeting in 1919 to collaborate on a musical show at Columbia University, they teamed up to write 28 musicals and over 500 songs until Hart passed away in 1943. Some of Rodgers and Hart’s more famous selections include “Manhattan,” “Blue Moon,” “The Lady Is a…

   
Posted in: American Jews / Broadway / History
12
Feb

Go Team Israel!

(Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

(Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

If you were watching the Olympics opening ceremonies this past Friday night, we bet that you, like us, cheered loudly at the sight above: the Israeli team entering the Olympic stadium.

Here’s a brief guide to the Israeli team – so you can cheer them on like a true fan.

Vladislav Bykanov

Sport: Short-track speed skating

Competes: February 13

The 24-year-old short-track speed skater carried the Israeli flag during the opening ceremonies. Originally from Ukraine, he moved to Israel in 1994. He was eight when he began training in short-track speed skating, and his goal at Sochi is making it to the quarterfinals.


Alexei Bychenko

Sport: Figure skating

Competes: February 13-14

Originally from Ukraine, 26-year-old Alexei started skating in 1993. He trains in Hackensack, New Jersey – 25 hours a week during the low season and 20…

   
Posted in: 2014 / Alexei Bychenko / alpine skiing
5
Feb

Dead Sea Scrolls’ New Online Home

(Photo: Library of Congress)

(Photo: Library of Congress)

Found in the West Bank between 1946 and 1956, the Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of nearly a thousand ancient texts of great biblical and historical importance. Among them are some of the earliest known manuscripts of parts of the Hebrew Bible. While these antiquities have been available online for a couple years, this week the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library unveiled an upgraded way to experience them. Those who visit the new website:

will be able to view and explore 10,000 newly uploaded images of unprecedented quality. The website also offers accompanying explanations pertaining to a variety of manuscripts, such as the book of Exodus written in paleo-Hebrew script, the books of Samuel, the Temple Scroll, Songs of Shabbat Sacrifice, and New Jerusalem.

Posted in: bible / Dead Sea Scrolls / exodus
5
Feb

Natalie Portman Joins Israeli Aid Effort to Syria

(Photo: wikicommons/ gdcgraphics)

(Photo: wikicommons/ gdcgraphics)

Actress Natalie Portman has joined an Israeli effort to provide winter clothes and supplies to needy Syrian refugees. The Times of Israel reports that the Israeli-born Portman was inspired after hearing of an Israeli initiative to help those in Syria who have been displaced by the civil war and are suffering through the harsh winter:

“When I heard about Operation Human Warmth I felt deeply moved and compelled to get involved,” the actress said in a statement. “In the middle of a brutal winter, these children have no shelter and their lives are in serious jeopardy from the cold. I am proud to take part in an operation where Israeli youth of all backgrounds are taking action to help out those whom need it most.”

Posted in: humanitarian aid / Israel / Natalie Portman
3
Feb

The Month of Our Joy

(Photo: Ahasuerus and Haman at the Feast of Esther, c. 1660, Rembrandt)

(Photo: Ahasuerus and Haman at the Feast of Esther, c. 1660, Rembrandt)

There’s an old Jewish saying that states, “When the month of Adar is ushered in, we must increase in joy.” And since this year happens to be a leap year on the Jewish calendar, we are in for two AdarsAdar 1 and Adar 2. Before discussing why Adar is synonymous with joy, I’d like to explain why the Jewish calendar calls for a leap year marked by an additional month of Adar every four years.

The Jewish calendar is constructed around three astronomical occurrences: Earth’s rotation about its axis (day), the moon’s orbit around Earth (month), and Earth’s orbit around the sun (year). Since these three phenomena are independent of each other, there…

   
Posted in: Adar / Esther / Judaism