The Story of a Nation That Redeems Its Captives

From Abraham who saved his nephew from captivity, to IDF helicopters carrying Israeli hostages back from Gaza – for thousands of years, Jews have fought, paid any sum necessary, and even endangered their lives to redeem and save their brethren from captivity and imprisonment

Prayer’s Light in Wartime’s Darkness

Since the horrific events of October 7 and the subsequent war, a large chorus of voices have turned to the heavens, hoping to deal with their pain and confusion by praying to a higher power. This has been a typical Jewish response to war since biblical times, and continues into the modern age. Let’s explore some of these powerful wartime prayers, and find out where they truly come from.

Embracing the Light of Hanukkah

Jewish pride is exemplified annually in the tradition of lighting the hanukkiah candles, but the Hanukkah story itself is actually full of themes of concealment and hiddenness. So why is Hanukkah celebrated with this self-confident display of our Judaism and why is this practice so very important, especially in dark times like these, when Hanukkah will be celebrated amidst a backdrop of Jewish suffering and war.

The Art of a Child’s Hope

Amidst the horrors of war, it is common for children to find some solace through artistic endeavors. But in an astounding discovery, we’ve also now seen that there is a clear connection between the art made by children during the Holocaust and the art created by the children witnessing the current war in Israel and Gaza. Why is this the case, and what can it teach us about the experiences of children witnessing the slaughter of their people, 80 years apart?

The Mysterious Case of Joseph G. Weiss’s Hasidic Library

Prof. Joseph G. Weiss was one of the 20th century’s leading scholars of Hasidism. Following Weiss’s tragic death in 1969, his mentor Gershom Scholem selected 250 books from his former student’s personal collection to be brought to the National Library in Jerusalem. Yet something happened along the way. To this day it’s not clear what became of many of these books…

What a Load of Kreplach!

Kreplach are small dumplings made with minced meat, chopped vegetables, and often a layer of cabbage leaf… and no one likes them! So why do we eat these little dumplings each Sukkot? Where did the tradition come from? And is it really important enough to ruin our chicken soup for?

Singing to Napoleon’s Tune on Yom Kippur

As Yom Kippur draws to a close, a nostalgic tune is sung in Ashkenazi synagogues around the world. While many Jews recognize this tune, most do not know that it was actually composed for Napoleon Bonaparte himself. So how did a Napoleonic marching tune make its way into our neilah prayer service?

When Judaism and Buddhism Meet

Why does the National Library of Israel have a collection of more than 100 pieces of Buddhist art? Why are so many Jews drawn to Buddhism? Why did the Dalai Lama attend a Passover Seder? The answer to all these questions can be found by exploring the fascinating connections between the two religions.