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How Did Queen Esther Become a Christian Saint?

They fled from Spain to neighboring Portugal but were soon forced to cross the Atlantic on their way to the New World. They were baptized as Christians against their will and were forced to remove any signs that hinted at their Jewish heritage. But they were willing to risk their lives to hold on to something. This is the story of the conversos who invented a Christian saint who was in fact a Jewish queen, to remind themselves of who they truly were.

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.

Yavnieli and the Yemenite Aliyah

With the birth of the State of Israel, over 850,000 Jews were forced to leave the Arab and Islamic world. In Yemen, however, this was not the first time a mass immigration to Israel had taken place. More than three decades earlier, with the help of a young man named Shmuel Yavnieli, over 1,500 Yemenite Jews started their own journey to the Land of Israel, and embarked on a voyage largely untold…

The Missing Milkcan of Warsaw Ghetto

Inside the Warsaw Ghetto, Dr. Emanuel Ringelblum knew that it was only a matter of time until his Jewish community was completely wiped out. But, refusing to let the Nazis destroy all evidence of Polish Jewish life, Ringelblum began archiving his entire community… with the help of a Shabbat afternoon club and a small collection of milkcans.

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Austria’s Dreyfus? The Story of Philippe Halsman, the Man Who Didn’t Murder His Father

Philippe Halsman took some of the most famous photos in the world – hundreds of images of iconic celebrities and pictures adorning the cover of Life magazine and museum walls. But before all this, Halsman was tried in Austria for the unimaginable crime of murdering his own father. Was he truly a cold-blooded killer, or was he an Austrian Dreyfus, persecuted solely for being Jewish?

The False Messiah: Shlomo Molcho’s Fascinating Life

When Portuguese crypto-Jew Diogo Pires met the daring adventurer David Reubeni, his life took an unexpected course. Converting to Judaism, Pires set off around the globe, learning Kabbalah, inspiring the greatest of Rabbis, attempting to create a Jewish army, and most famously, appointing himself as the Messiah.

Life Inside the World’s First Ever Ghetto

In 1516, the Venetian Republic changed the course of Jewish world history by opening the first ever Jewish ghetto. Amidst deep persecution, segregation and humiliation, the oppressed Venetian Jews were somehow able to create a thriving society in their enclave, and soon Jews were even attempting to get inside!

The Many Lives of the Synagogue El Transito

When Samuel Ha-Levi illegally built a synagogue in the provincial Spanish town of Toledo, no one could have known that it would one day become a church, then a military barracks in the Napoleonic war, a national monument, and finally a museum… but that’s just the beginning!