old synagogue

the aesthetics of the gods
  • Aphrodite: the bruises of love bites left by lovers on necks and thighs; smudged lipstick from hasty kisses; blood red roses with their sharp thorns still intact; the way you hug someone you love when you reunite after a lengthy separation
  • Apollo: polished instruments gleaming, held like the most precious of jewels by their owners; a sunny day with a clear blue sky where there are no clouds in sight; the rough script of poems penned out on scraps of paper or napkins before they're forgotten; when music is so loud that you feel it reverberating in your bones; the pale lines of fading scars
  • Ares: the hands of a fighter, short finger nails and bloodied knuckles; split lips that have scabbed over; the smooth and intricate lines of old weapons you see mounted on museum walls; deep trenches dug out from the earth; the way barbed wire contrasts against whatever it surrounds
  • Artemis: loose braids with wild flowers slipped in; the majesty of tall trees stretching up endlessly towards the heavens; the wide and captivating eyes of wild deer; cloudy nights where the moon is just barely peeking through; the colorful fletching of arrows drawn back to rest upon cheeks and along jaws
  • Athena: the straight and steady way a soldier stands at attention; fingertips smudged with ink; a stack of books to read piled on the floor or a nightstand; eyes gleaming with the glow of new ideas; the quiet and contemplative aura of museums and libraries
  • Demeter: the way sunlight catches dust motes in the air through the gaps in the leaves of the trees; the feeling of life you get from standing in the middle of an orchard with bees buzzing around you; crocuses and snowdrops peeking through the last dredges of winter's snow
  • Hades: the bleached bones of animals in the forest when moss has begun to engulf them; the way that graveyard angels look like they're weeping in the rain; the solemn aura of old churches, citadels, synagogues, temples, and mosques
  • Hephaestus: the pleasure of holding something you've created in your palms; the soft glow of heated metal; the intricate beauty of cogs and gears fitting together precisely and working in tandem; the smooth and polished surfaces of high-rise business buildings
  • Hera: the lacy white of flowing wedding gowns; the way a couple's hands look clasped together; pairs of old wedding rings that are scratched from years of use; the feeling of surrealism that comes from looking at old family portraits; getting used to sharing a space with someone else and then seeing the mannerisms you've unknowingly adopted from them
  • Hermes: the way that the low beam headlights of a car touch the roads that stretch ever onwards at night; old maps yellowed at the corners from their age; the way that things rush past when you look out the window of a car or train; quick hands slipping deftly into pockets and taking what they find
  • Hestia: the light and protection of street lights in an otherwise dark city; the warmth of your bed on cold winter mornings; the heat of a fire as you sit around it with people you love; the comfort of a home-cooked meal
  • Poseidon: the way light looks when you're seeing it shine down from deep underwater; the effervescent colors of cresting waves; the eery beauty of shipwrecks; the ripples created when you trail your fingertips through still waters; dust clouds kicked up by the passing of strong hooves
  • Zeus: the way that storm clouds darken the edge of the horizon; silhouettes framed against the sky by flashes of lightning; the splay of feathers of a bird's outstretched wings; the polished and tarnished brass of old fashioned scales

On February 8, 2017 King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima visited the Buchenwald Concentration Camp, the Old Synagogue,  the High Tech Systems and Materials Event, the Goethe und Schiller-Archiv and the Duchess Anna Amalia Library.

Three day working visit to the German states of Thuringia Thüringen, Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt Saksen en Saksen-Anhalt. February 7-10, 2017.

The Golem of Prague

In Jewish folklore, a golem is an animated anthropomorphic being that is magically created entirely from inanimate matter (specifically clay or mud).

The most famous golem narrative involves Judah Loew ben Bezalel, the late 16th century rabbi of Prague, also known as the Maharal, who reportedly created a golem to defend the Prague ghetto from antisemitic attacks.

Depending on the version of the legend, the Jews in Prague were to be either expelled or killed under the rule of Rudolf II, the Holy Roman Emperor. To protect the Jewish community, the rabbi constructed the Golem out of clay from the banks of the Vltava river, and brought it to life through rituals and Hebrew incantations.

The Golem was called Josef and was known as Yossele. It was said that he could make himself invisible and summon spirits from the dead. 

The Golem’s body was stored in the attic genizah of the Old New Synagogue, where it would be restored to life again if needed. According to legend, the body of Rabbi Loew’s Golem still lies in the synagogue’s attic.

A recent legend tells of a Nazi agent ascending to the synagogue attic during World War II and trying to stab the Golem, but he died instead.

The Hebrew letters on the creature’s head read “emet”, meaning “truth”. In some versions of the Chełm and Prague narratives, the Golem is killed by removing the first letter, making the word spell “met”, meaning “dead”.

Source. Authors of the paintings unknown. 


The jewish quarter of Segovia, Spain

This week I visited Segovia , specifically the Jewish quarter, it was a visit full of mixed emotions. On one hand the emotion that fills my soul every time I reach the places that were once inhabited by my ancestors, but on the other hand the sadness of knowing that in those streets passed the hardships before the expulsion. As you walk through the streets of Segovia you can hear the echo of history and when you reach the street where the Church of Corpus Christi is located a stab can be felt near the heart when reading on the plate “old Mayor Synagogue of Segovia"

The ancient synagogue of Segovia was transformed into a Church (later built the monastery) in the XIV century after a “mysterious legend” full of false accusations: The Jewish population was accused of stealing a consecrated communion wafer from a church and attempting to boil it in the synagogue to desecrate the body of Christ.
These events reached the ears of Queen Catherine of Aragon and Castile who decided, after hearing these accusations to remove the property of the synagogue and offer it to the bishop of Tordecillas. Thus the Kal became a market, then a Convent until a fire in 1899, when it was rebuilt and converted into the present Corpus Christi Church.

When passing near the Jewish Cemetery , there is the Fonsario del Pinarillo, a place where there are caves in which some Jews hid to not be converted, they  took refuge in the hope of escaping during the night, but some were captured and their destinies were death or conversion.

I also visited the educational center of the Jewry, Abraham Seneor’s former home, he was one of the most outstanding figures of the Castilian Jewish community during the Middle Ages and, undoubtedly, the most relevant in the history of the Hebrew Aljama of Segovia. He was one of the great offices of the Kingdom of Castile (Almojarife), besides Rabino, he was representative of the Jewish Community and Banker, since the family Seneor were part of an important financial group that even was lender of the Crown of Castile.

The Jewish community of Segovia was prosperous and some of its members had an important place within the Segovian community.
Until their expulsion in the year 1492 the jewish people were recognized by their work in the fields of medicine and architecture. After this year the destiny of the converts was always bound to trials and a life full of secrets, a sentence unjustly imposed by its own non-Jewish neighbors who acted as constant guards against a possible return to their non-Catholic customs.
The expelled went away without any property since the Clergy stayed with everything that could have financial value. The departure was painful, the choice to remain faithful to their identity was paid with the price of the departure towards an uncertain road full of sacrifices .

Medieval Jewish papers tell vivid stories in Cambridge exhibition
11th-century documents from Genizah store in Old Cairo synagogue cover whole range of human life, co-curator says
By Maev Kennedy

[April 2017] From the faded brown ink on the yellowed paper of a document going on display this week in Cambridge, a startling picture emerges of a young man who lived and loved in 11th-century Cairo.

Toviyya wanted to marry Faiza, but he evidently had quite a reputation. The document, translated into English and on show for the first time in an exhibition at Cambridge University Library, records at great length that Toviyya swore in front of witnesses that his life would henceforth be blamelessly dull.

He promised to avoid mixing with bad company for the purpose of “eating, drinking or anything else”, to not spend one night away from Faiza unless she wanted him to, and not to buy a slave girl unless Faiza gave her permission.

The document is one of 200,000 drawn from the Genizah, the store room at the 11th-century Ben Ezra synagogue in Old Cairo. The Cambridge collection is the largest in the world of the medieval Jewish manuscripts.

For 800 years, the community stored texts and religious volumes at the Genizah, as well as wills, contracts, letters, a magical charm against scorpions and the doodles of a small child struggling to learn Hebrew script.

“The first scholars to study the papers were only interested in the biblical material, but what is extraordinary about the collection, and was almost ignored for many decades, is that it covers the whole range of human life,” said co-curator Benjamin Outhwaite, part of a team that has translated many of the papers into English for the exhibition. “We’ve gone for the documents that draw out these human stories.”

The characters featured within the tattered pages include an errant son-in-law, a wife threatening a hunger strike (but only by day) in protest against her husband’s behaviour, a Jewish woman in love with a Christian doctor, and a rich woman excommunicated for adultery.

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I’ll Be Here

Words: 2029
Pairings: 1940s!Bucky x Reader
Warnings: It is a flat out feels trip

Author’s Note: First off: This imagine is written differently. I did it in 1st POV to give it more of a narrative type of feel. So my sister showed me this song and I loved it so much that naturally, I had to write this because I’m angsty af. Please comment, like, and reblog! If you enjoyed this then you can follow me for more stuff like this!

Song: I’ll Be Here from Ordinary Days

We met, of all places,
In front of Gristedes some freakishly cold winters day.
I had on several unflattering layers of wool.
He slipped on the ice with his grocery bags full,
So I rescued some Fruit Loops he dropped by the curb
And he made some remark that my smile was superb
I thought that was sweet and I started to go and he said
“Hey, whatcha doing tomorrow?”

        The sun was shining brightly as it lit up the bustling city of New York as I strolled down the street. Soggy, gross snow that had turned brown from the dirt and grime from the street had trailed alongside the sidewalk. I wore rain boots to protect my feet from the slush that sat between the sidewalk and the street where I was about to cross.

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just some quick jewish things ive experienced/seen that i think stan would also have had happen bc im tired and BORED

-drinking manishewitz at his bar mitzvah and coughing uncontrollably because its literally the most disgusting thing created

-having all the old people at his synagogue LOVE HIM because hes a helpful and handsome young man

-literally Had Never Met Another Jew until he went to synagogue

-shit talks all his goy friends to his jewish friends and all his jewish friends to his goy friends because stan believes in equality

-had a crush on his first rabbi and CRIED when she left

-has had seders with people he has never met because they were “family friends”, allegedly

-gave up on doing emotional labor for insensitive non-jews forever ago and literally never says “its okay” when someone apologizes for being grossly antisemetic

-”ur nose looks big today” “yeah i know, its because its big hah funny how jewish genetics can do that to a person”

-once went to synagogue to work when he was a madrich in pajamas and literally no one noticed

-discovered that kippot have little slits in them to hold the barrette in place and FREAKED OUT because this is the BIGGEST INNOVATION SINCE THE AIRPLANE

-”HOLY CRAP MOM THIS KIPPAH HAS A LITTLE HOLE FOR YOUR BARRETTE” “yes, sweetie, they all do, they always have” “why ‘i know about this???” “because you never thought about looking at them, dear, you just put them on” “WELL I MEAN YEAH BUT”

-hes so tired of being told “merry christmas” he looks dead inside all winter

‘“i’m not antisemetic right, stan? youre jewish, you’ll tell them im not! i love the jews!” “dont listen to a word this guy says, hes a shitheel”

-pretends he knows what a good bagel is but actually doesn’t and gets laughed at by the other kids at his synagogue, he is so ashamed

-actually detests being in choir because of the hymns and songs they sing

-was the kid who told you santa wasn’t real (both because he’s a logical boy and also He Is Jewish)

-hums prayers under his breath and randomly sings them around the house because They’re Just So Beautiful to him :”)


FILM FRIDAY – I had the opportunity to teach another film photography workshop this past month – this time with a group of 11- and 12-year-olds at a local synagogue. None of the students had ever seen a roll of 35mm film before, never mind handled a fully analog camera. 

Remarkably, most had little problem figuring out correct exposure. Manual focus, however, proved more challenging. 

Two weeks after shooting 10 rolls of film in pairs, the students learned to process their own negatives. The images, here, made by the students, are among those I’ve printed and will deliver to the class this Sunday. 

While this age group has been raised in a world of instant gratification, many of the students commented on how they enjoyed the opportunity to slow things down and come away with something physical that took time and investment to create. 

From a teacher’s perspective, seeing their work offered insight into the relationships these young students are forming with their synagogue, school, classmates and Jewish identities. I was excited to see how excited they were to experience film photography for the first time. 

Through this experience, I’ve learned that photography – especially film – is a versatile tool for engaging kids across a broad spectrum of ages and for teaching a wide variety of subject matter. 

~Michael Duke

The Golem of Prague
A Golem is an animated being created through magic from inanimate matter. Probably the most famous example is the Golem of Prague. He was created by the rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel in the 16th century to protect the Jewish ghetto against attacks and progroms.
He was made of clay from the Vltava River and was called Josef. Judah Loew woke the Golem by performing rituals and placing the word for truth on his forehead. Upon his powers were his immense strength, invisibility and the summoning of spirits. The only restriction he was under is that he could not be alive during the Sabbath and thus be a dead thing again on this day.
There are different stories on how the Golem became violent towards the Jewish community. One story tells of the Golem being alive during Sabbath and going crazy over it. Another is about the Golem falling in love but when his love is unrequited turning to violence. He is then stopped by Judah Loew who removes the letter aleph from the Golem’s forehead and thereby creates the Hebrew word for death instead. The Golem’s body fell to pieces and was stored in the attic of the Old New Synagogue where it is supposed to rest until the Jewish community is again in need of a protector.
The Golem of Prague is an example for the Hubris theme. He is a mixed blessing for whoever controls him because is very strong and performs all given commands but he does it literally.