19th arrondissement of Paris

19 October 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Paris / Île-de-France

Bassin de la Villette © Myrabella/cc-by-sa-3.0

Bassin de la Villette © Myrabella/cc-by-sa-3.0

The 19th arrondissement of Paris (XIXe arrondissement) is one of the 20 arrondissements of the capital city of France. In spoken French, this arrondissement is referred to as dix-neuvième. La petite Jérusalem (Little Jerusalem) is located in the Quartier de la Mouzaïa/Quartier d’Amérique.   read more…

Portuguese Synagogue in Amsterdam

14 October 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General

© A.A.W.J. Rietman/cc-by-sa-4.0

© A.A.W.J. Rietman/cc-by-sa-4.0

The Portuguese Synagogue<, also known as the Esnoga, or Snoge, is a late 17th-century Sephardic synagogue in Amsterdam, completed in 1675. Esnoga is the word for synagogue in Ladino, the traditional Judaeo-Spanish language of Sephardic Jews. The Amsterdam Sephardic community (History of the Jews in Spain, History of the Jews in Portugal, Alhambra Decree) was one of the largest and richest Jewish communities in Europe during the Dutch Golden Age, and their very large synagogue reflected this. The synagogue remains an active place of worship and is also a popular tourist attraction.   read more…

Portrait: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, feminist and Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States

23 September 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Portrait

Chief Justice William Rehnquist swearing in Ginsburg as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, as her husband Martin Ginsburg and President Clinton watch © U.S. National Archives and Records Administration - Ralph Alswang

Chief Justice William Rehnquist swearing in Ginsburg as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, as her husband Martin Ginsburg and President Clinton watch © U.S. National Archives and Records Administration – Ralph Alswang

Joan Ruth Bader Ginsburg was an American jurist who was an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1993 until her death in 2020. She was nominated by President Bill Clinton and was generally viewed as belonging to the liberal wing of the Court. Ginsburg was the second woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, after Sandra Day O’Connor. During her tenure Ginsburg wrote notable majority opinions, including United States v. Virginia (1996), Olmstead v. L.C. (1999), and Friends of the Earth, Inc. v. Laidlaw Environmental Services, Inc. (2000). Between O’Connor’s retirement in 2006 and appointment of Sonia Sotomayor in 2009, she was the only female justice on the Supreme Court. During that time, Ginsburg became more forceful with her dissents.   read more…

Portrait: Investor and philanthropist George Soros

26 August 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Portrait

© flickr.com - World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2011/cc-by-sa-2.0

© flickr.com – World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2011/cc-by-sa-2.0

George Soros is a HungarianAmerican billionaire investor and philanthropist. As of May 2020, he had a net worth of $8.3 billion, having donated more than $32 billion to the Open Society Foundations. Born in Budapest, Soros survived Nazi Germanyoccupied Hungary and moved to the United Kingdom in 1947. He attended the London School of Economics, graduating with a bachelor’s and eventually a master’s degree in philosophy. Soros began his business career by taking various jobs at merchant banks in the United Kingdom and then the United States, before starting his first hedge fund, Double Eagle, in 1969. Profits from his first fund furnished the seed money to start Soros Fund Management, his second hedge fund, in 1970. Double Eagle was renamed to Quantum Fund and was the principal firm Soros advised. At its founding, Quantum Fund had $12 million in assets under management, and as of 2011 it had $25 billion, the majority of Soros’s overall net worth.   read more…

Ohel Jakob synagogue in Munich

25 June 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General

Jewish Center Munich: Ohel Jakob Synagogue, Jewish Musuem and Jewish Community Center (from left to right) © Schlaier

Jewish Center Munich: Ohel Jakob Synagogue, Jewish Musuem and Jewish Community Center (from left to right)
© Schlaier

Ohel Jakob (from Hebrew: “Jacob’s Tent”) is a synagogue in Munich in Germany. It was built between 2004 and 2006 as the new main synagogue for the Jewish community in Munich and is located at the Sankt-Jakobs-Platz. The synagogue was inaugurated on 9 November 2006 on the 68th anniversary of the Kristallnacht. The building is part of the new Jewish Center consisting of the synagogue, the Jewish Museum Munich and a community center.   read more…

Portrait: Ayn Rand, the voice of libertarian Objectivism

24 June 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Portrait

Ayn Rand quote - American Adventure - Epcot Center - Walt Disney World © flickr.com - Cory Doctorow/cc-by-sa-2.0

Ayn Rand quote – American Adventure – Epcot Center – Walt Disney World © flickr.com – Cory Doctorow/cc-by-sa-2.0

Ayn Rand< was a Russian-American writer and philosopher. Rand was born Alisa Zinovyevna Rosenbaum on February 2, 1905, to a Russian-Jewish bourgeois family living in Saint Petersburg. She is known for her two best-selling novels, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, and for developing a philosophical system she named Objectivism. Educated in Russia, she moved to the United States in 1926. She had a play produced on Broadway in 1935 and 1936. After two early novels that were initially unsuccessful, she achieved fame with her 1943 novel, The Fountainhead. In 1957, Rand published her best-known work, the novel Atlas Shrugged. Afterward, she turned to non-fiction to promote her philosophy, publishing her own periodicals and releasing several collections of essays until her death in 1982. Rand advocated reason as the only means of acquiring knowledge and rejected faith and religion. She supported rational and ethical egoism and rejected altruism. In politics, she condemned the initiation of force as immoral and opposed collectivism and statism as well as anarchism, instead supporting laissez-faire capitalism, which she defined as the system based on recognizing individual rights, including property rights. In art, Rand promoted romantic realism. She was sharply critical of most philosophers and philosophical traditions known to her, except for Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas and classical liberals. Literary critics received Rand’s fiction with mixed reviews and academia generally ignored or rejected her philosophy, though academic interest has increased in recent decades. The Objectivist movement attempts to spread her ideas, both to the public and in academic settings. She has been a significant influence among libertarians and American conservatives.   read more…

Museum of Jewish Art and History in Paris

15 May 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Museums, Exhibitions, Paris / Île-de-France

The Emancipation room housing the Dreyfus Archives Fund © Musée d'art et d'histoire du Judaïsme/cc-by-sa-4.0

The Emancipation room housing the Dreyfus Archives Fund © Musée d’art et d’histoire du Judaïsme/cc-by-sa-4.0

The Museum of Jewish Art and History (French: Musée d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaïsme or mahJ) is the largest French museum of Jewish art and history. It is located in the Hôtel de Saint-Aignan in the Marais district in Paris. The museum conveys the rich history and culture of Jews in Europe and North Africa from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. Its fine collection of religious objects, archives, manuscripts, and works of art promotes the contributions of Jews to France and to the world, especially in the arts. The museum’s impressive collections include works of art from Marc Chagall and Amedeo Modigliani. The museum has a bookshop selling books on Jewish art and history and Judaica, a media library with an online catalogue accessible to the public, and an auditorium which offers conferences, lectures, concerts, performances, and seminars. It also provides guided weekly visits in English during the tourist season (April to July) for individuals as well as students and teachers, and workshops for children, families, and adults.   read more…

Jewish Museum Frankfurt and Museum Judengasse

20 March 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Museums, Exhibitions

Frankfurter Judengasse in 1868

Frankfurter Judengasse in 1868

The Jewish Museum Frankfurt am Main is the oldest independent Jewish Museum in Germany. It was opened by Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl on 9 November 1988, the 50th anniversary of Kristallnacht.   read more…

Portrait: The novelist and short-story writer Franz Kafka

26 February 2020 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: Portrait

Franz Kafka in 1923 © Archiv Frans Wagenbach

Franz Kafka in 1923 © Archiv Frans Wagenbach

Franz Kafka was a German-speaking Bohemian novelist and short-story writer, widely regarded as one of the major figures of 20th-century literature. His work, which fuses elements of realism and the fantastic, typically features isolated protagonists facing bizarre or surrealistic predicaments and incomprehensible socio-bureaucratic powers, and has been interpreted as exploring themes of alienation, existential anxiety, guilt, and absurdity. His best known works include Die Verwandlung (The Metamorphosis), Der Process (The Trial), and Das Schloss (The Castle). The term Kafkaesque has entered the English language to describe situations like those found in his writing.   read more…

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