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Simply the Besht Simply the Besht
Friday, April 26, 2013 by Glenn Dynner | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Earlier biographers of the Ba'al Shem Tov had left him shrouded in the mists of legend.  But Moshe Rosman insisted that "only by bringing the Besht down to earth will it be possible to evaluate his way in the service of heaven."
Buczacz by Way of Newark: On Literary Lives at the End Buczacz by Way of Newark: On Literary Lives at the End
Thursday, January 10, 2013 by Jeffrey Saks | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Philip Roth has bowed out gracefully from the literary world.  But for the great Hebrew writer S. Y. Agnon, retirement was never an option.
Editors' Picks
What Lurks Underneath Odessa? Moses Gates, Forward. "We spend hours in the catacombs, doing several trips to various sections. . . . Then we turn a corner and see a circle about a foot in diameter with a swastika carved into it."
Havah Nagilah: From Niggun To Cliché Chavie Lieber, JTA. Today, it is the clichéd stuff of American weddings.  But it began in Europe as a Hasidic niggun, and picked up its words in 20th-century Palestine.
Swords Into Plowshares Jonathan Greenstein, Huffington Post. The owner of a Judaica auction house presents striking hanukkiot from Europe and India.  There is also one from Israel, made from a rifle stock and dedicated by Yitzhak Rabin.
Magnitizdat Sophie Pinkham, Paris Review. The samizdat literature that helped undermine the Soviet Union had a musical counterpart: bootlegged prison songs from the gulag, some mythologizing the Jewish gangsters of Odessa.