How Capitalism Gave Rise to American Jewish Calendars

March 29 2019

In his early-20th-century memoir of immigration and Americanization, Marcus Ravage notes how much harder it was to keep track of the Jewish holidays in the New World than it was in the Old. But things became easier in the following decades with the advent of mass-produced Jewish calendars that included holidays and other important information. Jenna Weissman Joselit writes:

[Some] American Jews relied on their kosher butcher, the neighborhood grocer, and by the 1930s, the manufacturers of food products to keep them in the loop. Commercial interests, sensing an excellent opportunity to join community service and goodwill to profit, either commissioned a Jewish calendar or put their name to one already in production. What an artful way to flag time-sensitive products such as matzah for Passover, dairy products for Shavuot, flour for [baking challah for the] Sabbath.

B.C. Friedman and Sons Matzoh Bakery of Philadelphia clearly thought so. Purveyors of matzah meal, matzah farfel, and a distinctive form of unleavened bread called protein matzah—a product “recommended by doctors for those suffering with diabetes”—the company furnished its loyal customers with a “calendar booklet for 5700” (1939-1940). In the years that followed, the B. Manischewitz Co., Isidor Jacobson Wines and Liquors of Jackson Heights, New York, Drake’s Cakes, [and] the National Sugar Refining Company of New Jersey . . . made sure to keep their customers satisfied by offering their own, cost-free version, of the Jewish calendar, along with their best wishes for a “happy and prosperous New Year.” . . .

Although it nearly cornered the market, the commercialized Jewish calendar faced competition from another quarter: the National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods, the umbrella organization of Reform Jewish women, under whose aegis a decidedly more elevated approach to Jewish timekeeping—a “Jewish art calendar”—came into being. Intended to “Judaize the homes” of its members who had either grown rather lax in or increasingly indifferent to Jewish ceremonial life, it transformed the Jewish calendar from an exercise in consumerism into a vehicle of “religious consciousness,” heightening the appeal of Jewish rituals along the way.

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More about: American Jewish History, Capitalism, History & Ideas, Jewish art, Jewish calendar, Religion & Holidays

 

Terror Returns to Israel

Nov. 28 2022

On Wednesday, a double bombing in Jerusalem left two dead, and many others injured—an attack the likes of which has not been seen since 2016. In a Jenin hospital, meanwhile, armed Palestinians removed an Israeli who had been injured in a car accident, reportedly murdering him in the process, and held his body hostage for two days. All this comes as a year that has seen numerous stabbings, shootings, and other terrorist attacks is drawing to a close. Yaakov Lappin comments:

Unlike the individual or small groups of terrorists who, acting on radical ideology and incitement to violence, picked up a gun, a knife, or embarked on a car-ramming attack, this time a better organized terrorist cell detonated two bombs—apparently by remote control—at bus stops in the capital. Police and the Shin Bet have exhausted their immediate physical searches, and the hunt for the perpetrators will now move to the intelligence front.

It is too soon to know who, or which organization, conducted the attack, but it is possible to note that in recent years, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) has taken a lead in remote-control-bombing terrorism. Last week, a car bomb that likely contained explosives detonated by remote control was discovered by the Israel Defense Forces in Samaria, after it caught fire prematurely. In August 2019, a PFLP cell detonated a remote-control bomb in Dolev, seventeen miles northwest of Jerusalem, killing a seventeen-year-old Israeli girl and seriously wounding her father and brother. Members of that terror cell were later arrested.

With the Palestinian Authority (PA) losing its grip in parts of Samaria to armed terror gangs, and the image of the PA at an all-time low among Palestinians, in no small part due to corruption, nepotism, and its violation of human rights . . . the current situation does not look promising.

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More about: Israeli Security, Jerusalem, Palestinian terror