Monday, March 14, 2011

Updates to the Blogroll

I've tried to keep my blogroll, which you can find by scrolling down, on the right side of the page, limited to the blogs I actually read regularly, or those which represent subjects I may peruse from time to time - Jewlicious and Chassidic Thought, which hasn't been updated in a while, are both on thin ice. However, despite my best efforts to keep the list concise, in revolt at the link farms featured on other sites, which seemingly lose utility in direct proportion to their bloated size, and much like Israel's settlements, the list is currently undergoing modest growth. After careful consideration spanning numerous seconds, perhaps even minutes, this week I've added a few new entries which you might want to check out.
1. First up is the YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe, a massive, scholarly archive of maps, documents, articles and images about the history of the Jewish experience in the Pale of Settlement.

For example, here is a view of, by the looks of it on the outside, a fairly spectacular Great Synagogue in the northern Moldovan city of Soroca, ca. 1920s (click on the image to enlarge). Soroca was a Jewish majority city from the mid to late 19th century, with 8783 families counted in 1897, but restrictive laws spurred immigration to the US and Argentina, leaving just under 5500 Jews by 1930. Surprisingly, some 200 Jews still live in the town.

YIVO is a welcome resource for those of us interested in Jewish history and life in Eastern Europe, which is far from over.

2. Next up is The Hummus Blog, or actually, an English language version of a Hebrew blog devoted to all things hummus. It so happens that the Hebrew site gets updated far more regularly than does the English one, but with online hummus-making resources and information scarce, I'll take what I can get. Besides the culinary aspects, the blog is very oriented around Israeli life, culture and perspectives, in case those interest you. And yes, if you're reading into this that I've been making my own hummus, or trying to (apparently my blender isn't powerful enough, but a food processor is on the way), you're right. In a word, hummus is awesome - tasty, nutritious, and just as important, for my snack-craving purposes, insanely cheap to make. So, check out the blog, in Hebrew or English and, not to damage Sabra's market share (the best store-bought brand, in my opinion), try making your own.

3. Finally, earlier today I was introduced to a young English language blog from the Jewish community of Itamar, the site of the recent grizzly murders of two Jewish parents and three of their six children by Palestinian members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a terrorist group associated with the ruling Fatah party. Bless Itamar is a simple, heartfelt and non-apologetic look at the community, as told by one of its members. Understandably, coverage is now exclusively devoted to the tragedy, but scroll back a few posts and you'll get a glimpse into the life of the residents, from their organic farming and start-up beekeeping to greeting visiting tour groups, from stories about the community's development to security issues that don't make headlines on Haaretz, such as this post from January 14, 2011:
Last night terrorists infiltrated one of our hilltop neighborhoods and opened fire on soldiers doing guard duty. Thank G-D nobody was hurt. Unfortunately, the terrorists got away. Recently there has been an escalation of attempts to steal from and harm our hilltop neighborhoods. Just last week a herd of sheep and some cows were stolen from this same hilltop. With the quick reaction of our response team the herd almost in its entirety was returned to its owners.
With Itamar's prominence as an area of recurring confrontation between local Jews and Arabs (the settlement is located in proximity to Nablus and its Balata refugee camp, regional centers of Palestinian militancy), the community has earned a special scorn from Israel's left wing activists, its residents routinely condemned in mainstream Israeli (and therefore international) news media as radical extremists (despite evidence to the contrary). This makes the task of learning more about the day-to-day experience and perspectives of such isolated Jewish communities all the more difficult. We'll see if the Bless Itamar blog can help.

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