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All Picks posted by Ashley Passmore
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Ashley Passmore
January 2, 2014
Yiddish Farm

Are Jews a race or a religion? Today, this is a question that is less about solving this age-old question than one that seeks to position the person being questioned politically.  What do I mean when I say it is all politics? It is politics not religion that [more]

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Ashley Passmore

It looks staged but it is not. It’s a shot of people who are waiting to go on stage. The showplace is a small town parade in southeastern Texas called Fiestas Patrias Mexicanas in the dusty remnants of a train station outpost town called Bryan. About 25,000 people [more]

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Ashley Passmore

Theodor Herzl went to Jerusalem in 1898 and worried that he might be arrested by the Turkish authorities. Just like Shabbatai Zvi. He got sick while he was there and he was frustrated by his efforts to get meetings with the Sultan. His trip to Jerusalem also took [more]

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Ashley Passmore

It doesn’t really matter at this point how it all started, English in German. Of course it’s related somehow to the occupation. But even that seems like old history now. English doesn’t exactly have prestige. It’s more like a functionality in advertising that makes it a privileged language [more]

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Ashley Passmore

What’s cosmopolitanism? Today, cosmopolitanism denotes a supranational existence. In the modern period, however, prior to the development of nation states, cosmopolitanism meant being connected to more than one place, perhaps to several places at once. Cosmopolitans had allegiances that extended beyond political boundaries. And yet they didn’t just [more]

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Ashley Passmore

If there’s a new “grammar of migration” in Germany and the “Turkish turn” is the Anlass (according to Leslie Adelson[1]), then surely there is a place for some apocryphal literature to that new rulebook. And by that I don’t mean spurious writing but rather non-canonical, constitutional stories. Like [more]

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Ashley Passmore
December 28, 2013
Little Werner is dead

His body was found. Did we see an ethereal light shine in the sky that led to his corpse? Did his wet nurse sell him to the Jews for ritual murder? Was little Werner taken on Gründonnerstag (or is it Weiß-, or Heiliger?) right after he received the [more]

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Ashley Passmore

My uncles and aunts from the second district: pointy beards and white ties, heavy chains on high bosoms, used to bring to the borders of the Seret[1] train cars with provisions, sermon-gifts, candies for the kids, the lilac of the Kaiser’s riches. The aunts, like turkeys with excited [more]

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Ashley Passmore

Dear 60pages.com, Not long ago I had a lovely, fleeting encounter with a fellow student, Gülgün. She was beautiful and from Istanbul and spoke German because of her studies at the German School there. Later, she studied Economics, also in German and she never wanted to return to [more]

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Ashley Passmore
December 25, 2013
Nitteler on the Roof

Some of the first Yiddish words recorded are nitl and levkoches. Nitl, from the Latin natal=birth, sometimes written Nittel, is a holdover from the Judeo-French spoken before the emergence of Yiddish proper in and around the year 1000. It means Christmas. Like most first Yiddish words, these were [more]

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Ashley Passmore

I am sitting right now in the center of the ex-Amish community, Columbia, Missouri, USA. How did it come to be this way, a center for people who break away from their Amish community? No one really knows, just some people who left the community themselves with some [more]

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Ashley Passmore
December 23, 2013
Pet peeves

Holocaust selfies? http://www.jspace.com/news/disturbing-trend-worst-holocaust-selfies/ These people are stupid and naïve. But they aren’t a “disturbing trend.” And I am not outraged. How can I be if they are taking pictures in the Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas? I mean, the place is strange and the history it references [more]

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Ashley Passmore
December 22, 2013
K-Pop, mmmmmkay?

While you were trying to decide which type of horseradish to order from the Gefilteria in order to complement your homemade sushi, that term globalization has undergone some kind of meme upgrade. There’s glocalization, maybe you have heard about that. It’s a term from Roland Robertson and it [more]

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Ashley Passmore
December 21, 2013
The Language of Others

Christoph Schlingensief’s play, “Sterben lernen,” was performed in December 2009 in Zürich.  The play gives the audience a primer on “how to die” using the example of the main character, Mr. Andersen, who discovers he has terminal cancer and has to deal with his grim prognosis: 60 minutes [more]

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Ashley Passmore

The idea that Jewish theatrical genius was a product of Jewish evolution was a common presumption in the late 19th century and early 20th century.  In his 1869 ethnographic study of the Jewish “tribe” (Stamm), the Viennese rabbi, Adolph Jellinek, points to Dawison as a prominent representative of [more]

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Ashley Passmore

My previous forays into the role of maskilic literature in Judaism in the early 19th century, I hope, will set the stage for what is significant in the new iteration of Jewish satire in the Internet age.  While traditional maskilim used the varied genres of the printed word, [more]

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Ashley Passmore
December 18, 2013
Joy in Work, Jewish Work

Reflections after seeing the documentary, Inventing Our Life: The Kibbutz Experiment, 2010 There was a time, in the shadow of the pogroms of Russia in the late 19th century, when the situation of the Jews in Czarist Russia became so intolerable that their sufferings could only improve through [more]

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Ashley Passmore

Last year’s ruling on circumcision in Köln and the subsequent absurd debate on the matter ended with a parliamentary protection for religious communities in Germany against prosecution for the practice. During that debate, there was one argument that stuck in my mind.  This was the idea that, in [more]

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Ashley Passmore

A Zionist movement that transplanted Jews to a new land, according to Theodor Herzl, would instigate physical and psychological transformations in Jews once they adapted to their new environment.  Herzl’s faith in Darwin’s description of the effects of the environment on organisms was a central feature of his [more]

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Ashley Passmore

How did a non-territorial Germanic language like Yiddish “migrate” into German letters at the start of the 20th century?  The status of Yiddish, known somewhat derisively as “Jargon” for most of the 19th  century, was seen as a second-class language both within the learned Jewish community and among [more]

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Ashley Passmore

Dear 60pages.com, I am a proud Muslim from a family with a rather long tradition of religious scholars. I have read about the history of Jews in Germany and how they were able to adapt to German life in the 18th and 19th century through a process of [more]

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Ashley Passmore

Later-generation Holocaust films are no longer driven to document the entirety of the atrocity, rather they seek the “devil in the details.” The 2007 Austrian film, Die Fälscher (2008 Oscar, Best Foreign-Language Film), did just this by taking the perspective of a rather limited population of camp inmates: [more]

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Ashley Passmore

Maybe you’ve heard about the idea of “other Zions.” This is the movement in the history of Jews where, despite the biblical narrative of return to the land of Israel, Jews founded new “father lands” in the period of their dispersal where Jewish states of autonomy were able [more]

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Ashley Passmore

I really knew very little about her. I suppose my perception of her was colored by a media-driven image: Elfriede Jelinek the socially phobic, feminist, Jewish-but also Catholic, Marxist intellectual who gladly and stridently voiced her opinions to journalists about the FPÖ and Haider, always at a distance. [more]

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Ashley Passmore

Today I am thinking about Elfriede Jelinek and how she has been positioning herself in the past 15 years as an author, both in her writing and in her public persona.  What I find in Jelinek’s collaborations with Christoph Schlingensief in the first decade of the 21st century [more]

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Ashley Passmore
December 8, 2013
Oyklahoma

If you like piles of rusting metal and open fire pits, you are gonna love Oklahoma. Because you can drive for miles and miles through what feels like empty space. A place where, in an instant, perhaps after a wrong turn, you can go from being a traveler [more]

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Ashley Passmore

Dear 60pages.com Editor, I haven’t been in the country very long, and I ask you to clarify a certain matter for me. I was brought here by my brother-in-law, with whom I get along very well, but we have a difference of opinion on one thing. I think [more]

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Ashley Passmore

Dear Editor, I am the grandmother of a twenty-one-year-old boy, a Berlin-born boy with all the finest qualities, and I am writing to you about our problem with him. Our grandson met a boy about six months ago, a boy a few years older than he. They fell [more]

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Ashley Passmore
December 5, 2013
Inherited Memory

Scientists at Emory University claim they have found evidence of the inheritance of memory from previous generations in mice whose “forefathers” had been trained to be afraid of the smell of cherry blossoms and who appeared to remember this fear. This is another example of current research in [more]

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Ashley Passmore
December 5, 2013
A Leopoldstadt Tableau

I have uncles and aunts in the second district. The last snows trickle down from the rooftops onto Leopoldstadt. The gutter laps up the erev pesach water. Birds carry straw like crosses to a great old window of the Schiffshul. Jews wet their fingers at the washbasin. A [more]

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Ashley Passmore
December 4, 2013
Blood and the proto-gene

On November 15, 1898, the Viennese Jewish writer, Richard Beer-Hofmann published a poem, Schlaflied für Mirjam (“Lullaby for Mirjam”), dedicated to the birth of his daughter in 1897. The poem first appeared in the German periodical Pan, and it was reprinted over the next few years in several [more]

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Ashley Passmore

Once when I lived in Vienna near the Schloss Belvedere, I had a Viennese writer friend call me on my cell. “I can’t meet with you today,” he said, “I am in the hospital.” Thinking something terrible had happened since I had seen him the week before when [more]

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Ashley Passmore

In order to predict what the encounter between a religious community and new media looks like, one must look at that religious community’s historical relationship to both religious authority and the interpretation of sacred text. In a text-centric religion like Judaism, it may seem that there is little [more]

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Ashley Passmore

Worthy 60pages.com blogger, I am a man who has already lived half my years and I can say that I have never had any peace. I was born in Russia on the Black Sea near Georgia. My parents were poor and when I was quite young I went [more]

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Ashley Passmore

Dear 60pages.com, I have been in Germany happily since 2011. Despite everything, Germany is a real democracy because there is a complete separation of religion and state and it’s totally annoying that I cannot get married to my boyfriend in Israel if he’s not Jewish. Nor can I [more]

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Ashley Passmore

It all started with one of my first posts on the immigrant Avrom Nahum Stencl listening to the church bells of Berlin. The emails started to come. People asking for advice. First a trickle, emails here and there, and then last week they became a daily occurrence.  Strangers [more]

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Ashley Passmore

Haskalah (Jewish Enlightenment) is a one-generation phenomenon.  A maskil (an adherent of the Enlightenment) has certain characteristics: he is male, he comes from beis medresh (traditional house of learning), and he has learned Talmud on a high level. Somewhere along the way (usually when a teenager), he becomes [more]

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Ashley Passmore

Before I saw this film last night, I admit I had fallen into a trap. The kind of trap where I assumed this film would be about an Orthodox community in Israel who, for the convenience of keeping the family together, decides to go machmir or do a [more]

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Ashley Passmore

Soul food restaurant in Berlin. If you landed on this site because you googled that phrase: soul AND food AND berlin with Boolean search terms, let me welcome you. Now for the bad news: there is no soul food restaurant in Berlin. Not the kind you will find [more]

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Ashley Passmore

Messianists have a strange relationship to history. Where we see current events in the news, messianists are interested in the same events but only in order to furiously gather clues and prophecies for a final end or a final return. There is nothing fundamentally new in the news [more]

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Ashley Passmore
November 24, 2013
Dermonkuchen

Mohnkuchen, Neues Museum Café, Berlin, December 1, 2011. Taken by me, the botanist of the sidewalk. Took this photo because I cannot order Mohnkuchen (poppy seed cake) without thinking about Paul Celan’s book, Mohn und Gedächtnis (poppy and memory) and I thought it was so fitting to record [more]

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Ashley Passmore

Modern Jewish satire began in regions of Germany and Austro-Hungarian Galicia in the first two decades of the 19th century, later spreading to Russian territories in the 1830s and 1840s and extending into the 1860s and 1870s throughout Eastern Europe. It originated with the traditionally educated adherents of [more]

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Ashley Passmore
November 22, 2013
Nightmare on Elm Street

50 years ago today JFK was killed in Dallas. As a kid, I heard about this event through the eyes of my parents who were at the impressionable age of 18 when the shots rang out from the book depository and into Kennedy’s head, according to the story. [more]

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Ashley Passmore
November 20, 2013
Dear Enzensberger

It’s true we want to charm you with our readymade expressions. And with our curry. Because we have a favor to ask of you. The truth is, we need you more than you can ever know. The reason? Sometimes when we write our own words, we can’t look [more]

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Ashley Passmore
November 20, 2013
People of the Cloud

I don’t carry many books with me. That’s not a badge of honor but a fact after moving house 36 times in my adult life. And it’s not as if I don’t read. Now that the cloud is our digital repository of memory both literary and real, I [more]

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Ashley Passmore

Now that Yona Metzger was arrested today, there’s really no leadership of the Ashkenazi (German) Jews both in Israel and around the world.  Yes, I know Rabbi David Lau took over the position of Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi of Israel when the Metzger scandal first erupted over the summer [more]

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Ashley Passmore
November 18, 2013
Kaiser Ephraim Yossel

Ephraim Yossel I was stuck on this name when I tried translating a poem by Yehuda Leyb Teler, called Hitlers araynmarsh in Vin [Hitler’s Invasion of Vienna] from 1940. Young Yehuda, the boy born in Tarnopol, Ukraine (part of Galician Austria), fled to New York with his mother [more]

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Ashley Passmore
November 16, 2013
Der fliegende Holyländer

If you are ever on the Rhine during tourist season, you will encounter what I did: the ship called the MS Heinrich Heine. It was for work, my Rhine boat cruise. And it was not on the MS HH. With students who were seeing the Rheintal for the [more]

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Ashley Passmore
November 16, 2013
Aus Dafke

habe ich diese bekannte Erzählung von Brecht ins Jiddische übersetzt. Und sie klingt auch schon besser. Auch wenn Brecht selbst einmal schrieb, dass Jiddisch keine “so voll entwickelte moderne sprache” sei wie Englisch und Deutsch. Trotzdem wirkt er inspirierend auf Jiddischisten aus aller Welt, wie das Video-Interview mit [more]

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Ashley Passmore

What is this here? A picture of the Wailing Wall, from the men’s section because in this holy space, the men and women are divided according to the strictures of Orthodox Jewish law. The men standing there are engrossed in prayer, as most usually are at this location. [more]

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Ashley Passmore
November 13, 2013
My Namenstudien

In his essay, Hidden Name, Complex Fate, Ralph Ellison recounted his process of discovery as a child in a Negro neighborhood with the name of Ralph Waldo.  Those in the ‘hood who possessed the spark of recognition at the string of names, Ralph + Waldo, and then measured [more]

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Ashley Passmore
November 12, 2013
Rhineland Shul Tour 2013

This year, I decided to visit three synagogues built around the year 1000 on the Rhine, which later became the center of Jewish learning and culture in Europe in the Middle Ages.  For the record, these shuls are in Köln, Worms and Speyer.  Yes, Speyer. Here are the [more]

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Ashley Passmore

You don’t need to know your meme – your meme is doing just fine without you. Once born, your meme will continue to grow and mate with another meme (or many memes, because love is colder than death in the meme-world). And then your meme might die and [more]

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Ashley Passmore
November 11, 2013
When in doubt, tell jokes

Kommt der Jude heim und wird von seiner Frau gefragt, welchen Namen er von der Polizeibehörde bekommen hätte. Er: “Schweißloch”. Sie empört sich: “Was? Wofür haben wir so viel Geld ausgegeben?” Er: “Was meinst du, wieviel Überredungskunst mich das W gekostet hat?” In 1787 in Austria, in 1808 under [more]

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Ashley Passmore
November 9, 2013
Remember November

“Schieß doch, Jude!”  That’s what Daniel Josefsohn always says.  Of course he means with a camera.  His camera. You see, he’s a photographer in Mitte and he’s gotta survive, after all, amidst all that Mitteschmerz because Germany is giving birth to its new identity there. And so in [more]

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Ashley Passmore
November 8, 2013
CollaboratorsCollaborators

I remember the guy working the front desk at the Hotel Alex in Berlin – the night I was there with 23 American students at the end of a two-month study trip I was leading.  It was very late at night on the 3rd of July, and that [more]

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Ashley Passmore

  Identity is a powerful concept.  In its strongest sense, according to Rogers Brubaker, identity is believed to be universal and mostly the same over time.  We can be unaware of our own identity: it can be revealed to us at a later date, or we could be [more]

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Ashley Passmore

Ringing bells are part of the German soundscape. Germans hardly ever notice them, foreigners in Germany almost always do. After years of hearing them, Glocken just elicit a sort of contemplative feeling among Germans.  To an immigrant like Avrom Nahum Stencl, who left his native Poland and his [more]

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Ashley Passmore
November 5, 2013
Family resemblances

It all began with this, a little blurb I found about a little Bavarian town on the Jewish Museum of Berlin’s website.  The town is called Schopfloch, which has the unfortunate, nonsensical approximate meaning of “hair hole.” There have been so many metaphors and bon mots to describe [more]

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Ashley Passmore
November 4, 2013
Behold

Behold!  This is a picture I took of a student of mine taking an abstract aesthetic photo of the sky from the Garden of Exile at the Jewish Museum of Berlin.  I took this because I wanted to record how my (American, Texan) students responded to a memorial [more]