Adam Rovner

My Brush With Herzl's Beard

Just think of Theodor Herzl and what do you see? A long, lush, black beard, fit for a modern day Moses. And here’s the thing: I touched it.

Little Store on the Prairie: Emmanuel Saltiel and E.S. Hart ran a general store in Cotopaxi.

When Jewish Colonists Prospected for Utopia in Colorado

Cotopaxi, Colorado, was once a windswept mountain colony dotted with tar paper shacks. This is what happened to it and its Russian Jewish pioneers.

When Christians Fight Over Israel

What do Presbyterians believe about Jews and Israel? The church’s divestment vote pushed Adam Rovner to investigate using Christian theology, Facebook and everything in between.

Dr. Strangelove? Vladimir Ze’ev Jabotinsky was a controversial but multitalented political personality.

How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love Vladimir Jabotinsky

Jabotinsky was a complex figure — brilliant and a promulgator of doomsday scenarios. A new biography may help some readers feel a little less scared of him.

What?s So Jewish About Them? The Marx Brothers are some of many Jewish jokesters name-checked in Ruth Wisse?s study. But there wasn?t all that much in the way of ethnic particularity in their routines.

What Makes a Jewish Joke Jewish?

Ruth Wisse offers a cogent analysis of Jewish humor in her new book. Why does she overlook several decades of scholarship on ethnic jokes?

Letter from Moshe Rosenblatt to ITO president Israel Zangwill, Kiev 1905. From the Central Zionist Archives. (p. 143)

News of the Carrot, Not Pain of the Stick

Jews didn’t flee Europe because of pogroms. They moved to all corners of the world to find economic opportunity, writes Gur Alroey in a new book.

Freeland League leader Isaac Nachman Steinberg in 1918.
You Don?t Know Zubi! The New Phrase Book of Israeli Slang for English Speakers

You Don’t Know Zubi!

Israelis barely speak Hebrew. The language on the streets, in cafes and along the beaches is a hybrid of adapted and adopted expressions mined from Arabic, English, Russian, Yiddish and dozens of dialects. When I first arrived in Israel in 1987, I thought the handful of half-remembered words from my few years spent at a yeshiva would help me get around Jerusalem. But I sounded like an autistic teenager from the pages of Genesis. I shouted at a guy hassling a female friend, “Lech lecha!” thinking this might send him on his way.

Spangles and Sequins and Lights: It?s just another fun-filled night on the boardwalk.

A Boardwalk Empire of Their Own

Before Snooki ruled the Jersey Shore, Atlantic City’s reigning boss was Enoch “Nucky” Johnson. HBO’s new television series “Boardwalk Empire,” set in Atlantic City during Prohibition, draws on the true story of Nucky and his Irish, Italian and Jewish partners in crime. Ethnic and racial rivalries melted away in the bathtub stills so long as Nucky controlled the town from his oceanfront suite in the Ritz-Carlton.

Not Red, Not Dead, Not Redeemed: Is Sam Odessa, here standing in front of the railroad company, our only hope?

Chai Noon

Sherriff’s badges weren’t the only Jewish stars in the Wild West. Consider gunslinger Jim Levy, Deadwood mayor Sol Star, Jewish Pueblo Indian chief Solomon Bibo, blue jeans inventor Levi Strauss and David May, the merchant who built his trading post into a chain of national department stores now controlled by Macy’s. Even O.K. Corral gunfighter Wyatt Earp is buried in a Jewish cemetery, but only because of his Jewish wife, Josephine Sophie Marcus. But there are no Yiddish cowboys in the newest blockbuster video game from Rockstar Games, the three-act horse opera “Red Dead Redemption.” Rockstar’s revisionist history of how the West was won turns Jews into America’s losers.