Adam Rovner


What Makes a Jewish Joke Jewish?

By Adam Rovner

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?Read More


News of the Carrot, Not Pain of the Stick

By Adam Rovner

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.Read More


Zions Other Than Zion

By Adam Rovner

Zions Other Than Zion
Michael Chabon’s novel “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union” imagined Jewish refugees turning “Aleyska” into a Yiddish-speaking sanctuary for the “frozen chosen” in the 1940s. But truth is stranger than fiction. As I explain in a short documentary, which will be screened as part of a program on “Other Zions” at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York on July 6, the Freeland League for Jewish Territorial Colonization was a real-life Yiddish policemen’s union. They even considered colonizing Alaska.Read More


You Don’t Know Zubi!

By Adam Rovner

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.Read More


A Boardwalk Empire of Their Own

By Adam Rovner

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.Read More






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