Encompassing Mind: Yosef Yerushalmi ruled over Jewish his- tory from his perch at Columbia University.

Yosef Yerushalmi, 77, Polymath Historian

The world of Jewish studies lost a towering figure on December 8 with the death of Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi at the age of 77. Yerushalmi was arguably the leading scholar of Jewish history in the post-Holocaust age, renowned for his rare combination of erudition, analytical brilliance, and literary elegance. His wide-ranging studies left a profound imprint on a generation of students, over whom he presided with a unique Old World authority. But his work also resonated with a wider lay readership in this country, Europe, and Israel, for whom he translated often-arcane scholarly questions into central issues of contemporary identity.

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Lots of Ideas: Students in class at the Gann Accademy in sub- urban Boston, which just received a $12.25 million gift.

Donors Give Pluralistic School in Boston $12.25 Mil

Defying the recession and concerns about Jewish philanthropy after Bernard Madoff, a group of anonymous donors recently gave $12.25 million to Gann Academy, a 13-year-old pluralistic Jewish high school in suburban Waltham, Mass., enabling the school to retire its building debt.

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Draft Culture: Gabi Ashkenazi, center, the IDF chief of staff, warned against the disintegration of the military draft culture.

Abuse of IDF Exemptions Questioned

A growing gap between the size of the Orthodox Jewish population in Israel and the number of women who are receiving exemption from military service on religious grounds has prompted a move in the Knesset to clamp down on those who may be lying about their beliefs to avoid army service.

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Getting Through the Holidays...With Prozac

Holidays have you down? Can’t escape the tinsel, carols and mall mobs? Well, neither can Steve Wasserman, which is why he created a Jewish Revisionist Advent calendar commissioned by the snarky Web site Jewdas.org, to count down the days until the end of Christmas.

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On the Record: Nick Hornby

Nick Hornby’s Jewish ‘Education’

Writer Nick Hornby recently spoke with the Forward’s Gabrielle Birkner about the cast of complicated characters in “An Education,” and responded to those critics who have charged that the film, for which he wrote the screenplay, plays on antisemitic stereotypes.

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