Friday, August 12, 2011 5:40 PM
Superman was born from the creative minds of two Jewish teens whose boyhoods were steeped in comic books and science fiction. At age 18, co-creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster first drew the caped superhero that would capture the imagination of future generations. Academics have attributed the boys’ inspiration for Superman to the lofty pages of literature (Shaw), philosophy (Nietzsche), and religion (the Golem). But a far more likely muse, according to Reform Judaism magazine, was something much more accessible to a couple of sci-fi geeks:
[O]f all the speculative theories surrounding the creation of Superman, one exceedingly likely influence has been virtually ignored—a real-life Jewish strongman from Poland who 1. was billed as the “Superman of the Ages”; 2. advertised, on circus posters, as a man able to stop speeding locomotives; 3. wore a cape; 4. looked—with his chiseled movie-star face, wavy hair, and massive upper torso—like the future comic book idol; and 5. performed his death-defying feats in 1923 and 1924 in Cleveland and Toronto, Siegel and Shuster’s respective hometowns, when they were impressionable nine year olds.
Thus Superman’s creation story expands into the utterly accessible realm of a 1920s-era traveling circus strongman named Zisha Breitbart. If you’ve got a little comic book worship in you, check out Breitbart’s life story and his superman stunts of bending iron, wrestling bears, and withstanding beds of nails. And imagine the seeds of America’s favorite superhero being planted in two young minds.
Source: Reform Judaism
Image by greyloch
, licensed under Creative Commons.
Saturday, April 05, 2008 1:53 PM
Last fall, Muslim leaders from around the world released an open letter to Christian leaders about the common ground shared by the two religions. Yale Divinity School’s Center for Faith and Culture spearheaded a warm response, which was signed by many Christian leaders.
Last month, another international group of Muslim leaders issued a letter—this one to the Jewish community. The letter, facilitated by the Woolf Institute’s Centre for the Study of Muslim-Jewish Relations, calls for increased understanding and bridge building between the two faiths. The gesture has been well received by Reform, Conservative, and Reconstructionist Jewish leaders from North America, as well as by the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations.
Admittedly, it will take more than open letters by scholars and clerics to end religious strife. Still, these are unprecedented steps and encouraging signs.
(Thanks, Blogging Religiously.)
Monday, January 28, 2008 3:37 PM
For more than 80 years, the nondenominational Jewish organization Hillel has been cultivating Jewish community and identity on college campuses. Recently, Hillel released an extensive guide aimed at better serving students who are members of both the Jewish and the LGBTQ communities.
The 164-page Hillel LGBTQ Resource Guide includes students’ personal stories, a glossary of inclusive language, liturgical resources, and lists of queer identified and actively allied Hillel staff. The Forward reports that the guide grew from a group of LGBTQ Hillel staff members who have met at annual Hillel conferences since 1991, first secretly and later more openly.
(Thanks, RAC Blog.)
Monday, December 17, 2007 5:45 PM
With no burning bushes available, many people of faith are turning on their cell phones to stay in touch with God. Muslims are using cell-phone software to help find the direction toward Mecca for prayer, Elizabeth Biddlecome writes for Wired. Christians organizations are trying out the mobile technology too, according to Biddlecome, with Bible verses available via text message, or a “Thought of the Day” from the Pope sent directly to Catholics' pockets. Not to be outdone, the Associated Press (via MSNBC) reports that Orthodox Jews can now buy “kosher” cell phones, able to block both text messages and phone sex lines.
As religious groups embrace technology, major changes are occurring in the way the devout worship. In the future, people may begin to turn their phones on, rather than off, when entering places of worship. And when theologians struggle with technological problems, the question becomes, “Can God get cell reception in my basement?”
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