700-Year-Old Luzzatto High Holiday Mahzor Sells for $8.3 Million and At 95, Mel Brooks will finally deliver ‘History of the World: Part II’BY RON KAMPEAS and Handwritten Works of Eli Wiesel’s Teacher Now Open to the Public at Israel’s National Library By Hana Levi Julian and Harvard/Clalit Study of 728,321 Israelis Shows Third Vaccine More Effective than Only 2 ShotsBy David Israel -and a shout out to my sister whose birthday is tomorrow
Yehuda Lave is an author, journalist, psychologist, rabbi, spiritual teacher, and coach, with degrees in business, psychology and Jewish Law. He works with people from all walks of life and helps them in their search for greater happiness, meaning, business advice on saving money, and spiritual engagement.
The study authors noted that many countries are experiencing a resurgence of COVID-19, driven predominantly by the delta variant. These countries are considering a third dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine as a booster dose to address the diminishing immunity over time and, resulting in reduced effectiveness against the delta variant.
"We aimed to use the data repositories of Israel's largest healthcare organization to evaluate the effectiveness of a third dose of the BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine for preventing severe COVID-19 outcomes," the study authors stated.
Using data from Clalit Health Services, which provides mandatory healthcare coverage for more than half of Israel's population, the study matched, 1:1, individuals receiving a third vaccine dose between July 30, 2020, and Sept 23, 2021, with demographically and clinically similar controls who did not receive the third dose.
Eligible participants had received the second vaccine dose at least 5 months before the recruitment date, had no previous documented infection, and had no contact with the healthcare system in the 3 days before recruitment. The study excluded healthcare workers, residents of long-term care facilities, and individuals who are medically confined to their homes.
1,158,269 individuals were eligible to be included in the third dose group. Following matching, the third dose and control groups each included 728,321 individuals. Participants had a median age of 52, and 51% were female. The median follow-up time was 13 days in both groups. Vaccine effectiveness was evaluated at least 7 days after receipt of the third dose—compared with receiving only two doses at least 5 months ago—was estimated to be 93% for admission to hospital, 92% for severe disease, and 81% for COVID-19-related death.
The study authors concluded: Our findings suggest that a third dose of the BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine is effective in protecting individuals against severe COVID-19-related outcomes, compared with receiving only two doses at least 5 months ago.
The Three Musketeers at the Kotel
700-Year-Old Luzzatto High Holiday Mahzor Sells for $8.3 Million
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Sotheby's
The magnificent Luzzatto High Holiday Mahzor created some 700 years ago, is a scribal masterpiece that attests to the vibrancy of the medieval Jewish community, according to Sotheby's which on Tuesday sold it in an auction in New York for $8.3 million.
"Written in a distinctive and elegant Hebrew script, this rare prayer book contains the liturgy for the two holiest festivals on the Jewish calendar, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur," the auction house noted. "Preserved in exceptionally fine condition, it is one of only a small number of illustrated Ashkenazic mahzorim extant, none of which is known to be in private hands."
For a century, the Luzzatto mahzor had been available to the public in exhibitions and to scholars for research, which is why the auction drew criticism from scholars who were concerned that this unique treasure would disappear in a safe belonging to a private collector. Israeli art historian Sefy Hendler told Haaretz before the auction that the Luzzatto mahzor is the "Jewish Mona Lisa" – perfect and priceless. He urged the state of Israel to buy it for the National Library's collection.
The Paris-based Alliance Israelite Universelle, the Jewish cultural organization that let go of this treasure said they were forced into it because of their steep debts.
According to Sotheby's the mahzor is named for its illustrious former owner, Samuel David Luzzatto (1800-1865), a distinguished Italian Jewish scholar, poet, and theologian, as well as a renowned antiquarian book collector. After Luzzatto's death, many of his manuscripts and rare printed books were acquired for the collections of major European cultural institutions. In 1870, this important mahzor was purchased for the library of the Alliance Israélite Universelle.
Then they ran into steep debts.
Handwritten Works of Eli Wiesel's Teacher Now Open to the Public at Israel's National Library
The National Library of Israel (NLI) has received and has now opened public access to singularly significant archival materials from "Mr. Shushani" (also known as "Monsieur Chouchani"), a mysterious and brilliant man who served as the personal and perhaps most influential teacher to a number of significant 20th century Jewish cultural and intellectual figures, including Elie Wiesel and Emmanuel Levinas.
Shushani had an extraordinary photographic memory, and was reportedly able to recall and cite the entire Hebrew Bible, Talmud and many other Jewish texts from memory, while also mastering various fields of mathematics, physics, modern philosophy and different languages. The disheveled figure attracted students who were captivated by his unexpected charisma. Many of them saw him as one of the most influential figures in their intellectual development.
The notebooks are full of thoughts and musings, concrete ideas in the realms of Jewish thought and other fields, memory exercises, mathematical formulas and more. Extremely difficult to decipher, a handful of scholars have been given access to some of the writings in recent years and they will now be open to the general public for the first time. Scholars believe that the notebooks will reveal some potentially groundbreaking ideas and teachings related to Jewish thought and texts.
Shushani zealously guarded his true identity and few details about his personal life are known today, more than fifty years after his death. Born in the Russian Empire at the turn of the twentieth century, throughout his life he traveled as a vagabond around the world: in Europe, Mandatory Palestine and later Israel, the United States, Uruguay and other countries. During his travels he left a tremendous impression on his numerous students.
Though his real name remains a mystery, a number of modern scholars believe it was probably Hillel Perlman. Among his students were Nobel laureate Eli Wiesel; philosopher Emmanuel Levinas; and Prof. Shalom Rosenberg, former chair of Jewish Thought at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who donated Shushani's materials to NLI.
As a teacher, Shushani provoked unrest in his students, attacked them with difficult questions and sometimes even verbally assaulted them for their lack of understanding. However, he encouraged them to improve and progress, and especially to think in unexpected ways. Legendary spiritual and intellectual figure Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, who knew him in his youth, described Shushani as "one of the most excellent young people… sharp, knowledgeable, complete and multi-minded."
One of Shushani's greatest admirers was the writer Eli Wiesel, who wrote of him: "He had mastered some thirty ancient and modern languages, including Hindi and Hungarian. His French was pure, his English perfect, and his Yiddish harmonized with the accent of whatever person he was speaking with. The Vedas and the Zohar he could recite by heart. A wandering Jew, he felt at home in every culture."
Mr. Shushani died on January 26, 1968 in Uruguay. Prof. Shalom Rosenberg, one of Israel's leading intellectuals, was his student at the time of his death. According to Prof. Rosenberg, "the world is divided into those who knew him, and those who did not."
According to Dr. Yoel Finkelman, curator of the NLI's Haim and Hanna Salomon Judaica Collection, "There is no more suitable place for Mr. Shushani's archive than at the National Library, whose role is to preserve and make available to the public the intellectual and cultural treasures of the Jewish people and the State of Israel. We consider it of paramount importance to bring to the public's attention the story of one of the most mysterious and influential figures in twentieth-century Jewish thought."
A live Zoom event (in Hebrew) exploring the collection and Mr. Shushani is set for Thursday, October 21st at 19:00 Israel time. Speakers include Prof. Elchanan Reiner, Prof. Moshe Halbertal, Prof. Shmuel Wygoda, Prof. Hanoch Ben-Pazi, Hodaya Samet Har-Shefi, David Lang, and Dr. Rina Rosenberg.
For free registration through the National Library of Israel's website, click here.
At 95, Mel Brooks will finally deliver 'History of the World: Part II'
The original was a feature film; the sequel on Hulu will be a variety series, Variety reported on Monday. Brooks, who is 95, will executive-produce and write; joining him will be professional funny people Nick Kroll, Wanda Sykes, Ike Barinholtz, David Stassen and Kevin Salter. Production is set to begin in 2022.
Most of the original film's cast, including Madeline Kahn, Dom DeLuise, Gregory Hines, Cloris Leachman and Sid Caesar, have died in the 40 years since it was released.
"I can't wait to once more tell the real truth about all the phony baloney stories the world has been conned into believing are History!" Brooks told Variety.
Brooks played a number of roles in the original "History," including the Spanish inquisitor Torquemada in the Inquisition skit — a tough competition for the most joyfully tasteless segment. "We have a mission to convert the Jews," Brooks sings as Torquemada, after sliding down a bannister, Broadway-style, to greet his prisoners in the torture chamber.
"Jew, Jew Jew Jew Jew Jew Jews!" the chorus of monks replies. "We're going to help them see the light and make an offer that they can't refuse," Brooks sings. "That the Jews just can't refuse!" say the monks.
Other sketches covered cavemen, Moses, the Last Supper, the Roman era and the French Revolution, in which Brooks, as King Louis XVI, uttered the immortal catchphrase, "It's good to be the king."
The new series finally fulfills the teaser at the end of "Part I," which promised a sequel that would cover "Hitler on Ice" and "Jews in Space."