Elie's Expositions

A bereaved father blogging for catharsis... and for distraction. Accordingly, you'll see a diverse set of topics and posts here, from the affecting to the analytical to the absurd. Something for everyone, but all, at the core, meeting a personal need.


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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Jewish Urban Legends

When I have a bit of extra time (when??) I like perusing the Snopes "urban legends" database. They do a tremendous job detailing and researching the veracity of a huge variety of tall tales, rumors, internet hoaxes, etc. Well, just as the Jewish blogosphere has grown on the heels of the general one, I've been thinking that we need a similar "Jewish Urban Legends" database.

Actually there is an existing blog with that name. But it hasn't been updated in almost 18 months, and what is there is pretty sparse. Also, it focused exclusively on showing that certain well-known midrashim [stories] from the Talmud- e.g., that Rivka was three years old when she married Yitchak, that Serach Bas Asher lived hundreds of years, etc. - are not taken literally by all meforshim [commentators]. While useful, that's not (or not mainly) what I had in mind for this proposed database.

Another start of a list can be found here. That's about all I can find using Google.

I'm thinking of a site that would detail - and usually, debunk - those fanciful stories that are always floating around the Jewish community, but nobody ever has real first-hand knowledge of. A well-known example, which I'm sure there's a version of in every Modern Ortho community, is the one about the teenage boy and girl at a party that were joking around with the marriage ceremony - e.g., he gave her some item and said "harei at mekudeshes lee" - and they ended up being technically married and needing a get [Jewish bill of divorce].

Another is the famous "Rose Castle" yarn that was going around a few years ago, about a shocking announcement by the bride at a frum wedding, supposedly occuring at that Brooklyn hall. I won't detail the story, but a non-frum version is on the Snopes site without a linkable page; search the site for "The Bothered Bride" if you're interested!

Of course, more serious/scholarly hoaxes like the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" and my all time favorite, the forged Yerushalmi on Kodshim, would be included as well.

One day if I get real ambitious and/or unemployed (hopefully not the latter) I'd like to help start this database. But I'm not sure how I'd go about verifying the stories. Worth thinking about, though.

4 Comments:

At 12/29/05, 6:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Jewish billof divorce is not an urban legend .It happened in 1952 in the coed yeshiva i was attending at a party in the 8th grad.,Reb aharon Kotler and Reb Moshe Feinstein wre called in to the case and their psak was that a get was needed.The yeshiva switched to all boys the following year.It is now a super charedi yeshiva.I'm sure that they would deny that they ever were coed.

 
At 1/2/06, 12:17 AM, Blogger Soccer Dad said...

I forgot to mention this last night but what about the Chafetz Chaim's Kiddush cup. Supposedly it wouldn't be a shiur by today's standards. Is it true? Or just an urban legend?

 
At 1/2/06, 4:56 AM, Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata said...

The Jewish divorce story of 8th graders happened at every school in the country...no? I must have heard it attributed in the late 70's to at least 4 schools in NJ.

 
At 7/18/06, 2:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm actually interested in starting a Jewish Urban Legends site- I've got some stuff already but I want to get a bigger database together. Any input would be great. You can go to www.jewishlegends.com and submit anything you've got- proven or unproven. I'm also interested in hearing about the "wedding" in 1952- if anyone knows more about that one, please, submit it!

 

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