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A hundred and one years before ‘You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah’ was released, the first American Bat Mitzvah took place. (Apple TV+/Disney+/Netflix via AP)

‘You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah’ speaks to the meaningful impact of religious rituals for Jewish girls

‘You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah’ may seem worlds apart from the growth and appeal of ‘by and for women only’ films produced by Orthodox Jewish women, but all these films share a focus on the potential of Jewish ritual.
The Palestinian village of Bayt Mahsir near Jerusalem circa 1940. The agricultural community was one of hundreds of Palestinian villages depopulated by Israeli forces during the 1948 war. (UNRWA)

How colonialist depictions of Palestinians feed western ideas of eastern ‘barbarism’

The dismissal of Palestinians as “barbaric” or somehow less human is rooted in a long history of colonizing narratives, including how the land and people were first viewed as “uncivilized.”
Aisha Azzam — the subject of a documentary film about preserving Palestinian food culture in exile — in a scene from the film, overlooking the Dead Sea to the Palestinian territories. Cinematographer: Guochen Wang (Author provided)

Palestine was never a ‘land without a people’

Modern settlers to Palestine viewed the desert as something they needed to “make bloom.” But it already was, thanks to the long history of Palestinian agricultural systems.
A view of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and its Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem’s Old City. Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty Images

Why Al-Aqsa remains a sensitive site in Palestine-Israel conflict

The Al-Aqsa mosque, a flashpoint in Hamas’ recent assault against Israel, hosts daily prayers and Friday gatherings. It lies adjacent to important Jewish and Christian religious locales.
From Reconstructionism to ultra-Orthodoxy, Judaism is richly diverse. MendyHechtman/iStock via Getty Images

Jewish denominations: A brief guide for the perplexed

Jewish communities have always followed some different customs in different parts of the world, but the 19th and 20th centuries brought much more dramatic divisions.
Under a portrait of Theodor Herzl, David Ben-Gurion on May 14, 1948, declares the establishment of a Jewish state to be known as the state of Israel. Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

On its 75th birthday, Israel still can’t agree on what it means to be a Jewish state and a democracy

Israel may no longer be a fledgling state – but it has yet to overcome the basic contradiction that has defined it from the very beginning.
The Monument to the Ghetto Heroes in Warsaw, Poland, commemorating the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. History surrounding the Holocaust has become increasingly controversial in Poland in recent years. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

By policing history, Poland’s government is distorting the Holocaust

The Holocaust has become a contentious issue in Poland in recent years. And those challenging the government’s historical narrative have faced condemnation and lawsuits.
People enjoying Christmas decorations in Johannesburg, South Africa. Luca Sola/AFP via Getty Images

How to live up to the true spirit of Christmas

Research shows that religious people who actively participate in religious gatherings tend to have a more positive experience of Christmas, with expectations largely fulfilled.
Partial layout of the graves discovered during the excavation at the medieval Jewish cemetery of Erfurt. Thuringian State Office for Heritage Management and Archaeology/Karin Sczech + Katharina Bielefeld

Ancient DNA from the teeth of 14th-century Ashkenazi Jews in Germany already included genetic variations common in modern Jews

A German town needed to relocate a medieval graveyard to build a parking garage. A positive side effect: Scientists got to sequence the DNA of Ashkenazi Jews who lived more than 600 years ago.

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