10 episodes

This companion podcast to Dara Horn’s new book People Love Dead Jews takes listeners beyond the book to some of the strangest corners of Jewish history, exploring how the popular mania for dead Jews warps our understanding of both past and present.
In this series, you’ll meet flamboyantly gay Civil War Jewish spies, Japanese “Jewish specialists” trying to build their own Jewish state, genius Victorian identical twins and genius Lubavitcher identical twins, American and Soviet Jewish moviemakers hoping to become Hebrew prophets, adorable imaginary Jewish children, and a very righteous Tyrannosaurus Rex.
With these strange, dark, hilarious, and fascinating stories, Dara Horn guides listeners through the outsized role that dead Jews play in other people’s imaginations— and sometimes still play in ours. Join us on our Adventures with Dead Jews!

Adventures with Dead Jews Tablet Studios

    • Religion & Spirituality
    • 4.9 • 245 Ratings

This companion podcast to Dara Horn’s new book People Love Dead Jews takes listeners beyond the book to some of the strangest corners of Jewish history, exploring how the popular mania for dead Jews warps our understanding of both past and present.
In this series, you’ll meet flamboyantly gay Civil War Jewish spies, Japanese “Jewish specialists” trying to build their own Jewish state, genius Victorian identical twins and genius Lubavitcher identical twins, American and Soviet Jewish moviemakers hoping to become Hebrew prophets, adorable imaginary Jewish children, and a very righteous Tyrannosaurus Rex.
With these strange, dark, hilarious, and fascinating stories, Dara Horn guides listeners through the outsized role that dead Jews play in other people’s imaginations— and sometimes still play in ours. Join us on our Adventures with Dead Jews!

    Introducing: Gatecrashers

    Introducing: Gatecrashers

    What topic is more controversial, sensational, and endlessly captivating than college admissions? It’s a billion-dollar industry. It sends celebrities to jail. The Supreme Court is weighing in on who gets in and why. We might think we have read all there is to read on the issue, and heard all there is to hear. But if you want to understand everything that’s going on with college admissions today—not just the battles over diversity, but the very existence of college applications, the essays and interviews and standardized tests—you have to look at the first group that tried to diversify elite schools. You have to look at the Jews. Gatecrashers, an 8-part podcast series launching Sept. 13, 2022, tells the story of how Jews fought for acceptance at elite schools, and how the Jewish experience in the Ivy League shaped American higher education, and shaped America at large.

    • 3 min
    Bonus Jews

    Bonus Jews

    Dara gets us in the Halloween spirit with a reading of “The Dead Town” by Yiddish writer I.L. Peretz. (Translated by Helen Frank and Hillel Halkin, abridged and adapted by Dara Horn.)

    • 13 min
    Agreeable Jews

    Agreeable Jews

    Holocaust education has proliferated in the United States, along with a nationwide emphasis on anti-bias education. But recent years have also seen an undeniable rise in antisemitism. How did we get here?

    To find out, host Dara Horn rewinds back to the stunning success of Gentlemen’s Agreement, a 1947 Oscar-winning Hollywood blockbuster in which Gregory Peck plays a journalist who poses as a Jew in order to expose American antisemitism. The movie’s premise is hilariously blunt: People shouldn’t hate Jews, because Jews are Just Like Us! Of course, this premise contains an unspoken compromise: If Jews aren’t Just Like Us, hating them might actually be fine after all.

    To investigate this requirement that Jews erase their differences in order to deserve respect, we go back to a bizarre moment in 1806, when Napoleon convened an ancient rabbinic court to ensure that the Jews were sufficiently Just Like Us. In this bizarre Napoleonic game show and the spectacular gory failures that unspooled from it, we can begin to see the unarticulated limits of what we now think of as diversity—and to consider, in profound ways, how we might do better.

    Rachel Gordan’s most recent work on Gentleman’s Agreement, Laura Z. Hobson, and twentieth century American Jewish culture can be found here, here, and here. Jonathan Helfand’s work on Jewish identity in France can be found here and here. For further background, see also Napoleon, the Jews, and the Sanhedrin and The Affair: The Case of Alfred Dreyfus.

    Dara Horn’s new book, People Love Dead Jews, is published by WW Norton and is available wherever books are sold. It's also available as an audio book from Recorded Books. We hope you’ll check it out.

    Adventures with Dead Jews is brought to you by Tablet Studios and Soul Shop. It’s created and written by Dara Horn, and produced and edited by Josh Kross and Robert Scaramuccia. The managing producer is Sara Fredman Aeder, and the executive producers are Liel Leibovitz, Stephanie Butnick, Gabi Weinberg and Dan Luxenberg. We hope you’ll rate and review it wherever you get your podcasts, so that more people can join us on our adventures.

    • 55 min
    Unsinkable Jews

    Unsinkable Jews

    The Jewish community of Charlotte, North Carolina has been embarrassed by their city’s monument honoring Judah Benjamin, the Confederacy’s Jewish Secretary of State, ever since they were cajoled into paying for it back in 1948… and the 2020 racial justice protests finally accelerated their decades-long attempt to get rid of it. But Benjamin-- a brilliant lawyer, one of the first Jewish senators, a Supreme Court nominee, the “Brains of the Confederacy,” Caribbean-born, openly Jewish, and not-openly gay-- made people uncomfortable during his own lifetime. Even back then, he was impossible to get rid of. 

    Benjamin’s meteoric career, and his outlandish escape from a victorious Union that wanted his head (he survived multiple shipwrecks and was helped along by a talking parrot), present a strange study in the evils of the past and the awkward role Jews played in it, especially when we look at other unlikely Jewish Civil War figures and the expectations non-Jewish leaders like Lincoln and Davis had of them. How did Jews position themselves as Americans, then and now-- and at what cost?

    James Traub’s new biography of Judah Benjamin is Judah Benjamin: Counselor to the Confederacy. Previous Benjamin biographies include Judah P. Benjamin: The Jewish Confederate by Eli Evans, which provides the account shared in this episode of Benjamin’s astonishing escape. Jonathan Sarna’s works on the Civil War include Lincoln and the Jews, which features Sarna’s research on Isachar Zacharie, and When General Grant Expelled the Jews. Asher Knight is the senior rabbi of Temple Beth El in Charlotte, North Carolina. Eric Wisnia is the rabbi emeritus of Congregation Beth Chaim in Princeton Junction, New Jersey.

    A fictionalized account of Judah Benjamin’s life and the lives of other Civil War Jews can be found in Dara Horn’s novel All Other Nights. 

    Dara Horn’s new book, People Love Dead Jews, is published by WW Norton and is available wherever books are sold. It's also available as an audio book from Recorded Books. We hope you’ll check it out. 

    Adventures with Dead Jews is brought to you by Tablet Studios and Soul Shop. It’s created and written by Dara Horn, and produced and edited by Josh Kross and Robert Scaramuccia. The managing producer is Sara Fredman Aeder, and the executive producers are Liel Leibovitz, Stephanie Butnick, Gabi Weinberg and Dan Luxenberg. We hope you’ll rate and review it wherever you get your podcasts, so that more people can join us on our adventures. 

    • 55 min
    Time-Traveling Jews

    Time-Traveling Jews

    Our stories so far have explored relationships between Jews and non-Jewish societies that have ranged from awkward to, well, murderous. But in this case, the social snubbing of Jews actually worked to everyone’s advantage, resulting in the biggest historical discovery in the history of the world. 

    Here, two genius Scottish identical twins match wits with one half of a pair of genius Hasidic Romanian identical twins in order to track down some of the oldest existing manuscripts of the bible. They embark on an Indiana-Jones style adventure in 1890s Egypt, and wind up with much more than they bargained for: hundreds of thousands of centuries-old Hebrew manuscripts that are still changing the way we think about the past. 

    Horn also brings us to current-day attempts to preserve ancient Jewish sites in the most volatile parts of the Middle East, to uncover the rewards and perils of trying to preserve Jewish history. How do we decide what’s worth saving? 

    Chrystie Sherman’s photographs of the Eliyahu Hanavi-Jobar synagogue in Damascus are available in the online museum of Diarna. Janet Soskice’s biography of Margaret Gibson and Agnes Lewis is The Sisters of Sinai. Ben Outhwaite directs the Taylor Schechter Genizah Research Unit. Marina Rustow’s most recent book is The Lost Archive: Traces of a Caliphate in a Cairo Synagogue. More information about the Cairo Genizah is also available in Sacred Trash by Adina Hoffman and Peter Cole, Sacred Treasure by Mark Glickman, and A Jewish Archive from Old Cairo by Stefan Reif, as well as in the documentary film by Michelle Paymar, From Cairo to the Cloud. A fictionalized version of the Genizah’s discovery can be found in Dara Horn’s novel A Guide for the Perplexed.

    Dara Horn’s new book, People Love Dead Jews, is published by WW Norton and is available wherever books are sold. It's also available as an audio book from Recorded Books. We hope you’ll check it out. 

    Adventures with Dead Jews is brought to you by Tablet Studios and Soul Shop. It’s created and written by Dara Horn, and produced and edited by Josh Kross and Robert Scaramuccia. The managing producer is Sara Fredman Aeder, and the executive producers are Liel Leibovitz, Stephanie Butnick, Gabi Weinberg and Dan Luxenberg. We hope you’ll rate and review it wherever you get your podcasts, so that more people can join us on our adventures.

    • 53 min
    Disposable Jews

    Disposable Jews

    In this episode, we explore the marvelous and terrifying life of the massively renowned Soviet Yiddish actor Solomon Mikhoels: international star of stage and screen, director of the Moscow State Yiddish Theater, and leader of the Soviet Union’s Jewish Antifascist Committee during World War Two… and later, in a rather less desirable role, the leading man in the Soviet Jewish nightmare that came to be known as the “Night of the Murdered Poets,” a group of world-class Jewish artists and leaders executed by Stalin one night in 1952. 

    Mikhoels wasn’t one of those Murdered Poets, but he was intimately connected to all of them-- and the unbelievable story of his valiant attempt to become a savior of the Jewish people came at a horrifying cost. What happens when being a Jewish artist and leader requires erasing yourself?

    Sneak peeks at Vassili Schedrin’s work-in-progress on Mikhoels’s life and on Soviet Yiddish theater can be found here, here, here, and here. Justin Cammy’s new translation of Sutzkever’s work is From the Vilna Ghetto to Nuremberg: Memoir and Testimony by Avrom Sutzkever. More information on the Moscow State Yiddish theater can be found in The Travels of Benjamin Zuskin by Ala Zuskin Perelman and in The Moscow State Yiddish Theater by Jeffrey Veidlinger. The trial records of the Jewish Antifascist Committee can be found in Stalin’s Secret Pogrom by Joshua Rubenstein and Vladimir P. Naumov. 

    More information about Solomon Mikhoels’s career-long acting partner and fellow Jewish Antifascist Committee member Benjamin Zuskin can be found in the works above, and also in “Executed Jews” in People Love Dead Jews by Dara Horn. 

    Adventures with Dead Jews is brought to you by Tablet Studios and Soul Shop. It’s created and written by Dara Horn, and produced and edited by Josh Kross and Robert Scaramuccia. The managing producer is Sara Fredman Aeder, and the executive producers are Liel Leibovitz, Stephanie Butnick, Gabi Weinberg and Dan Luxenberg. We hope you’ll rate and review it wherever you get your podcasts, so that more people can join us on our adventures. 

    Dara Horn’s new book, People Love Dead Jews, is published by WW Norton and is available wherever books are sold. It's also available as an audio book from Recorded Books. We hope you’ll check it out.

    • 55 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
245 Ratings

245 Ratings

farmisht ,

Too too topical

While waiting for the promised next edition, I’ve been re-listening to the original series smack in the middle of Kanye West’s latest antisemitic raging, which horribly echoes the “Protocols” tropes that Horn reminds us entire empires have embraced time and again. Plus ca change…

Richfromboston ,

Amazing stories….

As my friend Walter Sobchak says “3000 years of beautiful traditions from Moses to Sandy Kofax”.
Dara Horn tells some great tales of amazing real life Jews. If only Dara could have been my Hebrew School teacher, I may have not gotten thrown out of class like I was back in the day. Only have two episodes left and I’m already depressed that those are it for the series.

matanah2018 ,

Your carnival music is appropriate

You highlight the twisted carnival humor of history .
And you are like a fun house mirror but instead of distorting you point out the distortions of polite homogenized history.

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