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The Chronicles of the Rabbis

The Dybbukast, Season 3, Episode 3: The Chronicles of the Rabbis

Season 3, Episode 3

In this first of our five-episode series with the Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis University (NEJS), we explore a satirical text from 1897 titled The Chronicles of the Rabbis: Being an Account of a Banquet Tendered to “Episcopus” by the Rabbis of New York City upon the Anniversary of his 70th Birthday. Written by J.P. Solomon, the editor of a popular Jewish newspaper, under the pseudonym “Ben F. Rayim,” the text spoofs the banquet thrown that year on the occasion of the 70th birthday of New York’s foremost Reform rabbi of Temple Emanu-El, Gustav Gottheil.

Intercut with readings from the satire, Dr. Jonathan D. Sarna, University Professor and the Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History, takes us through the text, translating the tensions it presents of a rabbinate on the cusp of change and its intersections with the popular culture of its time.

This episode is made possible in part by a grant from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.

Read the transcript for "The Chronicles of the Rabbis"


Hosted by Aaron Henne

Scholarship provided by Jonathan D. Sarna, PhD

Edited by Mark McClain Wilson

Story editing by Julie A. Lockhart with Aaron Henne

Featuring the voice of Joe Jordan

Theme music composed by Michael Skloff and produced by Sam K.S.

Transcription by Dylan Southard

"The Chronicles of the Rabbis" Learning Resources

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One of the largest and most diverse departments of its kind, the Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis University (NEJS) is dedicated to the critical investigation of the history, literature, and religion of Jews and Judaism, as well as adjacent cultures in the ancient and modern world (the ancient Near East, Christianity, Islam and modern Israel).


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