The Amsterdam Rabbi Who Became the Most Famous Jew in the World

In the 17th Century, Menasseh ben Israel Did More Than Anyone to Promote Judaism and Educate Christians of Its Richness

Toleration across political and religious divides is increasingly giving way to suspicion and hostility. So it is no small comfort to study the lives of those who, in even more perilous times, were motivated by an ecumenical spirit to bring people of different faiths to mutual understanding.

Very few readers today will have heard of Menasseh ben Israel; but in the 17th century he was arguably the most famous Jew in the world, in no small part for trying to move Jews and Christians past centuries of mistrust and hatred.

Menasseh was …

When Numeracy Superseded Literacy—and Created the Modern World

The Renaissance’s Embrace of Numbers Revolutionized Commerce, Science, and Art

In 1025, two learned monks, Radolph of Liége and Ragimbold of Cologne, exchanged several letters on mathematical topics they had encountered while reading a manuscript of the sixth-century Roman philosopher, …

When Spray Cans Meet Quill Pens

What Do You Get When You Introduce L.A.-Area Graffiti Artists to 400-Year-Old Books?

When Johnny Cash covered Nine Inch Nails, he revealed the beautiful dissonance of kindred spirits from two different worlds interpreting a single piece of art. “Scratch,” a new exhibition opening …