Leslie Camhi

The Year in Pictures

On the first of March in the year 2005 (or the 20th of Adar I, 5765, according to the Hebrew calendar) some 200,000 Jews filled New York City’s Madison Square Garden and auditoriums around the world to celebrate the reading of the last page of the Talmud. For centuries, Orthodox Jews have studied Talmud daily, but these synchronized readings

An Autobiography in Pictures

It’s possible that Sylvia Plachy missed her calling. The distinguished photographer, for many years my elusive colleague at the Village Voice, is also a gifted storyteller; her words and images (along with pictures from her family album) combine to remarkably poignant effect in “Self Portrait With Cows Going Home” (Aperture, 2004),

The Privilege of Fiction

the israeli film festival, now in its 20th year, is just one chance that new yorkers have to glimpse the new israeli cinema, which continues to make inroads here despite the region’s political and economic upheavals. recent, critically admired commercial releases of the past year include ra’anan alexandrowicz’s biting satire, “james’

Life in the Unholy Holy Land

My partner, who went to school in Israel during the 1950s, is fond of recalling the fact that some 28 different languages were spoken by the 42 children in his third grade class. Even today, holding up a mirror to Israeli society produces a fragmented image of rare complexity, showing a culture multiply divided between ethnicities and languages;

Resurrecting Modigliani’s Bar Mitzvah

‘I went through graduate school never hearing his name,” recalled Mason Klein, the curator of “Modigliani: Beyond the Myth,” a show of some 100 works by the original peintre maudit, which opened at New York’s Jewish Museum. The installation of the city’s first major Modigliani exhibition in more than 50 years was in

Carrying the Torch of Bohemia

In 1929, the photographer Lotte Jacobi shot a rare self-portrait. The ferociously independent, 33-year-old Jewish single mother was also a habitué of Weimar Berlin’s cafes, cabarets and theaters; her pictures of actors, clowns, leftists and intellectuals would help to define that glittering, heady era. In the self-portrait, she stares

Humanism as An Extreme Sport

‘I think all families are creepy in a way,” photographer Diane Arbus wrote to Peter Crookston, then an editor at the London Sunday Times magazine in June of 1968. The tone of breezy aphorism was typical for Arbus, but the subject clearly enthralled her. Many of her most iconic images — the Jewish giant at home with his parents in the

The Business of Family In a Family Business

In 1999, the photographer Mitch Epstein was 48 years old and living in New York when his mother phoned him with bad news. Two teenage pranksters had burned down a boarded-up apartment building in Holyoke, Mass., owned by Epstein’s father. The flames, fanned by the windy night, had swallowed an entire block of the city’s depressed downtown,

Beyond Mexicanidad: The Other Roots of Frida Kahlo’s Identity

In 1932, Frida Kahlo and her husband Diego Rivera were dining with other guests at the Detroit home of Henry Ford, the automotive titan and noted antisemite. (The city had commissioned Rivera to paint a series of murals devoted to the theme of modern industry.) During a lull in conversation, with a characteristic mixture of seeming naivete and