Mark Cohen

Sherman?s March: Allan Sherman, seen here on a TV show in 1965, paved the way for a whole new generation of Jewish comedians.

The Top 10 Allan Sherman Lyrics

Allan Sherman was one of our great comic songwriters. Mark Cohen, author of “Overweight Sensation,” a biography of Sherman, offers his favorites.

Is Rick Moranis 'Too Jewish'?

The comic’s latest record is called ‘My Mother’s Brisket.’ Is this an unmistakable sign that he has reached the commercial no-man’s land known as ‘Too Jewish’?

Sephardi Family Life in the Early Modern Diaspora, Edited by Julia R. Lieberman

The End of the Reign in Spain

The voices that come alive in “Sephardi Family Life in the Early Modern Diaspora” beat down the tiresome impulse to prove history relevant. Instead, the six excellent and painstakingly researched scholarly papers, edited by Julia R. Lieberman, prove their worth in a better way: They tell stories that reveal how besieged societies strain to hold on to their traditions and to civilized life.

He Had His Pen: Saul Bellow surrounded by his correspondents, including Robert Penn Warren, Teddy Kollek, Ralph Ellison, Philip Roth, Bernard Malamud, John Berryman and Richard Stern.

A Profane Reliquary

Why not simply admit it? The new collection of Saul Bellow’s “Letters” (Viking 2010) is a modern reliquary. It is a treasured remnant of the beloved wonderworker. And who are the followers, the faithful? Bookish cranks, mainly, plus unstoppable line-quoters, Jewish lit fetishists, passionate scholars, and the unclassifiable lovers of living books (beautiful girl reading “Humboldt’s Gift” years ago on a stone bench at the Frick Museum, here’s something new for you!).

Belting It Out: Allan Sherman singing at a session for ?My Son, the Folk Singer? or My Son, the Celebrity? in fall or winter 1962.

Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh, Hello Grandkids of My Original Fans

From this you make a living?

No undertaking deserved that Jewish punch line more than turning the French folksong “Frère Jacques” into a parody called “Sarah Jackman.” But Allan Sherman showed how that could be done.

Roth Before Roth: Henry Roth embodied a different American type to the American Jewish authors who followed.

Reader, He Married Her

Henry Roth’s new posthumous novel, “An American Type,” owes the attention it is getting, and indeed its very existence, to the author’s 1934 classic modernist Jewish novel, “Call It Sleep.” Nothing less than that masterpiece could have inspired the devotion required to whittle the 270-page “An American Type” out of “Batch 2” — 1,900 pages left at the writer’s death — by the aptly named Willing Davidson, a fiction editor at The New Yorker.

A Jewish Frankenstein

In the film “American Radical: The Trials of Norman Finkelstein,” the eponymous subject — denunciator of Israel, conspiracy monger and self-described “Frankenstein” — complains that the “Holocaust has long since ceased to be a source of moral and historical enlightenment.” Well, this surprisingly entertaining new documentary fixes that alleged problem.

From the project Notre Combat by Linda Ellia; one of 600 works on paper; artist: Antonia Aimini. Courtesy of the Contemporary Jewish Museum.

Drawing on Hitler’s Book

On the way to the Contemporary Jewish Museum of San Francisco where Our Struggle: Responding to Mein Kampf opened on February 11 for a five-month run, a cranky neighborhood in my mind muttered, “History is bunk.” Then I remembered that the phrase was coined by Henry Ford, the carmaker and antisemite, and I was tossed back into history.