It is with good reason that Edward Schuchman calls Niemann-Pick Disease type A a “very, very challenging disease.” The neurodegenerative disorder is rare, kills those who have it by age 2 or 3, and has no known cure. But in May, Schuchman and his research team at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York announced a breakthrough in their work on the disease.
On a recent Monday afternoon in the Boro Park section of Brooklyn, eight women and two men sat patiently in the back room of Neuman’s Optical, tapping their feet, chatting in Russian, reading psalms and occasionally letting out an aggravated sigh. Appropriately, a broken clock hung over the windowless waiting area, where some said they had been sitting for as long as six hours.
High rent and a new city parking meter in front of her store is sending Fairhurst and her famous pickle shop — one of two left in the neighborhood, along with The Pickle Guys — to Brooklyn’s Boro Park, where she grew up.
Seven Yemeni Jews, refugees from the heightened tensions in their homeland, have arrived in New York and begun settling into new lives amid the Orthodox community in Monsey. They are the first wave of what could be as many as 113 Yemeni Jews who are expected to immigrate to the United States, some as early as August 3.
Albanian music is amazing. Still, in the spring of 2007, I bypassed racks of polyphonic folk and clarinet-led pop in a market cassette stall in Korce, Albania, to spend 2,000 lek on a Tupac Shakur bootleg. I treasured the smallness of the medium then, the quaint photocopied cover and, above all, the opportunity — rare, while traveling — to hear some of the American music I grew up on. I didn’t realize that Shakur’s place on the shelves of a crowded shop in the middle of a Muslim country was no fluke.
In “Failure,” which shares the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for poetry with a volume by Robert Hass, Philip Schultz departs from the measured reminiscences of his celebrated previous collection, “Living in the Past,” for a series of plainspoken elegies on life’s everyday betrayals. The terse and honest tone for which Schultz, an occasional New Yorker contributor, has come to be known can be found in the book’s diaristic first half and its final 50-plus pages, which comprise a longer and more voluble poem called “The Wandering Wingless.” But where “Living in the Past” used longer lines and book-length narrative (about a boy preparing for his bar mitzvah) to carry this style successfully, much of “Failure” — aptly, but unfortunately — falls short. The lyrics’ rich moments are clouded by a voice so familiar that it can come off as flat, and one too many poems are about the poet’s pet dog.
Peyes swing from under Yankees caps, and players sling Yiddish jeers from the outfield, when the Stormers take the hardtop for their Sunday games at Brooklyn’s McCarren Park. The teams of Brooklyn’s Greenpoint Softball League reflect the boro’s inimitable patchwork of cultures, and the Stormers — with a hardworking 3-23 record — represent Williamsburg’s sizable but insular Satmar Hasidic community.
When most people think of Hasidic dynasties, what come to mind are the consonant-rich Ukrainian villages after which so many are named, like Vizhnitz, Munkacz and Skver. American cities have also produced Hasidic lineages, the most famous of which has been based in Boston for a half-century and led by the charismatic Levi Yitzchak Horowitz. But due to poor health, the Bostoner rebbe, as Levi Yitzchak is commonly known, has relocated to Israel, leaving members of the community to speculate over the future of the group.
Aleksander Astraukh, editor of a 50,000-word Belarusian-Yiddish lexicon currently on press in Minsk, Belarus, admits that his is “not a normal dictionary.” A bridge between two languages equidistant from the mainstream, the book includes in its entries illustrations, idioms, etymologies and citations from the literature of both tongues, which have historically shared large swaths of territory and vocabulary. “It is not for learning perfect Yiddish,” he said. “It is a book to read.”
Last week, a samba group in Rio de Janeiro caused an international furor when it announced its intention to participate in the city’s Carnival event on a float depicting Holocaust victims. After outcries from the Brazilian Jewish community, a judge banned the group from using the float.