Zackary Sholem Berger

Poems of Heresy and Transformation

Yermiyahu Ahron Taub left the ultra-Orthodox community, but that is not the subject of his poems. Rather, Taub’s experience of change makes him able to perceive it in others.

LOST IN TRANSLATION? Yermiyahu Ahron Taub published a book of poems in Yiddish, English and Hebrew.

The Poetry of Language

There are many bilingual Jewish books in which the two languages are dependent on each other. The Gemara is a mostly Aramaic reworking of the Hebrew-language Mishnah. The stories of Reb Nachman of Breslov were told in Yiddish, but their first written versions were in Hebrew. The majority of Isaac Bashevis Singer’s work is now best known not in the original Yiddish, but in the English into which Singer reworked his stories.


Spiritual Encounters of a Philosopher of Science

Hilary Putnam is one of the 20th century’s most influential philosophers, known worldwide for his many contributions to diverse areas of philosophy, from ethics to philosophy of mind to the relationship between science and the real world. Equally well known among his peers is his willingness to revise and reflect on his own beliefs.

Posters From a Doomed City

In 1941, the Jews of Vilna were herded into a ghetto. By 1943, most of the Jews in this ghetto were killed, despite the armed resistance of a few.

A Physician Examines His Profession’s Blind Spots

Jerome Groopman is a physician and clinical scientist at Harvard, a specialist in AIDS and cancer. He’s also a writer for The New Yorker, with a successful and thought-provoking series of books on such topics as the intersection of spirituality and medicine and the importance of a physician’s intuition. His new book “How Doctors Think” asks the question: Why do doctors make mistakes, and how can we keep them from happening? Zackary Sholem Berger asked him about Judaism, medicine and the doctor-patient partnership.

In Memory of a One-man Yiddish Empire

Mordkhe Schaechter, a linguist, lexicographer and rebbe of secular Yiddishists, died February 15. He was 79.

Defining the ‘WikiJew’

Who is a Jew? Let’s see what Wikipedia says about it. Or, rather, what the Wikipedias say, since the online encyclopedia is available in more than 100 languages. The answer to our question in English neither offends nor omits anyone: “[A] follower of Judaism, or [a member] of the Jewish people, an ethno-religious group descended from the ancient Israelites and from converts who joined their religion. The term also includes those who have undergone an officially recognized formal process of conversion to Judaism.” The Hebrew version (“Jews are an ethnic group of Semitic origin, in which membership is based on the Jewish religion”) is clearer, with a refreshing Israeli directness, but one will look in vain for the word “convert” — it isn’t mentioned in the article. And in Yiddish: “A Jew is a person who belongs to the Jewish people.” QED.