Elaine Margolin


Of a Jewish Banking Dynasty, Only the Sculptures Survived

By Elaine Margolin

Of a Jewish Banking Dynasty, Only the Sculptures Survived
Edmund de Waal, a British artist and the son of a clergyman of the Church of England, knew he was missing a vital part of himself, but he wasn’t sure what it was. A middle-aged married father of three, he had spent his adult life ensconced in his London studio, where he made thousands of porcelain pots in various shades of white, some of them lidded and others not, many of them marred by imperfections of one sort or another. His work was melancholy, and emanated an energy both compelling and disturbing. Perhaps de Waal was simply trying to make sense of an ancient tragedy that was part of his heritage. Regardless, a better understanding of himself was part of his mission.Read More


A Brutal Narcissist: The Life of Feminist Icon Tillie Olsen

By Elaine Margolin

A Brutal Narcissist: The Life of Feminist Icon Tillie Olsen
Tillie Olsen’s raw and emotionally charged story “I Stand Here Ironing” was a public revelation of the private and isolating pain of the modern mother. Her exposure of the overwhelming love and frustration, the hope and desire, the anger and defensiveness, and the endless regret and self-blame made her an iconic figure in the women’s liberation movement. Since her death in 2007 at the age of 95, her place in history has been waiting to be confirmed, and biographer Panthea Reid, who previously wrote “Art and Affection: A Life of Virginia Woolf” (Oxford, 1996), attempts to do so here.Read More


Supreme Jewish Achievement

By Elaine Margolin

Supreme Jewish Achievement
Louis Brandeis was the Jewish Barack Obama. Or, if not, perhaps the legal Henry Kissinger. Perhaps smarter (graduating from Harvard Law School with the highest GPA on record) but less political, he was the golden boy of the judiciary and the first Jew to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court.Read More


Written in Stone

By Elaine Margolin

Written in Stone
When only 33, D.D. Guttenplan took on a courageous endeavor that would overwhelm him for the next two decades: He set out to write a substantive biography about the legendary maverick journalist I.F. Stone, a man whom Vincent Canby described in 1973 as someone tough enough to consistently attempt to “passionately expose the fallacies, double-talk, and ignorance of the various rascals in government, elected, appointed, or there simply because of being someone’s friend.”Read More


Chewing the Fat in Mecca, Medina, Damascus...

By Elaine Margolin

Chewing the Fat in Mecca, Medina, Damascus...
Having seen more than enough violence during a decade-long stint as a reporter in the Middle East, Neil MacFarquhar branched out from his beat as Cairo Bureau Chief at The New York Times to write a book about the warmer, fuzzier, more moderate aspects of the Middle East.Read More






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  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
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