Joel Streicker


A Sensitive Finger On the Pulse of Politics

By Joel Streicker

In the wake of the Israeli elections and their policy ramifications, reading this essay collection, which is composed mostly of material written in the past couple of years, occasioned a certain vertigo: Little progress on peace with the Palestinians has been made since the last collection of Grossman’s political essays, “Oslo: Ten Years After,” appeared five years ago. Now, 15 years after Oslo and two and a half years after the death of Grossman’s son in the disastrous Second Lebanon War, Grossman’s voice calling for peace sounds even more desperate, the reality even further from the dream. Which makes this book either delusional or indispensable, depending on your political point of view.Read More


Not Even the Rhinos Were Nymphos

By Joel Streicker

Not Even the Rhinos Were Nymphos
Beginning in the 1960s, Bruce Jay Friedman’s literary star burned hot and bright — acclaimed novels, plays, short stories, screenplays — only to dim after his screenplay for “Splash” was nominated for an Oscar 25 years ago. Although “Even the Rhinos were Nymphos,” a collection of his best non-fiction, was published by the University of Chicago in 2000, “Three Balconies” is the first short-story collection he has published in 20 years, and it focuses overwhelmingly — obsessively, one might say — on aging male writers’ waning creative powers and their pursuit of sex, and the relationship between the two. It is no stretch to imagine that the stories are autobiographical, and that Friedman has made a virtue out of necessity. While the collection shows glimmers of wit and insight, for the most part it suggests a writer who is indeed past his prime.Read More


No More Shoah, Let’s Build A New Israel

By Joel Streicker

No More Shoah, Let’s Build A New Israel
Avraham Burg’s new book, “The Holocaust Is Over; We Must Rise From Its Ashes,” is maddening: It is by turns incisive and hard-hitting, but also bombastic, vague and repetitious. It is also extremely important.Read More


Man in Search Of Language

By Joel Streicker

Man in Search Of Language
Readers expecting a grand symphony on how Hebrew was revived as a living language beginning in the late 19th century will be disappointed by Ilan Stavans’s “Resurrecting Hebrew.” The book deals more with Stavans’s own re-encounter with the language and its meaning for his life than with the creation of modern Hebrew in the late 19th century.Read More


Family: A Self-Portrait

By Joel Streicker

Family: A Self-Portrait
There is something unsatisfying about Rafael Goldchain’s faux family photo album, “I Am My Family” — and it is this very quality that accounts for its considerable fascination and power. A photographer who has long explored questions of personal identity, Goldchain meticulously researched his family history and created a photo gallery of family members who have one thing in common: They are all portraits of Goldchain, elaborately made up to capture these relatives’ likenesses.Read More






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  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
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