On a recent late-winter afternoon, the workers’ center on the second floor of a nondescript office building in New York City’s Chinatown was full and busy. Everyone had just eaten lunch; warm soup was welcome after picketing in the cold outside an offending restaurant, Saigon Grill on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. In the rear of the small office suite, with worn blue industrial carpet underfoot and inspirational posters bearing Mandarin Chinese writing on the walls, a circle of Saigon Grill’s delivery men discussed how to deal with what they called their employer’s latest affronts.
Jerusalem, a city that lives both in physical space and in the imagination, has always intrigued James Carroll. It is a place rooted in history, the foundation stone for the three monotheistic religions. But it is also an idea, an aspiration to perfection, the original city on the hill.
When representatives of the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations — known collectively as the Middle East Quartet — arrived here for crucial meetings in March, they met, as usual, with the Palestinians in Ramallah. And, as usual, Saeeb Erekat, the indefatigable Middle East negotiator who has led the Palestinian side in peace talks since the mid 1990s, represented the Palestinians.
“To speak of Cynthia Ozick is to speak of magical storytelling,” said Francine Klagsbrun, a board member of the Jewish Book Council, before presenting Ozick with the council’s lifetime achievement award at its 60th annual National Jewish Book Award ceremony, held March 9 at the Center for Jewish History. Ozick’s response was a literary dissertation leading off with: “Lionel Trilling, one of the most influential literary critics of the century… and the first Jew to have been officially appointed professor of English at Columbia University, is remembered in particular for two Jewishly oriented statements, one more shocking than the other:
Along the broad boulevards and dignified streets of the largely liberal, Jewish Upper West Side, sweatshops don’t seem to be sprouting. From Riverside Park to Lincoln Center, from Harry’s Shoes to Zabar’s, the neighborhood appears to be a civilized place where the days of residents, working folk and visitors unspool in familiar, reassuring rhythms.
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