Arts & Culture

Behind Bars

By Peter Ephross

There’s a particularly chilling scene about two-thirds of the way through “HotHouse,” a new documentary that examines the lives of Palestinians serving time in Israeli security prisons.Read More

Remembering Poet and Translator Michael Hamburger

By Joshua Cohen

Michael Hamburger, poet and translator, died June 7 at the age of 83.Read More

Sunrise, Sunset

By Refuah Shleima

The folks at Guilt & Pleasure, the quarterly journal published by Reboot, declare themselves “peddlers of writings and ideas on the issues of community, identity, and Jewishness in America today.” This month’s pushcart, as it were, is devoted to issues of “Health” — and, of course, its absence. Excerpted here is one of the highlights, a feature on the last seniors living in South Beach by photographer Naomi Harris.Read More


By Philologos

Irving Treitel writes: “Your May 11 column about Ladino and other Jewish languages was interesting. However, when I turn to the Encyclopedia Judaica, I become depressed. Apart from Yiddish and Ladino, I find listed under the letter ‘J’ Judeo-Arabic, Judeo-French, Judeo-Italian, Judeo-Tat, Judeo-Persian, Judeo-Provençal, and Judeo-Greek. The one language that is missing is Judeo-English.Read More

Burning the Ones You Love

By Irina Reyn

How does a lover of great literature survive in an era in which writers are persecuted and manuscripts are burned? And what if that same person were forced to destroy the manuscripts of the great writers he venerates? This is the dilemma faced by Pavel Dubrov in Travis Holland’s lyrical first novel, “The Archivist’s Story,” which takes place in the Soviet Union during the late 1930s. It is a time of denunciations and purges, when the infamous Moscow prison, Lubyanka, welcomes a steady stream of innocent prisoners transported by black NKVD vans in the middle of the night.Read More

Peering Inside A Jewel Box Of Judaica

By Jeannie Rosenfeld

Walking down the leafy side streets of Philadelphia’s Center City, one could easily pass the Rosenbach Museum & Library amid a row of elegant townhouses. But it is a cultural jewel box, with more than 30,000 books and 300,000 pages of manuscripts amassed by legendary dealer Abraham Simon Wolf Rosenbach, as well as 18th- and 19th-century antiques and fine art acquired by his brother and business partner, Philip. From the 1920s to the ’40s, A.S.W. Rosenbach, as he was commonly called, shaped some of the leading American libraries and also compiled the first American Jewish bibliography, which included many examples from his personal collection. But he donated the bulk of this to the American Jewish Historical Society in 1932, and today the institution that bears his name isn’t particularly known for its Judaic books.Read More

A Catalog of Defiance

By Joshua Cohen

‘Daring to Resist: Jewish Defiance in the Holocaust,” a catalog published to accompany an exhibition of the same title that recently opened at New York’s Museum of Jewish Heritage, begins with an arresting image of opposition, and pride. Taken by Rachel Posner, wife of Rabbi Akiva Posner, who was the last rabbi of prewar Kiel, Germany, the photograph is framed from the interior of their home looking out, foregrounding a menorah in the windowsill, while beyond the window’s pane, from the balcony of an opposite building, hangs a swastika flag. It is Hanukkah 1932. Subsequent pages and galleries host a trove of similarly improbable and miraculous truths: a Passover Haggadah handwritten in Hebrew script in the Unterluss labor camp in 1944, an underground typewriter and copies of underground newspapers and bulletins, a homemade radio from the Jasenovac concentration camp, and, perhaps most disturbingly, photographic evidence of the systematic murder of European Jews — taken, developed and reproduced as early as 1942.Read More

Cold Mount Sinai

By Gabriel Sanders

Few chapters of American history have inspired as many novelists as the Civil War. If, as the documentary filmmaker Ken Burns has said, it is our “Iliad,” then we’ve been graced with not one, but hundreds of Homers. What America has been without is an Isaac Babel, a writer who could filter the country’s defining conflict through a Jewish lens. That is, until now. In his lush debut novel, Peter Charles Melman tells the story of Elias Abrams, a richly drawn representative of the roughly 2,000 Jewish men who fought for the Confederacy.Read More

South vs. North

By Juliet Lapidos

Historians of Southern Jewish culture fit roughly into two camps: those who believe that the Jewish experience in the South was fundamentally different from the Jewish experience in the North, and those who argue that similarities overwhelm differences. The Forward interviewed one representative from each camp. Mark I. Greenberg, co-editor of “Jewish Roots in Southern Soil” (Brandeis University Press, 2006) thinks that, for scholarly purposes, it’s more fruitful to explore the differences between Southern and Northern Jews. On the opposing side is Mark Bauman, editor of “Dixie Diaspora” (University of Alabama Press, 2006). Greenberg and Bauman were interviewed separately, but their answers are printed side by side.Read More

How One City Gal Found Faith — and Herself

By Caroline Lagnado

With candor, poignancy and a hint of neurosis, writer Jennifer Anne Moses recounts the past 12 years of her life in Louisiana in her new memoir, “Bagels and Grits.” The product of a privileged Washington, D.C., upbringing — complete with ski vacations, private schools and a second house in Maine — Moses, a self-proclaimed East Coast liberal, gives readers a window into how a move to the heart of the South changed her life.Read More

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