Arts & Culture


Tracing the History of Jewish Autobiography

By Alyssa Quint

Being for Myself Alone:

Origins of Jewish Autobiography By Marcus Moseley Stanford University Press, 650 pages, $70. * * *‘This is the Life Story of Judah Aryeh…. Few and evil have been the days of my life in this world… on Monday the 28th day of Nissan — corresponding to the 23d day of April 5331 — between theRead More


Understanding the Philosopher of Auschwitz

By David Kaufmann

Adorno By Stefan Müller-Doohm; translated by Rodney Livingstone Polity Press, 667 pages, $75.


Adorno: A Political Biography By Lorenz Jäger; translated by Stewart Spencer Yale University Press. 248 pages. $35. * * *Although Theodor Wiesengrund Adorno was one of the two most prominent German philosophers of the postwar periodRead More


A New Name for an Old Crime

By Noah Strote

Terrible Fate: Ethnic Cleansing in the Making of Modern Europe By Benjamin Lieberman Ivan R. Dee, 416 pages, $27.50. * * *While Serb paramilitaries were driving Muslims from their homes in Bosnia during the spring of 1992 in an effort to rid the region of its “Muslim fundamentalist” population, Serb radio stations proudly coined aRead More


The Moses Between Egypt and Mendelssohn

By Ilan Stavans

Maimonides Sherwin B. Nuland. Schocken, 256 pages, $19.95. * * *Three Moseses have decisively shaped Jewish history. On one end is Moses the Egyptian, a lawgiver and political leader whose vision established the path for a monotheistic revolution, thus defining the spiritual boundaries of a people. On the opposite end is MosesRead More


Labor’s Loves Lost

By Paul Buhle

Paul Buhle is a senior lecturer in history and American civilization at Brown University.

A Fire in Their Hearts: Yiddish Socialists In New York By Tony Michels Harvard University Press, 352 pages, $27.95. * * *The tale of Jewish socialists on Manhattan’s Lower East Side offers one of those urban legends, alive with so many otherRead More


Looking for Inspiration in All The Wrong Places

By Rebecca Reich

Memoirs of a Muse By Lara Vapnyar Pantheon, 224 pages, $22.95. * * *Tanya, the heroine of Lara Vapnyar’s first novel, “Memoirs of a Muse,” and (as far as Tanya is concerned) of numerous masterpieces yet to be created, doesn’t claim to be an expert on literature, but when it comes to choosing among the 19th-century writers whose photosRead More


Curses Show Language’s Creativity

By Sarah Kricheff

Lita Epstein does not have a dirty mouth. Her pen, however, is filthy. Epstein’s forthcoming book, “If You Can’t Say Anything Nice, Say It in Yiddish” (Citadel Press), offers page after page of Yiddish insults and curses, some of which would make even the bawdiest of sailors blush.Read More


Skilled Craftsmen

By Henry Bean

Urim and Thummim. The ineffable name of God was inscribed on some unknown material and placed in the fold of the breastplate. — Soncino Chumash—So what we’re making is the breastplate, the ephod….—What’s an ephod?—Like the linen apron you hang the breastplate over…?—Oh, right.—… the robe,Read More


Sex, Lies and the German Occupation

By Andrew Furman

The Mercy Room By Gilles Rozier Little, Brown and Company, 192 pages. $22.95. * * *The scaffolding of Gilles Rozier’s taut, affecting novel, “The Mercy Room,” has all the makings of a Sunday evening television melodrama. The scene: a small town in France during the German Occupation. The hero and narrator: a French ChristianRead More


Revisiting the Work of the First Emancipated German Jewish Artist

By Rebecca Spence

When Max Liebermann premiered “The Twelve-Year-Old Jesus in the Temple With the Scholars” — a historical painting based on the New Testament’s description of Jesus Christ debating with the rabbis in Jerusalem — at the 1879 Munich International Art Fair, the work was assailed by German critics. What right, after all, did a Jewish artistRead More





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