Arts & Culture


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


Exploring an Atlanta Tragedy

By Juliet Lapidos

In April 1913, 14-year-old Mary Phagan was found raped and murdered in the basement of an Atlanta pencil factory. The police botched the initial forensic investigation and were casting about for leads when suspicion fell upon the Jewish factory manager, Leo Frank. Local journalists, who practiced Hearst-style yellow journalism, sensationalized the ensuing trial. A mob outside the courtroom chanted “Hang the Jew,” and Frank was convicted solely on the basis of circumstantial evidence. When the Georgia governor commuted Frank’s death sentence to life imprisonment, an antisemitic mob of prominent citizens kidnapped and lynched the alleged murderer.Read More


Gematria and the Ouroboros

By Philologos

Marc G. Schramm writes: “I read recently that there is a relationship between the Hebrew letter Chet (gematria of 8) and the ouroboros, the snake that eats its own tail. The latter is a double zero, ‘the head and the body, the Moebius strip of the soul. It is the sideways sign of infinity.’ “Can you say anything more about this supposed connection?”Read More


The Tribe in Texas

By Julia Oestreich

New York City has long been the focus of American Jewish history. In recent years, however, acclaimed works by such scholars as Deborah Dash Moore and Eva Morawska have begun to shift focus onto Jewish populations in other geographic areas. Now, an anthology constituting the latest scholarship on Texas Jewry has been published. “Lone Stars of David: The Jews of Texas” contains an impressive array of thoroughly researched pieces that cover various individuals and aspects of Jewish communal life in Texas, from the period in which Jews first trickled into the state to the present day. This book is edited by Hollace Ava Weiner, author of “Jewish Stars in Texas: Rabbis and Their Work,” and by Kenneth D. Roseman, a rabbi in Corpus Christi.Read More


Boy, Interrupted

By Elissa Strauss

In the hands of the wrong filmmakers, child protagonists can easily pull the audience into a world too nostalgic, too sweet. They move through magic worlds, purportedly enchanting us along the way. Thankfully, in “The Year My Parents Went on Vacation,” Mauro, the 12-year-old protagonist, does no such thing.Read More


Writing the Unpaintable

By Albert Fayngold

There are three distinct, echoing voices in Michael Hafftka’s newly issued book: a writer, a visual artist and a son of Holocaust survivors. Understandably, this trio makes for a complex, even conflicted, aesthetic. And indeed, “Conscious/Unconscious,” interspersing 27 of Hafftka’s drawings with 56 rambling, phantasmagoric tales — has conflict written all over it. “Narrated in the first person,” as the book cover says, and “weaving an inner life made real by paradoxes and conflicted drives,” these whimsical, sketchlike stories surge with bohemian misadventures while remaining, at bottom, immersed in the vast shadow of the Holocaust.Read More


Paretsky Unspools a New Mystery: Her Own

By Gabriel Sanders

Decades before she developed the literary alter ego for which she is best known — the female private investigator V.I. Warshawski — mystery writer Sara Paretsky was already experimenting with fictional personas, fictional masks.Read More


The Raging Bronx Bull of German Journalism

By Ben Weinthal

When Berlin’s largest opera house, Deutsche Oper, canceled four performances of a modernized version of Mozart’s “Idomeneo” — which included images of the severed heads of Jesus, Buddha, Poseidon and the Prophet Muhammad — because of the possibility of a fundamentalist Islamic attack brought on by a perceived denigration of Muhammad, journalist Henryk Broder went on the attack. “I am, even as a secular, non-believing Jew, insulted,” he wrote in the online version of Der Spiegel, Germany’s most influential weekly magazine. “I feel injured, discriminated against and excluded. Why is the head of Moses not there?”Read More


In the News Again, Tuberculosis Victims Have History of Seeking Cures Far and Wide

By Jenna Weissman Joselit

My work usually doesn’t take me too far away from home, but last month, as it happened, I found myself in Denver, where, as a guest of the Rocky Mountain Princeton Alumni Association, I had come to give a speech. Wined and dined by those “Tigers” who now call the “Mile High City” and its environs their home, I was made to feel most welcome.Read More


Using Survivor Testimony, a Scholar Fills in France’s Holocaust Story

By Peter Ephross

When it comes to Holocaust history, France gets short shrift. This is not to say that we don’t know anything about the Jewish experience in France during World War II, it’s just that scholars have mined the history of the Shoah in Germany and Poland, to name two countries, a great deal more. That there’s been no Elie Wiesel or Anne Frank to personalize the experience in France hasn’t helped.Read More


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