Arts & Culture


A Star Historian Opens a New Chapter: Jewish Slaveowners

By Eric Herschthal

More than a decade ago, pioneering historian Natalie Zemon Davis was trudging through German archives, performing research for her book “Women on the Margins: Three Seventeenth-Century Lives.” Published in 1995 and universally praised, the book was seen as vintage Davis: scholarly, but not impenetrable; groundbreaking, but not immoderate.Read More


The Capitol Gang

By Benjamin Soskis

The recipe for a successful reality television series is relatively straightforward. Take a bunch of young, attractive coeds, cram them into a tight space and stoke their competitive instincts with a common challenge that demands both teamwork and individual distinction. Set up a camera, and voilá: instant drama, or, at least, a reasonable facsimile thereof. By those terms, congressional offices, uniformly cramped and staffed by ambitious 20-somethings, should make a perfect reality-TV setting.Read More


The Roots of a 'Special Relationship'

By Steven Bayme

In recent years, numerous commentators have sought to explain the “special relationship” between Israel and America and the reasons for it. Some observers have pointed to the influence of American Jewry either in praise of its persistent vigilance in cementing ties between Washington and Jerusalem or in condemnation of those efforts. Others, particularly such scholars as Warren Bass and Steven Spiegel, assign American Jewry at best secondary influence and underscore instead presidential perceptions of American interests in the Middle East weighed against the backdrop of America’s global concerns.Read More


Finding Deeper Truths in Fiction

By Alana Newhouse

For weeks, many of us “Diaspora Jews” have kept ourselves neck-deep in news from the Middle East: jumping out of bed to check the front page, keeping the television on all night, refreshing Web sites for the latest headlines. Of course, our new routine pales in comparison to what it could be — dashing into bombs shelters, being forced from our homes, arranging funerals. Still, it is a change, one that many of us experience in the form of this anxiety-propelled, bottomless need for information.Read More


Sephardic Culture Enjoys a Renaissance — in Spain

By Michael Levitin

Forty-seven years ago, when Moroccan farming engineer Jacobo Israel Garzón immigrated north to Spain for work, he found a country fiercely opposed to discussion — at least a discussion with anything positive to say — about its Jewish past.Read More


A Shoah Story, From Israel

By Jerome A. Chanes

‘Tain’t what a man sez, but wot he means that the traducer has got to bring over.” Thus Ezra Pound to W.H.D. Rouse, on literature. What a difference a definite article makes. In its Hebrew original, the title of Amir Gutfreund’s first novel is “Sho’ah Shelanu”: “Our Holocaust,” no “The,” a title suggesting that the book is about not historical memory of the European destruction but something — a “Holocaust” — that is ongoing for the book’s protagonists, and that emerges in the narrative. One would think that “Our Holocaust” ought be firmly positioned in the corpus of serious Israeli literature about the Holocaust, from KaTzetnik to David Grossman. It ain’t.Read More


Exploring the American-Israeli Alliance

By Steven Bayme

In recent years, numerous commentators have sought to explain the “special relationship” between Israel and America and the reasons for it. Some observers have pointed to the influence of American Jewry either in praise of its persistent vigilance in cementing ties between Washington and Jerusalem or in condemnation of those efforts. Others, particularly such scholars as Warren Bass and Steven Spiegel, assign American Jewry at best secondary influence and underscore instead presidential perceptions of American interests in the Middle East weighed against the backdrop of America’s global concerns.Read More


Delving Into the Core of the Self

By Miriam Udel-Lambert

Yale University Press has just published “Life Is With Others,” a collection of essays written by the late Donald J. Cohen and various colleagues. Cohen, who succumbed to cancer in 2001 at the age of 61, directed the Yale Child Study Center for nearly two decades, conducted pioneering research into autism and Tourette’s Syndrome, and helped craft social policy, which included early work on the Head Start program and a collaboration between Yale psychiatrists and the New Haven, Conn., police to assist children exposed to violence. Cohen, who also forged research alliances with scientists throughout the Middle East and Europe, was remembered at his funeral as the son of Joseph and Rose from Chicago, of Moshe and Molly from Berditshev, Ukraine, and of Mashie and Avrum from Bialystok, Poland.Read More


Screening Chantal Akerman

By Saul Austerlitz

For certain film buffs, Chantal Akerman is famous as the director of one of the screen’s most legendary endurance tests. Akerman’s masterpiece, “Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles” (1975), as the precise title might indicate, is a remarkably focused three-and-a-half-hour study of the mundane routine of a Brussels housewife — the ultimate realist film.Read More


Women Ending Badly

By Joshua Cohen

Readers of Dostoyevsky’s “Crime and Punishment” always know that Raskolnikov committed murder, but they often don’t know whether Raskolnikov knows that he committed murder. It is in this wonderful vagary, more than among any writerly tricks of mood, foreshadowing or scenic alteration, that one finds the origin of the so-called psychological novelRead More





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