Arts & Culture

Border Crossing and Cross-dressing

By Saul Austerlitz

In Tomer Heymann’s new documentary, “Paper Dolls,” opening September 6 at New York’s Film Forum, viewers are introduced to a group of transvestite Filipino workers in Tel Aviv, who perform in a cross-dressing group called the Paper Dolls. But the real cross-dresser here may be Heymann, who garbs his film in one set of clothing, only to strip it off without warning and then reveal something far starker, and more affecting.Read More

Greek Tragedy

By Sarah Abrevaya Stein

The German occupation of Greece, begun in April 1941, was accompanied by organized plunder, rampant inflation and a famine in Athens in the winter of 1941 to 1942 that claimed at least 300,000 lives — all before the deportations of Greek Jews to the Nazi death camps had even begun.Read More

New Book Reveals Darker Chapters In Hasidic History

By Allan Nadler

Of all the literary genres to emerge from the 19th-century Haskala, or Hebrew Enlightenment, one of the most popular was anti-Hasidic satire. And the most notorious of these parodies was “Megaleh Temirin” (“Revealer of Secrets,” Vienna 1819), a ribald lampoon written by Joseph Perl that recounts a series of desperate, bungled attempts by fanatic Hasidim to seize and suppress a dangerous anti-Hasidic German book that they feared had the potential to inflict great harm on their revered rebbe and their sect.Read More

The Strange Journey Taken by Two Paintings

By Sara Rubin

In 2002, an unusual advertisement in this newspaper caught subscriber Jack Nusan Porter’s eye: Two mysterious paintings, rendered by an unknown artist “at least 210 years” ago, were for sale. The paintings — which, as Porter later learned, were owned by a Ukrainian Jew named Alexander Goykham — had survived two centuries of anti-Jewish persecution, the Holocaust and finally the move with the Goykhams to their present-day home in Philadelphia. They were selling the sentimental pieces to help cover the cost of medical procedures.Read More

Fiction About Israel

Two weeks ago, we asked readers to help us create a list of the best novels and short stories about Israel written by diaspora authors. The purpose was to push fiction as a complement to the newspaper, the television and the Internet in our quest for information and understanding about Israel. Here are your suggestions, along with a few of our own:Read More

Mozart’s Librettist Gets the Stage

By Robert Hilferty

An even better Mozart-motivated movie than “Amadeus” has yet to be made. The subject: Wolfgang’s magnificent collaborator, Lorenzo Da Ponte, the libertine librettist of “The Marriage of Figaro,” “Don Giovanni” and “Così fan tutte” — arguably Mozart’s greatest works, and watersheds in the history of music and theater, not to mention humanity. The episodic cinematic epic might be called “The Menace From Venice.”Read More

An Old Warsaw Paper In the News Again

By Hindi Diamond

A chance meeting at Village Shalom in Kansas between volunteer teacher Bob Becker and Yadviga Finkelstein, a 93-year-old student, sparked the beginning of a monumental project.Read More

A Trieste Tragedy

By Stanislao G. Pugliese

Although there has been a Jewish presence on the Italian peninsula for more than 2,000 years, it would be inaccurate to speak of a single Jewish identity. The community of Rome is as distinct from that of Ferrara as the community of Turin is from that of Milan. Silvia Bonucci’s “Voices From a Time” — a recipient of the Zerilli-Merimo Prize, which advances the translation of outstanding Italian works into English — examines the declining fortunes and tragic fate of family from Trieste, in the extreme northeast of the country.Read More

The Challenge of Defining Jewish Art

By Menachem Wecker

In 1966, art critic Harold Rosenberg gave a talk at The Jewish Museum in New York. “First, they build a Jewish museum; then they ask, ‘Is there a Jewish art?’ Jews!” he quipped. But Rosenberg went on to give his own response to the question. “The gentile answer is, ‘Yes, there is a Jewish art, and no, there is no Jewish art,’” he said. “The Jewish answer is, ‘What do you mean by Jewish art?’”Read More

After Delays, San Francisco Museum Finally Breaks Ground

By Josh Richman

The San Francisco Museum has endured long waits and sizable setbacks to get to where it is today — opening with a Daniel Libeskind-designed edifice under construction in the heart of a bustling tourism and cultural district; about $61 million of its $77 million comprehensive campaign completed, and a projected spring 2008 opening date.Read More

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