Arts & Culture


The Israel Philharmonic Turns 70

By Robert Hilferty

The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra is older than the State of Israel. It was the brainchild of famous Polish-born, Vienna-based violinist Bronislaw Huberman. A perspicacious virtuoso, Huberman persuaded about 75 musicians from major European orchestras to make a bee-line to Palestine. It wasn’t out of fear of impending danger; it was just a nice cultural idea that he had formulated in 1931, when he was more Zen than Zionist. But by the time of Hitler’s rise, it had become an urgent mission.Read More


Buenos Aires Blues

By Noga Tarnopolsky

‘Family Law,” Argentine filmmaker Daniel Burman’s latest offering, is a movie about lawyers, so almost by necessity the issue of secrets and lies predominates. Only here, the prevarications are of a domestic sort: Ariel Perelmen, a young professor of law, son of Bernardo Perelman, a Buenos Aires criminal attorney, keeps secrets from his wife, Sandra.Read More


One of Vilna’s Own Trains a Lens on the City

By Caroline Lagnado

‘As a young girl I took it for granted I would go to university and be a professional, that I would be an artist and a doctor!” exclaimed septuagenarian Mira Jedwabnik Van Doren. Though she’s at an age when most start slowing down, the Vilna-born artist seems to be doing anything but: She has just released “The World Was Ours,” an hour-long documentary on the four centuries of vibrant Jewish life that existed in Vilna before the Holocaust.Read More


Seeking Compensation for Tragedy

By Brigitte Sion

Since 1952, more than 500,000 Jewish victims of Nazism have received compensation from Germany. As imperfect as the term “compensation” sounds in this case, no payment ever would have been made to survivors without the relentless and dedicated efforts of the Claims Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, commonly known as the Claims Conference. Everything relating to the Conference is exceptional, from its creation to its mode of operation, from the duration of its action to the legal precedents it set in international law.Read More


A Magazine for the Far-flung

By Nathaniel Popper

Some Jews arrive in Israel and discover it is their homeland. Other Jews get there only to realize that, after all that, “home” is the place they just left.Read More


Sunrise? Sunset?

By Lisa Keys

Jewish culture in Miami Beach: a faded memory, or something that is alive and kicking, though occasionally interrupted by bursts of absurdity? Two new programs — one upcoming on PBS, the other in constant reruns on VH1 — offer opposing views of the state of Yiddishkeit in south Florida’s glitziest strip of sand.Read More


A Textured Trilogy of Ghetto Life

By Joshua Cohen

The Holocaust didn’t annihilate Judaism or the Jewish people or its languages or their literatures, but it did cause all this to become if not reinvented, then greatly rethought. The most modern or revised of this rethinking holds that the most necessary works of art created about such disasters as war or genocide must themselves internalize that disaster, make it not only subject but also style: imbuing the very flesh of the text or canvas, marble or musical score with all the scars and the wounds; literally representing its images in the exorcism of words that have become almost horrifically too familiar by now — words such as gas, trains, ovens and ghetto.Read More


‘Shuckle Rock’ Puts the Pray

By Leah Hochbaum

On a recent evening, Daniel Seliger leaned against the rickety steps of a graffiti-covered loft building in the Dumbo section of Brooklyn, his left hand wrapped around a crumpled paper bag from which the mangled pop-top of a once-frosty Heineken peeked out. Like anyone who has been in the music industry for more than a decade, the 33-year-old has that jaded, been-there-done-that look down to an indifferent science. But Seliger is not like anyone else who’s been in the music industry for so long. An Orthodox Jew since birth, he dons a yarmulke and tzitzit in a business that mocks religion and its values, and is awfully sure that the next big thing will be a little-known phenomenon he calls “shuckle music.”Read More


Lyrics Sparkle in Yiddish ‘Pirates of Penzance’

By Alexander Gelfand

Poetry, Robert Frost wrote, is what gets lost in translation. Or not, as the case may be. Witness the work of Al Grand, the man behind the Yiddish version of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Pirates of Penzance,” which was presented recently by the National Yiddish Theatre-Folksbiene. Grand’s “Di Yam Gazlonim!” which ran until November 12 at the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan, under the direction of Allan Lewis Rickman, succeeded in part because Grand made no pretense whatsoever of attempting a literal translation of William S. Gilbert’s lyrics. Instead, he sacrificed accuracy for the higher virtue of wit, seeking, above all, to maintain the humor and scansion of the original verse.Read More


One Man’s Collection of Jewish Art Finds New Home

By Vanessa Silberman

Shortly after graduating from Williams College, Sigmund Balka moved to Washington, D.C., to work for the Kennedy administration and decided to collect art. While his collecting interests ranged from modernist prints to Inuit art, Balka was especially drawn to the work of Jewish artists. Even at this young age, Balka perceived the collection of works by Jewish artists as a way to chronicle Jewish life and history.Read More


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