Arts & Culture


Love and Hate In Wartime Italy

By Peter Orner

The Water Door By Rosetta LoyTranslated by Gregory Conti Other Press, 120 pages, $11.95. * * *The 5-year-old narrator of Rosetta Loy’s brief, death-haunted novel “The Water Door” is, to borrow Henry James’s graceful phrase, a girl upon whom nothing is lost. To read this book is to become immersed in the intensity of childhood as it isRead More


What We Know, and Don’t, About Eichmann

By Mindy Aloff

Becoming Eichmann: Rethinking the Life, Crimes, And Trial of a ‘Desk Murderer’ By David Cesarani Da Capo Press, 464 pages, $27.50. * * *Most of what we know – or think we know – about Adolf Eichmann, a notorious Nazi functionary, may be wrong. Or so readers will surmise from “Becoming Eichmann,” David Cesarani’sRead More


Klezmer in the East Looks to the West for Guidance

By Joshua Yaffa

Midway through its hauntingly minimalist performance on the opening night of Moscow’s second-annual klezmer festival, the vocal quartet Ashkenazim took a dramatically long pause to introduce the song “Dem Shokhens Meydl.” The group’s tenor, Alina Ivakh, explained that song is an allegorical tale of two young pioneer girls — theRead More


Jewish Mobsters Amble From Text to the Panel

By Eddy Portnoy

With 8 million stories in the Jewish naked city, artists Joe Kubert, Neil Kleid and Jake Allen have given us two riveting ones. With the growing interest in graphic novels and the pictorial evocation of historical events, it’s not surprising that more and more Jewish tales are ending up in panels instead of in type. The latest motif to be pickedRead More


This Magic Moment

By David Kaufmann

Always Magic in the Air: The Bomp and Brilliance of the Brill Building Era By Ken Emerson Viking Press, 320 pages, $25.95. * * *Strange to say, there was a world before Clear Channel, Sirius and XM, before niche marketing and consolidation, before the hard-edged distinction between golden oldies (your parents’ music) and classicRead More


Memorializing a Crime of Monumental Proportions

By Gal Beckerman

No one would say it’s an easy task to memorialize and document atrocity. Take the example of the Holocaust museum. The curator must find new ways of evoking the stench of death, the ruthless efficiency of the killing machine and the unfathomably high number of murdered families (at Auschwitz, those mountains of shoes and eyeglasses begin to doRead More


Osirak, 25 Years Later

By Shay Shaked

Last week marked the 25th anniversary of the Osirak bombing, when Israeli fighter planes bombed a French-built nuclear plant near Baghdad. The destruction of the near-completed reactor, which Israel believed was designed to make nuclear weapons to destroy Israel, was met with strong denunciation from the world community. A quarter-century laterRead More


Dumb Luck

By Dorothy Gallagher

On my way to Moscow last September, I stopped off in the Ukraine. Since I was going in that direction anyway, I wanted to take a look at my mother’s hometown. The town is called Murafa, and it is a very small town, not even a dot on most maps. If, by some chance, you want to locate it, find Kiev on the map, then move yourRead More


The Whole Story on Being Half-Jewish

By Sana Krasikov

Half/Life: Jewish Tales

From Interfaith Homes Edited by Laurel Snyder Soft Skull Press, 280 pages, $14.95. * * *Much has been written about intermarriage in America, from informal polls and academic research to vituperative op-eds and book-length explorations. And yet, a surprisingly small portion of this literature actually documents theRead More


What’s in This Name?

By Philologos

Paul Baron writes in an e-mail:“Ikh bin a higer geborener un ikh bin fier un akhtzig yor alt. [I was born in this country and I’m 84 years old.] My father came from what is now Lithuania. He told me that his father, my grandfather, was a shafer (with the ‘a’ pronounced ‘ah’) and that he worked for a German firm thatRead More





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