Arts & Culture

The Real Leni Riefenstahl

By Juliet Lapidos

Leni Riefenstahl’s 1987 autobiography begins with an epigraph borrowed from Albert Einstein: “So many things have been written about me, masses of insolent lies and inventions.” Apparently, the woman best known as “Hitler’s filmmaker” had no misgivings about quoting a Jew who had his citizenship stripped by the Nazis. Perhaps, then, it is unsurprising that in her 700-page memoir, Riefenstahl spins her own “insolent lies” — namely, that she was an apolitical artist who knew nothing of the Holocaust.Read More

The Greatest Shoah on Earth

By Gabriel Sanders

Of all the hucksters, fakers, phonies and wannabes to have been spawned by the so-called “Shoah business,” few can hold a (yahrzeit) candle to Maurice Messer, the fumbling, stumbling, malapropism-spewing figure at the heart of Tova Reich’s deliciously wicked satirical novel “My Holocaust.”Read More

St. Petersburg On the Hudson

By Jeannie Rosenfeld

There is a profile of the kind of person behind today’s booming Russian art market, and Boris Stavrovski does not fit it. He is neither nouveau riche nor an oligarch. He is a computer science professor at the City University of New York who houses one of the largest and most intriguing collections of modern Russian art in his small postwar condo on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Some 300 paintings and drawings dating from the turn to the middle of the past century cover virtually every inch of the two-bedroom apartment. (Another 200 are in storage.) Even doors are barely discernable, their knobs peeking out under rows of dangling period frames, each carefully selected to suit its precious picture.Read More

Jonathan Safran Foer To Release English Version of Haggadah

By Michael Levitin

Jonathan Safran Foer will be releasing a new English version of the Passover Haggadah, the best-selling novelist recently confirmed, speaking to a packed German audience at the American Academy in Berlin’s lakeside villa on the outskirts of the capital.Read More

The Last Word

By Toby Appleton Perl

Joseph Friedenson is anxious. A deadline is approaching, and he’s got to put the next edition of Dos Yiddishe Vort to bed. Never mind that he hasn’t missed a deadline — in 54 years. He’s still worried.Read More

Why ‘Sammy’ Won’t Run — At Least Not on Film

By Eric Kohn

Although Hollywood has changed plenty since Budd Schulberg’s fictionalized exposé “What Makes Sammy Run?” first hit stands in 1941, the novel’s pioneering take on the lure of money and power remains timeless. The story’s inimitable antihero, Sammy Glick, reacts against his lower-class Jewish upbringing to become an amoral hustler who cons his way into running a major studio. Initially, the industry denounced the book as a gross caricature of success, while some claimed it was antisemitic, but this hardly affected its popularity. As years passed, the myth of the movie business solidified and Sammy Glick became inextricably bound to it.Read More

Not a Nice Jewish Girl

By David Kaufmann

British singer Amy Winehouse is not a nice Jewish girl. And it’s not just a question of the tattoos. Nor is it her positively epic boozing. (Her father, a London cabdriver, claims that she is not an alcoholic, because she does not drink every day. Perhaps. But there was that really embarrassingly drunken television performance, since immortalized on the Internet, with Charlotte Church, of all people.) Did she once belt a fan at a club? Maybe. But in the end it’s Winehouse’s unblinking honesty, her unrepentant sexuality and her genius for creative expletive that would make you think twice about bringing her home to meet the folks. As she tells her lover in the slinky second song on her equally slinky second album, “Back to Black,” she is simply “no good.”Read More

Paying Homage to a Mentor

By Joseph Carman

When choreographer Zvi Gotheiner left Israel in 1976 to come to New York, he was a young protégé of his dance teacher, Gertrud Kraus. Often considered to be the first lady of Israeli dance, Kraus taught dance not as a bland curriculum but as the making of art. Despite the fact that Kraus died 30 years ago, Gotheiner still feels the power of her wisdom. From March 14 to March 18, under the sponsorship of Manhattan’s 92nd Street Y, Zvi Gotheiner and Dancers is presenting the premiere of “Gertrud,” a tribute to his late teacher, at the Ailey Citigroup Theater at the Joan Weill Center for Dance, located midtown at 55th Street and Ninth Avenue.Read More

A Haunting Tale of a Lost World

By Mindy Aloff

Some of you will know the name Isaac Metzker (1900-1984). He was a teacher for the Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring who also served for decades as a journalist for the Jewish Daily Forward, where he edited “A Bintel Brief,” the popular advice column for new immigrants to America. Metzker, a passionate advocate of Yiddish culture, came to the United States in 1924 from his native Eastern Galicia (now Ukraine) by way of Bremen, where he stowed himself away on a ship to get here. His haunting book, “Grandfather’s Acres,” now available in English, is set in Galicia between the 1880s and 1922. It is called a historical novel, but its authoritative detail and precision about topics ranging from the position of a pear tree to the cut of a man’s suit jacket give it the authority of an eyewitness report.Read More

This (Televised) American Life

By Beth Schwartzapfel

Perhaps it’s a stretch to describe any public radio personality as a superstar. But if there were such a thing, Ira Glass, host of the weekly radio show “This American Life,” would be it. Glass, 47, is nerdy in a hip kind of way, and he unselfconsciously professes his love, in equal measures, for radio shock jock Howard Stern, the now-defunct television drama “The O. C.” and fellow National Public Radio personality Terry Gross.Read More

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