Arts & Culture


For This Mother and Daughter, The Family Business Is Culture

By Joshua Cohen

Blood might be thicker than water, as the adage goes, but paint is thicker than both. Immigrant artist Miriam Laufer, who died in 1980, was the mother of Manhattan Upper West Sider Susan Bee, and matriarch to one of the most experimental and intense artistic dynasties of Jewish New York. Besides the mother and daughter, the father, Sigmund Laufer,Read More


Suffering the Peculiar Fate of Being a Poet’s Poet

By David Kaufmann

The Poems of Charles Reznikoff, 1918-1975 Edited by Seamus CooneyDavid R. Godine, 400 pages. $21.95.* * *Charles Reznikoff, who was born to Russian parents in Brooklyn in 1894 and lived the bulk of his life in Manhattan, suffered the peculiar fate of being a poet’s poet: He was well respected and little known.Not surprisingly, he often toldRead More


Tracking Change, and the Lack of It, In New York’s Garment Industry

By Gerald Sorin

A Coat of Many Colors: Immigration, Globalization, and Reform In New York City’s Garment Industry Edited by Daniel Soyer Fordham University Press, 312 pages, $75. * * *‘What’s the difference between a Jewish clothing worker and a Jewish psychiatrist?” an old joke goes. Answer: “One generation.”Actually it was more like two orRead More


Ansky, Pushkin’s Nanny and the Revival Of Jewish Life in St. Petersburg

By David G. Roskies

The roomful of stunning photographs currently on display in Russia at the European University at St. Petersburg is dedicated to the theme of “Jewish Children.” It is triply wondrous: first, on account of the European University itself, one of several funded by George Soros in the former Soviet empire; second, on account of the artistic qualityRead More


Munich Evokes the Past in Future Museum

By Gavriel Rosenfeld

Mention “Munich” today, and people automatically think of Steven Spielberg’s controversial Oscar-nominated film. But if the city currently evokes disturbing images of international terrorism, it will soon also remind people of the sordid history of National Socialism.Change is afoot in Munich. In the heart of the city, behind a cheapRead More


A Daughter’s-eye View of a Man Who Was a Hero to Many

By Mark Oppenheimer

My Father Is a Book: A Memoir of Bernard Malamud By Janna Malamud Smith Houghton Mifflin, 304 pages, $24. * * *Perhaps it was silly of me to imagine a tame, tender, avuncular Bernard Malamud. But from the little I knew of his biography — and there is no biography of him, though an English critic is working on one now — Malamud hadRead More


Beating Swords Into Photographs

By Menachem Wecker

David Seymour’s photograph “Wedding in the Border Regions” (1952) has something of the prophet Micah in it. The picture doesn’t beat swords into plowshares and spears into pruninghooks, but it does sculpt a chupah of pitchforks and rifles. This move of combining the sacred and the profane captures a fundamental aesthetic of the IsraeliRead More


Chapter and Verse: Two Poets Explore Religion

By Isaac Meyers

The Insatiable Psalm: Poems By Yermiyahu Ahron Taub Wind River Press, 144 pages, $14.


Morning Prayer By Eve Grubin Sheep Meadow Press, 96 pages, $12.95 * * *Yermiyahu Taub named his first book of poems “The Insatiable Psalm,” a striking title that foretells the wealth of fine phrases that fill his poetry. Almost every line hasRead More


The Lord and His Children

By Lore Segal

We must not speculate about the motivations of the ineffable God, but there are the times when He chooses to explain them Himself. Speaking in the ear of Moses, the Lord says that He hardened Egypt’s heart — to its natural degrees of hardness, we might well suppose — so that it required His spectacular interventions to achieve the ChildrenRead More


Walking a Fine Line at Sundance

By Ron Dicker

Laughing in the face of tragedy is a time-honored theme in film. Yet joking about one of the ultimate tragedies of contemporary history, the Holocaust, is still a rare, potentially radioactive device (and, some would say, for good reason). Jerry Seinfeld made out with his girlfriend in a theater during “Schindler’s List,” and hisRead More





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