Arts & Culture


Through The Indie Lens

By Sarah Kricheff

The judges responsible for selecting the films for this year’s San Francisco Jewish Film Festival had their work cut out for them. The festival broke its record with some 450 entries — a testament to the fact that independent Jewish cinema is alive and thriving. Now in its 26th year, the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival is the oldest andRead 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


Immersion in Reality

By Miriam Udel-Lambert

The mikveh attendant in a town where I often visit but do not live was always the same: towheaded, horsy wig, vast muumuu, thick accent and brusque, brusque, brusque. Her job was to assist women preparing for ritual immersion in observance of the ambitiously named Laws of Family Purity. Assistance is necessary because these laws, developedRead More


Reconnoitering Translations

By Leonard Greenspoon

In the view of many biblical scholars, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, the fact-finding expedition narrated in Numbers 13-14 is a composite account from several sources. In the first, Caleb is among the scouts sent by Moses to the Promised Land, but only as far north as Hebron; Caleb alone remains loyal to God when hisRead More


Celebration Of The Arts

By Sarah Kricheff

A 1925 silent movie about boxing, a pop-musical tragicomedy focused on obsessive behavior and a play that examines the life of a glamorous Hollywood actress may not seem like three things that have much in common, but they are all part of the National Yiddish Book Center’s second annual Paper Bridge Summer Arts Festival.TheRead More


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


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





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