Arts & Culture

Once Suppressed, Composers Enjoy Revival

By David Mermelstein

James Conlon, music director of Los Angeles Opera, and Marilyn Ziering, a Beverly Hills philanthropist, met for the first time only a year ago, but they have become fast friends. A common interest unites them: making sure that music suppressed by the Nazis and then largely forgotten — much of it by Jewish composers — gets a fair hearing.Read More

A Documentary Wrings Poetry From Politics

By Steven Zeitchik

Almost as inevitable as the endless feature stories about the recent increase in political documentaries is the limpness of the films themselves. A strong documentary demands both surprising characters and a rich ethical imagination; make subjects’ impulses too obvious, as many of these films do, and you wind up with pamphleteering, pandering or Michael Moore.Read More

'West Bank' Musical Comedy Wins Oscar

By Elissa Strauss

“West Bank Story,” a musical comedy about the eruption of love between an Israeli soldier and a Palestinian falafel-stand worker, won this year’s Academy Award for best live short.Read More

Warhol’s Tribe

By Beth Schwartzapfel

This week marks the 20th anniversary of the death of Andy Warhol — as good a time as any to reminisce, in these pages, about the famed artist’s place in Jewish history. Although Warhol is best known for his portraits of such pop icons as Elvis Presley and Jackie Kennedy, in 1980 he also completed a set of 10 portraits of Jewish icons, commissioned by art dealer and gallery owner Ronald Feldman.Read More

Kissing and Telling

By Joshua Cohen

Though David Evanier should best be known as a writer of stories that feign to punch and kick in the upstart manner of their Chosen People, he also traffics in the ethnicities of others, having authored nonfiction volumes on singers Bobby Darin and Jimmy Roselli. A few years ago he co-authored the memoir of an actor, Joe Pantoliano, who, according to a note appended to the end of his lastest book, “plays Ralph on HBO’s ‘The Sopranos’.”Read More

Our Dueling Playwright

By Edna Nahshon

This month, Theater for a New Audience, a New York City-based theater that is committed to the canon of world dramatic literature, offers a series of free staged readings of four plays concerned with the issue of Jewish otherness in western society. Three of the plays are by well-known English-language writers: Arnold Wesker (“Shylock”), A.R. Gurney Jr. (“Overtime”) and John Galsworthy (“Loyalties”). The fourth, Henry Bernstein’s “Israel,” retitled “Among Gentlemen” in a new adaptation by Michael Feingold, is not just the oldest of the lot but also the only one originally written in French.Read More

Two Soldiers, Lonely Together

By Saul Austerlitz

For some young Israelis, the idea of army service still holds romantic possibility: serving one’s country with the promise of adventure, and the opportunity to discover one’s self far from home. The reality is often quite different, with drudgery and endless repetition of dull tasks the markers of another day in the Israel Defense Forces. Vidi Bilu and Dalia Hager’s quietly forceful film, “Close to Home,” offers a look at a rarely seen side of the IDF, replacing the often overblown masculine warrior-worship of other military films with a distinctly subtler, more patient feminine gaze.Read More

Being a Jew Among the Genteel and Gentile

By Steven G. Kellman

The ordeal of civility, as defined by sociologist John Murray Cuddihy in his 1974 book, is “the ritually unconsummated courtship of Gentile and Jew.” This phenomenon is a recurrent theme throughout the fiction of Louis Begley. Even more than in his first novel — “Wartime Lies” (1991), the story of a Jewish boy who survives the Nazi occupation of Poland by passing as Catholic — Begley’s eighth novel, “Matters of Honor,” is shaped mainly by “all the Jewism” that one of its characters desperately seeks to escape.Read More

German Book Redefines ‘Victimhood,’ Problematically

By Jack Fischel

In the aftermath of World War II, Germany attempted to come to terms with the Holocaust. But ultranationalists were not contrite about the recent past, and contended that the killing of hundreds of thousands of German civilians during the Allied air offensive was the moral equivalent of the mass murder of the Jews. This argument, however, remained on the periphery of political discussion until recently, when the claims of moral equivalency entered the mainstream of German political culture with the publication of Jörg Friederich’s best-seller, “The Fire” (“Der Brand”).Read More

Hitler’s Jewish Counterfeiter

By Katharina Goetze

Although life in the “golden cage” of Sachsenhausen was deceptively comfortable for Adolf Burger, he believed that the secret he shared with the Nazis was too precious for him to survive. Yet survive the Jewish printer did, and at 89 he is still around to tell his tale. Now, Austrian filmmaker Stefan Ruzowitzky has made a new movie based on Burger’s memoirs. The film, “Die Fälscher” (“The Counterfeiters”), which will come to German cinemas next month, tells the extraordinary story of the Nazi forging factory that changed the Czech printer’s life — and saved it.Read More

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