Arts & Culture


Screening Chantal Akerman

By Saul Austerlitz

For certain film buffs, Chantal Akerman is famous as the director of one of the screen’s most legendary endurance tests. Akerman’s masterpiece, “Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles” (1975), as the precise title might indicate, is a remarkably focused three-and-a-half-hour study of the mundane routine of a Brussels housewife — the ultimate realist film.Read More


Women Ending Badly

By Joshua Cohen

Readers of Dostoyevsky’s “Crime and Punishment” always know that Raskolnikov committed murder, but they often don’t know whether Raskolnikov knows that he committed murder. It is in this wonderful vagary, more than among any writerly tricks of mood, foreshadowing or scenic alteration, that one finds the origin of the so-called psychological novelRead More


Cruise Control

By Anthony Weiss

Imagine the perfect cruise — surrounded by peaceful waters, drifting past ancient towns, atmospheric music playing in the background. Now, if those waters and towns are Ukrainian, and that music you’re imagining is klezmer, have we got a cruise for you.Read More


Thinking Past the Nazis

By David Kaufmann

If you have ever heard of the great German literary critic and theorist Walter Benjamin, you probably know something of his suicide. In 1940, Benjamin tried to flee from France to Spain, only to be turned back with his party at the border. That night, in despair, he killed himself. The next day, his companions were allowed to pass over into Spain and safety.Read More


Beyond the Noise: Exploring the U.S.-Saudi Relationship

By Edward Walker

In her new book, “Thicker Than Oil: America’s Uneasy Partnership With Saudi Arabia,” scholar Rachel Bronson fires an opening shot by asserting that “recent books seem more intent on feeding public outrage than on seriously probing the relationship” between the two countries. With this, she engages in the opposite: a significant effort to analyze the relationship from its beginnings.Read More


A Driving Force in Jewish Life

By Jenna Weissman Joselit

Much has been written of late about the Interstate highway system, which celebrated its 50th birthday just last month. A legacy of the 1950s, along with Elvis Presley and Lawrence Welk, the Montgomery bus boycott and the atom bomb, its 47,000 miles of roadways transformed the American landscape and modern American life in equal measure.Read More


Redemption Song

By Stephen Marche

When it comes to literature about terrorism, the world is catching up with Israel. Since September 11, 2001, novels like “Saturday” by best-selling British author Ian McEwan, and “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” by young American writer Jonathan Safran Foer, have attempted to cope with a kind of nihilistic violence new to the West, but neither author managed to get beyond his initial shock at people trying to blow us up. A.B. Yehoshua’s latest novel, “A Woman in Jerusalem,” is thick with a kind of weariness about the whole business, no doubt the product of having lived with the reality of terrorism for half a century.Read More


You Are, Therefore I Am

By Jay Michaelson

The belief in the human soul is perhaps the most enduring remnant of traditional religion. Even those who have rejected religion entirely, or never practiced it to begin with, still hold the indefensible, illogical belief that there is something intrinsic, inalienable and essential about the individual human soul — that spark that makes each of us special.Read More


Book Kaddish

By Ariel Rubinstein

Several months ago, I happened to visit a Jewish library in New York that was located in a building adjacent to the one in which I was staying. The library still has an old-fashioned card catalog. I leafed through the cards around my family name until I came across a book by Y.M. Rubinstein. I asked the librarian to bring me the book, and heRead More


Persian Gates

By Karmel Melamed

Krista Nassi, an Iranian Jewish artist in her 30s, made it through Tehran’s Institute of Graphic Design and Architecture and earned a master’s degree in art from Tehran’s University of Art. But when the installation artist tried to have her work displayed in one of the state-funded archives in 2000, she was turned away. She tried to enrollRead More


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