Arts & Culture


Aleppo on Ocean Parkway

By Judy Bolton-Fasman

From Baghdad to Brooklyn: Growing Up

In a Jewish-Arabic Family in Midcentury America By Jack Marshall Coffee House Press, 256 pages, $16. * * *To have an identity strung together with hyphens is to live in several worlds at once. “From Baghdad to Brooklyn,” Jack Marshall’s beautifully crafted memoir, evokes an entire galaxy.Read More


Elegy for a Fighter

By Paul Buhle

Barney Ross By Douglas Century Nextbook (Schocken), 205 pages, $19.95. * * *If attitudes toward Jewish boxers do not offer an all-encompassing symbol of continuing change in the social and cultural tastes of American Jewry, they probably come close. One of the many revealing anecdotes in this marvelously insightful study of the immigrantRead More


The Battle Over ‘Judea and Samaria’

By Philologos

One would expect someone as pro-Israel as The New York Times’ William Safire to know better. In his January 16 On Language column, he wrote:“In wartime, words are weapons; we have seen how Israelis and Palestinians are highly sensitive to connotations in their conflict. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon preferred to refer to land in dispute westRead More


A Little Too Intimate

By Tessa Brown

The Book of Trouble: A Romance By Ann Marlowe Harcourt, 288 pages, $23. * * *As Ann Marlowe painfully illustrates in “The Book of Trouble: A Romance,” finding intimacy is not as easy as finding one’s way into someone’s pants. Just as intellectual repartee does not necessarily make for an exciting sex life, a physical rapport can existRead More


The Unity of Opposites

By Jay Michaelson

Learning From the Tanya: Volume Two in the Definitive Commentary On the Moral and Mystical Teachings Of a Classic Work of Kabbalah By Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz Jossey-Bass, 384 pages, $24.95.


We Jews: Why Are We and What Should We Do? By Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz Jossey-Bass, 224 pages, $24.95. * * *Why has the Chabad-Lubavitch sectRead More


Heart-to-Heart Talk

By Jeffrey Fiskin

Moishe, a man of indeterminate age in doctor’s garb, stands before the massive statues of a pharaoh’s mortuary temple on the west bank at Luxor. As Amelia Edwards noted at Abu Simbel (“A Thousand Miles Up the Nile”), there is an instant at dawn as light flushes the temple that transforms the great stone colossi. “Those awfulRead More


Coincidentally Israeli Designers

By Menachem Wecker

To classify art based on geographical origin is to play a silly game of Pin the Tail on the Donkey. The Guggenheim exhibit The Aztec Empire recently showed the dangers of national taxonomies by including works of the Toltecs — whom the Aztecs sacrificed to their gods — and of the Olmecs, who are to the Aztecs what the Druids are toRead More


Celebrating a Composer Who Celebrates Multiple Cultures

By Raphael Mostel

Composer Osvaldo Golijov is being celebrated at New York City’s Lincoln Center with a month-long series of performances of his works, titled The Passion of Osvaldo Golijov. Musical America named Golijov composer of the year. His latest release, “Ayre” — based on traditional songs and poems in Ladino, Arabic and Hebrew — evokes the periodRead More


A Babel Biographer Chases His Moving Target

By Ilan Stavans

Savage Shorthand: The Life and Death of Isaac Babel By Jerome Charyn Random House, 224 pages, $24.95. * * *Isaac Babel was an iconoclast whose small, mysterious oeuvre, delivered in a deft, compact Russian shaped at a time of revolution, becomes more alluring with the passage of time. As Jerome Charyn puts it in his meditationRead More


Not Your Mother’s Neil Diamond

By David Kaufmann

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: A hip and really hot music producer seeks out an old and established artist — perhaps a bit past his prime — and talks him into working on an album. The point of the collaboration is to emphasize the singer’s craft and the song itself, and so everything is stripped down to the merely essential —Read More





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