Arts & Culture


Hannah Arendt, 100 Years Later

By Benjamin Balint

Islamic terrorism is the new totalitarianism. At least that’s the impression one gets from some Western commentators these days. In “Terror and Liberalism,” Paul Berman invoked totalitarianism in order to explain the strikingly modern ideology of Islamism. Joschka Fischer, then Germany’s foreign minister, spoke of a “third totalitarianism.” This past February, Salman Rushdie, Bernard-Henri Lévy and others published a statement calling radical Islam “a new totalitarian global threat.” And last month, President Bush said that today’s Islamic terrorists are “successors to fascists, to Nazis, to communists and other totalitarians of the 20th century.”Read More


Power of Speech

By Jenna Weissman Joselit

I don’t know about you, but I’m no fan of the sermon. Much as I try — and I do try — to pay rapt attention to the rabbi’s words, my mind tends to wander far, far away from the subject at hand or else is completely taken up with cataloging the grammatical and syntactical errors that emanate from the pulpit. Mind you, I don’t fall asleep, but then I’m not exactly agog with excitement either at the prospect of being preached to. And in this, I’m not alone: All you have to do is count the number of nodding and bobbing heads in the sanctuary as the rabbi holds forth to realize that the contemporary sermon is often far more of a soporific than a stimulant.Read More


What’s in a Home?

By Elissa Strauss

Many of our contemporary Jewish writers use comfort to provide tension, creating characters who are often crippled, and sometimes haunted, by the relative ease of their lives. They live under the shadow of comfort’s flipside — apathy — and grapple almost exclusively with creating significance from their easygoing existences.Read More


Dylan’s Religious Revival: Modern Times and the Timeless

By Jay Michaelson

What would happen if Bob Dylan released a politically potent sequel to “The Times They Are a-Changin’” complete with blistering attacks on the War on Terror, the government’s creeping encroachment upon civil liberties, and the persistence of prejudice and discrimination?Read More


Northern Exposure: Mameloshn’s Unexpected Fate – in Sweden

By Rukhl Schaechter

In the weeks leading up to Sweden’s national election this month, the government put out public service announcements in the press, encouraging its citizens to vote. But one feature was hardly standard issue: The bulletins informed the readers how to get voting instructions in Yiddish.Read More


Unrest Brews at Rebbe’s Resting Place

By Nathaniel Popper

On the first night of Rosh Hashanah, the dirt roads on the northern edge of this central Ukrainian town had Jewish worshippers at every turn, transforming the site of a historic massacre into a place of dancing and prayer.Read More


America’s First Cultural Jew

By David Kaufmann

Emma Lazarus has been having a good run recently. Eighteen months ago — some 117 years after her early death from Hodgkin’s disease — John Hollander’s judicious selection of her poetry demonstrated that she was one of the most talented American poets of the 19th century, and far and away the best Jewish one. And now, Esther Schor’s intelligent, passionate and deeply sympathetic literary biography argues that Lazarus is a vitally important — even prophetic — writer, “more of our time than her own.”Read More


Walking Away From Icons

By Menachem Wecker

Although artist Lazar (El) Markovich Lissitzky flirted with numerous movements — including Suprematism, the Bauhaus, De Stijl and Constructivism — to some he will always be doomed to remain the artist whose work resembles that of Marc Chagall.Read More


Speakeasy Jews

By Ethan Kanfer

With its irresistible blend of innocence and envelope-pushing, the Jazz Age — an era of bootleggers, flappers and silent-movie stars — still holds a mythical fascination for today’s audiences. To this end, Ted Merwin, an assistant professor at Dickinson College and chief theater critic for the New York Jewish Week, has written “In Their Own Image: New York Jews in Jazz Age Popular Culture.” As suggested by the title, Merwin’s new book chronicles the increasing visibility of Jewish creative talent in the dynamic America of the 1920s. Impressively researched and entertainingly presented, this lively volume shows how the twin forces of immigrant acculturation and the quickening social pace of the Jazz Age helped put Jewish entertainers at the center of the new popular culture.Read More


France’s 900-page Cause Célèbre

By Joshua Cohen

Parisians are all in a fury, they’re reading in the streets. The newest cause célèbre of the French fall publishing season? A 900-page novel about the Holocaust, written in French by an expatriate Jewish American, 38-year-old Jonathan Littell.Read More


Would you like to receive updates about new stories?






















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.