Arts & Culture


Lower East Side Story

By Saul Austerlitz

Up from Orchard Street Eleanor Widmer Bantam, 400 pages, $23. * * *Orchard Street: The name alone conjures images from the collective memory, snapshots of street peddlers, of rat-infested tenements, of aged scholars pacing the streets, their sidelocks rhythmically clapping against their ears. For readers of Jewish literature, the Lower EastRead More


The Jewish Salsero

By Elissa Strauss

In 1957, a 19-year-old named Lawrence Kahn traveled to Cuba after being entranced by the Latin music he had been hearing in New York City. Concerned that the Cubans would have trouble pronouncing his name, he dropped the Kahn and changed his name to Larry Harlow. The switch proved useless, first because Harlow wasn’t any easierRead More


Who Owns Leo Strauss?

By Allan Nadler

Reading Leo Strauss: Politics, Philosophy, Judaism By Steven B. Smith University of Chicago Press 268 pages, $32.50. * * *During his lifetime, the German émigré political philosopher Leo Strauss (1899-1973) was barely noticed, except by students at the University of Chicago and an elite cadre of scholars. But beginningRead More


Found in Translation

By Daniel Septimus

Nestled between Arab East Jerusalem, the ultra-Orthodox mecca of Meah Shearim, and the cafés and pubs of Zion Square is the neighborhood of Musrara. Fittingly, this crossroads is home to Ibis Editions, a small book press specializing in literature of the Levant, works that blur the boundaries between time, place and language.Ibis is theRead More


Cracking Gum –– and Stereotypes

By Andrew Furman

How This Night Is Different By Elisa Albert Free Press, 199 pages, $18. * * *‘In her backpack for Auschwitz, Shayna Markowitz packs the following,” begins one story in Elisa Albert’s debut fiction collection, “How This Night Is Different.” The sardonic, mischievous wit of such a line, and of the collection as a whole, setsRead More


An Experiment Becomes a Showpiece

By Wayne Hoffman

Something big is happening in the smallest room of the Judah L. Magnes Museum.When Alla Efimova was hired as chief curator of the Jewish art museum in 2003 — overseeing a venerable Judaica collection she calls “encyclopedic and global” — she first asked herself: “How can we renew the collection and make it relevant again?” AsRead More


Rediscovering Isaac Rosenfeld

By Benjamin Balint

This week’s 50th yahrzeit of Isaac Rosenfeld, a brilliant and unjustly forgotten writer who belonged to a brilliant moment in American Jewish writing, offers a good occasion to measure the distance between that moment and our own.Rosenfeld’s story is a strange amalgam of success and failure. Born in Chicago, Rosenfeld was a prodigy, at leastRead More


Filling in the Holes

By Adeena Sussman

Bagel boys, get ready for your close-up.Writer Matthew Goodman and veteran film director Joan Micklin Silver have begun collaborating on a documentary about the little-known history of the Local 338, the International Bagel Bakers Union of New York. The union, which was founded in 1907 and was one of the city’s most powerful in its heyday,Read More


Which Jewish State?

By Tony Michels

If the second intifada has achieved little else, it has reawakened furious disputes over questions seemingly settled long ago. Are Jews a nation? Are they entitled to political self-determination? Does the State of Israel have a right to exist? In recent years, a growing number of leftwing scholars, writers and activists have answered those questions with a resounding “no.” Israel, they declare, is an anachronism, a tragic mistake, even a horrible crime. Justice, they say, demands the eradication of Zionism so that Palestinian nationalism can be fulfilled. As the goal of Palestinian statehood remains elusive, more and more leftists call for an end to Jewish statehood. Those who disagree and suggest that maybe both Jews and Palestinians deserve statehood increasingly find themselves on the defensive.Read More


Turning Down the Light

By David Gedzelman

When Moses is clearly told that he will not enter the Promised Land because of a momentary failure in his ministry of national leadership and service, we might wonder whether Moses is, in the end, a tragic figure. After all, he has labored to bring the people of Israel to the land in which the teachings he has prophesied will become manifest andRead More


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