Arts & Culture

Writing the Unpaintable

By Albert Fayngold

There are three distinct, echoing voices in Michael Hafftka’s newly issued book: a writer, a visual artist and a son of Holocaust survivors. Understandably, this trio makes for a complex, even conflicted, aesthetic. And indeed, “Conscious/Unconscious,” interspersing 27 of Hafftka’s drawings with 56 rambling, phantasmagoric tales — has conflict written all over it. “Narrated in the first person,” as the book cover says, and “weaving an inner life made real by paradoxes and conflicted drives,” these whimsical, sketchlike stories surge with bohemian misadventures while remaining, at bottom, immersed in the vast shadow of the Holocaust.Read More

Paretsky Unspools a New Mystery: Her Own

By Gabriel Sanders

Decades before she developed the literary alter ego for which she is best known — the female private investigator V.I. Warshawski — mystery writer Sara Paretsky was already experimenting with fictional personas, fictional masks.Read More

The Raging Bronx Bull of German Journalism

By Ben Weinthal

When Berlin’s largest opera house, Deutsche Oper, canceled four performances of a modernized version of Mozart’s “Idomeneo” — which included images of the severed heads of Jesus, Buddha, Poseidon and the Prophet Muhammad — because of the possibility of a fundamentalist Islamic attack brought on by a perceived denigration of Muhammad, journalist Henryk Broder went on the attack. “I am, even as a secular, non-believing Jew, insulted,” he wrote in the online version of Der Spiegel, Germany’s most influential weekly magazine. “I feel injured, discriminated against and excluded. Why is the head of Moses not there?”Read More

In the News Again, Tuberculosis Victims Have History of Seeking Cures Far and Wide

By Jenna Weissman Joselit

My work usually doesn’t take me too far away from home, but last month, as it happened, I found myself in Denver, where, as a guest of the Rocky Mountain Princeton Alumni Association, I had come to give a speech. Wined and dined by those “Tigers” who now call the “Mile High City” and its environs their home, I was made to feel most welcome.Read More

Using Survivor Testimony, a Scholar Fills in France’s Holocaust Story

By Peter Ephross

When it comes to Holocaust history, France gets short shrift. This is not to say that we don’t know anything about the Jewish experience in France during World War II, it’s just that scholars have mined the history of the Shoah in Germany and Poland, to name two countries, a great deal more. That there’s been no Elie Wiesel or Anne Frank to personalize the experience in France hasn’t helped.Read More

Defending Ladino

By Philologos

In response to my May 11 column on Ladino, Rachel Bortnick, who identifies herself as “a native Ladino speaker and an activist for the preservation and appreciation of that precious Jewish language,” has written a lengthy letter to protest my statement that “the Jewish texture of Ladino isn’t quite as rich or as thick” as that of Yiddish. In this letter, she makes three basic points…Read More

The Price of Milk and Honey

By Lore Segal

Among the chosen with whom, in biblical times, the Lord had conversations, Moses was special. “Your brother,” God says to the rebellious Miriam in Numbers, Chapter 12, “is a familiar within my household. With him I speak not in riddles but mouth to mouth.”Read More

Coolness is Overrated

By David Kaufmann

Let’s face it: Paul Simon, who was awarded the first George and Ira Gershwin Prize for Popular Song and was feted with a gala concert in Washington, D.C., on May 23, was never really hip. He was always just a bit too sincere, a bit too dorky, and that’s probably why his music — which has won seven Grammys and has been nominated for several more — has worn so well.Read More

Jewish Mother, R.I.P.

By Alana Newhouse

The Jewish Mother, one of the most dominating icons of 20th-century American popular culture, has died. News of her death was released, inadvertently, by Brandeis University history professor Joyce Antler in “You Never Call! You Never Write! A History of the Jewish Mother.” Mother — also known as MA!!!!! — was 90 years old, give or take.Read More

Six Days, 40 Years of Controversy

By Gal Beckerman

The weeks following the Six Day War found Israelis not sure if they were awake or dreaming. Everyone spoke of miracles, of the supernatural forces that had guided the Jewish army to such overwhelming victory. The names of the generals — Rabin, Hod, Sharon, Peled — resounded like the names of gods. The people once again felt chosen. The whole country seemed to pinch itself again and again, like Gulliver in the land of Lilliput, not quite sure that it had really so suddenly, scarily, exhilaratingly grown to three times its size.Read More

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