Arts & Culture


Hannah and Her Brothers

By Leah Hochbaum

If “The First Time I Was 20” teaches viewers anything, it’s that teenage boys in the 1960s were sophisticated enough to recognize that beauty is only skin deep, and antisemitic classmates can become best pals if only they get to know the real you. In short, Lorraine Levy’s wisp of a movie, in French with English subtitles and showingRead More


Spinoza: Hero, Infidel, Celebrity

By Daniel B. Schwartz

Betraying Spinoza: The Renegade Jew Who Gave Us Modernity By Rebecca Goldstein Nextbook/Schocken, 304 pages, $19.95. * * *Betrayal haunts the image of 17th-century philosopher Baruch (Benedictus) Spinoza like no other Jewish historical celebrity. For centuries, the name of this radical pantheist, pioneering biblical critic and defectorRead More


...and Muse

By Joshua Cohen

Conversation With Spinoza: A Cobweb Novel By Goce SmilevskiTranslated by Filip Korzenski Northwestern University Press, 152 pages, $16.95. * * *A few centuries too late, it seems that Spinoza’s time has finally come. In a world in which many Jews are yet again attempting to assert a secular identity as the dialectic antipode of extremism,Read More


A Painter on Earth Whose Brush Reaches the Heavens

By Menachem Wecker

‘I cannot imagine German culture without Judaism,” painter Anselm Kiefer said. “One thing is that Germans committed the immense crime of killing Jews. The other is that they amputated themselves. They took half of German culture and killed it.” As a result, Kiefer, who was born to Catholic parents in Donaueschingen, Germany, during theRead More


Fateful Correspondence

By Elizabeth Frankenberger

Paper Kisses: A True Love Story By Reinhard KaiserTranslated by Anthea Bell Other Press, 120 pages, $13.95. * * *Like Reinhard Kaiser, the author of “Paper Kisses” — a true, epistolary tale of two star-crossed lovers during the Holocaust — my father was a collector of stamps. And like Kaiser, his hobby was his full-time passion. ARead More


Magen David: Shield or Star?

By Philologos

Chalk up a victory for the Star of David — or, as it is called in Hebrew, the magen David or “Shield of David.” Long boycotted by the International Committee of the Red Cross, which refused to grant Israel’s “Red Shield of David” organization membership in its ranks because it did not recognize the medical and humanitarian use ofRead More


Korah; or, the Possibility of Change

By Burton L. Visotzky

This week’s Torah portion, Korah, tells a spectacular story of rebellion and punishment. Korah challenges Moses and Aaron’s rule with a deceptively simple argument: “All of the community is holy.… What makes you so special that you raise yourselves up?” (Numbers 16:3) Coming as it does from his very own tribe, Moses falls into despair.Read More


Ethical Designs

By Sarah Kricheff

You don’t need to be enrolled in art school to know that the philosophies of green design and smart design are becoming, in many circles, the only acceptable way to build anything from an apartment building to a pair of shoes. With social and environmental responsibility at the forefront of the minds of most contemporary visual thinkers,Read More


Love and Hate In Wartime Italy

By Peter Orner

The Water Door By Rosetta LoyTranslated by Gregory Conti Other Press, 120 pages, $11.95. * * *The 5-year-old narrator of Rosetta Loy’s brief, death-haunted novel “The Water Door” is, to borrow Henry James’s graceful phrase, a girl upon whom nothing is lost. To read this book is to become immersed in the intensity of childhood as it isRead More


What We Know, and Don’t, About Eichmann

By Mindy Aloff

Becoming Eichmann: Rethinking the Life, Crimes, And Trial of a ‘Desk Murderer’ By David Cesarani Da Capo Press, 464 pages, $27.50. * * *Most of what we know – or think we know – about Adolf Eichmann, a notorious Nazi functionary, may be wrong. Or so readers will surmise from “Becoming Eichmann,” David Cesarani’sRead More





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