Arts & Culture


A Shoah Story, From Israel

By Jerome A. Chanes

‘Tain’t what a man sez, but wot he means that the traducer has got to bring over.” Thus Ezra Pound to W.H.D. Rouse, on literature. What a difference a definite article makes. In its Hebrew original, the title of Amir Gutfreund’s first novel is “Sho’ah Shelanu”: “Our Holocaust,” no “The,” a title suggesting that the book is about not historical memory of the European destruction but something — a “Holocaust” — that is ongoing for the book’s protagonists, and that emerges in the narrative. One would think that “Our Holocaust” ought be firmly positioned in the corpus of serious Israeli literature about the Holocaust, from KaTzetnik to David Grossman. It ain’t.Read More


Exploring the American-Israeli Alliance

By Steven Bayme

In recent years, numerous commentators have sought to explain the “special relationship” between Israel and America and the reasons for it. Some observers have pointed to the influence of American Jewry either in praise of its persistent vigilance in cementing ties between Washington and Jerusalem or in condemnation of those efforts. Others, particularly such scholars as Warren Bass and Steven Spiegel, assign American Jewry at best secondary influence and underscore instead presidential perceptions of American interests in the Middle East weighed against the backdrop of America’s global concerns.Read More


Delving Into the Core of the Self

By Miriam Udel-Lambert

Yale University Press has just published “Life Is With Others,” a collection of essays written by the late Donald J. Cohen and various colleagues. Cohen, who succumbed to cancer in 2001 at the age of 61, directed the Yale Child Study Center for nearly two decades, conducted pioneering research into autism and Tourette’s Syndrome, and helped craft social policy, which included early work on the Head Start program and a collaboration between Yale psychiatrists and the New Haven, Conn., police to assist children exposed to violence. Cohen, who also forged research alliances with scientists throughout the Middle East and Europe, was remembered at his funeral as the son of Joseph and Rose from Chicago, of Moshe and Molly from Berditshev, Ukraine, and of Mashie and Avrum from Bialystok, Poland.Read More


Screening Chantal Akerman

By Saul Austerlitz

For certain film buffs, Chantal Akerman is famous as the director of one of the screen’s most legendary endurance tests. Akerman’s masterpiece, “Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles” (1975), as the precise title might indicate, is a remarkably focused three-and-a-half-hour study of the mundane routine of a Brussels housewife — the ultimate realist film.Read More


Women Ending Badly

By Joshua Cohen

Readers of Dostoyevsky’s “Crime and Punishment” always know that Raskolnikov committed murder, but they often don’t know whether Raskolnikov knows that he committed murder. It is in this wonderful vagary, more than among any writerly tricks of mood, foreshadowing or scenic alteration, that one finds the origin of the so-called psychological novelRead More


Cruise Control

By Anthony Weiss

Imagine the perfect cruise — surrounded by peaceful waters, drifting past ancient towns, atmospheric music playing in the background. Now, if those waters and towns are Ukrainian, and that music you’re imagining is klezmer, have we got a cruise for you.Read More


Thinking Past the Nazis

By David Kaufmann

If you have ever heard of the great German literary critic and theorist Walter Benjamin, you probably know something of his suicide. In 1940, Benjamin tried to flee from France to Spain, only to be turned back with his party at the border. That night, in despair, he killed himself. The next day, his companions were allowed to pass over into Spain and safety.Read More


Beyond the Noise: Exploring the U.S.-Saudi Relationship

By Edward Walker

In her new book, “Thicker Than Oil: America’s Uneasy Partnership With Saudi Arabia,” scholar Rachel Bronson fires an opening shot by asserting that “recent books seem more intent on feeding public outrage than on seriously probing the relationship” between the two countries. With this, she engages in the opposite: a significant effort to analyze the relationship from its beginnings.Read More


A Driving Force in Jewish Life

By Jenna Weissman Joselit

Much has been written of late about the Interstate highway system, which celebrated its 50th birthday just last month. A legacy of the 1950s, along with Elvis Presley and Lawrence Welk, the Montgomery bus boycott and the atom bomb, its 47,000 miles of roadways transformed the American landscape and modern American life in equal measure.Read More


Redemption Song

By Stephen Marche

When it comes to literature about terrorism, the world is catching up with Israel. Since September 11, 2001, novels like “Saturday” by best-selling British author Ian McEwan, and “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” by young American writer Jonathan Safran Foer, have attempted to cope with a kind of nihilistic violence new to the West, but neither author managed to get beyond his initial shock at people trying to blow us up. A.B. Yehoshua’s latest novel, “A Woman in Jerusalem,” is thick with a kind of weariness about the whole business, no doubt the product of having lived with the reality of terrorism for half a century.Read More


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