Arts & Culture

Israeli Scholar Trains an Eye on the Emerald Isle

By Gabriel Sanders

As a student at Tel Aviv University in the mid 1990s, Jerusalem native Guy Beiner became interested in what the French call l’histoire des mentalités, history that takes into account how a people perceived itself and its world. In particular, Beiner began to consider folklore and oral traditions — sources often ignored by historians — as valuable tools in studying how a community lived and understood its moment in time.Read More

A Chat With Tamar Yellin, Winner of New Fiction Prize

By Juliet Lapidos

Last week, the Jewish Book Council announced that Tamar Yellin, author of “The Genizah at the House of Shepher” (Toby Press, 2005), is the first recipient of the $100,000 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature. Rohr, who currently lives in Miami, spent his early years in Europe before moving to Bogotá, Colombia, where he made his fortunate as a real estate developer. His children and grandchildren established the eponymous prize to encourage and promote writing of Jewish interest.Read More


By Juliet Lapidos

‘The rich are different than you and me,” F. Scott Fitzgerald reportedly told Ernest Hemingway.Read More

The Real Leni Riefenstahl

By Juliet Lapidos

Leni Riefenstahl’s 1987 autobiography begins with an epigraph borrowed from Albert Einstein: “So many things have been written about me, masses of insolent lies and inventions.” Apparently, the woman best known as “Hitler’s filmmaker” had no misgivings about quoting a Jew who had his citizenship stripped by the Nazis. Perhaps, then, it is unsurprising that in her 700-page memoir, Riefenstahl spins her own “insolent lies” — namely, that she was an apolitical artist who knew nothing of the Holocaust.Read More

The Greatest Shoah on Earth

By Gabriel Sanders

Of all the hucksters, fakers, phonies and wannabes to have been spawned by the so-called “Shoah business,” few can hold a (yahrzeit) candle to Maurice Messer, the fumbling, stumbling, malapropism-spewing figure at the heart of Tova Reich’s deliciously wicked satirical novel “My Holocaust.”Read More

St. Petersburg On the Hudson

By Jeannie Rosenfeld

There is a profile of the kind of person behind today’s booming Russian art market, and Boris Stavrovski does not fit it. He is neither nouveau riche nor an oligarch. He is a computer science professor at the City University of New York who houses one of the largest and most intriguing collections of modern Russian art in his small postwar condo on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Some 300 paintings and drawings dating from the turn to the middle of the past century cover virtually every inch of the two-bedroom apartment. (Another 200 are in storage.) Even doors are barely discernable, their knobs peeking out under rows of dangling period frames, each carefully selected to suit its precious picture.Read More

Jonathan Safran Foer To Release English Version of Haggadah

By Michael Levitin

Jonathan Safran Foer will be releasing a new English version of the Passover Haggadah, the best-selling novelist recently confirmed, speaking to a packed German audience at the American Academy in Berlin’s lakeside villa on the outskirts of the capital.Read More

The Last Word

By Toby Appleton Perl

Joseph Friedenson is anxious. A deadline is approaching, and he’s got to put the next edition of Dos Yiddishe Vort to bed. Never mind that he hasn’t missed a deadline — in 54 years. He’s still worried.Read More

Why ‘Sammy’ Won’t Run — At Least Not on Film

By Eric Kohn

Although Hollywood has changed plenty since Budd Schulberg’s fictionalized exposé “What Makes Sammy Run?” first hit stands in 1941, the novel’s pioneering take on the lure of money and power remains timeless. The story’s inimitable antihero, Sammy Glick, reacts against his lower-class Jewish upbringing to become an amoral hustler who cons his way into running a major studio. Initially, the industry denounced the book as a gross caricature of success, while some claimed it was antisemitic, but this hardly affected its popularity. As years passed, the myth of the movie business solidified and Sammy Glick became inextricably bound to it.Read More

Not a Nice Jewish Girl

By David Kaufmann

British singer Amy Winehouse is not a nice Jewish girl. And it’s not just a question of the tattoos. Nor is it her positively epic boozing. (Her father, a London cabdriver, claims that she is not an alcoholic, because she does not drink every day. Perhaps. But there was that really embarrassingly drunken television performance, since immortalized on the Internet, with Charlotte Church, of all people.) Did she once belt a fan at a club? Maybe. But in the end it’s Winehouse’s unblinking honesty, her unrepentant sexuality and her genius for creative expletive that would make you think twice about bringing her home to meet the folks. As she tells her lover in the slinky second song on her equally slinky second album, “Back to Black,” she is simply “no good.”Read More

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