Arts & Culture


Lust, Faith and Phylacteries

By Steven Zeitchik

‘Mendy: A Question of Faith” is cinematic proof that putting faith and sex in a movie doesn’t make the film about religion, and doesn’t necessarily make it sexy.In this cheesily staged feature, which is showing through May 26 at Cinema Village in Manhattan, the titular character (Ivan Sandomire) is a Satmar Hasid who has developed someRead More


Jewish Life Under the Microscope

By Toby Appleton Perl

Video can be a harsh, unforgiving and literal medium. But Israeli artist Michal Rovner’s work is refreshingly distinct from much of the contemporary crop of edgy video art that is designed to offend and upset. In Fields, her current exhibit at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, she has transformed the medium into a subtle and sensual instrument for theRead More


Adventures in the American Southwest

By Noel Pugach

They lived the adventure, excitement and dangers of the Southwest frontier. Outside of Pueblo, Colo., 5-year-old Clara Goldsmith was kidnapped by Indians and traded back to her anxious father, Henry, for some calico, flour and hickory; teenage Levi Herzstein was gunned down in 1896 by Thomas “Black Jack” Ketchum, New Mexico’sRead More


French Writers’ New Renaissance

By Samuel Moyn

In Lieu of Memory: Contemporary Jewish Writing in France By Thomas Nolden Syracuse University Press, 264 pages, $29.95. * * *I n the novels of Patrick Modiano, one of his famous peers, a leading French Jewish writer once told me to look for something: telephone books. The advice seemed strange at the time: What literary power could flowRead More


Woman of Letters, Woman of the World

By Allison Hoffman

‘Femme de lettres” — “woman of letters” — is how Sybille Bedford once listed her profession on a customs form, following a conceit suggested to her by Aldous Huxley years before she found success as a writer of travelogues, novels and court-trial journalism. But in truth, Bedford — a renowned novelist, journalist and biographer whoRead More


Cycles of Poverty

By Daniel M. Jaffe

WASHINGTON, D.C. —A woman holding a placard stating “Behar, Leviticus 25” marched down the center aisle of the United States Senate, disrupting this afternoon’s session. As Senators scurried to hide beneath their seats, the protester paced before the podium for five minutes until Capitol police, guns drawn, surrounded her. Only after oneRead More


KGB Confidential: Unearthing a Hero of Soviet Jewry

By Gal Beckerman

There is a long-standing tradition among the Russian intelligentsia of honoring one’s intellectual heroes by prominently displaying their image for all to see. In a place where others might put family portraits, the Russian physicist has a photo of the professor who trained him; the poet stares up at Mandelstam or Brodsky. When I went to visitRead More


Clothes Maketh the Man?

By Jeffrey Fiskin

In a great metropolis, two gentlemen meet outside a large store that specializes in photographic and video equipment. They are both dressed soberly, one in the familiar navy-blue business suit, the other in a black caftan and a round cap with a thick fur brim and old-fashioned shoes, as well.Yehuda: Naftali! How are you?Naftali: Yehuda! Fine. LongRead More


Video Artist Presents a Reinterpretation of Scripture

By Dinah A. Spritzer

It takes some kind of chutzpah to announce at your wedding that you’re going to rewrite Deuteronomy because you find it offensive. But what kind of person turns such a wedding proclamation into an art exhibit?Melissa Shiff — a postmodern Canadian Jewish performance artist who was married by a secular humanist rabbi at a TorontoRead More


CONTRASTING LANDSCAPES

By Sarah Kricheff

Known for his bold brushstrokes and vibrant colors, Michael Kovner creates paintings that offer lush images of Israeli scenery. An expansive beach dotted with red umbrellas, piles of yellow haystacks casting moody shadows in the sunlight and a blunt portrait of a lemon tree ripe with fruit are among his subjects. InRead More


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