Arts & Culture


You Are, Therefore I Am

By Jay Michaelson

The belief in the human soul is perhaps the most enduring remnant of traditional religion. Even those who have rejected religion entirely, or never practiced it to begin with, still hold the indefensible, illogical belief that there is something intrinsic, inalienable and essential about the individual human soul — that spark that makes each of us special.Read More


The SS Disaster

By Andrew Cohen

Refuge Denied: The St. Louis Passengers and the Holocaust By Sara A. Ogilvie and Scott Miller University of Wisconsin Press, 192 pages, $21.95. * * *In the years after the MS St. Louis, carrying more than 900 Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany onboard, was denied entrance to Cuba and the United States in June 1939, it became a symbolRead More


Translating Torah

By Leonard J. Greenspoon

Of all the devarim — “words” or, more generally, “things” — in the Book of Devarim, or Deuteronomy, few attract less notice than the first five verses. Often set apart as a separate, and introductory, paragraph in modern translations, these verses — as opaque in their syntax as they are in their geographical references — appearRead More


Book Kaddish

By Ariel Rubinstein

Several months ago, I happened to visit a Jewish library in New York that was located in a building adjacent to the one in which I was staying. The library still has an old-fashioned card catalog. I leafed through the cards around my family name until I came across a book by Y.M. Rubinstein. I asked the librarian to bring me the book, and heRead More


Persian Gates

By Karmel Melamed

Krista Nassi, an Iranian Jewish artist in her 30s, made it through Tehran’s Institute of Graphic Design and Architecture and earned a master’s degree in art from Tehran’s University of Art. But when the installation artist tried to have her work displayed in one of the state-funded archives in 2000, she was turned away. She tried to enrollRead More


Making Old Music Seem Very New Again

By Alexander Gelfand

For most people, the past is an undiscovered country, a place we choose not to visit in our haste to get from the present to the future. For pianist Anthony Coleman, however, it’s an artistic goldmine.When Coleman’s former teacher, Jaki Byard, died under mysterious circumstances in 1999 — shot by an unknown assailant in his home inRead More


A Cornerless World

By Mordechai Shinefield

a man in a room with a tallis on By Aaron E. Bulman Flannel Press, 125 pages, $10. * * *The talmudist, the Yiddishist and the yeshiva boy — three characters that could easily be written as relics of a past age. But when they appear in Aaron E. Bulman’s poetry collection, “a man in a room with a tallis on,” they are heartbreaking andRead More


Lower East Side Story

By Saul Austerlitz

Up from Orchard Street Eleanor Widmer Bantam, 400 pages, $23. * * *Orchard Street: The name alone conjures images from the collective memory, snapshots of street peddlers, of rat-infested tenements, of aged scholars pacing the streets, their sidelocks rhythmically clapping against their ears. For readers of Jewish literature, the Lower EastRead More


The Jewish Salsero

By Elissa Strauss

In 1957, a 19-year-old named Lawrence Kahn traveled to Cuba after being entranced by the Latin music he had been hearing in New York City. Concerned that the Cubans would have trouble pronouncing his name, he dropped the Kahn and changed his name to Larry Harlow. The switch proved useless, first because Harlow wasn’t any easierRead More


Who Owns Leo Strauss?

By Allan Nadler

Reading Leo Strauss: Politics, Philosophy, Judaism By Steven B. Smith University of Chicago Press 268 pages, $32.50. * * *During his lifetime, the German émigré political philosopher Leo Strauss (1899-1973) was barely noticed, except by students at the University of Chicago and an elite cadre of scholars. But beginningRead More


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