Arts & Culture


State of Emergency: The Demise of Secularism

By Pearl Abraham

The Secular Bible: Why Nonbelievers Must Take Religion Seriously By Jacques Berlinerblau Cambridge University Press, 232 pages, $19.99. * * *God, it turns out, is not dead, but secularism might be — unless it deigns to take another look at itself, at God and at God’s book, and seeks to study and know what it professes not toRead More


From the Stage To the Page

By Ethan Kanfer

Nine Contemporary Jewish Plays Edited by Ellen Schiff and Michael PosnickForeword by Theodore Bikel University of Texas Press, 587 pages, $24.95. * * *Published plays — especially those in anthologies — tend to be dismissed by the casual browser as specialty items, of interest only to students of theater history or to actors in searchRead More


A Lebanese Writer’s Palestinian Story

By Jo-Ann Mort

Elias Khoury has enough to deal with in his hometown. The editor in chief of the weekly literary supplement of An Nahar, the secular, leftist Beirut daily, recently lost two colleagues: columnist Samir Kassir and publisher Gebran Tueni, both of whom were presumably murdered by the Syrian government. “Everybody like me — intellectuals who areRead More


A ‘Matzo’ Mystery

By Philologos

We’re all eating it this week — in some cases, more than we’d like to — but why on earth do we spell it “matzo,” or “matzoh”? What Jew says, or ever did say, “mah-tso,” pronouncing the last syllable to rhyme with “oh” or “glow”? Ashkenazic Jews always have said “MAH-tse,” with the last syllable like the “e” inRead More


Is God Just?

By David Curzon

The portion read on the intermediate Shabbat of Pesach, Exodus 33:12-34:26, contains some of the most extraordinary passages in the Torah. Moses asks God to “show me now Thy ways, that I may know Thee” (Exodus 33:13) and gets the comforting response, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.” But five versesRead More


The Essential Louis Zukofsky

By David Kaufmann

Selected Poems By Louis Zukofsky, edited by Charles Bernstein Library of America, 191 pages, $20. * * *Louis Zukofsky, born into a pious, Yiddish-speaking household on New York City’s Lower East Side in 1904, seems to have jumped fully formed into American poetry. In 1928, when he was 24, his mentor and intellectual sparring partner,Read More


Allegra Goodman’s Science Fiction

By Zackary Sholem Berger

Intuition By Allegra Goodman The Dial Press, 352 pages, $25.* * *In her new novel, “Intuition,” Allegra Goodman invokes the world of medical research with the convincing detail of an insider and an outsider’s penetrating gaze. The book is a modern epic, a slimmed-down, suspenseful version of one of the 19th-century classics: a narrativeRead More


A Road Trip Through the Mideast Conflict

By Steven Zeitchik

When he’s at his best, Israeli auteur Amos Gitai captures the peculiar pain, and paradox, of individuals filled with national yearning. What a person needs from a country and what a country needs from a person should not on its face have reason to overlap, and Gitai is obsessed with why — and what happens when — people assume the twoRead More


Sweet’N Lowdown

Benjamin Eisenstadt’s obituary in The New York Times called him “a sweetener of lives,” for he invented not only the individual sugar packet but also the zero-calorie cash cow Sweet’N Low. In his new book, “Sweet and Low: A Family Story” (to be published this month by Farrar, Straus and Giroux) Eisenstadt’s grandson, Rich Cohen —Read More


Greener Pastures; or How The Israelites Found God

By Josie Glausiusz

The Natural History of the Bible:

An Environmental Exploration of the Hebrew Scriptures By Daniel Hillel Columbia University Press, 376 pages, $32.50. * * *As an idyll of pastoral serenity, the 23rd Psalm has few peers. It begins with familiar and comforting words: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie downRead More


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