Arts & Culture


Best Sister

The charms of Ira Wohl’s family documentary, “Best Sister,” sneak up on you in the manner of a good deli sandwich, which may sound weird but for the fact that the film devotes key scenes to the pursuit of fine cured meats and other (deceptively important) banalities.The film is the final in a trilogy that focuses on Fran Reiss of JewelRead More


Pork and Milk

By Steven Zeitchik

Breaks from tradition also weigh on the mind of Valérie Mréjen, director of the pleasingly low-key French documentary “Pork and Milk.” Through a series of interviews, Mréjen throws a light on a number of young Israeli men who also happen to be have left the fold of ultra-Orthodoxy: a chef, a cantor with the radical sect Neturei Karta, aRead More


Language Lover Gets Back to His Roots

By Jerome A. Chanes

HebrewTalk: 101 Hebrew Roots and the Stories They Tell By Joseph Lowin EKS Publishing Company, 220 pages, $27.95. * * *Joseph Lowin comes from a long line of lovers of the Hebrew language — from medieval grammarians Menahem ben Saruk, Dunash Ben Librat, ben Hayujj and ibn Janakh, who invented Hebrew grammar, and the early modern HebrewRead More


The Second Tragedy at Bergen-Belsen

By Josie Glausiusz

After Daybreak: The Liberation of Bergen-Belsen, 1945By Ben ShephardSchocken Books, 288 pages, $25.* * *Schocken Books, 288 pages, $25.In the middle of the night, when my father cannot sleep, he will pick up the phone in London and call me in New York, where he knows it is still evening, to talk about a topic that torments him. My fatherRead More


Jacob’s Finale

By Deidre Levinson

This final portion of Genesis is chiefly concerned with Jacob’s preparations for his approaching death. These occupy three successive scenes. In the first he has Joseph, in private, swear to bury him, not in Egypt where he will die, but in the burial place of his fathers in Canaan. In the second, again in private audience with Joseph, heRead More


Iron-fisted in Politics, Velvet-gloved in Fiction

By Saul Austerlitz

The Five: A Novel of Jewish Life in Turn-of-the-Century Odessa Vladimir Jabotinsky, translated from the Russian by Michael R. Katz Cornell University Press, 203 pages, $17.95. * * *The tradition of the statesman-writer is one with a long history — particularly in Britain, where Benjamin Disraeli and Winston Churchill (winner of the 1953Read More


Reading Kafka’s Love Letters as a Key to His Mind

By Steven G. Kellman

Kafka: The Decisive Years By Reiner Stach, translated from the German by Shelley Frisch Harcourt, 592 pages, $35. * * *‘I am nothing, absolutely nothing,” declared Franz Kafka, who longed to contract his life into a perfect sentence. Eighty-one years after his death, we’ve got plenty of nothing. Posthumous publication of thousandsRead More


When The Streets Were Paved With Tragedy

By Holly Lebowitz Rossi

Bodies and Souls: The Tragic Plight of Three Jewish Women Forced Into Prostitution in the Americas By Isabel Vincent William Morrow, 288 pages, $25.95. * * *Memory is a central concept in Judaism. When someone dies, we say that he or she lives on in how he or she is remembered by others. Countless museum exhibits, oral histories,Read More


An Israeli Filmmaker Finds an Unlikely Muse

By Adam Stern

What do “Easy Rider,” Johnnie Walker, Walt Disney and the State of Israel have in common?Allow me to introduce Ami Ankilewitz. Born in Laredo, Texas, Ankilewitz was diagnosed with a rare form of muscular dystrophy as an infant, and his mother was told that he would not live past the age of 6. Now 34, he lives in a small apartment alongRead More


Fortunately Unfortunately

By Lore Segal

Joseph dreams and interprets dreams that are understood to be communications from God. They foretell God’s intention and move God’s narrative forward. If we want to look for human motive, we had better do it in the form of suppositions: Was it innocence, was it a phenomenal lack of tact, or was it testosterone that made youngRead More





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