Arts & Culture


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


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


Blood or Politics?: Parsing Nazi Intentions

By Noah Strote

The Jewish Enemy: Nazi Propaganda During World War II and the Holocaust By Jeffrey Herf Belknap Press, 416 pages, $29.95. * * *The question that every student of the Holocaust wants answered — the deceivingly simple “Why?” — is at once the most elementary and most maddening one to ask. Astonishingly, even with the help of 60 yearsRead More


The Man Who Brought the Melting Pot to the Stage

By Ethan Kanfer

From the Ghetto to the Melting Pot: Israel Zangwill’s Jewish Plays By Israel Zangwill Edited by Edna Nahshon Wayne State University Press 363 pages, $34.95. * * *Long before “diversity” became a cultural buzzword, playwright and novelist Israel Zangwill coined a phrase that would become an indelible part of America’s language ofRead More


‘Adele’ Gets Her Close-up

By Hindi Diamond

Maria Altmann has had some year. On January 15 — one month before her 90th birthday — a Viennese court ordered the Republic of Austria to give up all claims to five Gustav Klimt paintings and return them to their rightful owner, Altmann and her family, who are based in Los Angeles. Then, Altmann — whose aunt, Adele Bloch-Bauer, was theRead More


Somewhere in Africa

By Jacob Suskewicz

The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo By Peter Orner Little, Brown, 320 pages, $23.95. * * *Larry Kaplanski’s name says it all, bringing to mind used car dealers or traveling salesmen wearing old striped shirts and older blazers, balding, doggedly fumbling for the keys to their Buick LeSabre as they move on to the next Midwestern town inRead More


Sacred Massacre

By Lore Segal

The first commandment, which says God is the only God, that He is the God of the Children of Israel whom He brought out of Egypt; that we must worship no other gods and obey His laws, precedes, in order and import, the law to which intuition gives pride of place, the commandment not to kill.God, like the state, can command us to kill. “WhoeverRead 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


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