Arts & Culture

Reinventing Politics, With Language

By David Kaufmann

‘This is the time for political invention,” writes Benjamin Hollander halfway through “Rituals of Truce and the Other Israeli,” his imaginative meditation on the impasse between the Israelis and Palestinians: “There is no other time.” Look at the way the last sentence is phrased and you will see that he is right. For us there is no time but the present. This is our time, our only time. What shall we make of it?Read More

Gershwin’s American ‘Rhapsody’

By Jenna Weissman Joselit

Once upon a time, Harry Von Tilzer, Irving Berlin, Sophie Tucker, Sid Caesar, Al Jolson, Fanny Brice, Billy Rose, Marcus Loew and “Mr. Television” himself, Milton Berle, were the reigning kings and queens of American popular culture. The sons and daughters of Jewish immigrants or, in many instances, recent immigrants themselves, they changed the way Americans laughed, danced and pursued pleasure.Read More

The Jewish Sylvia Plath?

By Jessica George Firger

Oscar Wilde adored her, calling the young writer “a girl of genius,” while modern critics, in their flippancy and an attempt to articulate who this virtually unknown Victorian author was, have coined Amy Levy the “Jewish Sylvia Plath,” referring to both her precocious talent and her early, tragic demise (Levy committed suicide by charcoal asphyxiation at the age of 27). And yet, to most of her readers her life and work remain unknown.Read More

Munich Redux

By Gavriel Rosenfeld

On November 9, Jews throughout Germany will mark the 68th anniversary of the notorious Nazi pogrom, Kristallnacht, with solemn commemorative ceremonies and with vows of “Never again.” Yet in Munich, the very city where the pogrom was first unleashed, a more hopeful tone will pervade the commemorative events: That same day, Munich will dedicate a major new synagogue that symbolizes the city’s ongoing effort to realize the elusive goal of “normalcy” in its relationship with the Jewish community.Read More

‘The O.C.’ Mystique

By Adam Wilson

Here’s a confession: I grew up in deep East Coast suburbia, with a song in my heart and a synagogue on every corner. As expected, I furthered my education at a local, semi-prestigious private university with a bunch of wannabe dentists who were bitter about not getting into Harvard. As an aspiring writer with a Raymond Carver obsession, these were not the humble beginnings for which I longed — beginnings that would inevitably lead to a romantic life of manual labor, alcoholism, domestic violence and transcendent minimalist prose. So after college, I decided to shed my suburban skin and move to Texas to be isolated and poor.Read More

Two Lawyers, Three Opinions

By Jay Michaelson

Lawyers: Are they good for the Jews? It doesn’t take a statistician to observe that there are a lot of Jews in the legal profession, and even more in the legal academy. But why are there so many Jews in the American legal world, and what significance, if any, do the numbers have?Read More

Left Out?

By Rebecca Spence

Over a seven-month period in the fall of 2004, filmmakers and activists Konnie Chameides and Irit Reinheimer crisscrossed America, crashed on people’s couches and interviewed more than 60 of their fellow Jewish social activists working outside of the mainstream. The resulting documentary, “Young, Jewish and Left,” explores the intersections between race, gender, sexuality, Zionism and Judaism. Chronicling the struggles and ultimate triumphs of their subjects — 25 of whom made it into the final cut — Chameides, 27, and Reinheimer, 28, posit today’s activists as the progeny of the old Jewish left: a new generation of organizers working at a time when progressive politics are often relegated to the margins. Chameides spoke with the Forward’s Rebecca Spence.Read More

Excavating the Old Jewish New York

Beginning November 9, the Bronfman Center for Jewish Life at New York University will host an exhibit of photographs by Forward contributor Julian Voloj, titled “Forgotten Heritage: Uncovering New York’s Hidden Jewish Past.” (The exhibit opens on Thursday with a reception celebrating the publication of PresenTense magazine, to which Voloj also contributes.) An immigrant from Muenster, Germany, Voloj sought out the city’s forgotten Jewish landmarks, from the Ten Commandments etched into the façade of a supermarket to a Star of David above the entrance of a Baptist church. For more information, please visit More

Setting the Beat for a New Generation of Jews

By Dan Levin

What a difference four years can make. In 2002, Aaron Bisman was a 22-year-old New York University graduate with the unlikeliest of goals: to nurture a Jewish community through music. Four years later, Bisman, along with his partner, Ben Hesse, sits at the helm of one of the most promising ventures in contemporary Jewish culture: JDub Records.Read More

The Rise of David Levinsky

By Abraham Cahan

My landlady was a robust little woman, compact and mobile as a billiard-ball, continually bustling about, chattering and smiling or laughing. She was a good-natured, silly creature, and her smile, which automatically shut her eyes and opened her mouth from ear to ear, accentuated her kindliness as well as her lack of sense. When she did not talk she would hum or sing at the top of her absurd voice the then popular American song “Climbing Up the Golden Stairs.” She told me the very next day that she had been married less than a year, and one of the first things I noticed about her was the pleasure it gave her to refer to her husband or to quote him. Her prattle was so full of, “My husband says, says my husband,” that it seemed as though the chief purpose of her jabber was to parade her married state and to hear herself talk of her spouse. The words, “my husband,” were music to her ears. They actually meant, “Behold, I am an old maid no longer!”Read More

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