Arts & Culture


A Famed Bronx Boy Looks Back

By Donald Weber

The Amorous Busboy of Decatur Avenue: A Child of the Fifties Looks BackBy Robert KleinTouchstone/Simon and Schuster, * * *‘I was raised on chicken soup,” comedian Robert Klein wails in one of his signature song parodies, “Middle-Class Educated Blues.” In his startlingly candid memoir, Klein reveals other, more carnal sources of nourishmentRead More


Klezmer via Kingston

By Alexander Gelfand

The postcard-sized calendars strewn about the world music venue Satalla, on West 26th Street in New York City, proclaimed the band Klezska to be purveyors of “klezmer music,” which is a lot like calling turducken “stuffed turkey.” Neither description is entirely misleading. But like most labels, they hardly tell the whole story.Founded andRead More


An Unsung Master Offers Sorrow (and Yuks)

Almonds to Zhoof: Collected Stories By Richard Stern TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press,

611 pages, $29.95.

By Peter Orner


STERN: A new collection includes 49 short stories. In a review of Bernard Malamud’s stories, Richard Stern once called Malamud “the poet of the American depression.” Call Stern theRead More


Balaam’s Experience

By Norman Finkelstein

This week’s portion, on the prophet Balaam and the king of Moab, Balak, is a sort of microcosm of the Torah in that it encapsulates so many of its greatest modes and themes. Balaam’s prophetic praise-poems, rising to the most sublime heights, assert the power of God’s blessing over His chosen people in the face of their enemy and, as happensRead More


The Logic of Impurity

By David Kraemer

The ritual of the Red Heifer is one of the most mysterious rituals in the entire Torah. (I have no doubt that this first sentence has been written many times before, but the ritual is so mysterious — so contrary to “logic” — that it is virtually impossible to write about it without commenting on its mystery at theRead More


An Army of One Ponders His Hunt for Israeli Oil

By Gal Beckerman

Oil: Israel’s Covert Efforts To Secure Oil SuppliesBy Zvi AlexanderGefen Books, 296 pages, $19.95.* * *For most of his life, Zvi Alexander, a man with the guts of a gambler, was engaged in that most characteristic of Israeli pursuits: creating facts on the ground. Except in his case, these facts were holes dug deep under the ground, where,Read More


Brave New World Music

By Boris Fishman

Israeli musicians Tamir Muskat and Ori Kaplan want you to get up, walk over to your CD rack, pull out the world-music samplers — yes, that “Putumayo Presents: Music From the Chocolate Lands” — and pitch them into the trash. Don’t sit just yet. They have a replacement suggestion: Balkan Beat Box, their New York-basedRead More


The Importance of Writing About Writing

By Ilan Stavans

A Mirror in the Roadway: Literature and the Real World By Morris Dickstein Princeton University Press, 320 pages, $26.95. * * *Why write about literature? The answer isn’t money, fame or love. Nor is it immortality, because criticism — a few exceptions notwithstanding — seldom lasts. So why?The question is posed and answered by MorrisRead More


They’re Laughing at Jews in Germany

By Michael Levitin

Dani Levy has tussled gray hair and a sleepy-looking face. It’s a classic Jewish face: tan skin, round features and flashes of irony in his small, dark eyes. He’s wearing a sweater and trousers and scratching his head, choosing his words carefully. As he reclines on a sofa and sips mineral water at Café Bilderbuch in Berlin,Read More


Capturing a Free City’s Myriad Legacies

By Naamah Kelman

In March, our eldest daughter took us for a walk in Tel Aviv. A tour guide and educator, she pointed out the poet Chaim Nachman Bialik’s home, located on the street that bears his name. We walked the streets of the first Hebrew speaking city, whose first mayor, Meir Dizengoff, had been part of the Odessa crowd. We were most moved when we reachedRead More





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