Arts & Culture


Holy Feast, Holy Fast

By Jay Michaelson

Mystical Bodies, Mystical Meals: Eating and Embodiment in Medieval Kabbalah By Joel Hecker Wayne State University Press, 296 pages, $44.95.


Holy Men and Hunger Artists: Fasting and Asceticism in Rabbinic Culture By Eliezer Diamond Oxford University Press, 240 pages, $49.95. * * * To put it mildly, Jews have a complicatedRead More


Yeah, but the Book Is Better

By Thane Rosenbaum

Whenever a film is adapted from a favorite novel, serious readers of fiction are prone to say, “Yeah, but the book is better.” True partisans of the written page are always in conflict with those who like their stories cinematically revealed, projected onto wide screens that illuminate the darkness and pierce the quiet with DolbyRead More


Trying To Make Sephardic Music as Hip as Klezmer

By Alexander Gelfand

Benjamin Cardozo was one. So was Benjamin Disraeli. Some believe that FDR may have been one, at least on his mother’s side. Camille Pissarro, Harold Pinter, Murray Perahia… Sephardic Jews, every one.And yet, despite their notable achievements throughout the Diaspora, Sephardim have been noticeably absent from the North AmericanRead More


My Little Sister’s Wedding

By Daniel M. Jaffe

Why am I standing here at my little sister’s wedding, and glaring? Unlike you, Joseph’s brothers (and sister!) would have understood me. Go read Vayeshev, my favorite childhood Torah portion.I’m glaring because you stopped letting me crawl into bed with you after she was born, there not being enough room between you forRead More


A Jewish Boy With a Memphis Tale Visits a New York Stage

By Shelly R. Fredman

If you believe that stories are the sinews binding us to one another, creating whatever remnants of communion we have, then you might want to walk the well-worn path to 42nd Street and take in Jonathan Adam Ross’s one-man show, “Walking in Memphis: The Life of a Southern Jew.”It’s a celebration of storytelling, as Ross, who wrote the show,Read More


Michigan Welcomes a New Department

By Josh Lambert

In the wide world of academia, $20 million isn’t all that much money. A check for that amount wouldn’t quite cover the down payment on a particle accelerator, after all, and universities tend to set their fund-raising targets in the billion-dollar range. Yet in the smaller academic niche of Jewish studies, $20 million is a colossal sum. It’sRead More


The Leftmost Poets Sing Songs of Love

By Zackary Sholem Berger

Proletpen: America’s Rebel Yiddish Poets Edited by Amelia Glaser and David Weintraub. Translated by Amelia Glaser. Illustrations by Dana Craft. University of Wisconsin Press,

192 pages, $45. * * *Proletpen, a new anthology of American Communist Yiddish poets, is a book divided against itself. Dovid Katz’s introduction,Read More


Wrestling

By David R. Slavitt

Abraham’s signature moment is his ascent of Mount Moriah to sacrifice Isaac, an extreme demonstration of obedience that few of us can contemplate without fear and dismay; Isaac’s moment is also up there on that mountain, where he realizes what is about to happen and experiences a terror that seems to be with him for the rest of his life.Read More


SPIELBERG’S PREDECESSORS

By Saul Austerlitz

“Munich” is not the first film to take on the subject of anti-Israeli or anti-Jewish terrorism. Here’s a selection of notable past works on the subject: “VISIONS OF EIGHT” (1973)— The official film of the Munich Olympics, directed by a slew of international directors, including Milos Forman, Kon Ichikawa and Arthur Penn.Read More


Close Encounters of the Middle East Kind

By Steven Zeitchik

The most surprising thing about Steven Spielberg’s “Munich,” a conversation piece long before it even got out of production, is the limpness with which it lands. There’s something trumped-up about the whole enterprise that actually renders it less substantial — scenes milking the extra second before an explosion, assassins debatingRead More





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