Arts & Culture


Playing Fill-in-the-Blanks With a Father’s Life

By Tessa Brown

Not Me By Michael Lavigne Random House, 320 pages, $24.95. Between what one is told and what one is able to infer, there lies a distant and beckoning truth: the Parent as Human Being. It glimmers beyond our grasp, always sought after but never obtained, the object of conjecture but never of understanding. For some, seeking this truth isRead More


Confessions

By David Mamet

We human beings have a special adaptive mechanism called rationality. It allows us to prognosticate. We say “If A, then B.” If we wish to change B, perhaps we might change A. This is the good news.The bad news is that we are incapable of perceiving situations otherwise than as the syntheses of thesis and antithesis.This capacity often goesRead More


A Jewish Family Drama, Minus the Shmaltz

By Steven Zeitchik

Judaism and parental ambition have been inextricable since the early days — the really early days, back to when old Jacob let his hopes get too high for poor Joseph. (Had Ivy League law schools existed back then, one can only imagine the arguments.) Immigrant tenacity, a tradition of literacy and just plain genetic stubbornness have ensured thatRead More


Rare Texts

By Adam Stern

On November 15, Christie’s will auction off a collection of rare manuscripts from the private collection of the late Salman Schocken. The famous publisher of Franz Kafka, Gershom Scholem and S.Y. Agnon, Schocken was an avid collector of rare Jewish texts. Among the original manuscripts to be auctioned by Christie’s are poemsRead More


Interfaith Music Hits Disparate Notes

By Alexander Gelfand

In the grand, world-historical scheme of things, the Renaissance represented a huge leap forward for European Christendom. For Muslims and Jews — well, not so much.Islamic scholars furnished the classical texts that provided the underpinning for much Renaissance thought. Yet by the 15th century, the Islamic world itself had begun the long, slow,Read More


The Sacred Ménage à Trois

By Lore Segal

The Bible’s stories tell of lives lived so long ago, in such a different clime, we look for difference and find types of ourselves.There are the women of today who choose to be childless, and there are women for whom childlessness is a calamity. Does their calamity compare with that of the Bible’s barren women? Sarah is born into aRead More


Teach Your Children Well: Tzedaka Restores Justice

By David A. Teutsch

The word tzedaka, often translated as “charity,” comes from the Hebrew root tzedek, meaning “justice.” Its current usage was developed by the early rabbis, who recognized that the distribution of resources that results from a free-market economy must be adjusted by other means to ensure a fair society. Tzedaka is an expression of justiceRead More


The Young Face of Philanthropy

By Allison Hoffman

Jewish teenagers are learning that tzedaka involves more than slipping a few coins into the collection box at synagogue. In innovative programs around the country, teens are being given control over thousands, or even tens of thousands, of dollars in an effort to teach them the ins and outs of philanthropy —Read More


Birthright Israel Builds a Solid Foundation

By Nathaniel Popper

Birthright Israel is only six years old, but it already has established itself as one of the most successful programs in the Jewish world. Steps are now being taken to make it a permanent part of the Jewish landscape.When Birthright was founded by a handful of innovative philanthropists, “it was an experiment,” said Charles Bronfman, oneRead More


Ladino: Alive in Song, If Not Speech

By Elissa Strauss

For centuries after their expulsion in 1492, Sephardic Jews kept their new homes sounding like medieval Spain. In places as disparate as Amsterdam, Turkey and Greece, the Sephardim continued to live and pray in Ladino, the Judeo-Spanish language, up until the 20th century. Today there are not many opportunities to hear the language spoken, butRead More


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