Arts & Culture


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


My Tower of Babel

By Judy Bolton-Fasman

I spent every holiday — American, Jewish and otherwise — with my mother’s Cuban family. At Rosh Hashanah and Passover we crammed into my Aunt Rachel’s five-room flat, which was decorated with ashtrays from various restaurants and hotels to which she had never been.Seated at the holiday table we were in a collapsed TowerRead 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


Food Fight

By David Kaufmann

The Great Latke-Hamantash DebateEdited by Ruth Fredman CerneaUniversity of Chicago Press, 184 pages, $18—As if we didn’t have enough on our plates, here’s something new to argue about. Not that Jews don’t have a fine history of conflict: Hillel vs. Shammai, Bundists vs. Zionists, Labor vs. Likud. But now, to have toRead More


A Novel Set on –– but Not Quite About –– September 11

By Shana Rosenblatt Mauer

The Days of AweBy Hugh NissensonSourcebooks, 320 pages, $18.—Hugh Nissenson is not the kind of writer who publishes a book a year. He doesn’t even publish one per decade. But when Nissenson does commit ink to page, he always engages the big issues. He’s ever ready to examine different pockets of American life, challenge God, critiqueRead More


NOVEL JEWS: Henry Roth Tribute

This month, the Novel Jews monthly reading series will host a special tribute to Henry Roth.

Henry Roth (1906-1995), author of the great immigrant novel “Call It Sleep,” was one of the giants of American literature. After completing his first book in 1934, Roth lapsed into a legendary six-decade silence. He re-emerged with “Mercy of aRead More


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