Arts & Culture


The Moses Between Egypt and Mendelssohn

By Ilan Stavans

Maimonides Sherwin B. Nuland. Schocken, 256 pages, $19.95. * * *Three Moseses have decisively shaped Jewish history. On one end is Moses the Egyptian, a lawgiver and political leader whose vision established the path for a monotheistic revolution, thus defining the spiritual boundaries of a people. On the opposite end is MosesRead More


Labor’s Loves Lost

By Paul Buhle

Paul Buhle is a senior lecturer in history and American civilization at Brown University.

A Fire in Their Hearts: Yiddish Socialists In New York By Tony Michels Harvard University Press, 352 pages, $27.95. * * *The tale of Jewish socialists on Manhattan’s Lower East Side offers one of those urban legends, alive with so many otherRead More


Looking for Inspiration in All The Wrong Places

By Rebecca Reich

Memoirs of a Muse By Lara Vapnyar Pantheon, 224 pages, $22.95. * * *Tanya, the heroine of Lara Vapnyar’s first novel, “Memoirs of a Muse,” and (as far as Tanya is concerned) of numerous masterpieces yet to be created, doesn’t claim to be an expert on literature, but when it comes to choosing among the 19th-century writers whose photosRead More


Curses Show Language’s Creativity

By Sarah Kricheff

Lita Epstein does not have a dirty mouth. Her pen, however, is filthy. Epstein’s forthcoming book, “If You Can’t Say Anything Nice, Say It in Yiddish” (Citadel Press), offers page after page of Yiddish insults and curses, some of which would make even the bawdiest of sailors blush.Read More


Offerings of the Willing Heart

By David Curzon

The second half of Exodus is largely concerned with the construction of the tabernacle. For me, the most evocative aspect of all the detailed descriptions is this: And Moses spoke to all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying: “This is the thing which the Lord commanded, saying: Take from among you an offeringRead More


A Gem Among Giants

By Alexander Gelfand

Irving Fine: An American

Composer in His Time (Lives in Music Series No. 8) By Phillip Ramey Pendragon Press, 334 pages, $32. * * *Flip to the back of Phillip Ramey’s“Irving Fine: An American Composer in His Time,” and you’ll find a clue as to why Fine, once a major figure in American art music, has been largely forgotten. ARead More


The Poetry of Mature Experience

By David Curzon

The Sights Along the Harbor: New and Collected Poems By Harvey Shapiro Wesleyan University Press, 288 pages, $29.95. * * *In his mother’s recollection, Harvey Shapiro’s first words were in Yiddish. Born in 1924 to an observant Jewish family, he lived as a child first on the Lower East Side, then high enough up on Riverside Drive for himRead More


Sex, Lies and the German Occupation

By Andrew Furman

The Mercy Room By Gilles Rozier Little, Brown and Company, 192 pages. $22.95. * * *The scaffolding of Gilles Rozier’s taut, affecting novel, “The Mercy Room,” has all the makings of a Sunday evening television melodrama. The scene: a small town in France during the German Occupation. The hero and narrator: a French ChristianRead More


Revisiting the Work of the First Emancipated German Jewish Artist

By Rebecca Spence

When Max Liebermann premiered “The Twelve-Year-Old Jesus in the Temple With the Scholars” — a historical painting based on the New Testament’s description of Jesus Christ debating with the rabbis in Jerusalem — at the 1879 Munich International Art Fair, the work was assailed by German critics. What right, after all, did a Jewish artistRead More


A Texan Cantor Infuses Jewish Music With New Orleans Flavor

By Michael S. Hurewitz

Austin, Texas, bills itself as the live-music capital of the world. But in a city usually known for its rock beat and country twang, Cantor Neil Blumofe has begun an exploration of Jewish music and themes played in a jazz idiom. His new CD, “Piety and Desire” — released on Valentine’s Day — looks at the Jewish weddingRead More


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