Arts & Culture


The First Family

By Naomi Myrvaagnes

After the Parent gave birth to them, He settled down contentedly to watch their innocent gambols in the Garden. He’d warned His young Adam and Eve against the usual hazards of childhood, like running out into the street, avoiding snakes, not touching dangerous objects, and in their trance of innocence they’d nodded agreement to theRead More


Retracing a Living Legend’s First Steps

By Mark Oppenheimer

Philip Roth: Novels and Stories, 1959-1962

Library of America, 913 pages, $35.

Philip Roth: Novels, 1967-1972

Library of America, 672 pages, $35. * * *One interesting way to pass the time is to spend an hour rereading old reviews of Philip Roth’s books. You read them and quickly discover that for as long as Roth hasRead More


Exploring Latin Music, In and Out of the Ivory Tower

By Alexander Gelfand

Traditional Cuban popular music — the kind of stuff that was big in the 1940s and became big again in the late 1990s, thanks to the Buena Vista Social Club — is designed to get you out of your chair and onto the dance floor. And if you listen carefully, you’ll notice that much of the prodding comes from the piano. The groovy rhythmic figuresRead More


‘Silence, Exile and Cunning’

By Joshua Cohen

Party in the Blitz: The English Years By Elias CanettiTranslated by Michael HoffmanAfterword by Jeremy Adler New Directions Publishing Corporation, 249 pages, $22.95. * * *‘I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can and as wholly as I can,” the character of Stephen Dedalus argues, in James Joyce’sRead More


Romance for the AARP Set

By Adam Stern

If you can brave Harry Freund’s debut novel, you’re in for a thrill ride that only the raucousness of an aging Jewish social scene can provide. “Love With Noodles: An Amorous Widower’s Tale” (Carroll & Graf) is set on the Manhattan’s dangerous and rocky terrain known as the Jewish Upper East Side. Our navigator, Dan Gelder,Read More


Jacob van Ruisdael Is Not Jewish

By Menachem Wecker

‘Sir, I think you are chasing a will-o’-the-wisp in trying to find a firm connection,” Seymour Slive told me over the phone from his Maine summer home. At 85, Slive is Gleason professor of fine arts emeritus at Harvard University, former director of the Harvard Art Museums, and the Ruisdael scholar — with a collection of books and articlesRead More


The Plot Thickens, With Female Rabbis Stirring the Pot

By E.B. Solomont

The rabbi. In popular culture, he has been everywhere — on the page, of course, but also on the small and big screens. He has been a moral center, a family supporter, a shyster, a pontificator (naturally); he has been an ancillary character and a main one; he has been a villain and a hero. And he always has been a he.Until very recently,Read More


Strategic Difference

By David Kraemer

Halacha (Jewish law and practice) doesn’t ordinarily care about its own interpretations. So long as the Jew does what he or she is supposed to do, the system doesn’t care why he does it or how she understands what she does. For this reason, the great codes of Jewish law describe what is required of the Jew with littleRead More


The Sacred, Contained in the Profane

By Sasha Weiss

The first few frames of “Ushpizin,” the Israeli Academy Award-winning film released today in theaters nationwide, bear a peculiar marking you will not seen on any other film this year: In the top right-hand corner of the screen, three Hebrew letters gleam discreetly — bet, samech, dalet. The letters formRead More


The Animated Life of a Film Giant

By Mindy Aloff

Out of the Inkwell: Max Fleischer and The Animation Revolution By Richard Fleischer(foreword by Leonard Maltin) University Press of Kentucky, 232 pages, $27.50. * * *In 1925, pioneering New York film animator Max Fleischer decided that what the world needed was a five-reel feature film that combined animation and live action, to explainRead More


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