Arts & Culture

After Delays, San Francisco Museum Finally Breaks Ground

By Josh Richman

The San Francisco Museum has endured long waits and sizable setbacks to get to where it is today — opening with a Daniel Libeskind-designed edifice under construction in the heart of a bustling tourism and cultural district; about $61 million of its $77 million comprehensive campaign completed, and a projected spring 2008 opening date.Read More

Grasping at Branches in a Search for Mideast Peace

By Gal Beckerman

Imagine that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could be settled by a misery contest. Each side would be able to pick its most tragic, catastrophic story to go up against the other, and the whole long history could be settled in one no-holds barred, mano a mano fight between two narratives. Who would the Israelis choose as their Achilles? What about the Palestinian Hector? For my money, I’d take one Holocaust survivor who first lost his family in the war, and then his only son to a terrorist attack, versus a Palestinian refugee from 1948 whose house gets struck by a missile, killing her entire clan.Read More

The Forgotten Heroine

By David Kelsey

According to news reports, New York is taking steps to honor the late Jane Jacobs, the heroine who saved the city from a Lower Manhattan Expressway. A street, as well as perhaps a playground, seems likely to be named for her, memorializing this iconic urban activist for generations to come.Read More

The Maftir Chronicles

By William D. Kaufman

The complexities of married life, at least for my father, began the morning after the wedding — in, of all places, the synagogue.Read More

A Star Historian Opens a New Chapter: Jewish Slaveowners

By Eric Herschthal

More than a decade ago, pioneering historian Natalie Zemon Davis was trudging through German archives, performing research for her book “Women on the Margins: Three Seventeenth-Century Lives.” Published in 1995 and universally praised, the book was seen as vintage Davis: scholarly, but not impenetrable; groundbreaking, but not immoderate.Read More

The Capitol Gang

By Benjamin Soskis

The recipe for a successful reality television series is relatively straightforward. Take a bunch of young, attractive coeds, cram them into a tight space and stoke their competitive instincts with a common challenge that demands both teamwork and individual distinction. Set up a camera, and voilá: instant drama, or, at least, a reasonable facsimile thereof. By those terms, congressional offices, uniformly cramped and staffed by ambitious 20-somethings, should make a perfect reality-TV setting.Read More

The Roots of a 'Special Relationship'

By Steven Bayme

In recent years, numerous commentators have sought to explain the “special relationship” between Israel and America and the reasons for it. Some observers have pointed to the influence of American Jewry either in praise of its persistent vigilance in cementing ties between Washington and Jerusalem or in condemnation of those efforts. Others, particularly such scholars as Warren Bass and Steven Spiegel, assign American Jewry at best secondary influence and underscore instead presidential perceptions of American interests in the Middle East weighed against the backdrop of America’s global concerns.Read More

Finding Deeper Truths in Fiction

By Alana Newhouse

For weeks, many of us “Diaspora Jews” have kept ourselves neck-deep in news from the Middle East: jumping out of bed to check the front page, keeping the television on all night, refreshing Web sites for the latest headlines. Of course, our new routine pales in comparison to what it could be — dashing into bombs shelters, being forced from our homes, arranging funerals. Still, it is a change, one that many of us experience in the form of this anxiety-propelled, bottomless need for information.Read More

Sephardic Culture Enjoys a Renaissance — in Spain

By Michael Levitin

Forty-seven years ago, when Moroccan farming engineer Jacobo Israel Garzón immigrated north to Spain for work, he found a country fiercely opposed to discussion — at least a discussion with anything positive to say — about its Jewish past.Read More

A Shoah Story, From Israel

By Jerome A. Chanes

‘Tain’t what a man sez, but wot he means that the traducer has got to bring over.” Thus Ezra Pound to W.H.D. Rouse, on literature. What a difference a definite article makes. In its Hebrew original, the title of Amir Gutfreund’s first novel is “Sho’ah Shelanu”: “Our Holocaust,” no “The,” a title suggesting that the book is about not historical memory of the European destruction but something — a “Holocaust” — that is ongoing for the book’s protagonists, and that emerges in the narrative. One would think that “Our Holocaust” ought be firmly positioned in the corpus of serious Israeli literature about the Holocaust, from KaTzetnik to David Grossman. It ain’t.Read More

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