Arts & Culture


An Army of One Ponders His Hunt for Israeli Oil

By Gal Beckerman

Oil: Israel’s Covert Efforts To Secure Oil SuppliesBy Zvi AlexanderGefen Books, 296 pages, $19.95.* * *For most of his life, Zvi Alexander, a man with the guts of a gambler, was engaged in that most characteristic of Israeli pursuits: creating facts on the ground. Except in his case, these facts were holes dug deep under the ground, where,Read More


Brave New World Music

By Boris Fishman

Israeli musicians Tamir Muskat and Ori Kaplan want you to get up, walk over to your CD rack, pull out the world-music samplers — yes, that “Putumayo Presents: Music From the Chocolate Lands” — and pitch them into the trash. Don’t sit just yet. They have a replacement suggestion: Balkan Beat Box, their New York-basedRead More


The Importance of Writing About Writing

By Ilan Stavans

A Mirror in the Roadway: Literature and the Real World By Morris Dickstein Princeton University Press, 320 pages, $26.95. * * *Why write about literature? The answer isn’t money, fame or love. Nor is it immortality, because criticism — a few exceptions notwithstanding — seldom lasts. So why?The question is posed and answered by MorrisRead More


They’re Laughing at Jews in Germany

By Michael Levitin

Dani Levy has tussled gray hair and a sleepy-looking face. It’s a classic Jewish face: tan skin, round features and flashes of irony in his small, dark eyes. He’s wearing a sweater and trousers and scratching his head, choosing his words carefully. As he reclines on a sofa and sips mineral water at Café Bilderbuch in Berlin,Read More


Capturing a Free City’s Myriad Legacies

By Naamah Kelman

In March, our eldest daughter took us for a walk in Tel Aviv. A tour guide and educator, she pointed out the poet Chaim Nachman Bialik’s home, located on the street that bears his name. We walked the streets of the first Hebrew speaking city, whose first mayor, Meir Dizengoff, had been part of the Odessa crowd. We were most moved when we reachedRead More


The Logic of Impurity

By David Kraemer

The ritual of the Red Heifer is one of the most mysterious rituals in the entire Torah. (I have no doubt that this first sentence has been written many times before, but the ritual is so mysterious — so contrary to “logic” — that it is virtually impossible to write about it without commenting on its mystery at theRead More


Tracing the Legacy of German Jews in America

By Mark M. Anderson

Who were the German Jews who came to America, and what have they become? Starting Over: The Experience of German Jews in America, 1830-1945, the recently opened exhibition at the Leo Baeck Institute, gives visitors a chance to meditate on these questions as well as to revisit some familiar and not so familiar faces and places: anRead More


Male and Female Created He Them

By Jay Michaelson

Hating Women: America’s Hostile Campaign Against the Fairer SexBy Shmuley BoteachRegan Books, 326 pages, $24.95.* * Sex and Character: An Investigation of Fundamental PrinciplesBy Otto Weininger, translated from German by Ladislaus Löb and edited by Daniel Steuer with Laura MarcusIndiana University Press, 440 pages, $75. * *‘TheRead More


This Month at Novel Jews

Ewa Zadrzynska-Glowacki is a writer, journalist and cultural consultant originally from Warsaw. Her journalism has been published in The New York Times and in New York Newsday, and in Poland by Polityka, Gazeta Wyborcza and Twoj Styl.

Irina Reyn is a writer and book reviewer whose reviews have appeared in such publicationsRead More


‘Vasilisa the Beautiful’ By Irina Reyn

Each month, in coordination with our reading series in New York, the Forward publishes an excerpt from the work of that month’s series guest or guests. This month, we will feature readings by writers from the former Communist bloc, Ewa Zadrzynska-Glowacki and Irina Reyn (for full details, please see sidebar), and the excerpt we have chosen toRead More





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