Arts & Culture


What Melting Pot?

By Ilan Stavans

Name a Woody Allen movie that has a leading black actor in its cast. Now, mention a “Seinfeld” episode in which Elaine, Jerry, George and Kramer socialize in an apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side with some Korean friends. How about a story with Cuban Americans, written by Isaac Bashevis Singer?Movies, television andRead More


An Author’s Story, Fleshed Out in Flesh

By Joshua Cohen

My Body in Nine Parts By Raymond Federman Starcherone Books, 136 pages, $16. * * *The marketing departments that run America’s publishing houses now dictate to most the definition of literature. Even in the Jewish community, one of the last remaining “focus groups” of avid readers, we have let significant writersRead More


Imagining Life as A Black Woman –– In the Bible

By Ariella Cohen

In a recent meeting with the Forward at the Hotel Plaza Athenee on Manhattan’s posh Upper East Side, French novelist Marek Halter sketched one stone tablet, then its twin. He fashioned an ark around them and announced, “The Ten Commandments came from Moses.” He paused, popped a wasabi pea in his mouth and set his napkin artworkRead More


In Praise of Dissembling

By David Curzon

Deuteronomy 22:1-3 contains the admirable commandment to return your neighbor’s lost property. At the end of 22:3 we have the following isolated clause, preceded by a colon in the King James and by a semicolon in the Jewish Publication Society 1917 translations:thou mayest not hide thyselfEverett Fox concurs, offering, after a colon,Read More


Wilder Times: A Life and Legacy

By A.J. Goldmann

‘A brain full of razor blades and a heart full of chutzpah.” That’s how filmmaker Billy Wilder described “Whiplash Willie” Gingrich, the opportunistic lawyer in “The Fortune Cookie” (1966). But those same words could well be used to describe Wilder himself. Wilder, the great American filmmaker who died in 2002, is best remembered forRead More


A Laureate and the King Who Shared His Love of Verse

By Mark Oppenheimer

Unlike recent series of brief books by famous authors about famous subjects — including Penguin Lives, Eminent Lives and American Presidents — the new Jewish Encounters series is not a collection of biographies alone. While many of the planned books are about people — Seth Lipsky will write about Abraham Cahan, Jonathan Wilson about MarcRead More


Beyond Klezmer: Jewish Music Today

By Alexander Gelfand

Nothing signals the arrival of a musical genre like the emergence of a festival circuit. Folk festivals proliferated in the 1950s, rock festivals sprang forth in the ’60s and world music festivals began cropping up in the ’80s. Since its revival in the early ’70s, Jewish music has acquired its own fair share of festivals — eventsRead More


From ‘Wanderers’ by Richard Stern

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 Richard Stern and Daniel Stolar (for full details, please see sidebar), and the excerpt we have chosen to highlight is from “Wanderers,” a shortRead More


Plant Names in Yiddish

By Philologos

‘Di geviksn-velt in yidish,” or, as it is titled in English, “Plant Names in Yiddish,” is a volume of botanical terminology, in part assembled and in part newly coined by Yiddish linguist and scholar Mordkhe Schaechter, that recently has been published by New York’s YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. It is both an impressiveRead More


The Case of the Two Sleuths

By Jeffrey Fiskin

A chalk outline on the ground. An older gentleman in the worn robes of a scholar paces off the distance from the chalk outline to the nearest city. He is joined by a fellow in a houndstooth coat and deerstalker cap, a calabash meerschaum clenched tightly in his teeth.Moshe: Three hundred forty-one, three hundred forty-twoRead More


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