Arts & Culture


A Holocaust Memoir, Minus the Holocaust

By Jo-Ann Mort

Irving Howe wrote that after reading Italian writer Primo Levi, he wanted “to start having a conversation with him.” Bela Zsolt’s memoir of his time spent as a member of a Hungarian labor brigade in the Ukraine and later in the Nagyvarad Ghetto near the Romanian border during World War II gave me the same feeling. I felt that IRead More


Arabesques and E-Cantors In Prague, a Digital Re-envisioning of the Marseilles Bible

By Joshua Cohen

Around 1260, in the Spanish town of Toledo — then a prime seat of Jewish thought and art — an unknown scribe or possibly scribes gave life to a manuscript breathtaking in its rare beauty and hermetic symbolism, at once traditional and yet culturally reckless. Its pages — abundant in imagery while respecting the prohibitions against humanRead More


The Shadow of God

By David R. Slavitt

The details of the building of the tabernacle are relentlessly mundane, and we read them trusting that they might perhaps be of interest to a committee of architects, accountants and engineers whose arcana we have never studied and whose work is utterly mysterious to us. “And of the thousand seven hundred seventy and five shekels [of silver]Read More


Giving One’s Life

By Philologos

There’s a Hebrew term that looks like it’s going to be heard a lot in the coming months. It’s mesirut-nefesh, which means, literally, “giving one’s life,” and, in ordinary language, “devotion” or “giving one’s all.” But for the settlement movement that is now gearing up to fight this summer’s planned disengagementRead More


Trouble at Christmastime

15-18 category

Winner: Mira Scarvalone

Age: 15 I come from an interesting family. My father was raised a Christian and my mother, as an adult, converted to Judaism. I have only one Jewish grandparent. So technically, I am only a quarter Jewish. But I was never faced with the choice of being a Christian, or possibly both Jewish andRead More


The Winners; A ‘Naturalized’ New Yorker

10-14 category

Winner: Mattie Kahn

Age: 12 I am walking down the street when I see a woman reaching up to check that the scarf on her head is in place as she pushes her baby. In an instant I identify the head covering worn by some religious women upon their marriage. To those who are not as adept in decoding Jewish culture as I am,Read More


The Day After Yom Kippur

By Peretz Rodman

Just last week, we were reading about an outrageous sin, the fashioning of a golden calf by Aaron the Priest, Moses’ brother. He did this at the behest of the nervous Israelites, whose anxiety was pushed beyond their tolerance limit by Moses’ long stay on Mount Sinai. The story of that manic insistence upon a molten image of the divine hadRead More


An Israeli Film Juggles High Moral Purpose and Comedy

By Saul Austerlitz

It’s nice to see a filmmaker indulge his own obsessions as thoroughly as Eytan Fox does with his new film, “Walk on Water.” Fox’s last film, “Yossi & Jagger,” was a gay romance set in the Israeli military, and his new work cooks with the same ingredients, adding in Israeli-German relations and the ever-present specterRead More


The Boy From Baku

By Elizabeth Kiem

The Orientalist: Solving the Mystery of a Strange and Dangerous Life By Tom Reiss Random House, 464 pages, $25.95. * * *The arid, windswept capital of Azerbaijan is not a tourist mecca. Most travelers to Baku come in search of oil, not romance. But for many Azeris and not a few foreigners, a trip to this desert metropolis of dust,Read More


Biblical Memoirs: Cutting Edge or Old Hat?

By Menachem Wecker

One of the many questions that postmodernism encourages is who gets to write and to “own” stories. Often the process of “owning” a narrative disenfranchises many of the story’s players, who never realize a platform to advance their own perspectives. One of the best illustrations of this is the Bible, which introduces a host of charactersRead More





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  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
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