Arts & Culture


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


In a Corner of Austria, A Curator Plays With a Taboo

By Boris Fishman

The far-western Austrian market town of Hohenems (population 14,000) is a good place to take in a chamber orchestra during one of many regional summer music festivals or to learn about water-driven mill technology, once a mainstay of the town’s economy. Less predictably, it’s also the location of one of Europe’s most innovativeRead More


Writing a Fugue of Mystics, Misery and Memoir

By Marcela Valdes

In “I, Wabenzi: A Souvenir” Rafi Zabor’s heady, 472-page memoir, he portrays his life as a series of unpredictable transformations. The first major life twist occurred in 1969, the summer of love, when Zabor was 23 and fresh from Brooklyn College. It was then that he left his parents’ home in Brooklyn, where he’d been raised as aRead More


Strategies for Remaining True

By Leonard J. Greenspoon

Translators of ancient texts, including those who render the Hebrew Bible, not uncommonly confront passages and phrases that do not seem to make sense as transmitted or that, in alternate (and also ancient) wording, fit better into the immediate context. No matter what approach these translators take — from hyper-literal to periphrastic — theyRead More


Excerpt: ‘The Alternate’

By Sana Krasikov

Each month, in coordination with “Novel Jews,” our reading series in New York, the Forward publishes an excerpt from the work of that month’s series guest or guests. In deference to Yom Kippur, the reading series will not be held in October, but we decided everyone could still meet on the page. Here we offer readers a selection fromRead More


Moses’ 120th Birthday

By Lore Segal

On his 120th birthday, Moses addresses the Israelite people encamped outside Jericho: I don’t walk as well as I used to, he tells them. (Elsewhere we learn that his powers are divinely undiminished, but we had better be willing to accept two truths for the price of one in life as well as in story.) And he says, you are about to crossRead More


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