Arts & Culture


From ‘Love is Blond’

If Dolly notices my slightly shaking hand, she is good enough not to mention it. She is as confident as her characters, carrying us both above this atmosphere of uneasiness that I have generated by my being overawed. Pre-empting my questions, she begins to speak. She talks first of her father.“He was always larger than life. Do you mind if IRead More


From ‘Portions’

Six years you may sow your field and six years may you prune your vineyard

                      Pruning

                    

When we came in August, there were roses —budding, half opened, in bloom —and some we had missed in their glory.Their histories lost to us. The future is ours,and so I took up orange-handled shears,and all morning I severed and severed.WhateverRead More


From ‘A Graft of Roses’

A synagogue. I had never before visited one, but knew from friends in Prague that the women sat separately, in the balcony. A portly rabbi with a formidable tri-colored beard and a whip-thin cantor stood on the altar, in front of a wooden ark heavily inlaid with metals and carvings. The foreign words of the prayers washed over me, a droning,Read More


Nailing Down a Film’s Legacy

By Peter Manseau

Around this time last year, on the brink of Easter, the humble nail came into its own as a religious symbol. Tiny silver pendants in the shape of railroad spikes were among the many marketing tie-ins produced in connection with Mel Gibson’s cinematic phenomenon, “The Passion of the Christ.” Amid the dueling chorusesRead More


The Shtetl Next Door

By Esther Schor

In my synagogue, the Jewish Center of Princeton, the lobby where mazel tovs drop like manna doubles as an art gallery. Often the art provides a demure backdrop for well-heeled congregants — a still life of lilacs here, a lithograph of the Old City over there. But not The Jewish Shtetl Today, an arresting exhibit of 51 black-and-white photographsRead More


The Central Message

By David Curzon

Every year at this time in the annual cycle of readings, we are confronted with seemingly endless descriptions of cultic practices, often involving the slaughter of animals, that are for most of us at worst abhorrent and at best — the presentation of bread and cake to God — absurd.Let me try to put the problem as starkly as possible. LeviticusRead More


A Poet’s Contradictory Properties

By Isaac Meyers

For a while now, I have been asking Hasidic Jews, especially women, what they think poetry is supposed to be. In today’s Hasidic world, many view poetry as at worst secular, at best bittul torah, a frivolous distraction from serious learning. The women I’ve spoken to basically agree with this; they consider poetry ornamental orRead More


South Florida, Jewish Families and the Flight of Birds

By Sanford Pinsker

Andrew Furman is best known for two smart, engaging books of criticism on Jewish-American fiction: “Israel Through the Jewish-American Imagination: A Survey of Jewish-American Literature on Israel” and “Contemporary Jewish American Writers and the Multicultural Dilemma.” In an age when the paragraphs of far too manyRead More


Forward Books

By Laurence Zuckerman

At the end of the classic John Ford Western, “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” after Senator Ransom Stoddard (played by James Stewart) confesses that he is not the genuine hero people have made him out to be, a local newspaper editor gives this immortal reply: “This is the West, sir. When theRead More


A Neighborhood in Flux, Again

By Saul Austerlitz

It’s the summer of 1988, and a series of bubbles are about to burst. Michael Dukakis, riding high off a triumphant Democratic convention, holds a sizable lead over Vice President George Bush in the polls. The New York Mets, carried by twin superstars Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden, are dominating the National League East, and dreamsRead More


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