Arts & Culture


The Silver Jews Return

By Benjamin Levisohn

This year, David Berman forgot when Yom Kippur was to begin. With his band, the Silver Jews, releasing a new album, “Tanglewood Numbers,” and Berman doing interviews to publicize it, he was convinced the holiday started a day later than it actually did. He realized his mistake an hour before the holiday began, andRead More


Goodbye to All That, Again

By Allison Hoffman

Power and the Idealists: Or, the Passion of Joschka Fischer, and Its Aftermath By Paul Berman Soft Skull Press, 314 pages, $23.95. * * *Pity the generation of 1968, those children born under the shadow of a catastrophe they did not make. In Germany and France, the children of the Third Reich and Vichy called their parents and grandparentsRead More


South African Challah?

By Philologos

Michael Cole from Toronto writes:“My wife’s South African relatives refer to a Shabbat or festival challah as a ‘kitke.’ This seems to be a uniquely South African term, unknown, as far as I am aware, even among other people of Lithuanian descent. [Mr. Cole is referring to the fact that South African Jewry originated largely in JewishRead More


A Life at Arm’s Length

Abraham was the perfect host. So was his nephew, Lot, the one who lived to the east, near the plains of Jordan. Those Terah boys come down from Ur of the Chaldees to Canaan and Haran and back again may have left their father’s houses with only a few possessions, but they packed etiquette in their saddlebags.When you live among strangers,Read More


Birthright Israel Builds a Solid Foundation

By Nathaniel Popper

Birthright Israel is only six years old, but it already has established itself as one of the most successful programs in the Jewish world. Steps are now being taken to make it a permanent part of the Jewish landscape.When Birthright was founded by a handful of innovative philanthropists, “it was an experiment,” said Charles Bronfman, oneRead More


Joshua Venture: Gone for Good, or Ready for a Fresh Start?

By Jennifer Siegel

After helping to launch some of the Jewish world’s most buzzed-about fledgling organizations in recent years, Joshua Venture closed its doors last spring after only five years of operation. As supporters evaluate exactly what went wrong, some of the group’s major funders have already moved on to new projects. Nonetheless, thereRead More


Rabbi Sets a Message to Music

By Sarah Kricheff

Shawn Zevit is practicing what he preaches. A Philadelphia-based Reconstructionist rabbi who serves as a visiting rabbi at Pittsburgh’s Congregation Dor Hadash, Zevit is also a singer, songwriter and guitarist with two full-length CDs to his credit.With musical influences ranging from The Beatles to indie rock, from soul toRead More


Playing Fill-in-the-Blanks With a Father’s Life

By Tessa Brown

Not Me By Michael Lavigne Random House, 320 pages, $24.95. Between what one is told and what one is able to infer, there lies a distant and beckoning truth: the Parent as Human Being. It glimmers beyond our grasp, always sought after but never obtained, the object of conjecture but never of understanding. For some, seeking this truth isRead More


Confessions

By David Mamet

We human beings have a special adaptive mechanism called rationality. It allows us to prognosticate. We say “If A, then B.” If we wish to change B, perhaps we might change A. This is the good news.The bad news is that we are incapable of perceiving situations otherwise than as the syntheses of thesis and antithesis.This capacity often goesRead More


A Jewish Family Drama, Minus the Shmaltz

By Steven Zeitchik

Judaism and parental ambition have been inextricable since the early days — the really early days, back to when old Jacob let his hopes get too high for poor Joseph. (Had Ivy League law schools existed back then, one can only imagine the arguments.) Immigrant tenacity, a tradition of literacy and just plain genetic stubbornness have ensured thatRead More


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