Arts & Culture


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


A Drop in Distinction

By Susan Comninos

‘How to Fall,” the third collection of tales by Edith Pearlman, winner of Sarabande Books’s Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction, reads like the literary equivalent of a Broadway salute to established writers, ranging from American stars Cynthia Ozick and Nathan Englander toRead More


Listen to This Poet. Really, Listen.

By Thomas Wappat

‘I was dreaming you on TV/ between fiction and news,” Hugh Seidman, winner of the 2004 Green Rose Prize, writes in his romantically infused sixth collection of poems, “Somebody Stand Up and Sing.” After reading his poetry, you might find yourself dreaming Seidman.O Dream Dream DreamI fasted not nor atonedI made no tabernacleon Tish’aRead More


Translations And Transliterations

By Leonard J. Greenspoon

Each of the first three chapters of Leviticus, and therefore of this week’s portion, Va-Yikra, is taken up with a detailed description of a different offering or sacrifice. Although many modern readers of the Hebrew Bible devote little more than a glance to this material, it was obviously important to the ritual life, and thereforeRead More


An Autobiography in Pictures

By Leslie Camhi

It’s possible that Sylvia Plachy missed her calling. The distinguished photographer, for many years my elusive colleague at the Village Voice, is also a gifted storyteller; her words and images (along with pictures from her family album) combine to remarkably poignant effect in “Self Portrait With Cows Going Home” (Aperture, 2004),Read More


The Story of an Icon, Still Not Told

By Ilan Stavans

Why isn’t Rabbi Marshall T. Meyer an international icon?In the tradition of Mahatma Gandhi, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and César Chávez, Meyer found resourcefulness in the crossroads where politics and religion meet. An American born in 1928 and a graduate of Dartmouth College, he and his wife, Naomi, moved to Argentina in 1959,Read More


A Literary Hot Spot Celebrates a Birthday

By Eva L. Weiss

When journalist and short-story writer David Ehrlich told poet Yehuda Amichai about his plan to open a literary café in Jerusalem, Amichai was less than enthusiastic. “Your customers will spill coffee on the books,” he said. “And they won’t pay for the coffee — or the books.”Happily, Amichai’s fears proved unfounded. NotRead More


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