Arts & Culture


Finding an Excuse To Celebrate Copland

By Benjamin Levisohn

No excuse is necessary to stage a concert of Aaron Copland’s works — over the last 60 years, his name has become synonymous with American classical music — but Brooklyn, N.Y.’s Kane Street Synagogue found one anyway. On November 14, it staged a tribute to the composer to coincide with the 91st anniversary of Copland’s barRead More


Berlin Bind: Between Neo-Nazis and Mendelssohn

By Michael Levitin

Last month, one day after 1,000 skinheads marched here to celebrate the first-ever “National Nazi Day,” a different cast of Germans huddled into the country’s largest synagogue and listened raptly to cellist Steven Isserlis, whose performance opened the 18th Berlin Jewish Culture Festival.The events couldn’t have coincided moreRead More


Bar Mitzvah-gate, Courtesy of Fox

By Lisa Keys

In our post-“Nipplegate” era, censorship and television have become as inextricably linked as Laverne and Shirley. In recent weeks, fear of Federal Communications Commission fines led 65 ABC affiliates to nix an unedited version of “Saving Private Ryan,” while the bare backside of Nicolette Sheridan for a Monday Night Football spot wasRead More


Modern vs. Orthodox Off-Broadway

By Saul Austerlitz

The new off-Broadway play “Modern Orthodox” begins familiarly enough, with an uncomfortable encounter. Two strangers awkwardly introduce themselves, sitting at a table in a restaurant in midtown New York. The two strangers are named Ben and Hershel; Ben is prepared to propose to his longtime girlfriend, Hannah, and Hershel is the jeweler whoseRead More


At Syracuse University, Undulating Walls Commemorate Vanishing Barriers

By Samuel D. Gruber

In Syracuse, N.Y., artist Sol LeWitt has been building walls, while Nancy Cantor, the new chancellor of Syracuse University, has been breaking them down (figuratively speaking).Cantor, who was inaugurated last month as the 11th chancellor and president of the university, is the first woman and the first Jew toRead More


Missing Rap Song Sparks Suspicious Musings

By Daniel Treiman

A fiery song by a popular rapper lashes out at “quasi-homosexuals” who run the hip-hop industry — drawing jeers from reviewers. The song also appears to take a shot at a prominent music executive, citing his Israeli background — and evoking for some the tensions that occasionally have surfaced over the prominence of Jewish executives in the mostly black rap industry.Read More


Don’t Mention His Weight Problem

By David Curzon

Joseph’s interpretations of Pharaoh’s two dreams are, from an objective viewpoint, implausible. Both dreams are, in their essence, about fatness and thinness and eating. Applying Freudian principles of dream interpretation, we can assume that Pharaoh had been preoccupied, during the day leading up to the night of the dreams, thoughRead More


Praying at the Temple of Traditional Jazz

By David Davis

For Ben Jaffe, the future is all about updating the past………………………………………….Jaffe was born into musical royalty. His parents, Allan and Sandra, founded New Orleans’s world-famous Preservation Hall in 1961, after they fell in love with the Crescent City while returning from their honeymoon in Mexico. They uprootedRead More


Heeding the Call That Haunts

By Susan Miron

Tattoo for a Slave By Hortense Calisher

Harcourt, 336 pages, $24.

‘Your grandmother never kept slaves.”…………With these words spoken to a young, naive Hortense Calisher by her father, born the seventh child of eight in 1861 in Richmond, Va., this unusual book opens. A “tattoo” can be a bugle call, a drum rollRead More


Ornaments of the World

By Jenna Weissman Joselit

They stand only 15 inches tall but bear the weight of Jewish history. I’m referring to a pair of silver-and-gilded rimonim (Torah ornaments) of 19th-century German provenance whose recent arrival in New York was celebrated by Congregation Habonim, a Conservative synagogue on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. These delicately worked ritual objectsRead More





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