Arts & Culture


The God In the Translation

By Lore Segal

The sadness of reading Torah without benefit of Hebrew has small compensations: I’m forced to look for — to participate in — the struggle of translators wrestling every last meaning from the original in order not to miss the god in the detail.The first half of the first sentence of this week’s portion offers an example ofRead More


‘Tzir Kissufim* — Route of Longing’

By Ruhama Shapira

Translated from the Hebrew by Toby Klein Greenwald

A felled tree.

Nothing more

Will be as it will be

And the ax that has shattered and will bow

Beneath it, His voice is heard

From one end of the world

To the other.

The waysides are shorn and haunted now

To intensify security

If the Lord protect not the routeRead More


The Year in Pictures

By Leslie Camhi

On the first of March in the year 2005 (or the 20th of Adar I, 5765, according to the Hebrew calendar) some 200,000 Jews filled New York City’s Madison Square Garden and auditoriums around the world to celebrate the reading of the last page of the Talmud. For centuries, Orthodox Jews have studied Talmud daily, but these synchronized readingsRead More


Rethinking the Divine

By Miriam Shaviv

In 1982, noted Israeli thinker Yeshayahu Leibowitz wrote that “the question of women and Judaism is more crucial than all the political problems of the people and its state. Failure to deal with it seriously threatens the viability of the Judaism of Torah and Mitzvoth in the contemporary world.”Despite the passage of 20Read More


The Aphorism Master

By Joshua Cohen

Yes damns no. No postpones yes. Tragic facts don’t exist. The magic of fiction lies in deluding reason that it is fiction.

All ways lead to the wayfarer. The long lineage of literature’s shortest form, the aphorism, extends from the mythical Hippocrates of Greek antiquity, through the Renaissance, Erasmus and Paracelsus, into theRead More


Seeing Gray in a Black-and-white World Francine Prose Turns the Screws on the Self-righteous

By Jenifer Berman

A Changed Man By Francine Prose HarperCollins, 432 pages, $24.95. ——-You’d think that Francine Prose might be losing some steam. After more than a dozen novels and a handful of short fiction and nonfiction works, it would stand to reason that this National Book Award-nominated author might be a prime candidate for writerly malaise,Read More


The Logic of Religious Images

By David Curzon

Close to the end of this week’s portion is the injunction (Leviticus 26:1), “You shall not make idols for yourselves.” The Jewish Study Bible (Oxford University Press, 2004) annotates this by referring the reader back to an earlier verse (25:42) on the freeing of Hebrew slaves in the jubilee year, which is required because “they are MyRead More


A Theory of Everything

By Jay Michaelson

Franz Rosenzweig is one of the most mentioned and least read of the Jewish philosophers. Everyone with an interest in modern Jewish philosophy includes him in its highest circle, along with Hermann Cohen, Martin Buber, Emanuel Levinas and, if religious philosophers are included, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Rav Kook and Joseph Soloveitchik. But whileRead More


A Critic Hears False Notes in Music History

By Raphael Mostel

One of the liveliest and most remarkable books about music was published this year. In “The Oxford History of Western Music,” iconoclastic University of California, Berkeley, professor Richard Taruskin offers a 4,000-page, six-volume survey of everything there is to know about Western classical music. For one person to encompass the vast rangeRead More


Bright Lights, Little Village: Jews in Small-town America

By Glenn C. Altschuler

    • *‘A baker who can make kimmel bread and German rolls (bagels, too, I suppose) can do well in Kalamazoo,” a field agent for the Industrial Removal Office of the Baron de Hirsch Fund reported in 1907. A junk dealer in Ashland, Ky., he added three years later, would gladly replace the Negro who worked in his yard with a Jew.Jews, it is well

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