Arts & Culture


Rosh Hashanah

By Joshua Halberstam

A couple of months ago, I joined in a moment of mass ridicule. The occasion was a front-page article in The New York Times about ultra-Orthodox women burning $2,000 wigs because the hair had been traced to idolatrous Hindu rites. How peculiar, we thought.The deeper peculiarity, however, was not my reaction to wigs and idolatry, but to the notionRead More


Living a ‘Hineini’ Life

By Marjorie Ingall

My father was justly famous — or infamous — for his rendition of the Akedah, the binding of Isaac. Every year at Rosh Hashanah, he’d chant the Torah portion with all the terrifying drama of a camp counselor telling a ghost story.Read More


Seders on Rosh Hashanah? A Calcutta Story

By Ethan Porter

If you’ve never heard of a Rosh Hashanah Seder, you aren’t alone, but Rahel Musleah is trying to change that. The tradition, which Musleah summarizes in her new children’s book, “Apples and Pomegranates: A Rosh Hashanah Seder” (Kar-Ben), with illustrations by Judy Jarrett, comes from her native India, where it was long practiced by theRead More


For Once in Your Life, Go Ahead: Make a Tsimmes!

By Matthew Goodman

Though it is mostly derived from German and the Slavic languages, Yiddish is written in Hebrew characters, which are notoriously tricky to transliterate into English. As evidence, we need cite but a couple of examples: the disputable bubbe-mayseh (bobeh-myseh? bube-maiseh? there is no end to the tale) and the unfortunate nebbish (which could, poorRead More


Reuniting Refugees Upstate

By Masha Leon

“I’ve just come back from the 60th reunion of the “Oswego Refugees,” an excited 93-year-old Ruth Gruber told me on the phone. Gruber (foreign correspondent, photographer, author of 14 books) was referring to the August 4-6 weekend at Oswego, N.Y., at which 38 of the nearly 1,000 refugees she shepherded August 4, 1944, to “Fort Ontario”Read More


The Choice We Confront

By David Curzon

If I were asked to recite the Torah while standing on one leg, I would repeat the summary formulation to be found at the end of this week’s portion, Nitzavim/VaYelekh. While standing on one leg, I would say — conflating Deuteronomy 30:15 and 30:19 — that the essence of the Torah is this, in the standard translation: See, I set before youRead More


Sabra Madonna: Meet Israel’s Pop Diva

By Loolwa Khazzoom

Sarit Hadad is focused on the wide screen in front of her, looking intently at the final production of her music video for “Rak Ata” (“Only You”). She has just returned from Romania, where the fast-paced, high-drama clip was shot. “This is MTV material,” declares one of her staff at the conclusion of theRead More


Ozick Returns, Still Aflush With Ideas

By Benjamin Balint

Heir to the Glimmering World By Cynthia Ozick Houghton Mifflin, 310 pages, $25. * * *Cynthia Ozick, the fiercely and fearsomely intelligent critic and novelist, has based her latest work of fiction on Winnie-the-Pooh. More precisely, the new book is inspired by the story of Christopher Robin Milne (1920-1996), whose father, A.A.Read More


Digging Into Jewish Liturgy for Musical Inspiration

By Seth Rogovoy

According to legend, a Polish nobleman once hired a group of Old World klezmer musicians on the condition that they use written music. Rather than forfeit the well-paying gig, the musically illiterate players faked it by bringing their Bibles. They placed the books on their music stands, the landlord glanced at the strange squiggles on the pagesRead More


Malamud’s New Life

By Jonathan Lethem

In conversation with a friend, I once tried to account for my particular fascination with Philip Roth’s early novel “Letting Go.” In attempting to characterize the book and how it stood apart in Roth’s oeuvre, I blurted out: “‘Letting Go’ is Roth’s Richard Yates book.” What I meant, I guess, was that for one book Roth had triedRead More





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