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


Nailing Down a Film’s Legacy

By Peter Manseau

Around this time last year, on the brink of Easter, the humble nail came into its own as a religious symbol. Tiny silver pendants in the shape of railroad spikes were among the many marketing tie-ins produced in connection with Mel Gibson’s cinematic phenomenon, “The Passion of the Christ.” Amid the dueling chorusesRead More


The Shtetl Next Door

By Esther Schor

In my synagogue, the Jewish Center of Princeton, the lobby where mazel tovs drop like manna doubles as an art gallery. Often the art provides a demure backdrop for well-heeled congregants — a still life of lilacs here, a lithograph of the Old City over there. But not The Jewish Shtetl Today, an arresting exhibit of 51 black-and-white photographsRead 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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