Arts & Culture


Reviving the Flaming Tea Ceremony

By Miriam Leberstein

For many Jews from Eastern Europe, holiday celebrations were bound up with sugar cubes and tea — and Hanukkah was no exception. In keeping with the custom of making it a “Festival of Lights,” many Russian Jews practiced what is known as the Flaming Tea Ceremony. Celebrants dip lumps of sugar in brandy onto teaspoons and stand in line; asRead More


Authors Unafraid of Kids’ Inner Lives

By Jennifer Siegel

King Matt the FirstBy Janusz Korczak, Translated by Richard LourieAlgonquin Books, 352 pages, $13.95.——Your children — even those who generally shun books in favor of shoot-’em-up videogames — will truly enjoy “King Matt the First.” Written by Polish physician Janusz Korczak and first published in 1923, the novel stars a pint-sizedRead More


‘Peter and the Wolf’ Gets Klezmerized

By Seth Rogovoy

After having reinterpreted Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite” as the “Klezmer Nutcracker” a few years ago, it wasn’t a great leap for Boston-based klezmer group Shirim to revisit Sergei Prokofiev’s classic story “Peter and the Wolf” as “Pincus and the Pig: A Klezmer Tale,” which they have done on a new CD by thatRead More


A Shanda in Shpittsburgh!

By Jeffrey Griggs

What makes a hero? Is it his cape or his capabilities? Or is it simply enough to “do good,” to help those around you in times of need? As adults, we might not remember the significance of these questions, but for a child, they are paramount. In answer to the call, Agent Emes has returned to confront these questions and more as he tacklesRead More


America on the Couch: Jews and the Shaping of Therapeutic Culture

By Eli Zaretsky

Jews and the American Soul: Human Nature in the 20th Century By Andrew R. Heinze Princeton University Press, 456 pages, $29.95. * * *The convergence of religion and psychology is one of the signal facts of 20th-century Western culture. In retrospect, the relationship seems obvious: On the one hand, many functions once performed by religionRead More


Nodding Off on Wedlock’s Bed

By David Curzon

This week’s portion contains Jacob’s dream and many other passages that have given rise to midrashim. One of these passages is Genesis 30:1: And when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister; and she said unto Jacob: ‘Give me children or else I die.’ Robert Burns (1759-1796) was inspired by this verse toRead More


The Return Of Shylock

By Gabriel Sanders

In November 2003, when billionaire George Soros was first establishing himself as a force in the presidential campaign, a writer for the Web site GOPUSA spelled out his feelings about the financier with great conciseness when he referred to him as a “Hungarian-born descendant of Shylock.”Shakespeare’s most famous villain may be more than 400Read More


An Italian Fountain of Liberty

By Helen Eliassian

In Baedekar’s 19th-century guides to Italy, the small town of Ladispoli is described as a seaside resort with a fine beach. According to local lore, the sands were said to have a healing quality. Right in the middle of town, there was a little nondescript fountain.Thanks to a few historical twists, in the 20th century that fountain would come toRead More


The Holy Fool How One Writer Conveys Spiritual Truths That Are Seriously Funny

By Jay Michaelson

Because I first met Eliezer Sobel on a meditation retreat, the first things I remember about him are his socks. The most important rule at such gatherings, where taking off one’s shoes is inevitable, is to bring good socks. But Sobel’s weren’t just the warm, wool socks that every retreat veteran has. They were loud, bright, multicolored;Read More


A Room of Their Own –– Again; Exploring the Latest Revival in Girls’ Schools

By Jennifer Siegel

As a veteran reporter who spent years covering California’s male-dominated State House, Ilana DeBare had long seen that women were disadvantaged in a system fueled by the late-night backroom deals of chummy male insiders. But when she started covering the state’s booming technology industry — a new field, allegedly driven more byRead More


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