Arts & Culture


Successors to Jacob, Successors to Arafat

By Deborah Slavitt

In this last portion in Genesis, the children of Israel are on the verge of becoming a people. The next portion opens the book of Exodus with Pharaoh afraid of the potential might of the people (Exodus 1:9) he calls “Ivrim,” and it is as a people that the Ivrim, the children of Israel, go up out of Egypt. The birth struggles of this shift fromRead More


From the Dawn of Printing Why Rare Hebrew Manuscripts Are Commanding Exorbitant Fees

By Jeannie Rosenfeld

Early in last month’s sale at Kestenbaum & Company, a New York auction house specializing in rare Hebrew books, when a single leaf of Rashi’s commentary on the Pentateuch came on the block, fevered bidding erupted. This first printed edition of the 11th-century French rabbi’s pre-eminent biblical commentary was producedRead More


A New Beginning for an Old Master

By Noga Tarnopolsky

The Autobiography of God By Julius Lester St. Martin’s Press, 256 pages, $23.95. ———Julius Lester is the author of more than 30 books, a diverse collection of novels, essays and children’s fables published over a period of 30 years. Now 65 years old and recently retired from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Lester’s latestRead More


Gazing at the Guggenheims

By David Kaufmann

The Guggenheims: A Family History By Irwin Unger and Debi Unger HarperCollins, 530 pages, $29.95. ——By the start of World War I, the Guggenheims had become so prominent that even their pets’ deaths were considered newsworthy. Ninety years later, they are chiefly remembered in the names of foundations and museums. In a heavilyRead 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


Goodfellas and Great Gals Honor the Arts

By Masha Leon

“I’m a Forward fan,” Jay Golan, director of New York City’s Carnegie Hall, told me at the November 15 Arts & Business Council Awards Gala at Gotham Hall, where marble walls and domed ceilings offered ideal acoustics for violinist Sarah Chang’s impassioned rendition of Maurice Ravel’s “Tzigane.” Championing the partnershipRead More


What Is It About the Lower East Side?

By Adam Sol

Nothing has replaced it in our collective imagination. As a starting place, reference point and standard for community, the few square miles of New York City’s Lower East Side still loom with almost biblical significance over Jewish life on this continent. Even now, decades after the Jewish population of North America has movedRead More


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


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