Arts & Culture


Muselmann in the Camps

Marvin Friedman of San Francisco would like to know the source of the word “Muselmann” as used by inmates of the Nazi death camps to describe their fellow prisoners who had given up all hope and thus lapsed into a state of despairing apathy. “I know,” he writes, “that the word literally means ‘Muslim’ in Yiddish, but I have a problemRead More


The Bible’s Babies

By Lore Segal

Some 50 years ago, on a radio program called “Invitation to Learning,” Mark Van Doren argued that we betray biblical literature by reading it as literature instead of sacred text. I have always remembered this and sadly. If it’s so, the deficit is mine. I read the book not as a believer but as a lover.Whether historical event or inspiredRead More


What Is His Name?

By Jeffrey Fiskin

Two men, marked by 80 or more winters, walk in the shadow of Mount Horeb. Aaron: So all I am is some sort of glorified ventriloquist’s dummy?Moses: Well, that’s a harsh way to put it. But in a nutshell…Aaron: I’m the older brother, for crying out loud. Why do I have to be your mouthpiece?Moses: Think of it this way: I’m just theRead More


Behind the Scenes and on the Mic

By Dimitri Ehrlich

Jews have a long history in hip hop and much to be proud of — both behind the scenes and on the microphone. The presence is especially significant on the business side of things: For many years, Public Enemy, Tribe Called Quest and Slick Rick were all managed by Lyor Cohen, who went on to run a major rap label, and Eminem is managed byRead More


Honoring the Hustlers of the Record Business

By Mark Oppenheimer

Machers and Rockers: Chess Records And the Business of Rock & Roll By Rich Cohen W.W. Norton, 220 pages, $22.95. * * *I admire Rich Cohen’s writing, but I also admire his project. Cohen’s proj- ect, in all his books, is to talk about Jews neither poor nor rich. These Jews, they got out of the slums, but in school they never made theRead More


Music From the World’s Kosher Kitchens

By Michael Wex

A Wandering Feast By Yale Strom And Elizabeth Schwartz Jossey-Bass, 272 pages, $24.95. ——–In 1981, when Yale Strom undertook his first journey to Central and Eastern Europe, you couldn’t use the word klezmer without having to pause to explain it. The klezmer revival was still gathering steam when Strom attended a concert that inspiredRead More


A Slew of New CDs To Take Into 2005

By Seth Rogovoy

Madonna is probably the world’s most famous quasi-Jewish musician. Next time she goes on tour, she might consider bringing along some of the following artists, thus allowing her star to cast some rays of light on them and to do for contemporary Jewish music what she’s done for her friends from The Kabbalah Centre.There’s perhaps no figure inRead More


Listening to Classical on the ‘Cool’ Medium

By David Mermelstein

Marshall McLuhan famously termed television a “hot” medium and radio a “cool” one. The inconsistencies inherent in such artificial divisions notwithstanding, there are fundamental differences between the two. Perhaps above all, one remains the better suited to relaying, and even discussing, music.That point is made every day on radioRead More


Beyond Tumbala, Tumbala...

By Rukhl Schaechter

In Camp Hemshekh, a Jewish socialist summer camp in Mountaindale, N.Y., where Caroline Chanin first heard Yiddish music, singing was an integral part of the program. At breakfast, in the dimly lit dining room, campers belted out popular camp tunes to the accompaniment of an aging piano; during rest hour, selected campers would rehearse the YiddishRead More


Breaking the Mold of the Sitcom

By Andrew R. Heinze

Why are Jews such experts at laughter? Leo Rosten answered that question as well as anyone could when he characterized Yiddish, the quintessential Jewish tongue, as saturated with irony. When we speak about a Jewish perspective — aside from the religious one — what we often mean is an ironic view of a world known to be more complicated andRead More


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