Arts & Culture


Parts Creating a Whole

By Jennifer Siegel

While some Jews whose ancestors lived in medieval Spain might refer to themselves as “Sephardi Tahor” (or “pure Sephardi”) — which implies that their brethren from the Middle East and Africa are not — the ninth annual International Sephardic Film Festival brings everyone together under one big tent. The series, opening next week atRead More


Sephardic Arts and Culture: A Dialogue

This month brings the publication of “The Schocken Book of Modern Sephardic Literature,” an anthology of fiction, memoir, essays and poetry from 28 writers in 18 countries, edited and introduced by Ilan Stavans. To coincide with its release, the Forward invited Stavans to moderate an electronic discussion with several of theRead More


A Macedonian Story: ‘Aunt Rachel’s Photograph’

Below is an excerpt from “Aunt Rachel’s Photograph,” a short story based in the Macedonian town of Bitola, formerly Monastir. Written by playwright and screenwriter Tomislav Osmanli, it was recently awarded first prize in a literary contest sponsored by the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts and by “Fund March 11, 1943,” anRead More


What the Klezmer Revival Can Teach Sephardic Music

By Seth Rogovoy

At least one listener did a double take at a recent Hanukkah-themed concert when Annette Ezekiel, singer/front woman of the Yiddish/klezmer outfit, Golem, introduced the famous Hanukkah song “Ocho Kandelikas” as “another Eastern European song.” Surely Ezekiel, who is a Columbia University-trained scholar and linguist as well as aRead More


After the Singing

By Henry Bean

After the waters have rolled over them, the men and the horses, one face floats up, a helmet stamped with the royal seal still tangled in his floating hair. The eyes open, and he speaks.“I have a question.”No reply.“Why did you — ” He stops himself, begins again: “Back when the brothers first came to me with theirRead More


Bush Vote: Boom or Bust?

By Ami Eden

As President Bush waged his campaign for a second term, Jewish Republicans looked to 2004 as their banner year.After seven decades of Democratic domination, these GOP activists were promising significant gains in the Jewish vote. During much of the year leading up to the election, they insisted that President George W. Bush’s support amongRead More


Swimmers Who Made Their Mark –– Out of the Pool

By Saul Austerlitz

In the summer of 1936, as the world’s greatest athletes convened in Berlin for their quadrennial competition, the Austrian contingent was lacking its champion swimmer, a young woman who had broken 12 national records that year. The athletic entourages of all the countries of the world streamed past the viewing stand in Berlin’s OlympicRead More


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


I Found It at the Movies

By Ilan Stavans

In 1965, Pauline Kael published “I Lost It at the Movies,” an anthology of her reviews and essays for The New Yorker. As I look back, her title should be inverted to define my own experience: I Found It at the Movies.I owe my passion for films to my father. He is a devotee of Ingmar Bergman, Andrzej Wajda and Francois Truffaut, butRead More


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