Arts & Culture


Fatalism and Humor in Israeli Fiction

By Susan Miron

Uncle Peretz Takes Off: Short Stories By Yaakov Shabtai Translated From the Hebrew by Dalia Bilu

Overlook Duckworth, 239 pages, $24.95. * * *The Israeli author Yaakov Shabtai, who died in 1981, wrote several morbidly memorable first sentences. “Goldman’s father died on the first of April, whereas Goldman himself committed suicide onRead More


On the Small Screen, Kitsch and a Witch

By Lisa Keys

That pesky, mysterious Lilith.As the mythical first wife of Adam who, as his equal, refused to lie beneath him, she’s been a source of wonder and inspiration for thousands of years. Demonic references in the Talmud and Kabbalist texts have led many to fear her; more recently, she’s been worshipped as a goddess and has been “reclaimed” byRead More


Sabra Madonna: Meet Israel’s Pop Diva

By Loolwa Khazzoom

Sarit Hadad is focused on the wide screen in front of her, looking intently at the final production of her music video for “Rak Ata” (“Only You”). She has just returned from Romania, where the fast-paced, high-drama clip was shot. “This is MTV material,” declares one of her staff at the conclusion of theRead More


Ozick Returns, Still Aflush With Ideas

By Benjamin Balint

Heir to the Glimmering World By Cynthia Ozick Houghton Mifflin, 310 pages, $25. * * *Cynthia Ozick, the fiercely and fearsomely intelligent critic and novelist, has based her latest work of fiction on Winnie-the-Pooh. More precisely, the new book is inspired by the story of Christopher Robin Milne (1920-1996), whose father, A.A.Read More


Letting Loose the Golem on Society’s Dilemmas

By Zackary Sholem Berger

It’s rare to come upon a book with a truly original idea — which makes it all the more important that the idea be clearly and convincingly argued.Take this book about the golem — not just Rabbi Loew’s famous clay warrior of Prague, but any created being, somewhere between human and inanimate, brought into the world for specific purposes.Read More


When the Organist Is Episcopalian

By Karen Loew

In synagogues around the country this month, musical directors will lead congregations in the songs and melodies of the Days of Awe. Like their congregants, they will be moved by the prayers and are likely to feel the electric moments of High Holy Days services.Unlike most congregants, however, they may not be Jewish.“It seemed as if I wasRead More


Lost for a Century, the Minhogimbukh Returns

By Shira Levine

There was once an Eastern European tradition to cook chicken livers on Rosh Hashanah because their name in Yiddish, leberlakh, sounds like the injunction “leb ehrlikh,” to “live honestly.”In fact, there were loads of other customs worldwide — some communities shunned vinegar while celebrating the New Year, because of its sourRead More


Rosh Hashanah

By Joshua Halberstam

A couple of months ago, I joined in a moment of mass ridicule. The occasion was a front-page article in The New York Times about ultra-Orthodox women burning $2,000 wigs because the hair had been traced to idolatrous Hindu rites. How peculiar, we thought.The deeper peculiarity, however, was not my reaction to wigs and idolatry, but to the notionRead More


Living a ‘Hineini’ Life

By Marjorie Ingall

My father was justly famous — or infamous — for his rendition of the Akedah, the binding of Isaac. Every year at Rosh Hashanah, he’d chant the Torah portion with all the terrifying drama of a camp counselor telling a ghost story.Read More


Seders on Rosh Hashanah? A Calcutta Story

By Ethan Porter

If you’ve never heard of a Rosh Hashanah Seder, you aren’t alone, but Rahel Musleah is trying to change that. The tradition, which Musleah summarizes in her new children’s book, “Apples and Pomegranates: A Rosh Hashanah Seder” (Kar-Ben), with illustrations by Judy Jarrett, comes from her native India, where it was long practiced by theRead More





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