Arts & Culture


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


For Once in Your Life, Go Ahead: Make a Tsimmes!

By Matthew Goodman

Though it is mostly derived from German and the Slavic languages, Yiddish is written in Hebrew characters, which are notoriously tricky to transliterate into English. As evidence, we need cite but a couple of examples: the disputable bubbe-mayseh (bobeh-myseh? bube-maiseh? there is no end to the tale) and the unfortunate nebbish (which could, poorRead More


Reuniting Refugees Upstate

By Masha Leon

“I’ve just come back from the 60th reunion of the “Oswego Refugees,” an excited 93-year-old Ruth Gruber told me on the phone. Gruber (foreign correspondent, photographer, author of 14 books) was referring to the August 4-6 weekend at Oswego, N.Y., at which 38 of the nearly 1,000 refugees she shepherded August 4, 1944, to “Fort Ontario”Read More


The Choice We Confront

By David Curzon

If I were asked to recite the Torah while standing on one leg, I would repeat the summary formulation to be found at the end of this week’s portion, Nitzavim/VaYelekh. While standing on one leg, I would say — conflating Deuteronomy 30:15 and 30:19 — that the essence of the Torah is this, in the standard translation: See, I set before youRead More


Digging Into Jewish Liturgy for Musical Inspiration

By Seth Rogovoy

According to legend, a Polish nobleman once hired a group of Old World klezmer musicians on the condition that they use written music. Rather than forfeit the well-paying gig, the musically illiterate players faked it by bringing their Bibles. They placed the books on their music stands, the landlord glanced at the strange squiggles on the pagesRead More


Malamud’s New Life

By Jonathan Lethem

In conversation with a friend, I once tried to account for my particular fascination with Philip Roth’s early novel “Letting Go.” In attempting to characterize the book and how it stood apart in Roth’s oeuvre, I blurted out: “‘Letting Go’ is Roth’s Richard Yates book.” What I meant, I guess, was that for one book Roth had triedRead More


A Torah Scholar With a Rock-Star Following

By Eve Grubin

For most scholars, Midrash is an analysis of or commentary on the text of the Bible. But to Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg, the literary and Torah scholar with an enormous following on several continents, Midrash is “the repressed unconscious of the Torah.”The difference speaks volumes. Specifically, Zornberg sees Midrash as coming out of what theRead More


The Men in My Life

THE WONDERS OF AMERICAAs the summer gives way to September, and with it the advent of Rosh Hashanah, my thoughts turn to those who will not be on hand this year to usher in the Jewish New Year: my father-in-law, Yaakov (née Peretz Yaakov) Joselit, and my favorite uncle, Bob (née Baruch) Weissman. Apart from having died within several months ofRead More


Justice, Served: A Tennis Story

By David Davis

The backgrounds of tennis partners Althea Gibson and Angela Buxton were radically different. The daughter of share-croppers, Gibson was born in South Carolina and raised in New York City’s Harlem. British and Jewish, Buxton was the daughter of entertainment impresario Harry Buxton, who made his fortune by breaking the bank at a casino.Read More





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  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
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