Arts & Culture


The Shtetl Next Door

By Esther Schor

In my synagogue, the Jewish Center of Princeton, the lobby where mazel tovs drop like manna doubles as an art gallery. Often the art provides a demure backdrop for well-heeled congregants — a still life of lilacs here, a lithograph of the Old City over there. But not The Jewish Shtetl Today, an arresting exhibit of 51 black-and-white photographsRead More


The Central Message

By David Curzon

Every year at this time in the annual cycle of readings, we are confronted with seemingly endless descriptions of cultic practices, often involving the slaughter of animals, that are for most of us at worst abhorrent and at best — the presentation of bread and cake to God — absurd.Let me try to put the problem as starkly as possible. LeviticusRead More


A Poet’s Contradictory Properties

By Isaac Meyers

For a while now, I have been asking Hasidic Jews, especially women, what they think poetry is supposed to be. In today’s Hasidic world, many view poetry as at worst secular, at best bittul torah, a frivolous distraction from serious learning. The women I’ve spoken to basically agree with this; they consider poetry ornamental orRead More


South Florida, Jewish Families and the Flight of Birds

By Sanford Pinsker

Andrew Furman is best known for two smart, engaging books of criticism on Jewish-American fiction: “Israel Through the Jewish-American Imagination: A Survey of Jewish-American Literature on Israel” and “Contemporary Jewish American Writers and the Multicultural Dilemma.” In an age when the paragraphs of far too manyRead More


Forward Books

By Laurence Zuckerman

At the end of the classic John Ford Western, “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” after Senator Ransom Stoddard (played by James Stewart) confesses that he is not the genuine hero people have made him out to be, a local newspaper editor gives this immortal reply: “This is the West, sir. When theRead More


A Neighborhood in Flux, Again

By Saul Austerlitz

It’s the summer of 1988, and a series of bubbles are about to burst. Michael Dukakis, riding high off a triumphant Democratic convention, holds a sizable lead over Vice President George Bush in the polls. The New York Mets, carried by twin superstars Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden, are dominating the National League East, and dreamsRead More


A Drop in Distinction

By Susan Comninos

‘How to Fall,” the third collection of tales by Edith Pearlman, winner of Sarabande Books’s Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction, reads like the literary equivalent of a Broadway salute to established writers, ranging from American stars Cynthia Ozick and Nathan Englander toRead More


Will the Left Finally Talk About What Matters?

By Joshua Halberstam

For years I’ve tried to get my students to talk about “it.” “It” can be almost any controversial issue, but we never get there; my students, like most of my academic colleagues and New York City Upper West Side friends, and the American left in general, have long ago ceded actual moral judgments to others, i.e.,moral conservatives. AndRead More


Listen to This Poet. Really, Listen.

By Thomas Wappat

‘I was dreaming you on TV/ between fiction and news,” Hugh Seidman, winner of the 2004 Green Rose Prize, writes in his romantically infused sixth collection of poems, “Somebody Stand Up and Sing.” After reading his poetry, you might find yourself dreaming Seidman.O Dream Dream DreamI fasted not nor atonedI made no tabernacleon Tish’aRead More


Translations And Transliterations

By Leonard J. Greenspoon

Each of the first three chapters of Leviticus, and therefore of this week’s portion, Va-Yikra, is taken up with a detailed description of a different offering or sacrifice. Although many modern readers of the Hebrew Bible devote little more than a glance to this material, it was obviously important to the ritual life, and thereforeRead More


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