Arts & Culture


What Litvaks Accomplished in Brazil

By Masha Leon

Alzheimer’s disease, an equal opportunity assassin of memory, felled movie star Rita Hayworth in 1987. “In the 1970’s, when Rita began to manifest strange symptoms, people said she was drunk when she’d get off a plane,” Barbara Walters told the 600 black-tie guests at the October 5 Alzheimer’s Association “Beauty Under the Big Top”Read More


The Ancestral Faith, With a Side of Salami

By Boris Fishman

For novelist Gary Shteyngart, whose family fled Soviet antisemitism for the United States in 1979, the problem with American Judaism came down to one thing: salami.“One of my most moving memories from childhood is going to Hebrew school in Queens, where they wouldn’t allow meat products, and sneaking in this pork salami,” Shteyngart saidRead More


Built Judaism:

By Samuel D. Gruber

Architecture has been an important way in which Jews have defined themselves within their own community, as well as the pre-eminent means of projecting Jewish identity to the gentile world. Palaces of Prayer, a new exhibit at the Angel Orensanz Foundation on New York’s Lower East Side, includes 70 superb color prints of synagogues thatRead More


Emigrés Are Forming Decidedly Secular Identities; The Ancestral Faith, With a Side of Salami

By Nathaniel Popper

This is the final installment in a three-part series on the challenges faced in the United States by immigrants from the former Soviet Union.A half an hour before a late-season minor league baseball game at Keyspan Park, in the Coney Island section of Brooklyn, a series of Russian performers took the field to dance and sing for the fewRead More


Ladies and Gentlemen, The Once and Future Yiddish Language

By Zackary Sholem Berger

Words on Fire: The Unfinished Story of Yiddish By Dovid Katz Basic Books, 430 pages, $26.95. ———Given the sentimentality of much recent writing on the subject, American Jews might be forgiven for believing that no one with a critical eye, or without sepia-colored glasses, possibly could write an entire book about Yiddish — much less aRead More


FALL BOOKS

By Josh Lambert

The Final Solution: A Story of Detection By Michael Chabon. Fourth Estate/HarperCollins, 144 pages, $16.95. —–Depending on their authors’ predilections, so-called “literary” novels are often unsettling, disturbing, enlightening or tragicomic. They are not, in the main, much fun. Fun is left to hacks, those genre writers who churn outRead More


A Dutch Author Relishes the Spectacle

By Allison Schachter

Story of My Baldness By Marek van der Jagt

Other Press, 264 pages, $22.

Phantom Pain By Arnon Grunberg Other Press, 286 pages, $22. ——In Arnon Grunberg’s novel “Story of My Baldness,” which has just been released in English translation, the Dutch novelist adopted a new literary persona: Marek van der Jagt, as both theRead More


FALL BOOKS

By Ilan Stavans

Letters 1928-1946: Isaiah Berlin Edited by Henry Hardy Cambridge University Press, 755 pages, $40. ——-A couple of years ago, while visiting the offices of The Atlantic Monthly, I commented on my admiration of Isaiah Berlin to a friend of mine, Cullen Murphy, the magazine’s executive editor. Few modern thinkers strike me as beingRead More


FALL BOOKS

By Ralph Seliger

A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America’s Intelligence Agencies By James Bamford Doubleday, 420 pages, $26.95. * * *This past August, the news broke of an FBI probe into a possible leak to Israel of classified intelligence information via the pro-Israel lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. The leak wasRead More


Gleanings

One in a series of occasional excerpts from books that catch our eye. The following is an excerpt from “Ballad of the Whiskey Robber: A True Story of Bank Heists, Ice Hockey, Transylvanian Pelt-Smuggling, Moonlighting Detectives, and Broken Hearts,” by Julian Rubinstein (Little, Brown). In it, Rubinstein offers a hilarious account of crimeRead More


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