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


Mystery Sells: What the Kabbalah Centre Actually Teaches

By Jay Michaelson

The Power of Kabbalah By Yehuda Berg (Jodere Group, 2002)


The 72 Names of God By Yehuda Berg (Kabbalah Centre International, 2003) * * *Mainstream Jews cannot stand the Kabbalah Centre. You can tell by the way they mock it, highlight its every flaw (huge offices! expensive bracelets!) and deride Madonna, Britney Spears, AshtonRead More


Two New Beginnings and a Sad Ending

By Masha Leon

“This is my first day on the job,” said Arye Mekel, Israel’s new consul general to New York, at the August 16 preview screening of Margarethe von Trotta’s film, “Rosenstrasse,” at the Center for Jewish History. “The movie is a reflection of [how] human courage can make a significant difference.”“This is [also] my first officialRead More


Avoiding the Curses

By Peretz Rodman

Who will get the sixth aliya at your synagogue this Sabbath? It is usually an uncomplicated business to distribute among those present the honor of pronouncing the blessings over each of the seven-plus-one segments of the public recitation of the week’s Torah portion. The assignments are made to honor guests, recognize members’ celebratoryRead 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


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