Arts & Culture


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


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


You Spin Me Right ’Round A New Book Laces Into the Marketing of Politics

By Ari Melber

All the President’s Spin: George W. Bush, the Media and the Truth By Ben Fritz, Bryan Keefer and Brendan Nyhan Touchstone, 352 pages, $11.20. * * *Many people have accused President Bush of misleading the American public. The editors of Spinsanity.com, a nonpartisan Web site “dedicated to debunking political spin and fact-checking theRead More


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