Arts & Culture


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


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


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


PSALM 151

In his epigraph, poet Merrill Leffler raises William Carlos Williams’s bold claim that men die miserably for lack of what is in poetry. It’s a claim that many practical folks would dismiss on the face of it, for if the news of our world is purely a matter of dollars and sense, then how much could poetry matter? Leffler is in a positionRead 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


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