Arts & Culture


New Look at False Messiah

well before Shabbetai Zevi’s total defection from Judaism. That latter catastrophe led to the deeper, antinomian apostasy of the later Jewish Sabbateans, as well as to the Donmeh, the school of Muslim believers in Shabbetai Zevi, which persists, very secretly, in Turkey today.Even in contemporary America, though limited to rather marginal JewishRead More


Imagination as a Group Effort

By Dara Horn

Among the recurring questions that I and other writers are often asked — along with, “How long did it take you to write the book?” and “Do you use a pencil or a pen?” — there is one that almost always comes up: “Is anyone else in your family a writer?”Those who ask this question are usually wondering about the writer’s parents orRead More


My Favorite Demon

By Esther Schor

Writers are famous for their demons, whether they battle alcoholism, depression or the savage pain of a rotten youth. Isaac Bashevis Singer was no exception, except that his demons were demons. Unlike many writers, he made no secret of them: “I am possessed by my demons,” he declared to Commentary. Later, he made a telling comment toRead More


Hunting for the Magic

By Judy Budnitz

Whenever I’d ask my relatives where my great-grandparents had lived before immigrating to the United States, their answers always seemed strangely, frustratingly unspecific: A little village near Minsk, or maybe Pinsk, they would say. In the part of Russia that is now called Belarus, they thought. It may have been near a river, they conjectured.Read More


Two

After the taxi driver had been promised $25 plus a five dollar tip he became silent. The two passengers were silent, too.David Melnitz crammed his frail shape into a corner of the cab. He was dozing lightly, but every once in a while he opened one eye and looked through the window. The summer night had a blackness which nothing couldRead More


The Making Of Martyrs

By Lisa Keys

One day last spring was much like any other for Mohanned Abu Tayyun. He awoke early at his Nablus home, got dressed, washed his face and had his usual breakfast. Similarly, throughout Israel, most local families were occupied with workaday morning rituals: drinking coffee, reading the paper, doling goodbye pecks to loved ones.And yetRead More


Love for the Fatherland, Tragically Unrequited

By Gal Beckerman

Impossible Love: Ascher Levy’s Longing for Germany By Roman Frister Phoenix Press, 359 pages, $15.95. * * *My grandfather, a native of Dresden, adored Strauss waltzes, bratwurst and the opera “Die Fledermaus.” After the war, though he refused to buy a BMW, he always spoke with admiration of and largely embodied that distinctRead More


Back to Bauhaus

By Bill Strubbe

To many tourists, Tel Aviv is merely an obligatory pit stop with an airport and a sunny beach, so they quickly move on to venerable Jerusalem for a dose of sightseeing and history. Having sprung up on the sand dunes mere decades ago, little in the newborn metropolis was considered worth preserving.But now that the United Nations Educational,Read More


Serpents, Seraphs and Memory

By Aryeh Lev Stollman

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Make a seraph and mount it on a standard…” [and so] Moses made a copper serpent and mounted it on a standard and when anyone was bitten by a serpent, he would look at the copper serpent and live.— Numbers 21:8-9 [King Hezekiah] also broke into pieces the copper serpent that Moses had made, for until thatRead More


On Exhibit: The Infamous 1492 Decree

By Jennifer Siegel

The original decree ordering the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492 will come to New York this month, as part of an exhibit commemorating the 500th anniversary of the death of Queen Isabella I. Titled “Isabella the Catholic, Queen of Two Worlds (1451-1504),” the presentation also will feature illuminated manuscripts, rareRead More


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