Books


The Rich and the Bloody

By Rodger Kamenetz

How does poetry serve, since, as W.H. Auden told us long ago, it “makes nothing happen”? That is the question behind Adrienne Rich’s most recent book, which comes as a summary of all she has learned in the course of giving us 30 books of poetry full of commitment to the art and its relevance. I find in her work always great strength, of mind and of ear. She does not seek to be obscure or to write for trivial reasons; her poems emerge from personal need and urgency.Read More


The Woman From Warsaw

By Mladen Petrov

Warsaw — If it weren’t for a story she read in 1972 in a local paper, she would probably be a retired journalist by now. Instead, the phones are ringing, meetings are being set and work is progressing on a new book. Monday morning at the apartment of Hanna Krall is not exactly peaceful. At the age of 75, the writer has no time for a break.Read More


A Tribute to a Great Spirit

By Alan Brill

We may consider ourselves fortunate to have the many personal reflections on mystical texts offered in tribute to Arthur Green, on the occasion of his 70th birthday. “Jewish Mysticism and the Spiritual Life: Classical Texts, Contemporary Reflections” contains 26 essays, each consisting of a translated Hasidic text accompanied by a spiritual reflection. Arthur Green taught two generations of graduate students how to read Hasidic texts and produce from them approaches to contemporary spirituality. Here, his students go forth, continuing the path he has laid out for them.Read More


Joshua Foer’s Memory Palace

By Stephen Hazan Arnoff

In his intriguing first book, “Moonwalking With Einstein,” Joshua Foer takes on the task of explaining the history of memory, its current state and how he entered the world of competitive recollection. He surveys the meaning and significance of memory from ancient Greece, through the Renaissance and up to now.Read More


Wanted: A Gospel Worth Following

By Allison Yarrow

For many, college is a first sip of freedom, but for the characters in Justin Taylor’s debut novel, college is an incarnation of the evil machine against which they were born to rebel. “The Gospel of Anarchy,” is set in the inland swamp of Gainesville, Fla., during the summer of 1999. Gainesville is home to one of the country’s largest state universities, and Taylor hones in on its triple threat of “student ghetto,” bourgeois “Republicats” and the parasitic businesses that suck parental money from fun-seeking kids. Offended by this and feeling set apart is David, a secular Jew and former student with a fetish for lugubrious internet porn and a compulsion to perform what must be some of the most glum novelistic masturbation to date.Read More


Bound for Social Contention

By Alicia Ostriker

‘The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” So said William Faulkner in his “Requiem for a Nun.” If proof of this statement is needed, the history of Israel — where events thousands of years old are still alive and kicking — is a perfect instance. And within this history, Genesis 22, the biblical story of the binding of Isaac by his father, Abraham, is the quintessentially living proof-text. Reverberating through the centuries, interpreted and reinterpreted, an unparalleled emblem of faith, or a distressing darkness, in Jewish identity, the Aqedah (binding) is not simply myth.Read More


You Don’t Know Zubi!

By Adam Rovner

Israelis barely speak Hebrew. The language on the streets, in cafes and along the beaches is a hybrid of adapted and adopted expressions mined from Arabic, English, Russian, Yiddish and dozens of dialects. When I first arrived in Israel in 1987, I thought the handful of half-remembered words from my few years spent at a yeshiva would help me get around Jerusalem. But I sounded like an autistic teenager from the pages of Genesis. I shouted at a guy hassling a female friend, “Lech lecha!” thinking this might send him on his way.Read More


As a Woman, Being Reborn

By Jake Marmer

Medieval kabbalists wrote obsessively about language powers that brought the world into existence. Joy — previously known as Jay — Ladin is a contemporary poet whose words are also creating a world. In her case, though, the world in question is Joy’s own: living as an openly transgender person — spiritual seeker, sexual being, father of two and Jew.Read More


Out of Step, and Out of This World

By Stuart Schoffman

“I sat swaying over the book, poring over its words. I could make out nearly all that the Gypsies had written if I stuck with it long enough. The meaning was something else again. But that’s the way of a scripture: it’s often not meant to be understood.” So writes Danny Shapiro, the narrator-protagonist of David Halperin’s startling first novel.Read More


A Down to Earth Philosophy

By Allan Nadler

There is a charming Jewish tradition of taking delight in the discovery of the hidden Jewishness of celebrities. This childishly ethnocentric, but perfectly innocuous, enchantment with uncovering the Jewish origins of the famous and fabulous was brilliantly parodied decades ago in the song “Would You Believe It?” chanted by Phil Leeds on the aptly named 1966 album, “When You’re in Love, the Whole World Is Jewish.” A half century later, Adam Sandler, in hilarious testimony to the continued attraction of this variety of Jewish ethnic insecurity, blessed us with “The Chanukah Song.”Read More





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