Useless. Egocentric. Negligible. These are the words David Assaf, a professor of Jewish history at Tel Aviv University, used to describe a condition called “grapho-mania,” or excessive writing. The subject was at the center of a talk delivered March 28 called “Hasidic Grapho-Mania: The Strange Case of Rabbi Eliezer Shlomo Schick of Brooklyn-Yavne’el.” The program was part of a series of spring events hosted by the Institute for Israel & Jewish Studies at Columbia University.
Poet, filmmaker, mystic, photographer and publisher Ira Cohen, who died last April, can still fill a room with energy. With the aid of Cohen’s address book, friends gathered this month at the Living Theatre on New York’s Lower East Side to celebrate the life of the Bronx-born countercultural figure who spent years mixing it up with the avant-garde on more than three continents. “It’s clear,” said Timothy Baum, a Surrealist expert, “that Ira is still alive.”
Colorful tumblers, bowls, vases and pitchers beckoned viewers to come close and examine their artisanship. The handmade creations were the work of Daniel Bellow, whose pottery was on display at the recent New York International Gift Fair at the Javits Center in New York. The potter had traveled from the Berkshires to show his high-fire porcelain to the crowds of people who visit the show each year.
Philip will have to make room for another Roth. The irony is that Joseph Roth, a Galician-born Austro-Hungarian Jewish writer, dead for nearly three quarters of a century, has never been more alive in the English speaking world.
Albert Einstein and Rabindranath Tagore at Einstein’s Berlin home, 1926. Courtesy of the Leo Baeck Institute.
More than a month after the Occupy Wall Street protests began, Karl Marx has come to Zuccotti Park to see what the hubbub is all about. Admittedly, the 19th-century political philosopher was not there himself, but was present in the form of a small puppet from the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.
Courtesy of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
What is on Gary Shteyngart’s mind? Only a clairvoyant would know. It’s much easier to surmise what’s on his bookshelves.
Here’s an unusual story: anarchists in search of order. Bill Weinberg, a former WBAI radio host, is working to save the Libertarian Book Club, founded by Jewish and Italian anarchists in 1946. A recent ad in The Brooklyn Rail reads: “[I]n dire straits: about to lose our office at the old Peace Pentagon (339 Lafayette) — no money — old comrades getting older — etc.” It continues: “[H]elp us hold aloft the black banner into the 21st century.”
“It’s a shanda (outrage)!” exclaimed Bruce A. Phillips of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Los Angeles Campus. He was reacting to the cessation of the American Jewish Year Book after a successful run of more than a century by the American Jewish Committee.