2012

Ohad Naharin, and the Art of Provocation

Ohad Naharin, the Israeli choreographer, is so synonymous with his home country that I often forget he did much of his formal training in the United States.  In New York, in fact, at both the School of American Ballet and Juilliard. I get a vivid reminder of that this weekend, when Juilliard’s remarkable ensemble of student dancers performed his work “Secus,” from 2005.

No More Questions: Leon Wieseltier and the New American Haggadah

If Leon Wieseltier would for once drop his surly, admonitory tone perhaps more people would listen.  For what he delivers in his scathing review of the New American Haggadah is certainly worth reading.  There are precious few people who are as learned in both Hebrew and English literature as he.  And that’s why, even if you disagree with his reading of the new Haggadah, you will undoubte

J'Accuse! Robert Alter on Nathan Englander, a New Literary Feud

When I saw that the new issue of The New Republic had Robert Alter reviewing a new work by Nathan Englander, I instinctively thought it’d be of Englander’s new translation of the Passover Haggadah.  Given that Alter is a widely admired translator of the Hebrew Bible, it was only natural for me to assume as much. 

On "Death of a Salesman", Arthur Miller, and Goldman Sach's Greg Smith

When Arthur Miller’s “Death of A Salesman” first opened on Broadway, in 1949, Brooks Atkinson, The New York Times’ chief theater critic, could not have been more enthusiastic—“masterly,” he called, “heroic” and “superb.”  It is safe to say that the same adjectives can be used to describe the current Broadway revival that opened this week.  Philip Seymour Hoffman, in the lead role of Willy Loman, brings renewed complexity to a classic American character who

Bibi Netanyahu: On History and Its Abuse

All eyes were on Bibi Netanyahu yesterday as he delivered his AIPAC speech.  At times he was disarming, at others bellicose, both emphasizing that Obama has Israel’s back, but that if need be, Israel would go it alone.  “The purpose of the Jewish state is to secure the Jewish future,” he thundered. “That is why Israel must always have the ability to defend itself, by itself, against any threat.”

On Being a Jewish Rapper: Musings from Drake and Co.

It used to be the case that when you mentioned Jews and hip-hop, it was Jews who did the producing, and blacks who did the rapping.  That’s changed.  Now every rap great still living—which is to say, most—are running things: Jay-Z, Kanye, Lil Wayne are all producing giants.  While Jews, on the other hand, are rapping: forget Matisyahu (but him too), there’s Drake and Mac Miller and, to my surprise, even DJ Drama.

My Problem With David Brooks (and the odd company he keeps)

Like many liberals, David Brooks is a conservative I can like.  But every now and then he falls in with the wrong conservative crowd.  And this week it was in his swooning endorsement of Charles Murray and his new book, “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010.”

Huh?, an Israeli "West Wing"?

With a name like “The Prime Minister’s Cabinet,” you’d think this television show was yet another British drama, a “Downton Abbey” sequel starring, say, Winston Churchill.  But it’s not—no, it has nothing to do with Brits, but with, of all things, Israelis.  Yes, in a culture story today, The New York Times devotes a full piece to an obscure Israeli political drama, made for T.V., that even critics in Isra

The Oscars and Me: On "Pina" and Other Hopefuls

From a Jewish point of view, the Oscar nominees announced this week gave a lot to be excited about.  There was Israeli filmmaker Joseph Cedar’s nomination for best foreign film, with “Footnote,” about an intellectual feud between father and son, both Talmudic scholars.  There was “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” an adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel about 9/11.  And there was “In Darkness,” another nomination for best

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