My colleague Sandee Brawarsky spoke with Joshua Foer this week, and did an excellent job reminding readers of memory's central place in Judaism. Foer's in the news for his new book, "Moonwalking with Einstein," which details how he won the American memory championship.
In case you missed it, The New York Times had a nice piece yesterday on the discovery of 1,000 books for a long forgotten academic subfield: the "Science of Judaism." Now dormant, the Science of Judaism was an attempt by German scholars to study Judaism as a kind of lost ancient culture--how scholars today might study, for instance, Greco-Roman culture, or Egyptology.
The author Gabriel Brownstein takes up the old question -- are you a Jewish writer, or just "a writer"? -- in an interesting essay for The Millions. He goes over well-trodden territory, like the rea difficulty the first popular class of American Jewish writers -- Roth, Bellow and Malamud -- had accepting this label.
It must be springtime for Hitler, for this week was chock full of anti-semitic tirades. By now you've probably heard about the most vile bromide, the one by laureled Christain Dior designer John Galliano. In case you missed it, a couple dining next to him in a Paris restaurant caught him in a drunken stupor hurling praise for Hilter and his wish that, if the couple was
Brandeis' Rose Art Museum is not dead yet. Despite the university's much publicized--then reneged--decision to sell off much of the museum's permanent collection last year, the museum itself has been chugging along just fine. At least that's the indication from the upcoming symposium the Rose Art Museum is hosting on March 10, dedicated to the Babi Yar paintings of the stellar if little known painter Felix Lembersky.
Who's Lembersky?, and what's Babi Yar again? You're forgiven for asking.
In his usually precise and incisive way, critic Adam Kirsch tackles a thorny issue: should Christians read their Bible like Jews read theirs? The occasion is a new book--"The Rise and Fall of the Bible: The Unexpected History of an Accidental Book"--by Case Western religion professor Timothy Beal, who is also the child of evangelical parents.
The New Yorker does a fine job, usually, of deciding which feature articles to give out free on its website. Their logic seems obvious enough: if the story is of broad political or social importance, make it free. Keep all the other stuff--about the arts, food, sports, or other "soft" stories--behind the pay wall.
For subscribers to Harper's, there's a fantastic essay by Christopher Beha about his stint as a City Opera "super." Read it, a must. Beha, an editor at the magazine, reports on the comical, often infuriating but ultimately riveting experience of being an extra ("super") in the City Opera's 2009 production of Hugo Weisgall's "Esther."
This week I wrote an essay about how Jewish culture will change in light of the coming e-book revoluion. I talked to at least a dozen Jewish book experts, from scholars and publishers, to readers and rabbis, and there was clearly no consensus about what might happen--only unanimous agreement that something important will.
If you are anything like me, you've been transfixed by the Egyptian revolution. If you value political freedom, human dignity and non-violent resistance as means to achieve both, than this was an event impossible not to love. We all know the future is uncertain--if a legitimate democracy will takes Mubarak's place, and if that democracy will mesh with its former allies, America and Israel among them--but the short history of the revolution itself is what both conservatives and liberals alike in the U.S.