Helen Chernikoff's blog

Auschwitz' Musical Geography

Auschwitz has a musical as well as physical geography, contends a Stanford University doctoral candidate in German studies. It helped the guards maintain control, and helped prisoners resist.

Using survivor testimonies and camp administration records, Melissa Kagen has mapped the music of Auschwitz: what was played, who played it and where.

A Stanford doctoral candidate has mapped Auschwitz' music: both forced and free.

Yes, Israel, There Is Life in Galus

If you are reading this, you are probably Jewish, and there's a good chance you live outside of Israel. But maybe you didn't know that Jewish life exists where you are, and that is sometimes even interesting, and important to understand.
After all, the Israeli media says it didn't grasp this, until now.

The Israeli press recently realized Jewish life outside of Israel is newsworthy.

Some Schools Have Such Chutzpah

Labor Day is over, the school year has started and with it, so have the expectations from some schools that parents volunteer their time either in the building or after school hours.

I appreciate both my own good fortune in having children at all, and I recognize the merit of other parents who devote themselves to supporting their children’s schools.

But I want to at the same time call out the schools that still harbor this expectation of parents.

The word is chutzpahdik.

Schools should examine the assumptions behind their expectation that parents have time to volunteer.

Rabbis, Thank Your Teachers! And Read Telushkin

Me, I’m a simple Yid. A rabbinical school dropout, even: JTS ’99-’00.

I don’t have the text skills of my classmates who finished the program. I don’t pray as fluently as I would like. But I am not entirely without resources, and one of my favorites is Rabbi Joseph Telushkin’s "The Book of Jewish Values: A Day-By-Day Guide to Ethical Living."

For a better world, cite your sources.

Are We All Jonah Lehrer?

Until two weeks ago, when he was revealed to have made up quotes and attributed them to Bob Dylan, Jonah Lehrer was one of the most successful journalists of his generation, and an It Boy, and a good boy, to boot.

At 31, he’s the author of three books that nimbly dance a line between the sciences and the humanities altogether invisible to most mere mortals: Imagine (containing the falsified quotes), How We Decide and Proust was a Neuroscientist.

Jonah Lehrer falls from grace.

The Best-Dressed List Burns My Britches

This year, I noticed H.H. Shekha Moza bint Nasser of Qatar among the usual collection of European royals and movie stars that constitute Vanity Fair's annual celebration of wealthy people wearing clothes. (They're just like us. But they have more money. Ergo, tailors.)

The lady's got style. Nothing else matters.

What Do Maeve Binchy And Michele Bachmann Have In Common?

A formative experience as a young adult on a kibbutz, that's what!

Binchy, an Irish novelist whose work focused on women's lives and friendships, died Monday at age 72. Her book, "A Circle of Friends," was made into a movie starring Minnie Driver and the ferociously talented Alan Cumming, now starring as ethically suspect Chicago lawyer Eli Gold on "The Good Wife."

This lady, and recently deceased Irish novelist Maeve Binchy

Summer Reading, Yes. Beach Reading? Not So Much.

This weekend is Tisha B’Av, which is supposed to be depressing. For one thing, it's a fast day in the heat of the summer.

Lamentations

The Church of TED Talks

Who wants to be transported? I do, I do. So I was interested to read these comments in a recent New Yorker article:

“It set my heart on fire.”

“I got all inspired and my hair stood on end and I got weepy-like and energized and enthused.”

The Vilna Gaon would not have liked TED Talks

That's Why They Call It The Bubble

I just got back from Israel. I went as a kind of pre-state pilgrim, but the circumstances and the trappings of the trip were hardly old-fashioned, or pious. My ever-generous in-laws wanted to show off their grandchildren at a wedding thrown by olim relatives, so the grandchildren’s parents got to come along.

Bubbles are so beautiful
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