As Yom HaShoah approaches, Jews all over the world wrestle with how best to remember, retrieve and relay. Gyongji Mago, the catalyst for Gabor Kalman’s documentary “There was Once” has much to teach us. A high school teacher fascinated by local history, she came to realize that many of her students had no idea that Jews had ever lived in Kolocsa, a small town in southern Hungary. A Catholic, she too had had limited exposure to Jews.
Charlotte Wolff died in 1986 and today is little known beyond an esoteric reading public. Plunkett Lake Press has just released an electronic edition of her autobiography, “Hindsight,” first published in 1980.
Cranberry sauce is left untouched on the Thanksgiving table. A mullah proposes a temporary marriage to a Jewess on a flight. A Southern woman who looks like she comes from generations of country club members is actually the daughter of an Iranian Jew.
As much as we may yearn to transcend the material, we live with "stuff." Inspired by the British Museum and the BBC’s hugely successful “A History of the World in 100 Objects,” New School curators Radhika Subramaniam and Margot Bouman present New York through the everyday (the subway token, the public phone booth), the overlooked (a boot scraper, a rat bait trap), the iconic (the Empire State Building, Metropolitan Museum badges) and the mundane (black umbrellas, a coffee cup, sneakers).
"EAT” is an irresistible imperative. Jews around the world are defined by our foods. So eager anticipation was tangible last Saturday night at the 14th St Y where a supportive audience had come to encounter works by LABA fellows exploring texts centered on food.
The Jewish Studies Center at Baruch College hosted an ambitious and absorbing program, “Jewish Arts and Identity in the Contemporary World” on May 7th. Three panels – on theater, music and the visual arts - were the core of the conference complemented by a performance by Audrey Flack and the Art History Band.
A satisfying historical novel displays a flair for narrative and credible characters grounded on a solid base of research. The more remote the period, the tougher the challenge. In “The Liars’ Gospel,” (Little Brown), Naomi Alderman, a British writer, takes on perhaps the most difficult challenge of all.
“I don’t know what it was. It might have been a head, or perhaps a hand or foot, it went by so fast, but following it, as if pulling a wire, came the explosion, and instantaneously the window I was sitting beside shattered.” From the first sentence of Michael Lavigne’s “The Wanting” (Schocken), you are gripped by a tension that is sustained throughout the novel.
I love my Kindle. When setting off on a trip, I luxuriate in being able to choose from a juicy new novel, an engrossing biography or rereading a title I’ve enjoyed while not having to shlep extra weight. And yet, when reading Edmund de Waal’s “The Hare with Amber Eyes” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), I did find myself squinting at the complex family tree and wondering what the printed version might offer.