The wisecracking and domineering waiter holds a mythical place in the history of American Jewish restaurants.
He may be one of the last of a famous breed, but Cliff Fyman, who has worked at Sardi’s for almost two decades, is that beloved icon of New York culture: the Jewish waiter.
A published poet and an accomplished visual artist, Fyman says that a blue-collar job is one that enables him “not to take my job home with me.” He tried bartending, but found that he had to talk too much with the customers and consequently had “no more words left for poetry.”
Long before Starbucks, or even Tel Aviv, cafés played a key role in fostering (and caffeinating) Jewish literary and intellectual communities.
At the turn of the 20th century, the presence of acculturated Jews in the renowned literary and artistic Viennese cafés was so pronounced that a proverb claiming that “the Jew belongs in the coffeehouse” was widely circulated in the city. Today, a hundred years later, the city of Tel Aviv can lay claim not only to serving some of the best coffee available anywhere, but also to fostering and sustaining a thriving café culture; a culture with heritage that goes back to the 1930s and the immigrants who came from cities like Vienna, Berlin and Warsaw.
Brooklyn’s Syrian-Egyptian Jewish community has prospered even as it has retained its Old World traditions and tight-knit feel.
I was only 16 when I left my community of Syrian Jews in Brooklyn, convinced I was on an upward trajectory. I was, after all, trading the prospect of Brooklyn College for Vassar, abandoning the staid, simple streets of Bensonhurst for the lush opulence of the quad in Poughkeepsie and later Manhattan, leaving behind the little shul where I sat with my mom in the obligatory women’s section for the vast progressive egalitarian temples that were sprouting everywhere in America.
With a bare midriff and gyrating hips, Sarah Aroeste performs jazz and rock blended into favorites from her Sephardic repertoire: songs like "Hija Mia" (The One I Want) and "Yo M'enamori" (Moon Trick).
Roman Polanski's latest feature film is a dramatic account of one man's survival in wartime Warsaw. "The Pianist," which opens Dec. 27, is also a documentary in at least one respect: its star, Adrien Brody, nearly starved himself to portray the Jewish musician and composer Wladyslaw Szpilman, shedding some 30 pounds from his already slender frame as filming progressed.
At the height of their contest for Cezanne's mantle as the leader of the French avant-garde, Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso agreed to swap pictures. Over the previous two years, Paris' leading provocateur Matisse had steadily ceded ground to the newcomer Picasso, until the fall of 1907, when the two men were deadlocked.
Best-selling author Dominique Lapierre writes about Helen Lieberman, a speech pathologist who provided critical services in apartheid South Africa.
In Calcutta four years ago on a visit to one of the festering slums he calls a “hell on earth,” best-selling journalist-turned-altruist Dominique Lapierre was speaking with another writer, who knew of the Frenchman’s interest in heroic figures.
“Do you want to meet a South African Mother Teresa?” the writer asked.
Lapierre, who knew the renowned Saint of the Slums, winner of a Nobel Peace Prize, learned that day about Helen Lieberman.
U.S. pressure for a “credible” Israeli military redeployment in the West Bank churned debate in Jerusalem furiously this week — but produced no clear result even as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on the issue in Paris Thursday.