Daniel Schifrin

Mapping Jewish Life

06/22/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

Fifteen years ago, at a scholar-in-residence weekend in Southern California, Chaim Potok asked the question: Is Jewish life meant to be vertical or horizontal?

The Meat Of Jewish Continuity

12/22/2009
Special To The Jewish Week

Two new books focusing on meat, Jonathan Safran Foer’s “Eating Animals” and David Sax’s “Save the Deli,” offer fascinating and contrasting views on the value of meat in American Jewish culture. Although the books are, so to speak, apples and oranges — “Eating Animals” is a moral indictment of factory farming and “Save the Deli” is a rhapsody for a disappearing culinary institution — they suggest the diverse, divergent ways in which American Jewish life is defined by its attitudes about food.

The Return Of The Tuedelband

10/20/2009
Special To The Jewish Week

Several years ago Dan Wolf, a San Francisco-based musician, writer, rapper and performer, discovered that he was the heir to a Vaudeville tune called “Tuedelband,” the signature song of the city of Hamburg. The song is so famous that it starts off the classic 1981 German film “Das Boot,” and is still sung at soccer games. A documentary called “The Return of the Tuedelband” was even made in Germany about Dan Wolf’s return to Germany to learn more about his family, and its cultural legacy.

The True True Story

08/26/2009
Special To The Jewish Week

The two penguins, singing Hebrew songs, watched in awe as their magic sukkah took off from the zoo, flying high over the city and the countryside, their long journey to Israel interrupted by a quick stop at the ruins of Macchu Picchu....

My kids interrupt me. Lior, who is 4, asks me: “Are the penguins magic?” Aviv, my 7-year-old, waves off this old, tired question. Despite his inquisitive innocence, he goes for the ontological jugular: “Who told you the story? And how do you know it’s true?”

The Lovely Bones

06/24/2009
Special To The Jewish Week

“Transmissions flow from your heart to Mine, trading, twining my pain with yours. Am I not — you? Are you not — I?”

— Abraham Joshua Heschel, “I and you.”

The Future Of Memory

04/22/2009
Special To The Jewish Week

At a recent performance of Liz Lerman Dance Exchange’s innovative and sometimes astonishing work “Small Dances about Big Ideas,” originally commissioned by Harvard Law School to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Nuremberg Trials, a young American woman is shown planting red flags in the earth in Rwanda, each one representing the presence of a body (or body part) at the site of a massacre.

In Memory Of Ellen Miller, Who Is Still Alive

02/25/2009
Special To The Jewish Week

“[Death...] is not the end of desire. This is the end of memory. An awful prospect, especially for Jews. We don’t mind not being wanted. We mind not being remembered.”
— Leon Wieseltier, Kaddish

Writing In A Time Of Darkness

12/23/2008
Special To The Jewish Week

In David Grossman’s title essay from his new book “Writing in the Dark,” the Israeli novelist states that writing “has immense power, the power to change a world and create a world, the power to give words to the mute and to bring about tikkun — “repair” — in the deepest, kabbalistic sense of the word.”

A simple sentence, bold in its assertion of the power of writers and writing, but one that reveals layer upon layer of meaning.

First of all, what is “the Dark” to which he refers?

The Politics Of Humor

08/20/2008
Special To The Jewish Week

I was first baffled, then amused, and then finally inspired when I woke up this morning and read “The Daily Show” writer Rob Kutner’s blog entry on The Huffington Post: “My new book, ‘Apocalypse How,’ is about how the world is about to end ... and why we should be psyched! It’s the first-ever work of apocalyptic literature that ‘accentuates the positive’ — and teaches you how to not just survive, but thrive....”

Book Groups: The New Havurot?

06/24/2005
Special To The Jewish Week

A few weeks ago I was talking with a friend who is in two book groups, one of which is based at her synagogue, and the other comosed of old friends. When I asked how she made time to attend both groups, she said, "I only go to the second one. But everyone needs a book group they don't show up at."

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