Eric Herschthal

Anna Halprin’s Dance Therapy

New documentary traces the varied steps of the pioneering
modern dance choreographer.

04/27/2010
Staff Writer

When Anna Halprin was growing up in the 1920s, she liked to watch her grandfather pray. He would rock back and forth, his long white beard swaying, while a string of unintelligible words rushed from his mouth. As his words became louder, faster, his body followed suit, moving in what seemed like some mystical dance. God must have looked something like that, Halprin remembers thinking. And so, she reasoned, “I thought God was a dancer.”
 

For Halprin, dance has tangible health benefits.

Did The Hebrew Bible Give Birth To Democracy?

Scholars beginning to challenge view that the rise of democratic values belongs solely to Western secular thought.

04/27/2010
Staff Writer

When the Texas Board of Education voted last month in favor of a proposal that would emphasize the religious origins of democracy in high school curricula, many liberals were outraged. It seemed to fly in the face of the long-held assumption that Western political ideas — toleration, the separation of church and state, indeed the genius of democratic rule itself — was born from the steady secularization of the West. It was the age of the Enlightenment, after all, that produced America’s great experiment in democracy.
 

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Less Is More: Alex Epstein’s Poetic Prose

For young Israeli writer, brevity is the name of the game.

04/26/2010
Staff Writer

Americans are surely familiar, to a point, with Israeli literature. Go to your local Barnes & Noble and you’ll find titles from Amos Oz, David Grossman and Aaron Appelfeld well stocked on its shelves.

Alex Epstein: His short story collection "Blue Has No South" is a study in brevity.

The Pursuits of Maira Kalman

From Obama to Tel Aviv to the New Yorker’s legendary ‘New Yorkistan’ cover,
the brainy Israeli-born painter/writer/blogger explores modern life.

04/07/2010
Staff Writer

When Barack Obama won the presidency, Maira Kalman was thrilled. It was not only a fresh start for America, she thought, but one for her own work as well: The New York Times was looking for another assignment for Kalman after her wildly successful illustrated blog, “The Principles of Uncertainty,” which documented her own life, debuted in 2006.

An gouache painting by Maira Kalman, titled  “Israel Bed” (2008).

Passover Form And Function

For Israeli photographer Galia Gur Zeev, the seder table suggests multiple meanings.

04/01/2010
Staff Writer

 A few things immediately come to mind when you think, “Passover seder”: matzah, maror, charoset, four glasses of wine.  But in “Seder.Table,” a cool, stark and fascinating new photography exhibit at the 92nd Street Y, none of that matters. In fact, the artist, Galia Gur Zeev, while showing several plates, people around them, and a large wooden table, doesn’t even show a crumb of food.

“Seder” (1998), below, shows Gur Zeev’s family, but she says the work transcends her own tribe.

Passover Form And Function

For Israeli photographer Galia Gur Zeev, the seder table suggests multiple meanings.

03/29/2010
Staff Writer

 A few things immediately come to mind when you think, "Passover seder": matzah, maror, charoset, four glasses of wine. But in "Seder.Table," a cool, stark and fascinating new photography exhibit at the 92nd Street Y, none of that matters. In fact, the artist, Galia Gur Zeev, while showing several plates, people around them, and a large wooden table, doesn't even show a crumb of food.

"Seder.Table": a body of work that is notably domestic yet still richly varied

When Personal Politics Distorts Jewish History

03/23/2010
Staff Writer

When the Israeli historian Shlomo Sand released his book “The Invention of the Jewish People” in America a few months ago, journalists here wondered if it would attract the same attention it did abroad. It was a bestseller in Israel upon its initial release in 2008, and later won the French journalists’ highest honor, the Aujourd’hui Award. So far, however, the book has made little impact here.

Taking Humor Seriously

Staff Writer
03/18/2010

 

Ruth Wisse has taught a course on Jewish humor at Harvard for years, but you might not know it given her most recent work. “Jews and Power,” published by Nextbook/Schocken in 2007, was a very serious book.

It argued that throughout history Jews have often blamed themselves for problems not of their own making. Since the destruction of the Second Temple, in 70 C.E., Wisse detected a pattern in Jewish history in which Jews aligned themselves with ideas that ran counter to their own interests in the hope that it might save them.

Ruth Wisse

Almost Everything Is Illuminated

Yeshiva University Museum exhibit features a dazzling array
of mostly hand-written Hebrew books.

03/18/2010

About six years ago, the curator Sharon L. Mintz was looking for rare printed Talmuds for an exhibit she was organizing at the Yeshiva University Museum. She came across the name of a little-known collector in Switzerland who said he could help. Mintz was flown out to the private home of the collector, but discovered that he had much more than Talmuds.
 

The new exhibit is devoted to the collection of rare Hebrew books held by Rene Braginsky

Out Of South Africa

Whether in “The Nose” or his stop-animation,
artist William Kentridge’s work is unmistakably Jewish.

03/11/2010
Staff Writer

The Museum of Modern Art’s new retrospective of the work of the South African artist William Kentridge is organized around five themes. “Themes” is something of a misnomer, though, since the five sections of the show coalesce around what might more accurately be described as “distinct bodies of work.” Either way, several themes (and certainly more than five) recur in many sections, with at least one being very hard to ignore: Jewishness, an omnipresent feature throughout Kentridge’s oeuvre.

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