critic

Measuring The Giant That Was Yehuda Halevi

Hillel Halkin’s new biography of the poet-philosopher does him justice.

04/13/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

Who was Yehuda Halevi? Generations of Jewish schoolchildren here and in the Palestine Yishuv grew up with his classic poetic line, “Libi ba-mizrach, v’anochi b’sof ma’arav” — “My heart is in the East (the Land of Israel), but I, my body, is in the furthest reaches of the West.” Living and working in the 11th and 12th centuries in Spain, he was one of the giants of Hebrew poetry. That he was a significant figure in the history of Jewish thought is unquestioned.

Halkin captures a larger-than-life figure.

Helping Other Activists' Children

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg’s son, an ardent critic of post-9/11 government tactics, will speak at Central Queens Y.

06/05/2009
Editorial Intern

He was only 6 years old when his parents — Ethel and Julius Rosenberg — were executed in 1953 by the United States government, after being accused of passing atomic secrets to the Russians.
“I was 3 when they were arrested and 6 when they were executed, and I don’t remember any of that sort of thing,” said Robert Meeropol, who took the last name of his adoptive parents.
But that hasn’t stopped him from dedicating his life to helping other children in similar positions, by starting the Rosenberg Fund for Children in 1990.

Robert Meeropol: Echoes of the McCarthy era.

Ed Koch's 5 Top Current Movies

Okay, everybody knows Ed Koch is a former New York mayor and a major player in Jewish politics. In 2008 he campaigned aggressively for Democratic nominee Barack Obama; these days he's giving President Obama heartburn by leading the charge against his current Middle East policies.

But Ed Koch is also a film buff and a keen-eyed critic, as recipients of his movie review emails know.

Mr. Koch was kind enough to share his top movie picks of the past 12 months with the Jewish Week:

Two From The ‘60s

03/01/2002
Staff Writer

In an inspired piece of programming, two neglected comedies will be screened back-to-back this Saturday at the American Museum of the Moving Image.

Both “Bye Bye Braverman” and “The Plot Against Harry” capture an unusual slice of Jewish life in outer-borough New York in the late 1960s, yet are largely unknown, overshadowed by the comedy of Woody Allen and the urban dramas of Martin Scorcese.

The Man In The Audience

02/15/2002
Staff Writer

How do you measure intellectual influence? Richard Posner, author of the hotly debated new book “Public Intellectuals,” rates 546 public intellectuals by media mentions, Web hits and scholarly citations from 1995-2000. Certainly, top scorers like Henry Kissinger (12,570) and Salman Rushdie (7,688) occupy large space in current public discourse, but what about someone like Robert Warshow, a cultural critic who died in 1955 at the age of 37? He nets a paltry cumulative score of 190.

Nazi Artist, Muted Opening

02/15/2002
Staff Writer

A month after controversy engulfed The Jewish Museum’s upcoming exhibition of Nazi imagery in contemporary art, the real thing is now on display in a Chelsea gallery.

Scheduling Leni Riefenstahl’s first New York solo show of photographs from “Olympia,” her film about the 1936 Berlin Games, to coincide with the Salt Lake Olympic Games, gallery owners Marianne Boesky and Marla Hamburg Kennedy are now scrambling to soften the impact of their exhibition of Hitler’s favorite filmmaker.

Mr. Bellow’s Planet

04/29/2005
Special To The Jewish Week

At the Koret Jewish Book Awards last week in San Francisco, Stanford Professor and Koret Awards chair Steven Zipperstein asked for a minute of silence to remember Saul Bellow, who had just died. Zipperstein rightly praised Bellow for his unique contribution to Jewish and American letters, and we must give Bellow his due for helping create a new American language mixing high and low, combining the immigrant’s energy with the scholar’s subtlety.

License To Offend

12/19/2007
Special To The Jewish Week

It’s common wisdom that the best comedy is essentially serious. Of course, clichés often have an underlying truth, so maybe that explains why Rob Tannenbaum, one half of the comedy-music duo Good for the Jews playing at the Highline Ball Room on Dec. 23, is both a very funny guy and yet someone who discusses his work in surprisingly sober terms.

Darkness After ‘Noon’

As a new biography shows, the second half of Arthur Koestler’s life, marked by a peculiar mix of Zionism and Jewish self-hatred, was one of steadily declining reputation.

01/22/2010
Staff Writer

If you were Jewish and lived in the 1940s, to say that Arthur Koestler was on your side was no small thing. Then at the height of his renown, Koestler, born in Budapest in 1905, had become one of Western literature’s most revered figures. His anti-Stalinist novel “Darkness at Noon,” published in 1940 and still his most famous, made him one of the first liberals to come out against Communism. The book would partly inspire George Orwell, an author whose reputation today far eclipses Koestler’s.

The new biography of Arthur Koestler by Michael Scammell, bottom, revives an overlooked thesis.
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