historian

Jews Split On Pius Sainthood Action

Surprise move by Benedict for wartime pope leading to fresh schism among interfaith experts.

12/23/2009
Staff Writer

A cloud of suspicion will hover above the Bishop of Rome when he crosses the Tiber River to visit Rome’s Great Synagogue next month.

Pope Benedict XVI’s planned visit on Jan. 17 to the synagogue — the second in history by the leader of the Roman Catholic Church — will take place in the shadow of renewed controversy over Pope Pius XII, the pontiff during World War II whose ambiguous record has soured Jewish-Catholic relations for four decades.

So Long, Studs

Monday, November 10th, 2008 Born in the Bronx to Russian Jewish immigrants, Studs Terkel (who was to become “the walking anthology of all things Chicago) didn’t particularly see himself as Jewish, except as an agnostic’s ethnic curiosity. But his recent death underlined, for me, at least, the serious difference between Stud’s leftist politics and that of Bill Ayers.   The left of Ayers, and his Weather Underground, was nihilist, born of rage, leading to bombings and death, to a culture of loathing for anyone who disagreed.

Serving Up Food With Attitude

The wisecracking and domineering waiter holds a mythical place in the history of American Jewish restaurants.

04/03/2009
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.”

The Question Of Community

While Zionists see a state as the answer, American Jews have proven adept at creating their own communities, relatively free from anti-Semitism.

03/06/2009
What, indeed, is “community”? Are we bound together by common purposes and goals? (This approach is beloved by the community organizers.) Or is there something deeper, more intimate, in the idea of community, something that reaches down to family? In this construct, the community provides the individual much of what the family provides; it’s the idea of kinship.

Sephardic Gangster Flicks

12/06/2002
Staff Writer
The Bettouns are a traditional kind of family. They decorate their homes with menorahs and affix mezuzahs to their doorposts. They gather in the synagogue for bar mitzvah services and celebrate in lavish style. And when someone dies, they immediately say the Shema: even when that person has just been thrown from a helicopter into the backyard of the family compound.   

A Landscape For Contemplation

07/11/2003
Staff Writer
The Rothko Chapel in Houston, Texas, is an austere space for ecumenical meditation. One of the oil town's most famous landmarks, its walls are adorned with 14 monumental paintings by the Russian-born artist Mark Rothko, rendered in his definitive style of floating patches of color: in this case, black, deep brown and purple. The art patron Dominique de Menil, who commissioned the space and its somber paintings, reportedly said the works evoke "the mystery of the cosmos, the tragic mystery of our perishable condition, [and] the silence of god, the unbearable silence of God."

A Shtetl Grows In Israel

06/06/2003
Staff Writer
A different kind of settlement activity took place Sunday outside Rishon Lezion, Israel's fourth-largest city. June 1 marked the groundbreaking for the Shtetl, the latest project by Holocaust survivor and historian Yaffa Eliach. Seven miles southeast of Tel Aviv, in the heart of the Jewish homeland, Eliach plans to recreate her Lithuanian hometown of Eishyshok.

East of Auschwitz

In shifting the focus to the millions who died at the hands of mobile firing squads Yale historian Timothy Snyder puts the Holocaust in a broader context.

12/23/2009
Staff Writer

Every few years a poll comes out showing how little the general public knows about the Holocaust: in 2005, a poll found that only 40 percent of Canadians could correctly identify the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust, while one in six thought the number was less than a million. A BBC poll that year revealed that half of Britons had never even heard of Auschwitz.

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Jews Split On Pius Sainthood Action

Surprise move by Benedict for wartime pope leading to fresh schism among interfaith experts.

12/23/2009
Staff Writer

A cloud of suspicion will hover above the Bishop of Rome when he crosses the Tiber River to visit Rome’s Great Synagogue next month.

Pope Benedict XVI’s planned visit on Jan. 17 to the synagogue — the second in history by the leader of the Roman Catholic Church — will take place in the shadow of renewed controversy over Pope Pius XII, the pontiff during World War II whose ambiguous record has soured Jewish-Catholic relations for four decades.

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