The Gift Of Stories

10/23/2003 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Just after Yom Kippur, I sat down with acclaimed storyteller Joel ben Izzy to talk about his new memoir, "The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness" (Algonquin). At the heart of his riveting book is the story of how he lost his voice due to complications from throat surgery. Assuming his muteness to be permanent, ben Izzy sees his life's work coming to an end, and visits his mentor, Lenny, a cantankerous recluse, to find some answers. Lenny, to ben Izzy's astonishment, sees his affliction as a blessing.

A Psalm Of David

08/24/2006 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

At almost the same moment last week that Uri Grossman, the 20-year-old son of Israeli novelist David Grossman, was reported killed in battle, I got news that an Israeli friend who had been called up to serve as a medic in the north of Israel had taken a David Grossman book with him.

When my friend came to California a few days ago for vacation, I asked him why he grabbed that particular book. He responded: “It was right there on my shelf. Anyway, I didn’t have time to get to the library.”

How Chess Explains The (Jewish) World

02/19/2008 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

For a bright yeshiva student, hungry to understand the nature of the world, there is little to distract from the promise and genius of the Talmud — except, perhaps, for chess.

A Five-Star Year

01/01/2004 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

This year produced 16 five-star recordings, and you can’t go wrong with any of them. However, because of space limitations, I am forced to choose a 10-best list. That doesn’t mean the rest are anything less than wonderful, and I have listed them all here.

“Abayudaya: Music from the Jewish People of Uganda” (Smithsonian Folkways)

Tribute To ‘The King Of Cantors’

12/18/2003 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

It is one of the greatest singing voices of the 20th century. It could be an earthy baritone, a powerhouse tenor, a piercing falsetto.

But it wasn’t the voice that made Yossele Rosenblatt “the king of cantors,” as he was so often called.

“When he sang, the soul came out,” Cantor Benny Rogosnitzky says. “He did it as a calling, that’s what comes through his singing.”

Less Is More

04/11/2002 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Turn on your television and run the dial. If you have cable, you will find Fox 5, FX, Fox Sports World, Fox News Channel, Fox Movies, Turner Classic Movies, Turner Broadcasting System, the Turner-owned CNN, f/CNN and CNN/SI. One of three daily newspapers in New York is owned by the same company that owns the Fox networks and the Fox movie studio.

All of the magazines published by AOL/TimeWarner, the Warner Brothers studio, and TimeWarner cable, the local carrier for all those TV channels, are owned by a single corporation, which also owns the various Turner networks.

Conquering The Screen

06/21/2007 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Consider Thorold Dickinson’s 1954 film "Hill 24 Doesn’t Answer" and Baruch Dinar’s landmark 1960 drama "They Were Ten." Each film has a tragic ending in which the death of Zionist patriots is a necessary prelude to the founding of a Jewish state. Then look at Uri Zohar’s "Every Bastard a King" and Joseph Millo’s "He Walked Through the Fields," both made late in 1967 (although the latter is set in 1948), both guardedly upbeat, with heroic protagonists who cheerfully rush through shot and shell to victory.

Bard Of The Background Noise

01/08/2008 - 19:00
Jewish Week Book Critic

Max Apple’s people are the folks you might see having lunch at a local diner. There’s Sidney Goodman, the carwash king of Las Vegas, and Jerome Feldman, the outgoing president of the Ohio Association of Independent Pharmacists, along with others who sell scrap metal, industrial tools and trinkets. Apple has somehow eavesdropped over the leatherette booths and followed them out and into their lives, dreams and hearts.

If I Were A Rich Man

01/15/2008 - 19:00
Rabbi David Wolpe is spiritual leader of Temple Sinai in Los Angeles.

In the Talmud we read (Arachin 10b): “There was a flute in the Temple which was smooth, fine, made of a reed, and from the days of Moses. The king issued an order that it be plated with gold, and its sound was no longer pleasant. They removed the plate, and its sound was pleasant, as it had once been.”

A Test Of Knowledge

01/08/2008 - 19:00
Rabbi David Wolpe is spiritual leader of Temple Sinai in Los Angeles.

Philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre tells of King Charles II inviting members of the royal society to explain why a dead fish weighs more than the same fish alive. After a number of subtle explanations were given, the King pointed out that it does not.

The story recalls a tale told of the Maggid of Dubnov. Once, a rabbi claimed to a level of scholarship equal to the great Vilna Gaon. The Maggid suggested a test.

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