When I was in high school, I took a private course to prepare for the S.A.T.'s because that's what all my friends were doing. And, if you think about it, what does it say about university entrance exams if they require extra preparation that only some families can afford?
But lest you think this is a high and mighty commentary about class and education, don't you worry your pretty little head: It's all about my love life.
Three new books explore the Holocaust through the prism of everyday objects
Jewish Week Book Critic
Mundane objects can be the containers of powerful stories. Those objects take on a degree of holiness when they are infused with memory and loss, and are the only tangible connection to lives and times that are no more.
Three new books related to the dark history of the Holocaust, are connected to objects that have become priceless and symbolic: a cello, a child’s dress and an autograph book.
Hillel Halkin’s new biography of the poet-philosopher does him justice.
Jerome A. Chanes
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.
Miriam Harary used to scour New York City bookstores in search of Hebrew textbooks for her students at Hillel High School in Ocean, N.J.Until recently, Hebrew language instruction at Hillel, like dozens of other Jewish day schools, depended largely on the initiative of individual teachers. Yet even the most ambitious instructors often were discouraged by the lack of formal curricula and age-appropriate materials for teaching modern Hebrew to teens.
Only the gentlest prodding gets Dave Isay and Henry Sapoznik to sputter superlatives about “The Yiddish Radio Project,” the serendipitous act of cultural reclamation they co-produced, which airs on National Public Radio starting this Tuesday.
“It’s like opening King Tut’s tomb,” says Sapoznik. “It’s like the Rosetta Stone,” says Isay.
Vacationing in Israel two years ago, my family went on a two-day tour of Jordan, our first venture to an Arab nation. Our guide hustled us from site to site, but I had a moment of solitary reflection while on the Citadel in Amman, overlooking the white expanse of the stone city clinging to the hills below, so reminiscent of Jerusalem. The noises of the city were muffled by the arid air and summer heat. For the first time, the seal in my mind between Israel and the rest of the Middle East was punctured, and a question seeped through: What is this world beyond? But the moment was fleeting.
Just after the attacks of 9-11, as the intifada simmered outside, Peter Cole, a poet and publisher living in Jerusalem, sat down at the breakfast table to read the morning e-mail from New York. One message contained a verse by the great scholar Gershom Scholem, and it represented one of the first translations of Scholem's poetry into any language.
The New Jersey state Senate last week took a step toward ousting embattled state poet laureate Amiri Baraka when it voted to eliminate the post. The vote was 21-0, with 19 abstentions. The measure now goes to the state Assembly, but it is not clear when or if that body will take action.
As a backup plan, senators are considering a resolution to censure Baraka, who caused an uproar last year when he read his 9-11 themed poem "Somebody Blew Up America" at a poetry festival.
When history touched Yonia Fain's life, it hit with gale force. For 30 years he was "dragged by the storm of events over half a world," the Brooklyn-based painter and Yiddish poet once wrote.
Between 1923 - when a 9-year-old Fain and his family fled Bolshevik Russia, and 1953 - when he settled in New York City - Fain outran Nazi troops in Poland, was imprisoned by the Soviets, escaped to Japan, was deported to China and eventually made his way to safety and artistic success in Mexico.