Fifty years ago, one of the most influential literary critics around was Alfred Kazin. Everyone knew he was Jewish -- a famed member of the City College New York Intellectual set of the 1930s -- but few probably thought much of it. Kazin seemed to like it that way, never distancing himself from his identity, but also only occasionally allowing his thoughts on Jewishness to seep into print.
It was announced this week that Philip Levine, 83, will be the new U.S. poet laureate. If it isn't obvious from his name, he's Jewish. But that's no surprise with regard to poet laureates--Louise Gluck was the last Jewish honoree, in 2003, and Robert Pinksy held the distinction (i.e. laureate and Jewish) three years before that. Plus, there's Joseph Brodsky, Karl Shapiro, and many others I'm skipping.
The easy thing to do after Kanye West's poorly chosen words this weekend--in which he likened the noxious stares he gets these days to ones people might give Hitler--is to ask for an apology. No word yet on whether any Jewish groups are asking for one, but my bet is that it's in the offing. But perhaps a better thing to do is to ask: are his comments a reflection of philo-semitism?
I was never a fan of Amy Winehouse's music, but I think I understood where it came from. Like me, Winehouse grew up enthralled by black music, and with hip-hop in particular. Winehouse--who died on Sunday at 27, and was buried today in accordance with Jewish custom--told The Los Angeles Times a few years ago that her first singing act was in a female hip-hop duo. She formed th
If you don't know who Bernard Henri-Levy is, don't worry. There's a new celebrity French intellectual you should know: Elisabeth Badinter. She's an older feminist who recently became a celebrity in France with her trenchant new book attacking other feminists' views. And like BHL, she's Jewish.
There are certain things that we all read on the Web that we find unbelievable. Not "unbelievable" as in "amazing," but events that simply cannot be believed. Some of these crazy things have actually occurred as reported, but many are simply hoaxes. Thank God for websites like Snopes.com to debunk these myths.
Jill Abramson, the just-annouced new editor of The New York Times, got a tattoo when she was 49. It was of a subway token and Abramson said she got it to re-affirm her roots as a lifelong New Yorker. And perhaps needless to say, a Jewish New Yorker. She spoke with New York magazine last year in a prophetic profile written when she was then the No. 2 editor at the paper, under Bill Keller's one-spot.
The Fieldston School in Riverdale has many famous alumni. They include: J. Robert Oppenheimer, Roy Cohn, Stephen Sondheim, Eli Zabar and Diane Arbus. Needless to say they're all Jewish. But re-reading this New Yorker profile of the revered black poet and musician Gil Scott-Heron, I was reminded that the prestigious prep school has done much to reach out to less affluent non-Jews.
The Cannes Film Festival's board of directors did the right thing in expelling Lars von Trier from the festival today. The decision came only a day after Von Trier, a Danish director who was raised an atheist, though told that his father was Jewish, made outrageous comments about Hitler.