Jews

H&H Heretic: Why I Cheer the Closing of a Bagel Shop

On Monday the Upper West Side outlet of the venerated bagel store H&H closed, and not since the death of Michael Jackson has a New York summer seen so much grief. "There Goes a Piece of the Old Neighborhood, Again" ran a New York Times headline in a story dripping with pathos.

Happy 107th, Leo Bloom!

Today, June 16, Leopold Bloom--the protagonist of James Joyce's revered and often inscrutable novel "Ulysses"--turns 107.  Happy Birthday!  And, also, so what? 

So what--because "Ulysses" is often regarded as one of the 20th centuries greatest novels, and also one of the greatest novels few have ever read.

So what--because Leopold Bloom is one of literature's most vexing Jewish characters, as he's born Jewish, but never circumcised and baptized three times in order to marry his Christian wife, Molly.

Notes on the Closing of Yale's Anti-Semitism Center

Last week, Yale made national headlines when it decided to close its five-year-old anti-Semitism institute. The decision came after a growing number of scholars began to question whether it was promoting anti-Arab sentiment, rather than coolly objective academic scholarship.  Not to toot my own horn, by I saw this one coming. 

Shavuot: A Night of (Unhappy) Learning

Shavuot, which starts tonight, is all about learning.  Jews are supposed to stay up all night reading in celebration of God giving Jews the Torah.  What makes the holiday rare, though, isn't the reading part--what Jewish holiday doesn't involve that?  It's that there's no bad guys in the story.  Unlike Passover, we don't commemorate Jews escaping a pharaoh in Egypt, or, as in Hanukkah, a revolt against the Romans. No matzah, no latkes, just books and books and books.

Lars Von Trier and Holocaust Fatigue

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. 

The Holocaust and Pacifists: Would Pacifism Saved More Jews than War?

The thought seems outrageous: that pracifism, a principled objection to America's entrance into World War II, would have saved more Jews than fighting Hitler and defeating Nazism altogether.  But that is the argument that Nicolson Baker, the novelist and author of the 2008 pacifist's interpretation of the war, Human Smoke, makes in his month's Harper's.  And his case is compelling.

Recommended Readings: On Libya; Arabs Against Arab Anti-Semitism; and the French, Fashion and Jews

Pardon my bloggerly desuetude, but last week I was out on vacation.  Now I'm back, and to make up for the lost time in blog-o-land, I'm posting a few longer essays you might have missed. (I did, at least.)

Tony Judt, Joshua Foer, and a Jewish Memory Palaces

My colleague Sandee Brawarsky spoke with Joshua Foer this week, and did an excellent job reminding readers of memory's central place in Judaism.  Foer's in the news for his new book, "Moonwalking with Einstein," which details how he won the American memory championship. 

The Week in Anti-Semitism: A Highlight Reel

It must be springtime for Hitler, for this week was chock full of anti-semitic tirades.  By now you've probably heard about the most vile bromide, the one by laureled Christain Dior designer John Galliano.  In case you missed it, a couple dining next to him in a Paris restaurant caught him in a drunken stupor hurling praise for Hilter and his wish that, if the couple was

Babi Yar and the Rose Art Museum: Things Worth Seeing

Brandeis' Rose Art Museum is not dead yet.  Despite the university's much publicized--then reneged--decision to sell off much of the museum's permanent collection last year, the museum itself has been chugging along just fine.  At least that's the indication from the upcoming symposium the Rose Art Museum is hosting on March 10, dedicated to the Babi Yar paintings of the stellar if little known painter Felix Lembersky.

Who's Lembersky?, and what's Babi Yar again? You're forgiven for asking.

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