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.
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.)
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.
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
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.
In his usually precise and incisive way, critic Adam Kirsch tackles a thorny issue: should Christians read their Bible like Jews read theirs? The occasion is a new book--"The Rise and Fall of the Bible: The Unexpected History of an Accidental Book"--by Case Western religion professor Timothy Beal, who is also the child of evangelical parents.
If you are anything like me, you've been transfixed by the Egyptian revolution. If you value political freedom, human dignity and non-violent resistance as means to achieve both, than this was an event impossible not to love. We all know the future is uncertain--if a legitimate democracy will takes Mubarak's place, and if that democracy will mesh with its former allies, America and Israel among them--but the short history of the revolution itself is what both conservatives and liberals alike in the U.S.
If you haven't heard the pianist Mitsuko Uchida play, do. She's performing tonight at Carnegie Hall -- solo works by Schumann, Chopin and Beethoven -- but even if you miss it, check out some of her albums online.
This week I wrote about the minimalist composer Steve Reich, whose groundbreaking Jewish chorale piece "Tehillim" (1981) is being performed by the teenage new music ensemble Face the Music next Thursday at Le Poisson Rouge. (They'll perform "Tehillim" at other locations over the next few months as well.)
This week I reported on the role Jews played in the civil rights movement under Martin Luther King. It's a fascinating story, and one that many people I interviewed told me remains poorly understood. Often it's reduced to a glib one-liner: Jews supported him, a line captured best by the iconic image of rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel walking with King in from Selma to Montgomery in 1965.