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.
Times documentary ignores some questions about the Gray Lady and its future.
Ari L. Goldman
Special To The Jewish Week
With all due respect to the Jewish Week (and all other Jewish newspapers), it is the New York Times — and not the Jewish papers — that is the Jewish community’s newspaper of record. I know this from being a lifelong reader of the Times and I know this from my years as a Times employee.
It's too bad Lars Von Trier stole the show at Cannes last week because the news would have otherwise been, well, the film that won the highest prize. That honor went to the reclusive American director Terrence Malick's new film, "The Tree of Life," which stars Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and opens tomorrow.
I couldn't help but be saddened by the snippet of art-world news I read today: long-time MoMA photography curator Peter Galassi announced his retirement. He's not exactly old--he's 60--but he's been at the MoMA for more than three decades and has been an tremendous boon for contemporary photography. One of my favorite shows in recent memory, at any New York City museum, and in any medium, was the Jeff Wall retropsecive in 2007. But
Jewish fiction is alive and well in America, and holding up a large pike in the tent is Nathan Englander. The Orthodox day school drop-out, born in 1970 on Long Island, has never made his affinity for Jews a secret: "The Ministry of Special Cases," his 2007 best-seller, focused on Jews who disappeared during Argentina's "dirty war." And his first collection of short stories, "For the Relief of Unbearable Urges" (2000), was riddled with Jewish-themed works.
I'm sure Comcast's p.r. people did not mean this to happen: early this week, Comcast, the cable provider sent out a press release that it would give away on its website and to subscribers 10 Holocaust documentaries, free of charge, and selected by Steven Spielberg's USC Shoah Foundation Institute. The press release said the altruistic gesture was meant to commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day, which falls on May 1. See, corporations aren't so bad, right?
Earlier this week the Israeli-Arab actor and peace activist Juliano Mer Khamis, 52, was shot dead, presumably by Palestinian militants. The New York Times had a moving story about the funeral for Mer Khamis held on Wednesday, reporting that the Israeli government allowed his coffin to be taken briefly to the edge of a West Bank checkpoint. They made the gesture so his Palestinian supporters could pay their respects, as they were not permitted to go to his burial inside Israel.
In case you missed it, The New York Times had a nice piece yesterday on the discovery of 1,000 books for a long forgotten academic subfield: the "Science of Judaism." Now dormant, the Science of Judaism was an attempt by German scholars to study Judaism as a kind of lost ancient culture--how scholars today might study, for instance, Greco-Roman culture, or Egyptology.
This week I wrote an essay about how Jewish culture will change in light of the coming e-book revoluion. I talked to at least a dozen Jewish book experts, from scholars and publishers, to readers and rabbis, and there was clearly no consensus about what might happen--only unanimous agreement that something important will.
Keeping up with celebrity gossip is not one of my top priorities. In fact, it is just this week, thanks to his movie-related media blitz, that I am able to correctly identify Justin Bieber. (I’d been thinking he and Justin Timberlake were the same person.)
So I did not realize until last night, while waiting in line at the Rite Aid checkout counter (do you not envy my life of glamour?) that Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky, whose interfaith wedding kept Jewish bloggers like me busy all summer long and, no doubt, served as an economic stimulus plan for much of New York State, may be experiencing marital problems.