controversy

Is Israel's National Anthem, 'Hatikva,' Racist? A New Debate Gains Steam

Jews have a long history revising liturgy they find offensive.  The Reform movement has often led that charge, doing away with, for the most part, patrilineal prayers they think should be gender-neutral, and thus more inclusive.

Can Drake Save the Bar Mitzvah?

When Drake’s new video, “HYFR,” dropped over the weekend—in which the Jewish, biracial hip-hop superstar raps at a bar mitzvah—I was thrilled. Initially.

Grassyards and Anti-Grassyards: Notes on The Gunter Grass Affair

In the war waging over Gunter Grass—the Nobel Prize winning German author, teenage Nazi soldier, and author of a poem denouncing Israel’s threats on Iran—it’s hard to tell whose national psyche is more scarred.  In Germany, where Grass, 84, published the poem, translated into English as “What Must Be Said,” the intellectual landscape has been virtual

On "Death of a Salesman", Arthur Miller, and Goldman Sach's Greg Smith

When Arthur Miller’s “Death of A Salesman” first opened on Broadway, in 1949, Brooks Atkinson, The New York Times’ chief theater critic, could not have been more enthusiastic—“masterly,” he called, “heroic” and “superb.”  It is safe to say that the same adjectives can be used to describe the current Broadway revival that opened this week.  Philip Seymour Hoffman, in the lead role of Willy Loman, brings renewed complexity to a classic American character who

Richard Taruskin and Classical Music: Good for the Jews

Perhaps the greatest irony of classical music is that, while Jews have excelled in the genre as both composers and musicians, they have left very little notable music with an identifiable Jewish strain.  Many have tried, to be sure—Leonard Bernstein and Steven Reich, to name two.  But both those greats will be forever famous for their non-Jewish work.

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. 

Song of Solomon: Steve Martin and the 92nd Street Y

It looks like the New York Times' Steve Martin 92nd Street Y comedy of manners story has turned into something bigger.  Today, Martin published an Op-Ed explaining himself more fully, and all last week's papers seemed to have something to say.  

Subversive Swastika: Or, Is Nara's Art Innoncent?

Years ago, on a trip to Japan, I came across a swastika.  Dozens of them, actually, in museums across the country.  I was shocked, what Westerner wouldn't be? 

No doubt this has happened to many Western travelers in Asia, and no doubt many have gotten the re-assuring answer from tour guides or friends: don't worry, it just means "good luck." Buddhists have been using it as a symbol for luck for more than 2,000 years.

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