eric herschthal

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.

Cornel West: On Chesed, Hamlet, and the Jewish Prophet Amos

You may remember the uproar Cornel West, the Zelig-like black scholar, caused last year when he viciously attacked Obama on the liberal website Truthdig.  The big news was that West—a prominent voice in American public life, but especially within the black community—had turned against the man he spent much of the 2008 campaigning for.  But there was a lesser-noticed quote in that interview that raised many Jewish eyebrows.  Embedded in his criticism that Obama wasn’t quite black enough, he said that Obama seemed “most comfortable with upper-¬middle

On Maurcie Sendak, Adam Yauch, and the Death of Jewish Brooklyn Bohemia

If the death this weekend of Adam Yauch, 47—the Beastie Boys founder, nicknamed MCA—was not enough, today came another blow: the death of Maurice Sendak, at 83.  Both were Jewish artists, pioneers in their respective genres, and both were Brooklyn-born.  That they were born some 35 years apart, and came from worlds quite diff

Move Over Mendelssohn: Why Everything You Know About the Jewish Enlightenment Is Wrong

Ask anyone about the Jewish Enlightenment, or Haskalah, and the first person they’ll likely mention is Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786).  Few would disagree that Mendelssohn played a key role in the Haskalah’s earliest stages, attempting as he did to modernize Judaism in 18th century Germany and bring it in line with the broader intellectual trend of his time—that is, the Enlightenment, or what historians often call the Age of Reason.

Move Over Talmud: There's a New, Secular Jewish Commentary in Town

Move over Talmud: there’s a new Jewish commentary in town.  This week, the Posen Foundation and Yale University Press announced the publication date for the first in a 10-volume series anthologizing 3,000 years of Jewish culture and civilization.

The Death of the Father: How Did Benzion Netanyahu Influence His Son?

How will the death of Benzion Netanyahu, the father of Israel’s prime minister who died in Jerusalem on Monday, at 102, affect his powerful son?  I don’t have a clue, though some, like Jeffrey Goldberg, have posited that it might—might—make the prime minister a little bit more willing to compromise with Israel's Arab neighbors.  Rather than play Nostr

"Mein Kampf" Goes Back In Print--in Germany. Good for the Jews?

For years, German scholars and the country’s most prominent Jewish organizations have argued that Germany should allow “Mein Kampf” to be published in Germany before the copyright expires, in 2015.  It is not illegal to publish the book in Germany, but the state of Bavaria, which holds the copyright, had adamantly refused for decades, saying that the longer the book was out of print, the better.

Gertrude Stein: Why Her Fascist Politics Matter

Gertrude Stein’s collaboration with the fascist Vichy government was never a secret.  But, until now, many have simply ignored it; or, to use the critic Frederic Jameson’s phrase, given over to the “innocence of intellectuals.”  Stein’s avid support for Petain, the Nazi collaborator who headed the Vichy government, has often been written off as merely the tragic consequence of many a brilliant artists.  What mattered was her prose, not her politics.

The Adventures of Alan Z. Feuer: The Jew Nobody Knew

Over the weekend, you may have caught the engrossing New York Times profile of a New York society don—one Alan Z. Feuer—who had a mysterious past.  I didn’t bother reading it when I first picked up my Sunday print copy—it was buried in the paper, in the scrappy Metropolitan section. But then I got one email after another, from family members, friends, recommending it, all with that guilt-inducing epigram: “must read.”

Syndicate content