eric herschthal

China on the Couch: Jewish Thought in Asia

You don't often think about Jews in China.  Demographically, there are only about 1,500 Jews today in a country of more than one billion.  But intellectually their influence is growing.

Casaubon, A Love Story: Why Christians Loved Hebrew During the Renaissance

George Eliot and Umberto Eco were smitten with Isaac Casaubon, perhaps Renaissance Europe's leading man of letters, both writing novels inspired by him. It's obvious why: he was a bibliophile whose love for the classics, literature and art were matched only by the influence he once held: a revered scholar in France, an advisor to King James in England. 

"Shoah" and The New Yorker's Mea Culpa

When Claude Lanzmann's nine-and-a-half hour epic "Shoah" debuted in 1985, much of Europe was aghast, infuriated, ashamed -- and profoundly moved. No film to date had captured the devolution of humanity that the Holocaust required -- and, years later, the sublimated memory and even outright denial that bystanders, Nazis and even victims still maintained.  

Gone Fishin' (Plus: The Sinbad Awards!)

Dear Readers,

I'm on vacation this week, so this is the last post you'll read till I'm back on Monday, Jan. 3.  So an early happy new year!

Poems, by Hannah Senesh

This week I wrote a review of the Hannah Senesh exhibit at the Museum of Jewish Heritage.  A  wealthy Jewish girl from Hungary, Senesh immigrated to Palestine in 1939, when she was 17.  After a few years there, however, she felt isolated from world events: put simply, the war in Europe.  So when the British organized a Jewish brigade in Palestine to help them rescue Allied forces caught behind enemy lines, she signed on.  

Timothy Snyder on "Shoah": Lanzmann's Triumph, and Tragedy

Last summer the Yale historian Timothy Snyder drew much attention with his provocative essay detailing the ways Auschwitz is a poor symbol of the Holocaust: Jews died mainly by bullets, not by the gas chambers typified in Auschwitz. And while most Jews sent to Auschwitz were from Western Europe, the majority of those murdered came from the East.

Timothy Snyder on "Shoah": Lanzmann's Triumph, and Tragedy

Last summer the Yale historian Timothy Snyder drew much attention with his provocative essay detailing the ways Auschwitz is a poor symbol of the Holocaust: Jews died mainly by bullets, not by the gas chambers typified in Auschwtiz. And most Jews sent to Auschwitz were from Western Europe, yet most those murdered came from the East.

Timothy Synder on "Shoah": Lanzmann's Triumph, and Tragedy

Last summer the Yale historian Timothy Snyder drew much attention with his provocative essay detailing the ways Auschwitz is a poor symbol of the Holocaust: Jews died mainly by bullets, not by the gas chambers typified in Auschwtiz. And most Jews sent to Auschwitz were from Western Europe, yet most those murdered came from the East.

What Makes A Museum Good?

This week, I wrote about the retirement of The Jewish Museum's director Joan Rosenbaum, who's led the museum for 30 years.  But the story of her career raises a few fundamental questions that The Jewish Museum, and indeed all ethnic museums, must grapple with: Should ethnic museums advance the consensus opinions of their constituent group, or should they challenge those beliefs?  And if the latter, where do you draw the line?

Alvin Ailey, a small revelation

This Sunday I went to see Alvin Ailey American Dancer Theater at City Center.  It's the 50th anniversary of its landmark piece, "Revelations," created by the company's founder, Ailey, who died of AIDS in 1989.  And each night of the company's month-long stay they're staging the work.

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