Culture View

08/23/2016 - 13:25 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Culture View

While the vast majority of Israelis are secular, one would never know it from the rock and pop songs that are dominating the country’s music scene these days — tunes that are filled with religious references, efforts to connect with divine energies and longing for release and redemption. As the renowned Israeli intellectual Yossi Klein Halevi (author of the award-winning “Like Dreamers,” about the Israeli paratroopers who reconquered the Western Wall during the Six-Day War) put it last month at a rabbinic conference in Jerusalem, “Israel’s most secular art form is becoming its most religious one. And its most Israeli art form is becoming its most Jewish one.”

08/09/2016 - 16:30 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Culture View

We are bombarded daily by images and data. You could hardly call the plethora of numbers and text “information.” That would imply that some utility attaches to it.

07/26/2016 - 12:00 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Culture View

A rabbi, a priest and an imam are hurtling down Fifth Avenue in a taxi when it crashes, instantly killing the driver and his three passengers. As the members of the clergy are waiting impatiently on line to get to the Pearly Gates, they are astonished to see the taxi driver ushered straight into heaven with great fanfare. When they finally arrive at the head of the line, they ask the reason for the driver’s preferential treatment. “While he was doing his job, his passengers were always praying,” they are told. “But when you were doing yours, your congregants were put to sleep.”

07/05/2016 - 13:02 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Culture View

When we get into the second half of the 20th century, I tell my students in “Introduction to the Moving Image” that the default setting for feature filmmaking in the developing world is a global variation of neo-realism. Like its Italian predecessors of the 1940s, this cinema is low-budget, shoot-on-location, with most of the performances coming from ordinary people rather than trained actors. The focus is invariably on family melodrama and the tensions that rapid urbanization has wrought on working people.

06/21/2016 - 12:10 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Culture View

It was an inauspicious debut, to be sure, when I finally allowed myself to be dragged onto the stage on a recent Saturday afternoon for the Father-Daughter number in my youngest daughter, Leah’s, end-of-year dance recital in Mechanicsburg, Pa. Desperately trying to mirror the movements of the 49 other equally sheepish dads, I went down on one knee and held out my hand to a blissful 7-year-old who pirouetted, preened and posed as if she were appearing with Mikhail Baryshnikov. By the time I had to do it again that evening with her 11-year-old sister, Sarah, I felt ready to audition for “Dancing With the Stars.”

06/07/2016 - 17:53 | | Special To The Jewish Week | Culture View

I was walking through Rockefeller Center one spring afternoon about 30 years ago. There was a large knot of people in front of the NBC Building, which ordinarily wouldn’t have attracted my attention at all.