Last night I went to Phildanco's performance at The Joyce and saw something I did not expect: a dance set to Steve Reich's "Tehillim." Phildanco is one of America's premier contemporary dance companies, with a heavy African-American influence. And "Tehillim" is Reich's iconic Jewish chorale. Not there's a necessary contradiction, hardly. But seeing the company's exceptional dancers shimmy to Reich gave me pause.
This week I wrote my Culture View column on Maira Kalman's new exhibit at The Jewish Museum. I've got a pet obsession with her work, and figured that it would have been near impossible to leave my utterly self-conscious bias behind for the sake of a more "critical" review. So instead, I used it as an occasion to look at the same illustrations of hers I love--with all their winsomeness, humor, wit, vivacity and even occasional sadness--and simply view them in another light.
Pardon my bloggerly desuetude, but last week I was out on vacation. Now I'm back, and to make up for the lost time in blog-o-land, I'm posting a few longer essays you might have missed. (I did, at least.)
My colleague Sandee Brawarsky spoke with Joshua Foer this week, and did an excellent job reminding readers of memory's central place in Judaism. Foer's in the news for his new book, "Moonwalking with Einstein," which details how he won the American memory championship.
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.
The author Gabriel Brownstein takes up the old question -- are you a Jewish writer, or just "a writer"? -- in an interesting essay for The Millions. He goes over well-trodden territory, like the rea difficulty the first popular class of American Jewish writers -- Roth, Bellow and Malamud -- had accepting this label.
It must be springtime for Hitler, for this week was chock full of anti-semitic tirades. By now you've probably heard about the most vile bromide, the one by laureled Christain Dior designer John Galliano. In case you missed it, a couple dining next to him in a Paris restaurant caught him in a drunken stupor hurling praise for Hilter and his wish that, if the couple was
Brandeis' Rose Art Museum is not dead yet. Despite the university's much publicized--then reneged--decision to sell off much of the museum's permanent collection last year, the museum itself has been chugging along just fine. At least that's the indication from the upcoming symposium the Rose Art Museum is hosting on March 10, dedicated to the Babi Yar paintings of the stellar if little known painter Felix Lembersky.
Who's Lembersky?, and what's Babi Yar again? You're forgiven for asking.
In his usually precise and incisive way, critic Adam Kirsch tackles a thorny issue: should Christians read their Bible like Jews read theirs? The occasion is a new book--"The Rise and Fall of the Bible: The Unexpected History of an Accidental Book"--by Case Western religion professor Timothy Beal, who is also the child of evangelical parents.