the jewish week

Of Prophets, Militancy, and Martin Luther King

This week I reported on the role Jews played in the civil rights movement under Martin Luther King.  It's a fascinating story, and one that many people I interviewed told me remains poorly understood.  Often it's reduced to a glib one-liner: Jews supported him, a line captured best by the iconic image of rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel walking with King in from Selma to Montgomery in 1965.

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.  

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?

"Budrus," The Real Thing: Or Why Is Israel Jailing Non-Violent Palestinian Protesters?

There was a lot of hype when the documentary "Budrus," about a nascent non-violent protest movement in the West Bank, opened earlier this year.  But it died down quickly.  Well hats off to Michelle Goldberg, who in today's issue of Tablet, puts the spotlight on a Budrus non-violent activist who's been denied his release from an Israel prison.

Fashionable Skepticism: Claude Lanzmann Attacks Spielberg

With all do respect to Claude Lanzmann, the director of the revered Holocaust documentary "Shoah," which gets re-released this Friday, I don't like his attitude these days.  In an interview with The New York Times published today, Lanzmann criticized mainstream Holocaust movies like "Schindler's List" and "Life is Beautiful."  And on Spielberg's decidely un-populist project t

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.  

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