the jewish week

What Jews Have to Do With Haiti

This week I wrote about Mark Kurlansky's seemingly strange inclusion in "Haiti Noir," a collection of short stories written mostly by Haitians.  You're not wrong for wondering whether Kurlansky's Haitian--he's not--but he did once have a long career reporting from the island in the 1980s.  But the story begs the question, are there other good Jewish Haitian stories we should know about?

Dancing with the Stars, and Hasids!

If you were reading the Sunday Times this weekend, you saw the big Israel story about Stuxnet.  But there was another story, tucked deep in the Arts & Leisure section, that you may have missed.

Kanye's Antidote: On Yefim Bronfman, Fame and Humility

The star pianist Yefim Bronfman performs in New York often, but I have never seen him. That was rectified last night: I caught him in the first of three concerts with the New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall.  He was remarkable. Performing Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2, he captured the full range of emotions in the piece--its subtle bits of humor, the breezy wistfulness, the heroic ambition--without drawing much attention to himself.

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.  

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?

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