If the death this weekend of Adam Yauch, 47—the Beastie Boys founder, nicknamed MCA—was not enough, today came another blow: the death of Maurice Sendak, at 83. Both were Jewish artists, pioneers in their respective genres, and both were Brooklyn-born. That they were born some 35 years apart, and came from worlds quite diff
Ask anyone about the Jewish Enlightenment, or Haskalah, and the first person they’ll likely mention is Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786). Few would disagree that Mendelssohn played a key role in the Haskalah’s earliest stages, attempting as he did to modernize Judaism in 18th century Germany and bring it in line with the broader intellectual trend of his time—that is, the Enlightenment, or what historians often call the Age of Reason.
Move over Talmud: there’s a new Jewish commentary in town. This week, the Posen Foundation and Yale University Press announced the publication date for the first in a 10-volume series anthologizing 3,000 years of Jewish culture and civilization.
How will the death of Benzion Netanyahu, the father of Israel’s prime minister who died in Jerusalem on Monday, at 102, affect his powerful son? I don’t have a clue, though some, like Jeffrey Goldberg, have posited that it might—might—make the prime minister a little bit more willing to compromise with Israel's Arab neighbors. Rather than play Nostr
For years, German scholars and the country’s most prominent Jewish organizations have argued that Germany should allow “Mein Kampf” to be published in Germany before the copyright expires, in 2015. It is not illegal to publish the book in Germany, but the state of Bavaria, which holds the copyright, had adamantly refused for decades, saying that the longer the book was out of print, the better.
Gertrude Stein’s collaboration with the fascist Vichy government was never a secret. But, until now, many have simply ignored it; or, to use the critic Frederic Jameson’s phrase, given over to the “innocence of intellectuals.” Stein’s avid support for Petain, the Nazi collaborator who headed the Vichy government, has often been written off as merely the tragic consequence of many a brilliant artists. What mattered was her prose, not her politics.
Over the weekend, you may have caught the engrossing New York Times profile of a New York society don—one Alan Z. Feuer—who had a mysterious past. I didn’t bother reading it when I first picked up my Sunday print copy—it was buried in the paper, in the scrappy Metropolitan section. But then I got one email after another, from family members, friends, recommending it, all with that guilt-inducing epigram: “must read.”
Dave Eggers, the literary wunderkind, almost mustered some courage. This week he refused to go to Germany to accept the prestigious, $50,000 literary award created by Gunter Grass—the Nobel laureate who recently caused on international uproar over his poem chastising Israel for threatening global stability. But Eggers’ seeming act of courage was more apparent than real. Essentially, he declined the award because he didn’t wan
Remember Julian Assange, the guy behind WikiLeaks? Well, he’s back. Despite facing rape charges in his native country of Sweden, he’s started a new internet T.V. show, which Russia Today is hosting online. RT.com, a Kremlin-controlled station, may be a strange choice for Assange’s new show, given his quasi-anarchic ethos, but stranger still is his first interviewee—Hassan Nasrallah, the Hezbollah leader.