Shavuot, which starts tonight, is all about learning. Jews are supposed to stay up all night reading in celebration of God giving Jews the Torah. What makes the holiday rare, though, isn't the reading part--what Jewish holiday doesn't involve that? It's that there's no bad guys in the story. Unlike Passover, we don't commemorate Jews escaping a pharaoh in Egypt, or, as in Hanukkah, a revolt against the Romans. No matzah, no latkes, just books and books and books.
The Cannes Film Festival's board of directors did the right thing in expelling Lars von Trier from the festival today. The decision came only a day after Von Trier, a Danish director who was raised an atheist, though told that his father was Jewish, made outrageous comments about Hitler.
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.
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
The years have not dimmed Frances Irwin’s memory of when the Nazis came to the homes of her parents, grandparents and married brother in Konske, Poland, in 1939. They ordered them to turn over their valuables — their gold, their silver candelabras and menorahs, the “gorgeous, valuable pictures” on their walls and their diamond rings and earrings.
“Even my father’s shtreimel [hat] we had to give because it was fur,” Irwin, 80, of Midwood, Brooklyn, recalls.
The New York Times today raised an interesting question about the Oscar front-runner for best picture, "The King's Speech." It wondered whether the real King George--who aggressively endorsed a policy of appeasement toward Hitler, something the film entirely ignores--might derail the film's chance for capturing the golden statuette.
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.
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.
Last summer the Yale historian Timothy Snyder drew much attention with his provocative essay detailing the ways Auschwitz is a poor symbol of the Holocaust: Jews died mainly by bullets, not by the gas chambers typified in Auschwitz. And while most Jews sent to Auschwitz were from Western Europe, the majority of those murdered came from the East.