Special Sections

Bread Alone is Not Enough

Efforts to get Jewish books to Holocaust survivors in Europe
02/21/2011 - 19:00

In the spring of 1946, Zalman Grinberg and Josef Rosenzaft, representatives of Jewish Holocaust survivors and Displaced Persons (DPs) in the American and British zones of post-World War II Europe, respectively, visited the United States. “Bread alone is not enough,” they poignantly pleaded to American Jews, “Send us poets, writers and singers to show us that Jewish life is not dead.”

Presentation of donation of books to JDC from the National Women’s League of the United Synagogue of America, c. 1945.

Our Libraries, Ourselves

A dedicated reader and bibliophile reflects on pruning her collection.
02/21/2011 - 19:00

Years ago, I met someone who only owned one book at a time: the book he was reading. When he was finished, he found it a good home and acquired another book. I was fascinated by this discipline. Ever since middle school, I have been in the middle of several books at once. Some books decorate my shelves for years before I read them, but I couldn’t imagine parting with them. Judah Ibn Tibbon, the 12th-century scholar and physician, famously advised his descendants, “Let books be your companions.” I, for one, have taken that advice to heart — perhaps to a fault.

NAFTALI RAKUZIN, Polyptych, 2003, oil on canvas 166x364cm. Courtesy of Artspace Gallery, Jerusalem.

Behind The Best Sellers

A scholar revisits an 18th-century popular tome—reprinted for centuries—that mixes science, kabbalah and ethics.
02/21/2011 - 19:00

‘The Book of Covenant” (Sefer ha-Brit) was one of the most popular Hebrew books read by Jews in the Modern Era, reflected in its 36 editions, including three Yiddish and two Ladino translations. It was first published by a relatively unknown Eastern European Jew named Phinehas Elijah Hurwitz, in Brünn, Moravia in 1797 and then in a much expanded edition in Zolkiev, Galicia, in 1807.

NAFTALI RAKUZIN, Polyptych, 2003, oil on canvas 166x364cm. Courtesy of Artspace Gallery, Jerusalem.

Counter-Revelations

In his subtle translations of the Bible’s Wisdom Books — Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Job — Robert Alter highlights the canon’s subversive side.
02/21/2011 - 19:00

Robert Alter’s ongoing translation of the Hebrew Bible into a new, more accurate and forceful English version is one of the most ambitious literary projects of this or any age. Turning the Bible into Greek, in the second century BCE, required 72 sages — which is why the Greek version is called the Septuagint (after the Latin word for 70) — and the King James Version, in the early 17th century CE, was produced by a committee of 47 Anglican divines.

JACK JANO, Shomer (Guard it), 2009, Sculpture. Courtesy of Artspace Gallery, Jerusalem.

Canon Fodder

With newly discovered documents and innovative approaches, how do we decide which Jewish texts and values remain at the core?
02/21/2011 - 19:00

One of the curiosities of the world of scholarship is the fixation with the arcane. This is why, somewhat regrettably, the word “academic” finds its kin in the thesaurus with the adjectives “donnish,” “pedantic” and “trivial.” When this is at its worst, it seems like a terrible waste; our universities are the places where young adults go to learn, think and become citizens of the world. If their mentors and role models are only interested in the marginal, what does that portend for how we value ideas?

The Trial of the Jews of Trent, Trent, 1478-1479, ink, gouache and gold on paper. Collection of Yeshiva University Museum.

Editor’s Note

02/21/2011 - 19:00

At a recent meeting of people involved in Jewish life, we began by introducing ourselves with our names and the titles of the books we’re now reading. There was very little overlap (other than a few parents of young children who admitted their last book was “Good Night, Moon”), with mentions of fiction, history, business, works of Jewish content, even cookbooks. After everyone spoke, the buzz was that we all wanted a copy of the book list we had created.

JACK JANO, Lech Lecha (Go forth, toward thyself), 1997 	Sculpture. Courtesy of Artspace Gallery, Jerusalem

Text Context February 2011

The Books Issue is dedicated to the idea of Jewish books and their history. Contributors look at books as windows into Jewish cultre, as bridges between people, as repostitores of knowlege and wisdom, as expressions of identity, as home.
Staff Writer
02/21/2011 - 19:00
Text Context February 2011

The Visual Arts List

Staff Writer
02/14/2011 - 19:00

“The Art of Matrimony: Thirty Splendid Marriage Contracts from The Jewish Theological Seminary Library.” The JTS Library lends some of its most significant ketubot, or marriage contracts, some of them almost 1,000 years old, to The Jewish Museum. (The Jewish Museum, March 11-June 26)

“Impressionism from South Africa, 1965 to Now.” This group exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art features the works of 29 South African printmakers, among them the prominent Jewish artist William Kentridge. (MoMA, March 23-Aug. 14)

From “Finding Home: The Art of Siona Benjamin,” at the JCC in Manhattan in May.

Visual Arts

Israeli Eye On America: ‘Maira Kalman: Various Illuminations”
Staff Writer
02/14/2011 - 19:00

The illustrations of Maira Kalman have become synonymous with a certain type of knowing New Yorker — particularly the kind that reads The New Yorker, where she’s been a contributor for decades. But people often don’t realize Kalman isn’t from here. She’s from Tel Aviv, where she was born in 1949. Even though she’s made Manhattan her most enduring muse, she travels back to Israel often and frequently makes it the subject of her whimsical, subtly erudite illustrations.

Maira Kalman’s stylish illustrations are the subject of a Jewish Museum show opening next month.

Books

Jewish Week Book Critic
02/14/2011 - 19:00

NON-FICTION

The award-winning non-fiction writer Melissa Faye Greene is now in her 21st year as an elementary school parent. She’s someone who feels most alive, “most thickly in the cumbersome richness of life, with children underfoot.” She loves the Atlanta Symphony, but is moved to tears by a sixth-grade band “when the children play the C scale together for the first time.”

David Bezmozgis’ first novel, “The Free World,” is set in Italy.
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