Well Versed

Ai Weiwei's Jews: Pictures from an Exhibition

On the weekends, I like to get away from work. One of the places where I like to do that is museums.  And what better one to visit, if you're looking to avoid Jews (for me, that's my job; not anti-semitism), than the Asia Society?  Surely there'd be nothing on view there that would make me think of writing, deadlines and blogging about Jews--that is, work.

Remembering Amy Winehouse, "The Little White Jewish Salt-n-Pepa"

I was never a fan of Amy Winehouse's music, but I think I understood where it came from.  Like me, Winehouse grew up enthralled by black music, and with hip-hop in particular.  Winehouse--who died on Sunday at 27, and was buried today in accordance with Jewish custom--told The Los Angeles Times a few years ago that her first singing act was in a female hip-hop duo.  She formed th

Elisabeth Badinter: The Celebrity French Intellectual Every Jew (And Feminist) Should Know

If you don't know who Bernard Henri-Levy is, don't worry.  There's a new celebrity French intellectual you should know: Elisabeth Badinter.  She's an older feminist who recently became a celebrity in France with her trenchant new book attacking other feminists' views.  And like BHL, she's Jewish.

Conservative Judaism: You Think It's Struggling in America? Check out the UK

There was once a talmudic student in Europe who was brilliant scholar, as well as a fervent believer. He practiced religious rules scrupulously, and was moved by a godly spirit too. But when he said that God may not have actually given the Torah to Moses at Mt. Sinai some 4,000 years ago, his colleagues were outraged.  "Blasphemy!" they implored, and cast him out of their sight. 

Commentary Kicks A Dead Horse: A Eulogy for JDub Records

For the young, artistic, mostly Brooklyn-based set, JDub Records was a boon. Founded in 2001, it announced this week that it was shutting its doors because of money problems.  It's a real loss to the Jewish community. To be sure, the closest JDub ever got to mainstream success was by being an early booster of Matisyahu, though if you live in New York, or L.A., Miami, or San Francisco, they've brought lesser-known (though I think much better) musicians to your town that most others probably never heard of. 

Kirstein v. Blum: A Jewish Ballet Battle

Every time you watch the New York City Ballet, you are under the heal of George Balanchine, the company's founding choreographer and the 20th century's greatest dance-maker.  Many people know how he got there: Lincoln Kirstein, the son of a wealthy Jewish businessman and the company's co-founder, brought him over from Europe.  But what many don't know is that there was another heir to a Jewish fortune--Rene Blum--who tried to get him first. 

Israel Zangwill's Melting Pot And Europe's Anti-Muslim Problem

It doesn't matter if you're liberal or conservative--if you're European, "mutliculturalism" has become a dirty word.  The New York Times ran an op-edtoday by a British writer

A Tale of Two Cities: Jews vs. Hispanics and Blacks, New York City

New York magazine has a great chart comparing two adjacent New York City congressional districts in this week's issue.  One is District 14, which includes all of the Upper East Side, parts of Murray Hill, Long Island City, Astoria, and a few other less affluent places too.  The other is District 16, just north of the Upper East Side, and covers much of the South Bronx. The stats they line up are startling: the average income in District 14 is $79,385; in D-16 it's $23,073.

H&H Heretic: Why I Cheer the Closing of a Bagel Shop

On Monday the Upper West Side outlet of the venerated bagel store H&H closed, and not since the death of Michael Jackson has a New York summer seen so much grief. "There Goes a Piece of the Old Neighborhood, Again" ran a New York Times headline in a story dripping with pathos.

Goodbye Broner: In Memory of Esther Broner

I'll admit I did not know who Esther Broner was until she died on Monday.  But I certainly knew what she is most famous for: the feminist haggadah.  Though her professional life was devoted to academia--a professor of literature at Wayne State, Sarah Lawrence College and sometimes the University of Haifa--to say nothing of writing her many novels, Broner will be forever associated with feminist seders. 

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