Virtually no commentators, left or right, have defended Glenn Beck's vicious attack on George Soros. Commentary called Beck's tirade "marred by ignorance and offensive innuendo"; the ADL's Abe Foxman called them "horrific" and "over the top"; and this week, The New Yorker's
With all due respect to the Eldridge Street Synagogue, whose magnificent stained glass window by Kiki Smith is all the talk of town, the shul gets too much attention. It is one of the oldest surviving synagogues in Manhattan, dating to 1887, but its congregation is decidedly not.
First, if you didn't get a chance to read my blog post from yesterday on the uncomfortable topic of Jews and money, read it here. The feedback has been strong, so read the full thing, but here's what it's about: I give a brief summary of historian Jerry Muller's important book "Capitalism and the Jews," and Abraham Foxman's less successful attempt, "Jews and Money: The Story of A Stereotype." And with Glenn Beck duking it out with George Soros, not to mention A
No one likes to talk about Jews and money. Too much history has gotten between the two, to say nothing of the present: see the Beck/Soros fracas, for instance, or Al Pacino in Broadway's "Merchant of Venice." But now seems as good a time as any to tackle the connection. Thankfully a few provocative books are trying to do just that.
In the journalism trade, there is dependable genre we call the "quirky" story. Editors love them because our readers do: they offer a churlish delight in the abnormal, the strange, the off-beat. For the most part, they're harmless, fun throw-away stuff that lend a respite from the otherwise moribund front-page fare.
Tonight the New York Philharmonic begins the first of three "Elijah" performances. They should all be magnificent, on purely aesthetic grounds. But there's a deep theological divide embedded in this work too, and one that has profound implications for our understanding of how Jewish a composer -- if one at all -- Felix Mendelssohn was.
On December 17, the effortlessly morose Paul Giamatti stars as the effortlessly morose fictional character Barney Panofsky. The creation of celebrated Canadian author Mordecai Richler, Panofsky is the politically incorrect central character that suffers from Alzheimer's in Richler's comic and touching novel "Barney's Version" (1997).
In 1941, George Orwell wrote what may stand as the pithiest piece of writing about art and propoganda to date. His essay "The Frontiers of Art and Propaganda" argued that, by the 1930s, it was impossible to be an English writer and not write about politics, however you chose to cloak it. The aesthetic concerns of an earlier age--"art for art's sake," as he called it--were only possible when the climate was not choked with insecurity and political upheaval.
My story this week is about the scholars who are pushing hard against myths about the shtetl, especially the kind peddled by "Fiddler on the Roof."
As it happens, the composer of that Tony-winning classic died yesterday: Jerry Bock, at 81. Eerily, the writer of the musical's book, Joseph Stein, died ten days before. They both will be missed, deeply.
Kiefer has been courted controversy ever since he established himself in the '60s, taking pictures of himself doing the Nazi salute. As a non-Jewish German born the year the war ended, in 1945, there was always a layer of suspicion added to any explanation he gave. But he always gave one, maybe frustratingly plain to some, but never coy.