Well Versed

Song of Solomon: Steve Martin and the 92nd Street Y

It looks like the New York Times' Steve Martin 92nd Street Y comedy of manners story has turned into something bigger.  Today, Martin published an Op-Ed explaining himself more fully, and all last week's papers seemed to have something to say.  

Israel Dermatitis: The Other 92nd Street Y Debate

Well, the 92nd Street Y debate I went to on Tuesday was not quite as contentious as the flubbed Steve Martin one happening in the night before, but it still got pretty heated. A sold-out audience came to see Peter Beinart and New York Times columnist Roger Cohen debate former AIPACer Steven J. Rosen and Wall Street Journal editoral page editor and former Jerusalem Post editor Bret Stephens.

The Great Debate: Beinart v. The American Jewish Establishment, A Preview

In preview of tomorrow night's debate at the 92nd Street Y featuring Peter Beinart, I'll engage in a small bit of self-promotion.  My story in last week's paper profiled Beinart, whose essay attacking American Jewish leadership for failing to attract young American Jews to support Israel created a firestorm this spring.  If you cannot make the debate (at 8:15 pm Tuesday night) I hope my story catches you up on the discussion's general parameters.

A Glenn Beck Reader

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

The Piece of New York Jewish History We Forget: 1654

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.

From Glenn Beck to Broadway, to Saul Bellow and Back

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

Jews and Money: Let's Talk About It

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.

How Not To Cover Hasids: Or, Why We Love Stories about Black Celebrity Jews

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.

Felix Mendelssohn: A Jewish Christian, Discuss.

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.

Paul Giamatti Goes Jewish: "Barney's Version," A Preview

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).

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