Well Versed

Firsthand Memories Of Janusz Korczak

This week marks the 73rd anniversary of Janusz Korczak’s fatal march with the children of his Warsaw orphanage. While supporters arranged a path to freedom from the Nazis for him, the writer, educator and physician chose instead to stand by his children, and marched with nearly 200 of them to the train that would take all of them to their deaths in Treblinka. Some say that the children sang, but that might be legend. What’s known is that they walked in dignity, carrying the flag of their orphanage, with its emblem on one side and the Star of David on the other; they felt safe in Korczak’s presence.

Courtesy Marcia Talmadge Schneider

Dancing To A Different Beat

Noga, Israel’s first modern dance company to give the stage to religious women performers, brings to life the dance between Jewish spirituality and contemporary choreography.

Courtesy Noga Dance Company

The Book of Doctorow

E.L Doctorow was often described as a writer of historical fiction, but he disliked that term and preferred to say that he was “an American novelist writing about my country.”

E.L. Doctorow. Courtesy Random House

Inside Israeli’s Sapir Prize

Nudging aside Rabbi Shlomo Riskin and the shenanigans of the Israeli Chief Rabbinate in the news of the day in late May was the tarorom over the awarding of Israel’s Sapir Prize—Israel’s premier literary award — to Israeli author Reuven Namdar for his stunning novel “The House That Was Destroyed,” which chronicles a year in the life of a New York academic. 

Namdar

A Kaleidoscope Of Jewish Identity

Cuban, Moroccan, Turkish, Libyan, Israeli, Puerto Rican, British and American influences swirl through the very Jewish stories presented in Vanessa Hidary’s “Kaleidoscope” at the 14th St Y.

Ahuva in “Kaleidoscope.” Jonathan Pillot

Estonian Story

These days, Estonia, bordered by Finland, Latvia and Russia, is known for its staunch democracy, wired technologies and as the birthplace of the founder of Skype. Unfortunately, it has endured a chequered and difficult history mainly due to its proximity to Russia.

Courtesy Alfred A. Knopf

Back-to-Back Jewish Ghosts

My reading list is usually determined by a certain serendipity of deadlines, recommendations, book covers that jump out of the pile and the lure of whatever arrives in the mail that day.  Yes, I receive new books almost every day.

Courtesy Harper Books

Our Selfies, Our Selves

My mother, when asked to identify herself, would say, “What can I tell you — I’m just a lady from Poland." This, despite the fact that she left Poland, post-war, at 12, and spent the next 66 years of her life in New York. And, of course, when she finally went back to visit Poland, she was seen as the Jew from America. Identities are by their very nature, fluid and relative. How we describe ourselves versus how others perceive us is always up for grabs.

Courtesy of Genesis Philanthropy Group

This Week: Rare Judaica At Rare Prices

Bibliophiles and collectors of Jewish texts have been prowling the precincts of Kestenbaum & Company these past days, covetously eyeing and reverently handling the rare items now on display and scheduled for auction on Thursday, June 25. Dubbed the “Singular Collection,” the provenance for this remarkable grouping of early printed Hebrew books, and Biblical and Rabbinic manuscripts remains undisclosed.

Autograph manuscript, Melecheth Shlomo by Solomon ben Joshua Adani, 1589-1623. Courtesy Kestenbaum & Company

Another Tale Of Love And Darkness

Claire Hajaj is the daughter of a Jewish mother born in England and a Muslim father born in Jaffa.  In her first novel, “Ishmael’s Oranges" (Oneworld), she makes use of her uncommon background to convey the feelings of both Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs with nuance and understanding.

Courtesy Oneworld
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