Magical Realism In A Polish Village

The Shoah-haunted stories of Helen Maryles Shankman.

04/19/2016 - 13:28
Culture Editor

“I started thinking of my mother’s story plus a golem,” Shankman says, “my mother’s story plus a talking dog.” Janet Joyner Photography

What’s Wrong, And Right, With Religion

Rabbi Donniel Hartman on the necessity of seeing the ‘Other’ as having a moral voice.

03/15/2016 - 16:12
Special To The Jewish Week

There is a bookshelf in my study that I have nicknamed “Amsterdam.”

On that shelf, you can find the following books: “God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything,” by the late Christopher Hitchens; “The God Delusion,” by Richard Dawkins; “Letter To a Christian Nation,” by Sam Harris; and “Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon,” by Daniel Dennett.

Rabbi Donniel Hartman’s book faults religious followers who put God second to their own interpretations of religious priorities.

Letters As A Lifeline

A book and an exhibit tell stories of family and identity, all in longhand.

02/09/2016 - 11:36
Culture Editor

Letters are delicate inheritances, especially the ones that are addressed to someone else.

To read them is to eavesdrop; to share them is, at best, an opportunity to provide historical testimony, but, potentially, a betrayal of privacy.

Ian Buruma, turned thousands of letters written by his grandparents into a study of assimilated Jewish life in Germany & England

The ‘Stuff’ Of Memoir

Judy Batalion’s book moves between order and disorder.

01/12/2016 - 12:09
Culture Editor

Judy Batalion’s mother had been an artist, a published poet who followed Leonard Cohen around Greece. When readers encounter her in her daughter’s fine memoir “White Walls: A Memoir About Motherhood, Daughterhood and the Mess In Between” (New American Library), she appears to be a shadow of that earlier self, surrounded in her Montreal home by piles of unreturned library books, thousands of videocassettes, stale danish and towers of rotting cans of tuna: Every surface is piled high with stuff, all precariously close to an avalanche.

It took years for Batalion to connect her mother’s and grandmother’s hoarding back to their experience of the Holocaust.

A Bygone Gotham

Two new memoirs evoke an earlier New York.

12/30/2015 - 08:56
Culture Editor

Looking back over this year in New York City, with a new Whitney Museum, a new sculpture that shouts OY or YO, depending on what side of the East River you’re on, a new World Trade Center observatory back in use and a much-discussed new novel set here called “City on Fire,” I’m still drawn to an older New York, to pockets of time that are no more.

Morris Dickstein, chronicles his intellectual awakening.

These Archie Comics Are Serious

Archie Rand’s ‘The 613’ is a graphic interpretation of the Torah’s commandments.

12/22/2015 - 15:30
Culture Editor

Conversation with painter Archie Rand is multilayered and goes in varied directions, but often swings back to the Jews and Judaism.  He’s not a religious man, nor a biblical scholar, but his interests in Jewish texts run deep. Over his distinguished and highly recognized career, Rand has worked to create a Jewish iconography, often combining words and images in vibrant, daring paintings.

“I swiped the images, mostly from EC Comics. A very Jewish source,” Rand says.

New/Old Fiction, Times Two

The tales of Ben Nadler and Joshua Halberstam are both modern and timeless.

12/07/2015 - 19:00
Culture Editor

Ben Nadler’s New York City is layered with stories. Some stories have no borders, and characters shift easily from one urban tale into another; some stories are written as they are being lived while others are mythic.

“The Sea Beach Line” is filled with stories drawn from Jewish texts, both real and imagined. Nadler cites Kafka and I.B. Singer

Killers Of Jews Or Saviors of Jews?

New study by YU history professor sheds fresh light on Poland’s wartime anti-Nazi Resistance movement.

11/02/2015 - 19:00
Staff Writer

A third-generation American Jew who grew up in California, Joshua Zimmerman was raised with an atypical perspective about Poland. Most Jews in this country whose parents or grandparents immigrated from Poland as survivors or refugees of the Holocaust heard mostly horror stories about anti-Semitic Poles.

YU professor Joshua Zimmerman’s book on Poland’s underground fighters during World War II. Steve Lipman/JW

NY Artist Archie Rand Takes On Torah’s 613 Commandments

11/02/2015 - 19:00

A new book by a trailblazing artist raises an old question: Is there such a thing as truly Jewish art? And its corollary: If so, would anyone buy it?

Archie Rand, an artist who has a book coming out with a painting for each of the 613 Jewish commandments. JTA

‘Train’ Follows Its Own Track

Teens take center stage in this riveting Holocaust novel by Danny M. Cohen.

10/25/2015 - 20:00

Courtesy of Danny M. Cohen
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