Ten years in the making, ‘The Observant Life’ charts a course for between ancient wisdom and say, Internet file sharing, for Conservative Jews.
Special To The Jewish Week
What does it mean to be an observant Jew in the 21st century? The question sounds deceptively simple, but the answer takes more than 30 rabbis and nearly 1,000 pages in the massive volume being published later this month by the Rabbinical Assembly of Judaism’s Conservative movement, “The Observant Life: The Wisdom of Conservative Judaism for Contemporary Jews.” That’s nearly twice the length of the book it updates, Rabbi Isaac Klein’s 1979 “A Guide to Jewish Religious Practice.” Has the world — or Judaism — changed that much in the 33 years in between the appearance of those books?
Life and art collide in the work of Israeli Arab novelist Sayed Kashua.
Jewish Week Book Critic
When I ask Sayed Kashua about the roots of his humor, he says that he isn’t sure, but that it probably has something to do with his discovery, as an Israeli Arab attending a Jewish high school, that humor could protect him.
Can religion, especially Judaism, work if you don’t believe in the Big Guy upstairs?
The latest turn in the New Atheist debates can be summed up like this: even if you don’t believe in God, religion still has a lot to offer. Public intellectuals like Alain de Botton and James Gray in Britain, and scientists like E.O. Wilson and Jonathan Haidt in America, all of them atheists, have made a similar case in their recent books and essays.
Centenarian Alice Herz-Sommer, the subject of two books, credits music with sustaining her at Terezin; other new Holocaust books also highlight women’s experiences.
Jewish Week Book Critic
At 108, Alice Herz-Sommer is believed to be the oldest living Holocaust survivor. Born in Prague, she watched her mother being deported to Terezin in 1942, and never saw her again. A year later, she was also deported there with her husband and son. By then, Herz-Sommer was an acclaimed pianist, and continued to play in the concentration camp, giving more than a hundred concerts to fellow prisoners and to the Nazis. Her husband was killed in the camp just before liberation.
The maker of ‘Shoah’ looks at his own life, and all he did with his time.
Special to the Jewish Week
To most Jewish Week readers, Claude Lanzmann is the man who directed “Shoah,” the nine-and-three-quarter-hour documentary about the murder of six million European Jews by the Nazis. Of course, if that were all he had done, Lanzmann would be worthy of admiration and study. As Franco-Jewish journalist Jean Daniel told him after one of the first screenings of the film, “This justifies a life.”
In the Jonathan Safran Foer-Nathan Englander ‘New American Haggadah,’ tradition and modern literary sensibilities collide.
The novelist Jonathan Safran Foer grew up with a fairly typical American Passover. His father would use the Maxwell House Haggadah, supplemented with his own pamphlet of writings, and lead the annual Foer seder. But nine years ago, sitting at his family seder in Washington, D.C., Foer thought that, literary-wise, the Haggadah could use a little work.
After a novel and forays into playwriting and translations, the celebrated author returns to his specialty.
When Nathan Englander sat down for a recent interview at a hummus restaurant in the East Village, he had just come from the Public Theater. He was there helping stage a theater adaptation of one of his early short stories, “The Twenty-Seventh Man,” which will premiere at the Public in November.
In his debut novel, Shalom Auslander takes on history and the Holocaust with his trademark darkly comic wit.
When Shalom Auslander, a lapsed Orthodox Jew, came out with his wickedly funny memoir “Foreskin’s Lament” in 2007, he was often mischaracterized as a New Atheist. It was clear he shared a similar disdain for religion with atheists like Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins, but he never declared himself a non-believer.