Just after the attacks of 9-11, as the intifada simmered outside, Peter Cole, a poet and publisher living in Jerusalem, sat down at the breakfast table to read the morning e-mail from New York. One message contained a verse by the great scholar Gershom Scholem, and it represented one of the first translations of Scholem's poetry into any language.
For those who were spared the horrors of the Holocaust, the events that made up the Nazis' Final Solution persist as a collage of black-and-white images - documentary photographs taken by the Nazis to record their horrific achievements or film footage taken by the Allies as evidence of the tragedy they encountered at liberation. Even Steven Spielberg's cinematic rendering, "Schindler's List," preserved the duotone palette of historical Holocaust memory.
The Times Square tower where Conde Nast pumps out titles like The New Yorker and Vogue is a river away from Fort Greene, Brooklyn, where Jennifer Bleyer lives. It's a boundary that Bleyer is making very clear.
The third issue of Heeb, Bleyer's year-old magazine, hits the streets later this month with a striking disclaimer: "Please note that this is not a f-ing Conde Nast publication. It is a tiny independent venture, publishing by the skin of its teeth about twice a year on nothing that even resembles a schedule. Thank you for your patience."
The lineup for New York's newest blockbuster art exhibition begins this week as lucky ticket holders for "Matisse Picasso" make their way to the Museum of Modern Art's temporary digs in Long Island City. The retrospective exhibition promises to reward long waits in chilly winds with works that shaped modern art and a thrilling tale of one of the most creative rivalries in art history. Elsewhere in Queens, a different kind of thrill awaits viewers in an exhibition that offers a glimpse of art's future.
Its creative ranks include recluses, the insane and former prison inmates, but "Outsider Art" is hardly the exclusive domain of social misfits.
A tour through the American Museum of Folk Art or any number of galleries specializing in what is also known as "self-taught art" exposes viewers to a rich field of artists - including a notable number of Jewish painters - who, while untrained, display a talent for visual expression appreciated by connoisseurs and common folk alike.
The Jewish Folk Gallery is a modest space that can barely contain the artistic output of the emigre artists and artisans who rely on it as a showplace for their work.
The walls and the shelves of the 300-square-foot gallery - formerly the first-floor library at Bnai Zion House - overflow with scenes of shtetl life and people at prayer, landscapes of Russia and Israel, engraved copper plaques and carved wooden ritual objects. There is just enough room for a tea-service cart to fit behind the door.
The cover illustration of Etgar Keret's first book in English shows a smiley-faced figure in the act of blowing its brains out. Inside, suicide, murder and other forms of mutilation are featured in a good portion of the "other stories" in "The Bus Driver Who Wanted to Be God and Other Stories."
Far from turning off readers, Keret's combination of bittersweet prose and morose subject matter has hit a nerve among Israelis born in an age of political and moral uncertainty.
With his odes to Italian restaurants and songs about Catholic girls, most Billy Joel fans may never have pegged the "Piano Man" for the scion of a once-thriving German-Jewish mercantile family whose fortunes were swept away in the Holocaust.
No tinsel, no Santa, no carols, no nog. Some Jews feel they're missing out on the fun of Christmastime. Sure, there are alternatives like Chinese-food-and-a-movie or Matzah Ball dances - the ethnic equivalent of artificial snow. These activities capture the season's festive mood without drawing on its Christian origins.