The JW Q&A

A weekly interview with notable figures and names in the news.

Some Morsels Of Insight Into Jewish Life, Culture

04/05/2016 - 16:01
Staff Writer

Over the last decade, author-translator Michael Wex has become the public voice of Yiddish culture — especially for the non-Yiddish-speaking public. A native of Canada’s Alberta province and a longtime native of Toronto, he has written a series of best-selling nonfiction books (in addition to a few novels; he also does songwriting and lecturing) that explain the Jewish language and Jewish way of life in a knowing, usually humorous tone. The nonfiction list includes three books: “Born to Kvetch,” “Just Say Nu” and “How to Be a Mentsh (and Not a Shmuck)”

Wex’s newest book, due out April 12, is about food. “Rhapsody in Schmaltz” (St. Martin’s Press) looks at Jewish culture through a gastronomic lens, covering such subjects as kosher laws and halachic practices, Jewish history and the way Jews are represented in television and film. Wex recently discussed these topics with The Jewish Week. This is an edited transcript. 

Michael Wex’s new book is about “the food that people who speak Yiddish eat.”

How To Make Israel Relevant

03/29/2016 - 13:12
Editor and Publisher

After a long, distinguished career in advertising, Marcella Rosen has been using her professional savvy to launch several initiatives in support of Israel. In 2002, she established the Campus Tolerance Foundation, researching and exposing anti-Israel bias in higher education. In 2010 she founded Untold News, highlighting inventions out of Israel. In 2013 she wrote and published “Tiny Dynamo,” describing more than 20 Israeli innovative projects. Now she is focused on a media campaign, through Untold News, called #IsraelIsOnIt (, featuring timely, pithy advertising messages that promote ways Israeli efforts are benefiting everyone.

Untold News founder Marcella Rosen: Many young people “have grown up only hearing bad new about Israel.” Marcella Rosen

‘Shifts Taking Place’ In Egypt, Turkey

The executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations on his meetings with Erdogan, al-Sisi, and more.

03/15/2016 - 17:20
Staff Writer

Malcolm Hoenlein is the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. He returned recently from the group’s 42nd annual Leadership Mission to Israel, which was attended by more than 100 leaders from the conference’s 53 member organizations. Before the group landed in Israel, some of them visited Turkey and Egypt and met with the leadership of both countries.

Malcolm Hoenlein: Egyptian schools have begun teaching about the Camp David Accords with Israel.

Leveling The Playing Field For Special Needs Learners

03/09/2016 - 09:24

In December, Jonathan Holub, 35, took over the helm of the PALS (Providing Alternative Learning Strategies) program for students with learning disabilities at Carmel Academy, a K-8 Jewish day school in Greenwich, Conn. The Jewish Week caught up with him via email to discuss how the field of special education has changed over the past decade and a half and the unique challenges Jewish schools face in serving students with learning disabilities.

Jonathan Holub. Courtesy of Carmel Academy

What’s Behind The Dark Charisma Of ‘Son Of Saul’ Star?

Geza Rohrig had very little acting experience, but his obsession with the Holocaust, own family tragedies brought depth to the role.

02/24/2016 - 09:20

Berlin — When the Hungarian-Jewish poet Geza Rohrig agreed to play the lead role in the Oscar-nominated Holocaust drama “Son of Saul,” he knew he was taking on a daunting challenge.

Geza Rohrig plays Sonderkommando member Saul Aüslander in “Son of Saul.” JTA

Kahane’s Widow Disavows Today’s Jewish Extremists

02/16/2016 - 12:51

Her husband was assassinated and her grandson is in prison. But Libby Kahane, widow of the late far-right Rabbi Meir Kahane, has remained faithful to her husband’s ideology.

She repeats his call for Israel to expel its Arab population. She believes the Israeli left, Jewish media and some American Jews — particularly college students — are hurting Israel. She denies that Jews are responsible for last July’s arson attack in the West Bank village of Duma, which killed three members of a Palestinian family.

Libby Kahane. JTA

50 Years On, Sanders Champions Kibbutz Values

02/10/2016 - 08:59

Shaar Haamakim, Israel — Every morning, Bernie Sanders would wake up at 4:10 a.m. to pick apples and pears.

Kibbutz Shaar Haamakim as it was in 1963, when Bernie Sanders volunteered there for several months. Ben Sales

When The Deli Was A ‘Surrogate Synagogue’

A new book 'Pastrami on Rye' delves into deli culture, history and its layered connection to Jewish identity.

01/27/2016 - 09:36
Culture Editor

Ted Merwin, The Jewish Week’s longtime theater critic, was just awarded a National Jewish Book Award in the category of Education and Jewish Identity for his new book, “Pastrami on Rye: An Overstuffed History of the Jewish Deli” (NYU Press). Extensively researched, the book delves into deli culture, history and its layered connection to Jewish identity, seasoned with humor. Merwin, who is associate professor of religion and Judaic Studies at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa., is founding director of the Milton B. Asbell Center for Jewish Life. He grew up in Great Neck, L.I., where he spent many Sunday evenings procuring turkey and roast beef for his family from a nearby delicatessen, where he first observed the “intricate, elegant choreography to the movements of the counterman as he sliced up the meat.” We interviewed him via email.

Ted Merwin: Neo-retro delis like Mile End “have upped the gourmet quotient in Jewish food.”

Peres: ‘You Cannot Answer A Knife With A Knife’

01/19/2016 - 11:50

Last month, rumors flooded the Internet that former Israeli President Shimon Peres was dead. True to form, the man who tirelessly trumpets his country’s high-tech sector took to Facebook to clear the air.

Shimon Peres: At 92, still active, despite a recent mild heart attack. Getty Images

Jews ‘Stuck In Middle’ In A Changing Europe

Charles Asher Small runs an organization dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism "on the battlefield of ideas."

01/06/2016 - 10:48

Charles Asher Small is founder and executive director of the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy (ISGAP). He is also a fellow at Stanford University and a professor at the Moshe Dayan Centre at Tel Aviv University.

Charles Asher Small: Attacks on Israeli policies call for a “nuanced” response.
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