Culture View

The New Food Pluralism

11/22/2016 - 17:18
Special To The Jewish Week

Turkey may not have been on the menu for the first Thanksgiving in 1621, historians now concede, but there is no doubt that the Pilgrims feasted on the bounty of the New World. Now, almost 500 years later, the food that immigrants eat is again all the rage, but this time with a focus on the dishes and flavors that they have brought from their homelands. Jewish food, once frowned upon by “native born” Americans, is, unexpectedly, one of these trendy cuisines, with a host of Jewish millennials throughout the country reinventing “immigrant” Jewish food for the 21st century.

Ted Merwin

Buber, Levinas And The Election

11/15/2016 - 13:30
Special To The Jewish Week

Like many people here and around the country, the results of the election on Nov. 8 plunged me into a deep depression. The ramifications of a Trump administration are not yet fully known, but some of its contours are beginning to take shape: Republicans, with the president-elect at the helm, will control both houses of Congress; Trump will make a nomination to the Supreme Court almost immediately upon taking office (he has said he will appoint a pro-life justice); his cabinet may feature Sarah (“Drill, Baby, Drill”) Palin as secretary of the interior; and he has already put a host of corporate lobbyists in equally incongruous roles.

George Robinson

Reconciliation In Kielce?

10/19/2016 - 12:59
Special To The Jewish Week

It’s the sort of story that gets totally lost in weeks of war, presidential election campaigning and the Zika virus. Ironically, it’s the sort of feel-good story that American news-gathering organizations usually crave. For Jews, it encompasses themes of forgiveness and reconciliation that chime well with the Days of Awe.

George Robinson

Time After Time

09/21/2016 - 12:59
Special To The Jewish Week

It’s a bit of a schlep from our home in Baltimore to Camp Ramah in the Poconos, where my wife is on staff and our three daughters go to summer camp, but, come road work or stormy weather, I’m almost never late for Shabbat services when I drive up on weekends. That’s because the camp is on Chicago time; the extra hour makes it possible for the campers to stay up late on Friday night. At the celebration of the end of summer, the director, Rabbi Joel Seltzer, brings out a big clock and pushes the hands forward. It’s a jolting reminder that the camp has existed for eight weeks in its own surreal realm, serenely out of step with the surrounding world.

Ted Merwin

Lens On Shoah Films

09/13/2016 - 10:30
Special To The Jewish Week

In the end, every nation gets the history it deserves, if only as it is reflected in art. Consider the latest freshet in the seemingly never-ending river of films about the Shoah and its aftermaths, and how they relate to local political events.

George Robinson

Israel’s New Soul Stirrers

08/23/2016 - 13:25
Special To The Jewish Week

While the vast majority of Israelis are secular, one would never know it from the rock and pop songs that are dominating the country’s music scene these days — tunes that are filled with religious references, efforts to connect with divine energies and longing for release and redemption. As the renowned Israeli intellectual Yossi Klein Halevi (author of the award-winning “Like Dreamers,” about the Israeli paratroopers who reconquered the Western Wall during the Six-Day War) put it last month at a rabbinic conference in Jerusalem, “Israel’s most secular art form is becoming its most religious one. And its most Israeli art form is becoming its most Jewish one.”

Ted Merwin

Stepping Out Of Time

08/09/2016 - 16:30
Special To The Jewish Week

We are bombarded daily by images and data. You could hardly call the plethora of numbers and text “information.” That would imply that some utility attaches to it.

George Robinson

Praying For A Laugh

07/26/2016 - 12:00
Special To The Jewish Week

A rabbi, a priest and an imam are hurtling down Fifth Avenue in a taxi when it crashes, instantly killing the driver and his three passengers. As the members of the clergy are waiting impatiently on line to get to the Pearly Gates, they are astonished to see the taxi driver ushered straight into heaven with great fanfare. When they finally arrive at the head of the line, they ask the reason for the driver’s preferential treatment. “While he was doing his job, his passengers were always praying,” they are told. “But when you were doing yours, your congregants were put to sleep.”

Ted Merwin

A Swerve In Israeli Cinema

07/05/2016 - 13:02
Special To The Jewish Week

When we get into the second half of the 20th century, I tell my students in “Introduction to the Moving Image” that the default setting for feature filmmaking in the developing world is a global variation of neo-realism. Like its Italian predecessors of the 1940s, this cinema is low-budget, shoot-on-location, with most of the performances coming from ordinary people rather than trained actors. The focus is invariably on family melodrama and the tensions that rapid urbanization has wrought on working people.

George Robinson

What Happened To Jewish Dance?

06/21/2016 - 12:10
Special To The Jewish Week

It was an inauspicious debut, to be sure, when I finally allowed myself to be dragged onto the stage on a recent Saturday afternoon for the Father-Daughter number in my youngest daughter, Leah’s, end-of-year dance recital in Mechanicsburg, Pa. Desperately trying to mirror the movements of the 49 other equally sheepish dads, I went down on one knee and held out my hand to a blissful 7-year-old who pirouetted, preened and posed as if she were appearing with Mikhail Baryshnikov. By the time I had to do it again that evening with her 11-year-old sister, Sarah, I felt ready to audition for “Dancing With the Stars.”

Ted Merwin
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