Culture View

Ali’s Ring Cycle

06/07/2016 - 17:53
Special To The Jewish Week

I was walking through Rockefeller Center one spring afternoon about 30 years ago. There was a large knot of people in front of the NBC Building, which ordinarily wouldn’t have attracted my attention at all.

George Robinson

Those Little-Town Blues

05/24/2016 - 12:56
Special To The Jewish Week

Throughout Anton Chekhov’s play, “Three Sisters,” the heroines of the title dream passionately but fruitlessly of returning to Moscow, the city of their childhood. Similarly, Jude Fawley, the title character of Thomas Hardy’s “Jude the Obscure” gazes on the spires of the far-off city of Christminster (a stand-in for Oxford), convinced that life there is far more exciting than in his rural village.

Ted Merwin

The New Suburban Auteurs

05/17/2016 - 15:38
Special To The Jewish Week

In 1977 Irving Howe predicted the ebbing of the flood tide of great postwar Jewish-American novelists. He wrote, “There just isn’t enough left of [the immigrant] experience” to provide impetus for another generation to follow in their wake. And a splendid wake it was, churning behind Saul Bellow, Bernard Malamud and Philip Roth, but also including such unfairly neglected names as Edward Wallant (“The Pawnbroker”) and Hugh Nissenson (“The Tree of Life”), as well as the more commercial but not unworthy Herman Wouk.

George Robinson

Men In Black

04/19/2016 - 15:27
Special To The Jewish Week

Several years ago, on a bus ride across Iowa on my way to giving a lecture at a university, I noticed a tall man in the seat behind me; he had a craggy face, long beard, black hat, and glossy black coat.

Ted Merwin

Mother Lodes

04/05/2016 - 13:19
Special To The Jewish Week

It may be said that there are two constants in Jewish life: death and laughter. Three actually: death, laughter and tsuris. Oh, and family.

George Robinson

All In The Genetic Family

03/22/2016 - 10:27
Special To The Jewish Week

When Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died last month, much was made in the media about his longtime friendship with fellow Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. While the two oldest justices on the court occupied opposite ends of the political spectrum, they surprised many by being, as Derrick Wang’s new opera, “Scalia/Ginsburg,” has them sing, “best buddies.”

Ted Merwin

Filming The Inexplicable

03/15/2016 - 13:26
Special To The Jewish Week

Leo Baeck divided human knowledge into three groups: those phenomena that we understand, those that we do not understand but that science will eventually explain, and “that which is impenetrable.” To my mind, the impenetrable is the most appealing part of religious thought.

George Robinson

Decluttering Judaism

02/23/2016 - 12:16
Special To The Jewish Week

It may be sacrilegious to admit it, but my favorite day of the week is not Saturday.

Ted Merwin

Madoff, The Tragic Hero?

02/09/2016 - 11:31
Special To The Jewish Week

Something strange happened to me. I went to sleep one evening and woke up in a parallel universe in which Bernard Madoff was considered a tragic hero.

George Robinson

Too Many Holocaust Books?

01/28/2016 - 15:07
Special To The Jewish Week

Those who forget the past, George Santayana famously said, are doomed to repeat it. But is it possible to go overboard in terms of the history of the Holocaust? On last check, out of the 100 titles on Amazon’s list of bestselling Jewish history books, no fewer than 92 are related to the Shoah. A book on Jewish history, for the vast majority of both Jewish and non-Jewish readers, is a Holocaust book.

Ted Merwin
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