Will the Real Menachem Begin Please Stand Up?

October 18, 2013
By
prime-min

Have you ever wished you could be a fly on the wall in the chambers of Israel’s political elite? In The Prime Ministers, a new documentary from Moriah Films that premieres in NYC today, you can be – through the eyes of former diplomat Yehuda Avner, who’s been an insider to some of Israel’s…

Read more »

Anna Karenina, Alive and Not That Well in Queens

October 17, 2013
By
anna-k

Thought hundreds of pages about the Russian aristocracy described a world utterly foreign from our own? Irina Reyn’s English-language take on Anna Karenina may be refreshingly slimmer than Tolstoy’s opus but the world it describes is no less fascinating. What Happened to Anna K. (2008) features the insular community of Russian-speaking Jewish émigrés from Bukhara in Central…

Read more »

J.R.R. Tolkien: Not A Jew

October 16, 2013
By
jrr-tolkien

In 1938 J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel The Hobbit was achieving great publishing success in English, and a German publishing company subsequently sought the rights to translate it into German. But before they could go ahead with the translation and publication, they asked Tolkien to affirm that he was of Aryan descent, i.e. not a…

Read more »

Falafel Philosophy

October 15, 2013
By
falafel

The Israeli writer Assaf Gavron straddles the deathly funny and deathly serious. In his novel Almost Dead, a man survives multiple suicide-bomb attacks and inadvertently becomes a national hero. His clever and subversive work, Eating Standing Up, focuses on an even more volatile target: falafel stands. For 2 years, 1995-1997, Gavron reviewed a different falafel stand…

Read more »

Rav Yehuda Gets His Groove On

October 14, 2013
By
jake-marmer

“Said Rav Yehuda: Even silence has its rules,” announces spoken word poet Jake Marmer at the start of his new album, Hermeneutic Stomp. Between his rhythmic poem-spitting and the frantic, tight, dazzling grooves of his backing band, Marmer’s voice becomes one instrument in a massive silence-smashing symphony. The poet is by far…

Read more »

Kibbutzniks On Mars

October 11, 2013
By
mars

Plenty of fictional energy has been devoted to what might have happened if a modern Jewish state were established somewhere other than the Middle East: Michael Chabon has examined Alaska and Ben Katchor upstate New York. But what if some enterprising Jews left Planet Earth entirely? In his new novel Martian Sands, available as an…

Read more »

A New Play Wakes Up and Smells the Russian-Jewish Borscht

October 10, 2013
By
covers

For years academics have been arguing over what makes today’s Russian Jews Jewish. Religion? Language? Yiddishkait? No. Covers, a new production by the Russian-Jewish-American theater group Lost and Found offers an answer to this question: books. Based on personal stories of its young performers and writers, Covers is a multigenerational family drama: immigrant parents worry about their…

Read more »

What an Ancient Bottle of Wine Has to Do With Feminism

October 9, 2013
By
ancient-wine

Next time you open a bottle of wine or (pu pu pu) receive a summons, take a close look at the seal.  It may not seem so important, but turns out those little markers can tell us quite a bit about power and privilege—not just in our time, but in…

Read more »

“Godot” Goes Yiddish

October 8, 2013
By
godot1

If you thought Waiting for Godot was weird in English, try watching it in Yiddish. And thanks to a partnership between the New Yiddish Rep and the Castillo Theatre, now you can. Godot seems perfectly at home in Shane Baker’s fluid and idiomatic Yiddish translation. But for those of us who aren’t fluent, there’s no need…

Read more »

Binge Drinking With Noah and Satan

October 7, 2013
By
drunk

We all know that Noah was chosen by God to rebuild life after an apocalyptic flood. What gets less attention is that Genesis also tells how Noah planted a vineyard and used those grapes to get smashed. In a midrash, the sages trot out an unexpected character to warn about the dangers of such drinking: Satan.…

Read more »

The Righteous Gentile Who Wasn’t One

October 4, 2013
By
palatucci

It’s always sad when your hero gets knocked off his pedestal. But it’s shocking when that hero turns out to have a been an enthusiastic Nazi who got falsely credited with saving 5000 Jews. That supposed hero, Giovanni Palatucci, was an Italian police officer sent to Dachau, where he eventually died,…

Read more »

A Biblical Family Tree

October 3, 2013
By
tree

From classics like One Hundred Years of Solitude to recent hits like Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell series, complicated tales often come with charts or maps at the front to help you keep track of the characters and their movements. If novels can do this, why not the the original complicated tale? That is, the Bible. If…

Read more »