Fall 2014

Fall 2014
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Letters Fall 2014

Cardinal Dulles' Inspiration, Did Sacks Write a Sermon?, Heidegger v. Reason, & More


The Ethics of Protective Edge

How does one deal with Hamas, an enemy that has eliminated any trace of the distinction between combatants and non-combatants, except for the purposes of propaganda?

Neither Friend nor Enemy: Israel in the EU

After five years at the European Parliament, the author reflects on Israel's place in the discourse of the EU's chattering (and legislating) class.


Thoroughly Modern Maimonides?

Three recent books elucidate what, if anything, Maimonides has to say to us today.

Muscular Judaism

The history of Jewish boxers such as Daniel Mendoza in England is as central to understanding the entry of Jews into European society as the better-known and much-researched history of Jewish salonnières and intellectuals in Berlin and Vienna.

Zionism’s Forgotten Father

Nathan Birnbaum, one of Zionism's early leaders, looked like Herzl and wrote like Herzl (albeit not as successfully). But his unusual trajectory has reduced the space that might have been assigned to him in the history of Zionism.

Poland's Jewish Problem: Vodka?

Jewish-run taverns—rowdy, often very seedy drink-holes—served to cement, rather than sour, the impossibly tense and intertwined lives of Poles and Jews, as a new book by Glenn Dynner shows.

Like an Elevator

At the height of his fame in the 1930s, Stefan Zweig was the most translated author in the world. He may also have been the most hated.

The Banality of Evil: The Demise of a Legend

As The New York Times noted, Bettina Stangneth’s newly translated book Eichmann Before Jerusalem finally and completely undermines Hannah Arendt’s famous “Banality of Evil” thesis.

Valhalla in Flames

To give their "Thousand Year Reich" a patina of tradition, the Nazis co-opted the German and Western European cultural canon.

Sometimes a Bag Is Just a Bag

Daphne Merkin's new collection is signature Merkin: funny, smartly written, and utterly self-indulgent.

Something Borrowed

Boris Fishman's debut novel A Replacement Life has a talented author, hefty themes, a clever and wide-ranging conceit, but somehow the whole is less than the sum of its parts.

The Arts

Available Light: Pictures from Yemen

Yihye Haybi, a Jewish medical assistant to an Italian doctor in Sana'a, found himself in possession of a camera. Self-taught and working under difficult circumstances, he captured the waning days of Yemen's ancient Jewish community.


Shaking Up Israel’s Kosher Certification System

On belly dancing, big government, and the issues of synagogue and state raised by recent attempts at kashrut reform in Israel.

Lost & Found

Sephardi Lives: From Ottoman Salonica to Rosario, Argentina

Singing women spark indignation in Salonica, a change of seasons in Argentina requires rabbinic expertise, and Jews in the Ottoman army get fat and happy.


Killer Backdrop: A Response

Erika Dreifus expresses dismay over Amy Newman Smith's essay on Holocaust fiction.

Poland Is Not Ukraine: A Response to Konstanty Gebert’s “The Ukrainian Question”

Dovid Katz explores what it means to be a “good guy” and a “bad guy” in his response to Konstanty Gebert’s article on Ukraine and its Jews.

Killer Backdrop: A Rejoinder

Amy Newman Smith clarifies her position.

Last Word

The Digression

A doctor walks into the examination room and tells his patient that the drugs aren’t working and there isn’t anything else to try . . .

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