Summer 2012

Summer 2012
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Letters, Summer 2012

Too much Chometz? Leon Wieseltier responds to his critics.


Before the Big Bang

Cosmologist Lawrence Krauss is quite sure he knows how the universe began. Novelist Alan Lightman takes a wild narrative guess. But where does the Kabbalah stand?

War & Peace & Judaism

  Robert Eisen was walking to campus on 9/11 when he saw a dark cloud above the Pentagon. Alick Isaacs fought for the IDF in Lebanon. Their experiences prompted them to rethink peace and Judaism.


Dust-to-Dust Song

 Nelly Sachs was 50 years old when she fled the Nazis with her mother in 1940. Few would have perdicted that she would receive the Nobel Prize for Literature twenty-six years later.

Are We All Protestants Now?

 Leora Batnitzky's new book charts the development of modern Jewish thought.

Israel's Arab Sholem Aleichem

Sayed Kashua's new novel presents a characteristic depiction of the dual identities of Israel's Arabs.

Muddling Through

 In his new book about an Upper West Side Jewish family, Joshua Henkin proves himself as a skillful writer, alternately witty and moving.

A Neoplatonic Affair

  As the tapestry of Hillel Halkin's first novel unfurls, we see how perfectly each part fits into the larger pattern.

Where Wisdom Begins

 Alain de Botton's atheism doesn't prevent him from seeing the value and beauty of religious life.

Who Is Man?

Two new books on sin and temptation.

The Mighty Jacobson

  For an American Jew to read the magnificently funny and serious Howard Jacobson is to understand just how different the situation of English Jews is from their own.  


A sober look at Jews and Christians under medieval Islamic rule.


  What's the trouble with the international laws of war?


Borges, the Jew

Jorge Luis Borges, the Argentinian Nobel Prize-winning writer was captivated by Judaism. In 1934, he lamented, "hope is dimming that I will ever be able to discover my link to the Table of the Breads and the Sea of Bronze; to Heine, Gleizer, and the ten Sephiroth; to Ecclesiastes and Chaplin."

Rereading Herzl's Old-New Land

A bad novel, but an important and prescient book.

The Arts

Matisse and His Jewish Patrons

Some of Henri Matisse's earliest and most committed supporters (and buyers) were Jewish. That might explain why Histoires Juives, a book of Yiddish jokes in French translation, and other Jewish items can be found in his paintings.

Homage to Mahj

A traveling exhibit attempts to explain the Jewish fascination with Mah Jongg, a favorite past-time of mid-century Jewish suburbia, Jewish country clubs, and Catskill resorts.

Lost & Found

Berdyczewski, Blasphemy, and Belief

Rabbi Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg, one of the towering figures of the rabbinical establishment, found deep lessons about faith in the writings of the Nietzschean heretic Micha Josef Berdyczewski.

Last Word

Something Antigonus Said

When the Saducees misinterpreted Antigonus of Sokho, they lost eternity--at least that's what the Rabbis thought.

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