In the 1950s, Sydney Taylor’s All-of-a-Kind Family books for children told the story of American Jewish acculturation–and pushed the process forward.
“Houdini created his illusions and handed them down to his brother Hardeen, Hardeen sold them to the Amazing Dunninger, and Dunninger sold them to—my father,” writes Jerry Muller in his review of Adam Begley’s new biography of the great Jewish escape artist.
Bastard, Orphan...Jew?; Squirrel Hill; Great Sages
Aldous Huxley wrote a poem where Jonah was “seated upon the convex mound of one vast kidney” of the fish that swallowed him, while George Orwell gave an interpretation of the Bible story in a review of Henry Miller. Read Stuart Halpern’s romp through Jonah’s reception history.
Hamlet, Shakespeare’s most peculiar tragedy, echoes one of the most peculiar books in the Hebrew Bible, Ecclesiastes. It also helps us understand its wisdom.
I would never have said this ten years ago, or even five years ago, but there apparently comes a time in the lives of those who write about Jewish identity when they have to decide whether to write about . . . it.
The great poet Abraham Sutzkever once swore an oath to serve Yiddish culture. He fulfilled his vow in ways no one could have ever imagined.
Chaim Grade’s Yiddish novel The Agunah is not so much a story about one woman’s plight as much as a whole city’s eruption over her story—the rabbis, the butchers, the mohels, the barbers, the housewives.
Although Martin Heidegger joined the Nazi Party in 1933 and never forthrightly repented of the episode “no other philosopher had more impact on twentieth-century European Jewish thought.”
When the philosopher Theodor Adorno met Gershom Scholem, he thought that he “gave the impression of a Bedouin prince.” Their lifetime of letters orbits their shared love of their brilliant, doomed friend Walter Benjamin.