Revisiting Hill 24
The first movie I ever saw, not counting Dumbo, was Hill 24 Doesn’t Answer, a landmark black-and-white film about Israel’s War of Independence . . .
Lives in Translation
The elegant essays in Hillel Halkin's new book are the fruit of a lifetime devoted to Hebrew literature.
Thoreau and the Jewish Problem
When my friend and I read Walden, I shuttle between my old paperback, festooned with underlining and marginalia, and Jeffrey S. Cramer’s handsome annotated edition.
The Ubiquitous Gabirol
Solomon ibn Gabirol plunges into poetry, writes S. Y. Agnon, medabek atzmo be-charuz: glued to his craft, beading words with devotion.
A Pinch of Levity
Is it true that three people are required to perfect a joke: one to tell it, one to get it, and a third not to get it? Stuart Schoffman tracks a single Jewish joke through multiple tellings.
The Hebrew Teacher
After his baptism, Judah Monis observed the Christian Sabbath on Saturdays, giving rise to suspicion, and for 38 years taught mandatory Hebrew to rebellious students.
Was Lincoln Jewish?
Abraham Lincoln became a saint for American Jews. But was he also "bone from our bone and flesh from our flesh"? One rabbi thought so.
Hollywood and Jerusalem
It would be marvelous to tell you that right after the meeting I strode indignantly to my forest-green Porsche, wheeled onto the Santa Monica Freeway, sped eastward on I-10 past Palm Springs, and didn’t stop till I got to Jerusalem. But that would be untrue.
Lost from the Start: Kafka on Spinoza Street
Jerusalem-based writer Benjamin Balint has crafted a wise and eloquent study of Kafka around the eight-year battle in Israeli courts over Max Brod’s literary estate.
Shabbtai at Seventy
Stuart Schoffman traded Malibu for Jerusalem, "smack in the middle of the First Intifada."
In Praise of Humility
There are those who carry the quest for yichus to extremes; Steven Weitzman is not among them.
The Lowells and the Jews
Robert Lowell, the most famous poet in America, icon of the antiwar movement, consummate Boston Brahmin, was especially glad to speak with a Jewish group because, he drawled, “I’m an eighth, you know.”
The Great Family Circle
Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, “the father of modern Hebrew,” famously raised his own son to be the first child in almost 2,000 years to speak only Hebrew. When Itamar Ben-Avi grew up, he was fascinated by . . . Esperanto. Esther Schor’s new book on L. L. Zamenhof, his would-be universal language, and those who still speak it inspired Stuart Schoffman to revisit the oddly parallel careers of Ben-Yehuda and Zamenhof.
The Quality of Rachmones
Howard Jacobson's Shylock Is My Name is dead serious and very funny, high criticism and low comedy.
Robert Capa’s Road to Jerusalem
By all accounts, his own not least, Robert Capa was a womanizer, a heavy drinker, and a compulsive gambler who consistently lost his shirt everywhere from poker games at the front lines to European casinos. He was also a gifted, prolific photographer.
A Stone for His Slingshot
In 1948 screenwriter Ben Hecht lectured “a thousand bookies, ex-prize fighters, gamblers, jockeys, touts,” and gangsters on the burdens and responsibilities of Jewish history. The night at Slapsy Maxie’s was a big success, but the speech was lost, until now.
Hollywood and the Nazis
In their dealings with Germany in the 1930s, were Hollywood’s moguls just watching the bottom line or aiding the Third Reich’s PR machine?
Walkers in the City
Herman Melville was unimpressed with Jerusalem in 1857, but what would he say if he were a saunterer on Mamilla or King George today?