The elegant essays in Hillel Halkin's new book are the fruit of a lifetime devoted to Hebrew literature.
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.
Solomon ibn Gabirol plunges into poetry, writes S. Y. Agnon, medabek atzmo be-charuz: glued to his craft, beading words with devotion.
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.
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.
"Father Abraham became a saint for American Jews, a martyred Moses who revered the Bible," writes Stuart Schoffman of the post-Civil War view of President Lincoln. But was he also "bone from our bone and flesh from our flesh"? Henry Vidaver thought so...
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.
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.
Stuart Schoffman traded Malibu for Jerusalem, "smack in the middle of the First Intifada."
There are those who carry the quest for yichus to extremes; Steven Weitzman is not among them.
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.”
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.
Howard Jacobson's Shylock Is My Name is dead serious and very funny, high criticism and low comedy.
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.
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.
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?
Herman Melville was unimpressed with Jerusalem in 1857, but what would he say if he were a saunterer on Mamilla or King George today?