Letters, Summer 2018

Poland and the Devil’s Point of View, Abraham’s Genome, Who's the Sabbatean?, and More


In the Melting Pot

More than a century after Zangwill's play debuted, the melting pot is still bubbling. What does that really mean for American Jewry?


Sacrificial Speech

Just a few years after the publication of her Purity, Body, and Self in Early Rabbinic Literature, Mira Balberg has somehow managed to write another path-breaking work on another formidable and arcane section of rabbinic literature—sacrificial law.

No Empty Place

The most substantial theoretical response to Hasidism from a leader of the mitnagdic—literally, opposition—movement did not appear until 1824, three years after the passing of its author, Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin.

The Founder of Jewish Studies

In 1818, a 23-year-old university student named Leopold Zunz published a 30-page essay with the modest title “On Rabbinic Literature.” He could scarcely have imagined his impact.

Free Radicals

The history of American anarchists, and of Jewish anarchists in particular, has been forgotten, largely overshadowed by the history of the American communist movement.

A Book and a Sword in the Vilna Ghetto

If the destruction of Jewish culture and Jewish life were intertwined, then the reverse was also true: The rescue of books, manuscripts, Torahs, and so on was almost as much a form of resistance as the preservation of life itself.

You Shall Appoint for Yourself Judges

Was the once-head of Israel's Supreme Court a robust defender of human rights or a runaway judge who imposed his political preferences on a nation? Tom Ginsburg explores the legacy of Aharon Barak.

Dress British, Think Yiddish

Stanley Kubrick was a New York Jew, fascinated with photography, jazz, and chess. He took evening classes at City College and studied at Columbia with Lionel Trilling.


Last Word

Says Who?

Peter Berger listened to me patiently, and then he said, “You can come to see me, but”—and here he spoke with heavy emphasis—“it sounds like you have read my books . . . and I haven’t thought of anything new.”

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