Robert Alter’s Bible: A Symposium

In the 14 years since he published the Five Books of Moses, Alter has steadily progressed through the Tanakh, producing translations that aim at something like a 21st-century American equivalent of what he has called the “simple yet grand” English of the King James Version, while attending closely to the literary techniques of the Hebrew text. We asked a learned, eclectic group of six critics to discuss the results.


Historical Agency

Among the many papers discovered in the Cairo Geniza are documents, including letters between Yeshua ben Ismail of Alexandria and Khalluf ben Musa in Qayrawan, in present-day Tunisia. The papers showing disintegration of their partnership shine a light on how a particular kind of business agreement affected the composition of a halakhic guidebook still widely consulted to this day.

Workday Jews

In their respective books, Chad Alan Goldberg and Eliyahu Stern address the question of whether the Jews are the quintessentially modern people or a people who came to modernity late and with a sudden shock. They reach very different conclusions.

Counting Jews

Tim Grady makes a careful but controversial case about the way Jews contributed to or supported Germany's worst excesses in World War I.

Confusion and Illusions: 1939

In their new book, Jehuda Reinharz and Yaacov Shavit focus on the efforts of the leaders of a diverse and disunited Jewish people in Europe, the United States, and Palestine to cope with this crisis in the years leading up to World War II.

The Homecoming

A 1977 Jerusalem Post article on Harold Pinter's visit to Israel was enticing but short on details. Pinter had just been to the Dead Sea (“hot!”) and Mount Masada (“high!”) and was planning to visit a cousin who lived on a kibbutz.


Melanie Phillips had stumbled into the culture wars by, as she herself describes it, “the staggering tactic of actually observing what was going on.”


The Arts

Yiddish Heroism, Hebrew Tears

For Avraham Sutzkever, life and work were not even slightly separate, since his was a life not merely shaped by poetry in a metaphorical sense but literally saved by it, when a poem of his produced an airplane.

Last Word

Books vs. Children

"Apparently it is very troubling for children to see their parents working, at least doing the kind of work that does not make itself visibly obvious."

Past Issues