An Entrepreneurial American

“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.

All-of-a-Kind Americans

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.

An Indian Play in Warsaw

Janusz Korczak couldn’t save any of his beloved orphans from the Nazis. Jai Chakrabarti imagines one, and sends him to India. It’s a great premise, but does it work as a novel?

The Story They’ve Been Telling Themselves

“I wouldn’t turn on my beloved, my sacred husband,” Eva Panić firmly declared. Instead, she chose a brutal Yugoslavian prison–and abandoned her six-year-old daughter. David Grossman transforms their story into a disturbing yet beautiful novel.

An Israelite with Egyptian Principles

Judah Benjamin was a brilliant New Orleans lawyer who became the most important cabinet member in Jefferson Davis’s Confederate government. He was, Senator Benjamin Wade correctly declared, one of the “Israelites with Egyptian principles.”

This Shall Not Be in Vain

Rabbi Roland B. Gitelsohn was a pacifist when World War II started. Four years later he was chaplain at the Battle of Iwo Jima. His long-lost memoir has just been published.

Hasidism, Jung, and the Jewish Spiritual Crisis

Carl Jung said that the great “the Hasidic Rabbi whom they called the Great Maggid” anticipated his entire psychology. He learned that from his Jewish student Erich Neumann, whose Roots of Jewish Consciousness was never published until now.

The Arts

From the Shtiebel to the Hora

More than two hundred songs of the pioneers of the Third Aliyah began their lives as Hasidic tunes. But historian David Assaf’s wonderful new book reaches far beyond the Hasidic world in tracing the origins of the heart of the secular Zionist musical repertoire.

Last Word

He Shall Not Press His Fellow

Once every seven years, the Torah says, the economic playing field should be leveled, and those trapped in debt should be freed. Even the rabbinic workaround reminds us of the ideal–as I was reminded after my startup foundered in the 2008 financial crisis.

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