Dan Grossman

  • Review

    There Will Be Blood: Chaim Soutine at the Jewish Museum

    May 29, 2018Dan Grossman

    "His paintings reflect the route from Louvre to butcher shop to studio, a private map of an emigre who belonged to no national movement and who created his own style."

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    Writings Grid

    A Fascinating Revamp at the Jewish Museum

    January 22, 2018Dan Grossman

    by Dan Grossman   "SCENES from the Collection,” the first permanent exhibition at New York's Jewish Museum in over twenty-five years, pulls off the triumphant feat of being both rooted and experimental. The exhibition it replaces, “Culture and Continuity,” attempted to tell over three thousand years of Jewish history in only two floors. “Scenes from the Collection” turns this vertical history on its side, creating a web of connections across time periods and places. Instead of marching from Ca...

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    Seeing Double: Israel and the Jewish-American Novel

    November 28, 2017Dan Grossman

    by Dan Grossman   THE JEWISH-AMERICAN novel has left the States and flown El Al to Israel. Or so claims Canadian-Israeli journalist Matti Friedman in “Distant Cousins,” an essay that appeared last month in Jewish Review of Books. Friedman points out that Israel appears as a setting, plot-driver, and central character in four recent Jewish-American novels. His argument about literary geography both updates and tweaks Vivian Gornick’s proclamation in a 2009 interview that, “There is no hyphenate...

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  • Writings Grid

    Letter to Nimrod

    November 9, 2017Dan Grossman

    by Dan Grossman   YOUR HIGHNESS, six months ago you rose to power on a bold pledge: to build a tower to heaven. You told crowds that it would be “big” and “beautiful” and “create a million jobs,” and when you chanted “And who will pay for the tower?” we all screamed, “Heaven!” As you know, construction on the Tower of Babel has yet to begin. A leak from your royal circle indicated that my company, Babel Contractors, is to blame for the delay. Though I know this is probably the work of the fake...

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    Englander and the Israeli-Palestinian Limbo

    September 24, 2017Dan Grossman

    by Dan Grossman Discussed in this essay: Dinner at the Center of the Earth, a novel by Nathan Englander. Knopf, 2017, 276 pages.   IN PIRKEI AVOT (The Ethics of the Fathers), Hillel sees a skull floating in the water and says, “Because you drowned others, you were drowned; and in the end those that drowned you will be drowned.” The original Hebrew is even pithier: six words are all it takes for Hillel to sum up and repudiate the ethics of vengeance. A version of Hillel’s warning appears on th...

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    Wednesday Night Fiction: The Rabbi and the Shark

    May 3, 2017Dan Grossman

    by Dan Grossman from the Spring 2017 issue of Jewish Currents THE RABBI was terrified. Just minutes before Kol Nidre he stood in his office chanting the prayers under his breath, worrying for the twentieth time that his sermon was too high-minded, and flipping through the tall, gold-spined books on his shelf, as if he might cure his dread with a passage from the Midrash or Talmud. Not only was he the youngest rabbi in the history of Beth Shalom, an old and venerable synagogue trying to breathe...

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    Translating Amos Oz to the Big Screen

    September 5, 2016Dan Grossman

    by Dan Grossman "A FULFILLED DREAM is a disappointed dream,” goes the voice-over at the end of A Tale of Love and Darkness, a new film directed by Natalie Portman based on Amos Oz’s 2001 memoir. The line is spoken while a teenage Oz shows his father around the kibbutz where Oz has fled from trauma. Despite his dreams of becoming a heroic pioneer, Oz still doesn’t feel at home. The line also applies to the experiences of Oz’s mother, Fania (Portman), who as a young woman flees European anti-Semi...

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    The Suicide and the Executed Writer

    July 22, 2016Dan Grossman

    Yefim Ladyzhensky and Isaac Babel at the Yeshiva University Museum by Dan Grossman THERE'S A STRESSFUL poignancy to judging the work of an artist who committed suicide because his paintings were underappreciated. You can frown at a Van Gogh canvas without any guilt, safe in the knowledge that it’ll hang in the best museums for another millennium, but the same can’t be said for an artist who committed suicide and is still unknown. That’s the case of Yefim Ladyzhensky, a Soviet-Jewish painter who...

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  • Articles

    The Square of Tolerance

    June 19, 2016Dan Grossman

    CROSSING NARROW BRIDGES AS A TRAVELER IN SOFIA, BULGARIA by Dan Grossman from the Spring 2016 issue of Jewish Currents ALL ACROSS THE BALKANS, as all across Europe, religious tensions won’t stay in the past. In Mostar (southern Bosnia and Herzegovina), a bridge divides the Bosniak Muslims from the Catholic Croats, with the church towers on the western bank mirroring the minarets on the east. In Skopje (Macedonia), deep divisions persist between the Macedonian Orthodox majority and the Albanian...

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