Blog-Shmog

  • Writings Grid

    Reflections on Conversion and a Trip to Israel

    May 2, 2017Alan Rutkowski

    by Alan Rutkowski I CAME of age in the United States during the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement. Although I certainly never put my life on the line as some did in those struggles, as a university student I participated in them, especially the anti-war movement, and they contributed to my core values and political orientation. In the process, I abandoned the Catholicism I was raised in. In my fifties, I converted to Judaism. While I cannot articulate the exact reasons for my taking th...

    Read More
  • Blog-Shmog

    OpEdge: Shame on Us, White People

    November 9, 2016Marc Jampole

    by Marc Jampole SHAME ON US, white people. We just rejected the most presidential, qualified candidate in history to vote for a mentally ill buffoon who spews hate speech and has no impulse control. We voted against someone who has studied every issue and developed a reasoned approach to each so we could vote for someone who has displayed total ignorance and confusion on the basics of what constitutes abortion, foreign trade, contemporary business practices, military strategy and tactics and ...

    Read More
  • Blog-Shmog

    In a Rothian Novel, Nicole Krauss Explores Questions of Authorship and Authority

    January 4, 2018Miranda Cooper

    by Miranda Cooper Discussed in this essay: Forest Dark, a novel by Nicole Krauss. HarperCollins Publishers, 2017, 304 pages.   IN HER INTERVIEW for the New York Times Book Review’s “By the Book” column, responding to a question about what she sought in a novel, Nicole Krauss answered, “I want, if possible, a little bit of infinity, which I don’t think is too much to ask.” A desire for “a little bit of infinity” is what the two protag...

    Read More
  • Blog-Shmog

    Bridging the Jewish Secular-Religious Divide

    June 22, 2016lawrencebush

    by Lawrence Bush Discussed in this essay: Putting God Second: How to Save Religion from Itself, by Rabbi Donniel Hartman. Beacon Press, 2016, 180 pages. AS THE EDITOR of Jewish Currents, which tags itself on the cover as a "secular, progressive voice," I am occasionally invited to synagogues to speak about secular Jewish identity. I admire those rabbis who invite me, for their willingness to acknowledge the presence of agnostic and even atheist Jews in their congregations — and for permit...

    Read More
  • 9

    Writings Grid

    Passing Over and Out of India

    March 31, 2018Lawrence Bush

    An India Travelogue, Part 13 by Lawrence Bush Click for Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12.   WE ARE CUTTING SHORT our trip to India, with one week left (which would have involved a trip to Varanasi, the "holy city" on the Ganges River, and to Khajuraho, a city famous for its erotic temple sculptures). Our son has been hospitalized in St. Louis with a sudden, serious condition, so we're flying to Delhi tonight and back to the States the following night so that we can be with him....

    Read More
  • Writings Grid

    The Uncivil Servant: German Cinema in Nazi Times

    April 5, 2018Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor   OCCASIONALLY DERIDED for being too broad and hasty in its estimation of individual films, Siegfried Kracauer’s 1947 study, From Caligari to Hitler, nevertheless stands as a classic of film criticism. Its old-fashioned, Old-World vision of German cinema from its beginnings until the arrival in power of Hitler, and its focus on the unity of vision in works across countless directors and on the ways they expressed German inter-war psychology, were both ambitious and fruitful....

    Read More
  • 579c18ef3cbd31089d8e1ae22064005f

    Writings Grid

    The Uncivil Servant: Where the Hell Did We Come From?

    April 1, 2018Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor Discussed in this essay: The Origin of the Jews, by Steven Weitzman. Princeton University Press, 2017, 408 pages.   AT THE END of Steven Weitzman’s Origin of the Jews, a scholarly but eminently accessible account of the search for the origin of the Jews (which we should not confuse with their beginnings), the author writes: “At the end of the day . . . it is not clear what we can say with any degree of confidence about the origin of the Jews.” There are certainties: “At som...

    Read More
  • 1463646642_Udaipur_3jpg

    Writings Grid

    Going to Temple

    March 30, 2018Lawrence Bush

    An India Travelogue, Part 12 by Lawrence Bush Click for Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11.   INDIA'S MANY BEAUTIFUL PALACES, forts, and temples start to merge into one another after a few weeks of travel here, but this morning, in Udaipur, the "City of Lakes" (seven of them, man-made over the past four centuries), we had an exceptional experience of a Hindu service at the Jagdish Temple, an ornate building that has been in continuous use for worship since 1652. We arrived only ten m...

    Read More
  • Writings Grid

    OpEdge: Making of Our Tables One Table

    March 29, 2018Marc Jampole

    TRUMP AND THE FEAR OF DIFFERENCE by Marc Jampole   SOMETHING QUITE WONDERFUL happened to my wife and me the other day during our annual public humiliation, which is how we refer to our one trip a year to buy sweet kosher wine -- always for our seder. We entered the neighborhood liquor store near Hunter College and sheepishly asked a group of employees gathered in front, “Where’s the sweet kosher wine?” I added, as if telling a joke, “You know, once a year…” to which the store manager answered ...

    Read More
  • Writings Grid

    Remembering the Battle to Integrate Levittown

    March 28, 2018Zachary Solomon

    by Zachary Solomon   LAST YEAR, George Clooney's Suburbicon, the sixth film that the actor has directed, bombed at the box office. Suburbicon was a combination of two scripts, one a neglected crime romp penned by Joel and Ethan Coen in the mid-1980s, the other a drama loosely informed by the notorious 1957 documentary, Crisis in Levittown. Suburbicon turned out to be a bloated, mediocre mess, lacking in the Coen brothers’ signature snappy quirk and pathos, and guilty of relegating the story of...

    Read More
  • a_fabrica_de_nada_1_h_2017

    Writings Grid

    Class Struggle in Portugal and Other New Film Themes

    March 27, 2018Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor   THE ANNUAL FESTIVAL of works by new and newish directors, New Directors/New Films, will be running from March 29 – April 8 at the film Society of Lincoln Center. I had the opportunity to see a few of those on view in advance. The crisis that has crushed workers in Europe and America has unfortunately resulted in few films that address its class struggle aspects. Rather, it is the rise of racism within the greater societies and, more narrowly, within native working classes...

    Read More
  • IMG_1999

    Blog-Shmog

    The Karma of Trust

    March 27, 2018Lawrence Bush

    An India Travelogue, Part 11 by Lawrence Bush Click for Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10.   OUT OF THE CITY of Delhi, at last! We came yesterday by car to Jaipur, in the state of Rajasthan, (we hired the same driver with the deep voice and the one family cow who had taken us to Agra and the Taj Mahal). En route, we stopped in Mathura, "birthplace of Krishna," to visit an elephant sanctuary that is home to some 20 rescued Indian elephants. Run by a group called Wildlife SOS, it proved to...

    Read More
  • CEG

    Writings Grid

    "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend": What's the Allure?

    March 25, 2018Elliot Gertel

    by Elliot B. Gertel   THE CW NETWORK'S Crazy Ex-Girlfriend began with Jewish lawyer Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom) running into her irresolute summer-camp crush, Filipino-American Josh Chan (Vincent Rodriguez III), and then leaving a high-powered New York job in order to stalk him in his home town of West Covina, California. Rebecca is obsessed and devious, but it’s all in the name of comedy, right? Maybe this is not the best image of a Jewish woman -- nor is the depiction of Rebecca’s obnoxiou...

    Read More
  • A336364_gal_20151123184209

    Writings Grid

    Hanging with the Idolaters

    March 23, 2018Lawrence Bush

    An India Travelogue, Part 10 by Lawrence Bush Click for Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9.   IT'S INTERESTING being an American Jew in India, where most of the folks I speak with associate Jews exclusively with Israel, period -- meaning that they associate us with conservatism, occupation of the Palestinian people, and cooperation with the U.S. military machine. The subject comes up, of course, when people ask what I do, and I say, "I'm a writer and magazine editor," and they say, "What maga...

    Read More
  • moses27f-1-web

    Writings Grid

    Rethinking the Exodus Story

    March 23, 2018Bennett Muraskin

    A Curmudgeonly, Skeptical Look at Those Miracles by Bennett Muraskin   THE PASSOVER HAGODE celebrates the liberation of the ancient Israelites from slavery in Egypt, but provides few details. Its source document is the Book of Exodus — which on this holiday deserves a closer look. Because Pharaoh fears that the burgeoning Israelite population will become a threat to his rule, he summons two Hebrew midwives and orders them to kill the newborn boys that they deliver from Hebrew women. Assuming ...

    Read More
  • black-patent-stiletto-heel-3

    Writings Grid

    Next Year in New Jersey

    March 23, 2018Rebecca Boroson

    by Rebecca Boroson   "THIS IS A NIGHT for Elijah,” says 7-year-old Bram. The wind is battering the trees and sending the clouds running for cover. And it does, indeed, seem like a night for the biblical prophet, for whom Bram will open the door during the seder — and who may invisibly, if he deigns, take the chair we’ve provided for him and drink from his own cup. But it turns out to be more like a night for the Keystone Kops. First up is my ancient uncle, a recent widower who does not know...

    Read More
  • divided-polarized-United-States-of-America

    Writings Grid

    What's Going to Happen to American Democracy?

    March 22, 2018Dusty Sklar

    by Dusty Sklar Discussed in this essay: How Democracies Die, by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt. Penguin/Random House, 2018, 320 pages.   THESE DAYS, all sane Americans are wringing their hands over the threats to our democracy posed by the Trump presidency and the Republican power monopoly in Washington. Two thoughtful Harvard professors of government have now come along to teach us lessons from history about how other democratic governments have slid into authoritarianism. Steven Levitsk...

    Read More
  • detailed_picture

    Writings Grid

    The Uncivil Servant: Richard Wagner, Made (Too) Simple

    March 20, 2018Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor   Discussed in this essay: Being Wagner: The Story of the Most Provocative Composer Who Ever Lived, by Simon Callow. Vintage, 232 pages, 2017   IN THIS AGE of doorstop biographies, the actor and biographer Simon Callow’s breezy 200+ pages on Richard Wagner, Being Wagner, appear to be a quirky, quixotic venture. How to squeeze so tumultuous a life and oeuvre and philosophy into so short a volume? In fact, in this book Callow succeeds in taking us on a rapid trip through th...

    Read More
  • 20120216-chariotramesses-ii-on-a-chariot

    Writings Grid

    The Horse in Jewish Religious Text

    March 19, 2018Paul Devassy

    by A.D. Paul   THE TORAH's attitude to horses reveals a range of perspectives, based on the different experiences of the ancient Jewish people. Unlike the pig and the dog, which are not only forbidden as food but are widely scorned throughout the Torah, the horse, also forbidden as a food, often symbolizes great strength and courage, as well as spectacular beauty. After the excruciating suffering that has befallen Job, for example, he asks God the perennial question, Why do innocents suffer? I...

    Read More
  • lethem_theaesthete

    Writings Grid

    The Freewheeling Jonathan Lethem

    March 19, 2018Pam Black

    by Pam Black   A Gambler’s Anatomy, Jonathan Lethem’s tenth and most recent novel (2016), is a romp of a read, laden with lush language, cynical wit, and bizarre twists. It follows Alexander Bruno, a jaded, 50-ish backgammon ace and ladies’ man, to secret, international, high-stakes gambling parlors, where he fleeces the rich with his superior gaming skills, keen psychological insight, and a dash of telepathy. Abandoned by a drug-addled, hippie mother in San Francisco, Bruno has worked his wa...

    Read More
  • stormy

    Writings Grid

    Elijah at the White House, 2018

    March 17, 2018Joel Schechter

    Another Short Play by Joel Schechter Characters: Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump, Melania Trump, Jared Kushner, Secret Service agents, Children 1, 2, 3, Stormy Daniels and other guests. Setting: A Passover dinner table in the White House. We hear the Trump family singing a song about Elijah.   Jared: It's time for the prophet to enter. Open the door, please. This year we need Elijah more than ever. Donald:  If his papers are in order, it shouldn't be a problem. Although with my new tax plan, eve...

    Read More
  • conspiracy-sign-e1489009504400

    Writings Grid

    MESA's Fresno State Conspiracy Theory

    March 17, 2018Steven Lubet

    by Steven Lubet   ONE COMMON attribute of conspiracy theories is the belief that powerful forces, operating behind the scenes, are responsible for otherwise inexplicable adversities and misfortunes. These unseen antagonists' reach extends into realms such as government, finance, culture, and education, and the absence of actual evidence of their existence or influence is simply taken as  proof of the tremendous extent of their power. Some conspiracy theories are based on religion ("the Jews")...

    Read More
  • img_1886

    Blog-Shmog

    Jewel in the Crown?

    March 16, 2018Lawrence Bush

    An India Travelogue, Part 7 by Lawrence Bush Click for Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6.   SUSAN HAD AN ERUPTION of "Delhi belly" a couple of nights ago, which laid her low for a few hours and has put us both on an even stricter regimen about what we will and won't eat (no more ice cubes in India, even in the nice restaurants — so much for my gin and tonics). The experience reminded me of the only other time the two of us traveled in a developing country — and Susan almost died. My mother took us o...

    Read More
  • james-schwab-ice-spokesman-in-san-francisco-resigns-over-what-he-described-as-false-and-misleading-statements

    Writings Grid

    OpEdge: Truth vs. Republican Whitewashing

    March 16, 2018Marc Jampole

    by Marc Jampole   A SPOKESPERSON for U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) just resigned rather than tell a bold-faced lie that Attorney General Jeff Sessions and other ICE officials have been floating. They have been complaining that about eight hundred undocumented immigrants escaped arrest because Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf warned the community that ICE raids were coming. ICE’s San Francisco spokesperson James Schwab knew the real number was much, much lower and recommended that ...

    Read More
  • social-media-jpg-20

    Writings Grid

    Warning: Irrationality

    March 15, 2018Alan Rutkowski

    BUT RELIGIOUS FUNDAMENTALISTS AREN’T THE ONLY PROBLEM By Alan Rutkowski   AN UNAPPRECIATED but dangerous consequence of the Trump era is widespread liberal/secular oversimplification of the emerging danger. In their attacks on religion, for example, the so-called New Atheists — Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens (RIP), and Sam Harris — have fostered the notion that the most primitive, science-denying fundamentalists are representative of all religious believers. The danger th...

    Read More
  • social-media-jpg-17

    Writings Grid

    Quick Takes: Prof. Jan Gross and Polish Holocaust Revisionism

    March 14, 2018Ralph Seliger

    by Ralph Seliger   IT WAS the evening of February 22 when Prof. Jan Gross spoke to a packed hall at New York’s Center for Jewish History to discuss the newly amended Polish law “for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation” as well as other efforts of the current rightwing Polish government to outlaw references to the complicity of Poles in the Holocaust. (An English translation of the entire law, passed in January 2018, can be read here. The part of the law recently amended is Arti...

    Read More
  • img_1645

    Blog-Shmog

    #Me Too in India

    March 14, 2018Lawrence Bush

    An India Travelogue, Part 6 by Lawrence Bush Click for Parts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.   WE HAD A DAY of recovery and catch-up yesterday, after Susan had taught a four-hour workshop the day before at a monumentally huge school called Step by Step. Her cohort consisted of some thirty teachers, all women, drawn from thirty different schools, including numerous government schools. Because some of the women in the class had limited English skills, two people translated for Susan — and in a very concrete ...

    Read More
  • why-ganesha-has-a-broken-tusk

    Blog-Shmog

    Their Idolatry and Mine

    March 11, 2018Lawrence Bush

    An India Travelogue, Part 5 by Lawrence Bush Click for Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4. ONE REASON I was ill-prepared for this trip to India is that my work life with Jewish Currents never leaves me much time for extra-curricular anything. I knew months ago that I would be coming here, as my wife was scheduled to teach for a month in Delhi as a Fulbright specialist (training teachers to use her techniques of kinesthetic teaching of curricular subjects), and I wasn't about to let the opportunity to join he...

    Read More
  • Blog-Shmog

    "Surfing"

    March 9, 2018Lawrence Bush

    by Sherman Pearl   SURFING For Randy California   MY REMOTE wasn’t looking for you, dear nephew, just surfing the net for something rich to divert me from the garbage, and there you were, on video, guitar screeching a rock tune.  The lyrics were   drowned out by fans screaming their love, cheering you back from the ocean that had pulled you into its silence, then buoyed you back to the surface for a farewell gig at the end of your tour.   I watched you emerge, playing yourself all ...

    Read More
  • geoengineering

    Writings Grid

    Notes from a Small Planet: Too Soon for Geo-Engineering?

    March 7, 2018Aaron Dorman

    by Aaron Dorman   “MASSIVE TOOL.” That’s how a professor of mine characterized David Keith, the author of a 2013 book, A Case for Climate Engineering, which touts certain proposals for geo-engineering. We’d been asked to read Keith’s book as part of a graduate course on geo-engineering and other high-concept techno-solutions to global warming. One particular approach, “solar radiation management," or SRM -- the category of engineering that includes seeding the stratosphere with sulfate partic...

    Read More
  • meyer-on-shtetl

    Writings Grid

    "Where Are Your Guns?" A Story by Howard Fast

    March 7, 2018admin

    From the July 1948 issue of Jewish Currents (then Jewish Life), reprinted from our Sid Resnick Archive. To see a scanned copy of the article as originally published, click here. WHERE ARE YOUR GUNS? by Howard Fast IN THE LAND of the goyim, my father traded with the Indians. We traded for beaver, and my father's word was as good as his bond, and we never carried a weapon except for our knives. From the lakes in the north to the canebrake in the south and as far west as the great river -- t...

    Read More
  • img_1770

    Writings Grid

    Jews in the Mughal Empire (Just Kidding)

    March 7, 2018Lawrence Bush

    An India Travelogue, Part 4 by Lawrence Bush Click for Parts 1, 2 and 3.   I REMEMBER the first time I saw Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, after years of seeing it in photographs. You couldn't drive very close to the mountain, so it seemed like a post card, even in "real life," and I experienced disappointment. Rather than the moment seeming more vivid, I felt dulled and a bit dissociated. Not so at the Taj Mahal, which is ten times more magnificent in real life, in real sunlight, with real ...

    Read More
  • unknown

    Writings Grid

    The Uncivil Servant: French Cinema on Display

    March 6, 2018Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor   THE ANNUAL FESTIVAL of French cinema that is now known as Rendez-Vous with French Cinema has been with us for decades, under different names and in different venues. This year’s edition, running from March 8-18, will be at the Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York. Here is a sample of some of what will be on display. There have been countless films about Joan of Arc, at least two of them classics (Dreyer’s La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc and Bresson’s Le Proces de Jeanne ...

    Read More
  • 2477_d010_00247_cropv2-h_2017

    Writings Grid

    White Hollywood, Black Films

    March 4, 2018Alessio Franko

    by Alessio Franko   IF JORDAN PEELE'S socially conscious horror film Get Out wins this year’s Best Picture Oscar, I will cringe — not because the film doesn’t deserve the win (quite the contrary), but because, in that moment, the white members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will all become versions of that film's patriarch, Dean Armitage (Bradley Whitford), gushing to his daughter’s black boyfriend, Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), that “I would have voted for Obama for a third term...

    Read More
  • humayuns-tomb-delhi-head-212

    Writings Grid

    Caste, Class, and Hierarchy in India

    March 3, 2018Lawrence Bush

    A Travelogue, Part 3 by Lawrence Bush Click for Parts 1 and 2.   WHERE IS IT SAFE TO GO in Delhi, and where shouldn't you go? Hard to say. I've just found my way on foot to a large park, and whether it's like a park in New York City circa 1980 or circa 2018, I dunno. And what does "safe" mean to me — free from robbery, or free from panhandling? No matter, it's Saturday afternoon, time to sit on a park bench in the blessed shade and scribble in a notebook. Guidebook warnings aside, I've been i...

    Read More
  • social-media-jpg-2

    Writings Grid

    From NYC to Tel Aviv: Becoming Israeli, Staying Progressive

    March 2, 2018Ron Skolnik

    A Q&A WITH HILLEL SCHENKER by Ron Skolnik BORN IN BROOKLYN, New York, in 1942, journalist Hillel Schenker arrived by boat in Israel in November 1963. Since the 1970s, he has been a major participant in the Israeli peace movement, including as a co-founder of Peace Now, and today serves as Israeli co-editor of the Palestine-Israel Journal, the only independent, joint Israeli-Palestinian publication to be produced in the region. We asked Hillel to discuss life, culture, and politics in Israel...

    Read More
  • social-media-png

    Writings Grid

    Quick Takes: Supreme Court to Devastate Organized Labor?

    March 1, 2018Ralph Seliger

    by Ralph Seliger photo credit: AFSCME Council 31   A CASE now in consideration before the U.S. Supreme Court threatens to undermine the right of public employees to be represented in collective bargaining.  Officially known as Janus vs. AFSCME Council 31, the case takes the form of a lawsuit brought by an Illinois state employee named Mark Janus, who objects to the requirement to pay his “fair share” fee to the union that negotiates his contract with the State. Under current law, unions have...

    Read More
  • maxresdefault

    Blog-Shmog

    Purim at the Imperial: India, Part 2

    March 1, 2018Lawrence Bush

    A Travelogue by Lawrence Bush For Part 1, click here. HE WAS A VERY handsome Sikh man, dark-eyed, smiling, turbaned, of course, about 40 years old, and he was pleading with us — gently, obsequiously, with “sir” and “lady” tagged to every sentence — to engage him as a driver any time we needed one in Delhi and its environs. It would cost us only 9,500 rupees, he said — about $160 — for an overnight trip to Agra and the Taj Mahal. He was from the Punjab, he said (the Sikh-majority state of north...

    Read More
  • emma-icecream

    Writings Grid

    Emma Goldman's Ice Cream Shop

    February 28, 2018Zachary Solomon

    by Zachary Solomon   IT WAS JOHANN MOST, the anarchist who popularized the phrase "propaganda of the deed" to describe leftwing terrorism, who helped inspire Emma Goldman and Alexander ("Sasha") Berkman in their attempt to assassinate steel magnate Henry Clay Frick in 1892. Yet by the time the attack would become news (and Berkman would spend fourteen years in prison for it), Most was its outspoken critic, dumping on both Goldman and Berkman (in the German-language newspaper Most edited, Freih...

    Read More
  • india-rickshaws

    Blog-Shmog

    Inching My Way into India

    February 28, 2018Lawrence Bush

    by Lawrence Bush   I GO CRAZY for the first 24 hours trying to hook into technology so that I can pretend I'm not that far away from home and calmly keep plugging away at my work for Jewish Currents. I'm searching for wifi signals and passwords, SIM cards, charging cables and outlet adapters that we brought from home, and so on. Plus I'm here with my teacher-wife, who has toted a 65-pound duffel bag of teaching materials — scarves, paper tapes, dowels, a shadow screen, posters, bluetooth gadge...

    Read More
  • social-media-jpg-26

    Writings Grid

    The Test of Great Music Is to Make the Spine Tingle

    February 27, 2018Jacob Perl

    A CONVERSATION WITH MUSICIAN GARY LUCAS Interview by Jacob L. Perl I do not know if everybody gets it. A lot of people don’t, because they do not listen deeply into music. They just treat it as a background or adjunct to other activities, like eating or talking. Or they use it to mask sounds from the neighboring apartment. Whatever. They would not really see these connections or hear them. But I do. I feel them. So I just keep working on projects where I feel connected, and hope that people wil...

    Read More
  • celine

    Writings Grid

    The Uncivil Servant: Céline's Antisemitism -- Censored!

    February 27, 2018Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor   YOU CAN OPEN almost any page of Louis-Ferdinand Céline’s Bagatelles pour un massacre and find a passage like this one: “You always have to be wary of Jews, even when they’re dead.” Or this one, about Russia after the Bolshevik Revolution: “In Russia, the kikes, as soon as they assumed command, didn’t exactly wear mittens when they decimated the Aryan.” In 1932, the same Céline had published Journey to the End of the Night, one of the classics of the 20th century, a novel t...

    Read More
  • Social-Media-PNG-1

    Writings Grid

    A Bundist Talks About the Bund

    February 25, 2018Dvora Zylberman

    by Dvora Zylberman   I HAVE ALWAYS wondered what qualifies someone to write an article on a given topic. I had always assumed that one needed to be an expert in a given field to give an interesting and insightful angle on a given issue. It is fair to assume that an expert qualified to write an article has taken their time to research and prepare an informative and accurate response. Then I read Ralph Seliger’s article “The Bund is Gone, but its Anti-Zionist Critique Remains,” and it became cle...

    Read More
  • 5989dfbcdda4c80f0e8b4568

    Writings Grid

    Daniel Ellsberg on Nuclear War

    February 25, 2018Dusty Sklar

    by Dusty Sklar Discussed in this essay: The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, by Daniel Ellsberg. Bloomsbury, 2017, 424 pages.   WE ARE ALL NERVOUS about the current possibility of nuclear warfare, but Daniel Ellsberg has decided to do what he can to prevent it from happening. His recent book, The Doomsday Machine, reveals his own role in the past as a nuclear war planner. What was his role, exactly, and why did he take so long to reveal it? In 1958, more than a decade ...

    Read More
  • social-media-jpg-22

    Writings Grid

    The Bund Is Gone, But Its Anti-Zionist Critique Remains

    February 21, 2018Ralph Seliger

    by Ralph Seliger   ALTHOUGH I define myself as a (leftwing) Zionist, I was drawn to a YIVO seminar in New York on the Jewish Workers’ Bund, the famously non-Zionist radical socialist movement that began in Russia in 1897, the same year that Theodor Herzl launched the World Zionist Organization. CUNY political scientist Jack Jacobs led 18 diversely-aged students, seated around a conference table, through five stimulating two-and-a-half hour sessions. My experience was not without some moments ...

    Read More
  • alexanderplatz-2

    Blog-Shmog

    The Uncivil Servant: London Alexanderplatz

    February 21, 2018Mitchell Abidor

    by Mitchell Abidor   Discussed in this essay: Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Döblin, translated by Michael Hofmann. NYRB Classics, 2018, 458 pages.   ALFRED DOBLIN'S Berlin Alexanderplatz, originally published in 1929,  achieved its greatest fame in the English-speaking world in 1983 when Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s version, made for German TV, was released here. That was also the occasion to re-release Eugene Jolas’  1931 translation. The repertory theaters that showed the film have long si...

    Read More
  • social-media-jpg-21

    Writings Grid

    The History Behind Trump's Attack on SNAP

    February 20, 2018Jonathan Paul Katz

    The SNAP Box is a bad idea. Jewish history tells us why. by Jonathan Paul Katz Photo credit: usda.gov   IF YOU HAVE NOT yet heard, the Trump administration last week came out with one of its most pilloried and dehumanizing ideas: to replace half of the benefits of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) with a box of preselected dry goods. Of course, the Republican Party has had SNAP -- colloquially known as “food stamps” -- in its crosshairs for a while now. The myth that people...

    Read More
  • jews

    Writings Grid

    We Are All Jews, But Where's the Party?

    February 20, 2018Marty Roth

    by Marty Roth Discussed in this essay: Feeling Jewish (a Book for Just About Anyone) by Deborah Baum. Yale University Press, 2017, 296 pages.   "Modernization . . . is about everyone becoming Jewish [and no one] is better at being Jewish than the Jews themselves." —Yuri Slezkine, The Jewish Century DEVORAH BAUM'S Feeling Jewish is a subtle and canny postmodern spin on Jewish exceptionalism. How could it be otherwise, when the author claims that self-hatred, envy, guilt, hysteria, paranoia an...

    Read More
  • the-petaluma-incubator

    Blog-Shmog

    The Jewish Chicken Farmers of Petaluma: Why Remember?

    February 19, 2018Kenneth Kann

    Part One by Kenneth Kann   FIRST, ASTONISHMENT. Then outrage. Mine. I was viewing “California Dreaming,” a 2013 exhibit on Bay Area Jewish history at San Francisco’s eminent Contemporary Jewish Museum. The exhibit included the story of an extraordinary Jewish chicken ranching community in Petaluma, thirty-five miles north of San Francisco. This museum exhibit was false: factually wrong and grossly distorted. How do I know this? I know, because I am the world’s foremost scholar of those chic...

    Read More
  • social-media-jpg-17

    Writings Grid

    OpEdge: The American Grand Guignol

    February 16, 2018Marc Jampole

    MASS MURDER AT A SCHOOL ONCE AGAIN WHILE RIGHTWING POLITICIANS MAKE EXCUSES FOR NOT TIGHTENING GUN LAWS by Marc Jampole TO BLAME MENTAL ILLNESS as the reason that Nikolas Cruz, a 19-year-old boy, used his legally purchased automatic weapon to kill 17 people at a Florida high school is to commit the logical fallacy to which conservatives often fall victim: to focus on the individual and not the group in analyzing a social issue. For example, Tyler Cowen, the mediocre rightwing economist lionize...

    Read More