Podcast / On The Nose
On the Nose is our biweekly podcast. The editorial staff discusses the politics, culture, and questions that animate today’s Jewish left.
0:00 / 28:36
August 31, 2023

Two weeks ago, a trailer was released for the new Leonard Bernstein biopic Maestro. Immediately, controversy surfaced about Bradley Cooper—the director of the film who also stars as Bernstein—wearing a prosthetic nose, intended to resemble Bernstein’s own formidable schnoz. Because Cooper is not Jewish, this also revived a conversation about so-called Jewface, a term that has, over the last several years, become a buzzword in conversations about non-Jews being cast as Jews in dramatic roles. In this episode, Jewish Currents editor-in-chief Arielle Angel talks to contributing writer Rebecca Pierce, author and theater critic Alisa Solomon, and writer and collector of “Jewface” artifacts Jody Rosen about the controversy—exploring the long history of “Jewface” performances and what’s really underneath these repeated dust-ups over Jewish representation.

Thanks to Jesse Brenneman for producing and to Nathan Salsburg for the use of his song “VIII (All That Were Calculated Have Passed).”

Articles, podcasts, and further reading:

Trailer for Maestro, directed by Bradley Cooper

The Politics of ‘Jewface,’” Rebecca Pierce, Jewish Currents

Jewface: ‘Yiddish’ Dialect Songs of Tin Pan Alley, YIVO exhibition

Jody Rosen discusses “Jewface” on PBS

A ‘Merchant of Venice’ That Doubles Down on Pain,” Alexis Soloski, The New York Times

Fables and Lies,” On the Nose podcast about Armageddon Time and The Fabelmans

On the Nose,” inaugural On the Nose podcast, discussing our Spring 2021 Nose cover


Arielle Angel: Hello, and welcome back to On the Nose, the Jewish Currents podcast. I’m Arielle Angel, the Editor in Chief of Jewish Currents, and I’ll be your host today. Today, by popular demand, we are talking about Maestro, the new biopic about Leonard Bernstein, and Bradley Cooper will be playing Leonard Bernstein and donning a prosthetic nose in order to play the part. We cannot get a screener to this film as it is too early, so really, we’re just talking about the trailer and the reaction to the trailer today. And to discuss this, I have three very esteemed guests, who I’m very excited to have together on the podcast. Rebecca Pierce is a Black and Jewish filmmaker and writer from San Francisco and a contributing writer for Jewish Currents. Her writing has been published in the New Republic, The Forward, The Nation, and +972 Magazine, and Rebecca has, of course, written about the kind of Jewface phenomenon for Jewish currents before, so I’m sure that we’ll talk about that. Alisa Solomon is the author of Wonder of Wonders: A Cultural History of Fiddler on the Roof and of Redressing the Canon: Essays on Theater and Gender and is a professor at the Columbia School of Journalism. Elisa is our, often, theater critic for Jewish Currents. We are so happy to have you. And for the first time on the On the Nose podcast, we have Jody Rosen, a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and the author of Two Wheels Good: The History and Mystery of the Bicycle. His work has appeared in Slate, New York Magazine, The New Yorker, and many other publications. For our purposes, he’s also the compiler and annotator of Jewface, an anthology of turn-of-the-century Jewish dialect song recordings released by the Idelsohn Society for Musical Preservation in 2006. So I will turn it over to Elisa, because I feel like you’ve been following this pretty closely just to describe some of what has transpired so far.

Alisa Solomon: Yeah sure. So the trailer came out, and complaints and conversation ensued. In particular, two images became kind of a meme: a photo of Cooper as Bernstein with his prosthetic nose with a picture of Bernstein himself, and the images side-by-side purported to suggest that the prosthetic nose was quite an exaggeration, and so therefore, it was there to be as Jewy as possible. And obviously, this was offensive.

AA: I might add that some of the conversations that have come up have had to do specifically with the use of prosthetics in general. And also, the term Jewface keeps recurring in this conversation as a means of talking about what it means that non-Jewish actors, like Bradley Cooper, are playing Jewish characters, and how the nose might have interacted with that. I’ll quickly turn to you, Jody, because in something you sent me, I think you’re sort of crediting yourself with popularizing the term Jewface from this project that you’ve done. I want to talk about that, especially, because I think we all might have different opinions about whether we should be using this word at all.

Jody Rosen: I probably shouldn’t have claimed credit in any forum, even an email, for having popularized the term. What I will say is: I think I first became aware of it when I read a great book published in 1995, called Blackface, White Noise by the late scholar Michael Rogin, which is about Jewish immigrants and blackface and American entertainment, and the way that racial masquerade mediated Jewish acculturation and all the complicated dynamics of that. It’s a term that I had in mind through an abortive stint in graduate school, and it was at that point I became aware that there was this analog to the tradition of blackface minstrelsy, which was popular from roughly the mid-1880s up through the 1920s. A huge tradition of performances in vaudeville and on the variety stage in the United States and elsewhere by so called Hebrew comedians, and these were people who, indeed, fashioned themselves as a typical Jew. Generally, the male practitioners of this art—if we’re gonna call it that—wore fake beards, big prosthetic noses, the kind of raggedy clothes of like a pawn broker down on Hester Street. This was the stereotype. They spoke in heavy Yiddish-English dialect, and sang songs in that dialect, and these were comic characters that existed alongside many other racial and ethnic types that were depicted in the popular stage and in popular culture at this time.

AA: Just to clarify: So the people who were performing this were themselves non-Jewish? Or they were Jewish people who were exaggerating the features? Or both.

JR: Aha, you’ve hit upon the nub of it. And this is one of the things that I think distinguishes the Jewface tradition, for instance, from blackface, which is that many, possibly most—I think it’s fair to say most, although not all of the people who were quote-unquote “Hebrew comedians” were indeed Jews. And they were participants in popular culture, in which Jews were predominant in both the commercial and creative spheres. The vaudeville and variety stage circuits—many of the Jews were the empresarios there. The song-publishing firms of Tin Pan Alley that churned out these—what we would now find pretty offensive, although some of them are quite funny—Jewish dialect songs, these publishing firms were largely owned and operated by Jews, many of them immigrants or a couple of steps removed from the Pale of Settlement. And indeed, the performers were, many of them were Jewish, and they included some of the most famous entertainers, Jewish American entertainers, of the period. So Fanny Brice, Sophie Tucker, George Jessel, and infamously, Al Jolson, and we can maybe get to him and The Jazz Singer in a bit.

JR: So what was interesting to me is, I was like: Aha, we have the songs which are, by our standards, antisemitic. The nub of the jokes were that Jews were miserly, obsessed with money, Jewish men were schlemiels to tried and failed to Americanize and enact typical masculine American roles. So there are funny songs about Jewish cowboys and Jewish Indians. Meanwhile, the Hebrew comediennes, the women characters, were navigating the melting pot in these plays and songs more successfully. In fact, many of them were like, running off with Irish guys. They were sometimes depicted in this very madcap way as very horny. But all these stereotypes were embraced by Jewish audiences.

JR: I actually have a little artifact I want to read to you. So in 1909, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the governing board of Reform Judaism, decided they needed to organize a campaign against these Hebrew comedians about the stage performances and songs because they viewed them as harmful to Jews and quite offensive. Here, four years later, is an editorial in the Jewish Comment newspaper, a Baltimore newspaper. This is from 1913: “We have taken but a mild interest in the campaign against the vaudeville stage Jew, not because he is not an objectionable person in most instances, but because we thought that there was something insincere in the campaign. In the matter of the stage Jew, we find that in most cases, the actor is a Jew, his manager is a Jew, and he is in a circuit where Jews have the most say. And we may add, that audiences are largely composed of Jews, too. The thing is Jewish from start to finish. Christians do not demand or even strongly desire to see Jewish acts. As a matter of fact, many of them are so interlarded with Yiddish phrases as to be unintelligible to the non-Jewish audience. They’re intended clearly for Jewish consumption, and if Jews go applaud and come back for more, what are you going to do about it?”

JR: So that was fascinating to me. But just to circle back to Bradley Cooper, I agree with what Alisa said, which is that the brouhaha around this Jewface, these days—you know, there’s been concern raised about Cillian Murphy is Oppenheimer, and non-Jews playing Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and whoever the star of the Miss Maisel show was. This has engendered a lot of criticism, especially from certain high-profile individuals. I’m thinking of Sarah Silverman—

AA: Who is in this film.

JR: Who is in this film, irony of ironies, and the comedian and gadfly, David Baddiel in the UK, author of a polemic called Jews Don’t Count. They’ve been very concerned about that, and what struck me is the way they’re defining Jewface is pretty ignorant of this tradition, and ignorant in particular of the fact that as a historical phenomenon, it is, as that editorial said, a Jewish enterprise, which is by and for Jews. So I think that really thickens the plot.

AA: Yeah, I mean, just to say Sarah Silverman is in this film. I think she plays the sister or sister-in-law. And Steven Spielberg is a producer of the film, if I’m not mistaken. I mean, we’re in a Hollywood context where there’s no question about whether Jews have the power of representation. I think there’s been a lot of questions so far about whether, particularly, Bradley Cooper can be the one to claim this, and people have made a lot of hay of the fact that Jake Gyllenhaal, who apparently is Jewish, wanted this role, and it was sort of taken from him by the gentile Bradley Cooper. But what I find so strange about this whole thing is like, as though Jake Gyllenhaal could have performed like a mid-century queer Jewishness with more verisimilitude, as if that itself isn’t a leap on some level.

AS: I think that gets to one of the core questions about these casting controversies. This came up two years ago, I guess, when John Douglas Thompson was playing Shylock, which is a whole other can of worms, but he’s African American, non-Jew. Honestly, would some middle-class white Jewish guy from Scarsdale be any closer to the experience of a fantasy Jew of 16th-century Venice than a Black actor from England and America? Obviously not. They both have to do the same research. So the question, then, of what is the authenticity that anybody is after, is a really complicated one that I feel people are just kind of ignoring or running away from in these casting controversies.

AA: Rebecca, I want to turn to you because we’ve had a few conversations about this. We talked about Armageddon Time, we talked about Fablemans, and we were kind of going person-to-person being like, “Was Jeremy Strong, a believable Jew? Was Michelle Williams a believable Jew?” And I think we came to different conclusions in those conversations, and I’ll stick the link in the show notes. But I’m curious how this has all struck you in light of those past conversations that we’ve had.

Rebecca Pierce: I don’t want to be totally dismissive. On some level, it’s not bad that people care about how Jews are portrayed on screen. I think it does speak to a hunger to see yourself on screen in some ways, which I think everyone can relate to. But where I started to get really turned off and start having a problem with things is when it devolves into this scarcity model of talking about representation. “This is our one and only shot to be represented.” First of all no, that’s not true. There’s many, many other depictions that you can look for, coming out now and historically. Also, seeing a particular actor cast in a particular role doesn’t mean that all of a sudden, our issues are being fully explored on screen. Putting a Black person in The Little Mermaid, for example, is not the end all be all Black representation either. So if that’s your goal, that’s not enough. We should want more. We can want more.

RP: There’s many films right now that are directed by Jews about Jewish issues starring Jewish actors, and a lot of them are indie films, or things you might see at a festival, and they’re not getting the same sort of attention that Bradley Cooper wearing a fake schnoz gets. I also wanna be like, “What you’re hungry for, what you’re looking for, is out there. You’re not going to get it from Bradley Cooper.” That’s not Bradley Cooper’s job. His job is to carry off this biopic with the approval of Leonard Bernstein’s family. You might find better representation if you dig a little deeper into other areas of Jewish film and theater. There was a great documentary about Leonard Bernstein that came out last year called Bernstein’s Wall. Go watch that. Engage in the different forms of Jewish culture that are out there, that are existing, that needs your attention and your support. Let’s move past this very surface-level conversation.

JR: I have a slightly more violent reaction, because it feels to me like, quite honestly, like a bunch of white people centering their experience in trying to elbow in on a conversation about appropriation, representation, et cetera. The grievances are very valid when you talk about Black, Indigenous, Latino, Asian actors and filmmakers, historically, in Hollywood, and their underrepresentation, and their marginalization. The fact is Sarah Silverman, David Baddiel, for instance, often say, “Oh, it’s so antisemitic, people are always talking about how Hollywood is controlled by Jews.” And yes, that’s a trope that antisemites like to say. Nevertheless, Jews control Hollywood, okay? I mean, the gatekeepers, the power players in Hollywood, it’s an extremely Jewish milieu. The motion picture industry was founded by Jews, and it has remained, for better and for worse, a center of Jewish power and cultural influence. So it’s just not at all analogous.

RP: I agree. And I think, to be clear, the people I’m addressing who I have sympathy for are everyday audiences, I don’t really have sympathy for the people who center themselves in these debates. I do have sympathy for the people who genuinely want something better, and they don’t know where to look other than like, Bradley Cooper’s Oscar bait directorial debut.

AA: I will say that this particular instance brought out more people on the left who talk about these things than then some other ones. So I think it’s worth trying to speak to what rattled people so much?

AS: Well, I think Rebecca put her finger on it. There’s a lot of baggage around a prosthetic nose. And I think we’re all in agreement about the “Don’t forget us! Put us in the center of it!” irritation around the casting questions. When you bring a prosthetic nose into it, it feels a little dicier. And so I think that’s where we need to try to pick it apart. You know, were they just trying to make him look as close as possible to the character in question, or was it just this kind of generic schnoz? It’s a kind of rhetorical question, really. Maybe, Arielle, you could talk a little bit about the responses that Jewish Currents got to the cover that you had of a print issue of a nose, and even the name of this podcast. I mean, it’s all part of that same thing, isn’t it?

AA: Yeah. I mean, our very first podcast was itself a response to people’s responses to our nose cover, which really provoked a lot of backlash. And the backlash was similarly interesting, because—well, first of all, the person whose nose it was, in fact, a mixed-race person, not a Jewish person, which, we got this image from a photographer who knew the subject, but you don’t know whose nose it is, you know? And people were saying all kinds of things. I mean, it was such a Rorschach test on a certain level, because it was people being like, “This is a hideous, Jewish nose, and you’re trying to embarrass us,” to people saying like, “This is racist, because it assumes that Jews have this kind of nose,” or whatever, when it wasn’t even a Jewish person. People were bringing a lot of different things to the nose itself. And we got letters, also, from a woman who was a Holocaust survivor, who was like, “I love your magazine, I love everything that you do, but this really triggered me. This reminded me of Nazi propaganda from my childhood.” And you can’t dismiss that. That’s not bad faith.

AA: For me, I’ve been very torn on the question of whether to do a prosthetic or not, because on the one hand, I think if you are Leonard Bernstein, who had a very rooted Jewish life—I mean, Jewishness was so much a part of his life, from what I can tell—and you walk around in the world as a Jew, as this mid-century Jew, and you also have that nose, that’s part of the interplay between how you inhabit your body, and how others see you, and the way that those things come together does create more than the sum of its parts. For me, as a person who’s always looked Jewish in the way that people assume people look Jewish or whatever, if they cast a very straight-haired person to play me in a movie or something, that might feel very weird, you know? There’s a way that looking like the thing that people think that you are—there’s a way that that affects how you inhabit that body and how people interact with you.

RP: Yeah. When you look at Leonard Bernstein’s nose, he did have a big nose. The photos that they were using to say he didn’t are shot a certain way. In terms of the actual prosthetic, I don’t think it looks that Jewish as a nose, actually. I think it looks like a big gentile nose. If I might guess, if I were to put my head in the mindset of the person making these prosthetics, you want something that makes them look more like Leonard Bernstein but doesn’t look like a whole Jew nose, right? So that’s probably what they did. I don’t think it’s like satisfactory, in terms of making him look exactly like Leonard Bernstein, and I think it’s also, for the people who are triggered by this, not satisfactory and not looking Jewy.

AA: Would it be better or worse if they got closer?

AS: To the point of Bernstein’s importance as a Jewish figure, I mean, I think I’m the oldest person on this podcast, and I was a kid when the Young People’s Concerts were on TV. And that was a big deal in my family. Partially because my mom and my sister are pianists, and the music part of it was a big deal of it, but also, equally, was: major Jewish figure is going to be on primetime TV. Having that pride, and recognition, and self-projection, and all of that was really important in the 60s.

AA: And do you think it’s equally as important now? If you were sitting down today with your family?

AS: I don’t think we have the same lack of visible Jewish representation in popular culture that we had 60 years ago. I mean, it just not the same environment.

JR: I think what Cooper is doing is, this is Oscarface, not Jewface. He knows that if you wear a prosthesis, if you’re Robert De Niro and you pack on the pounds to play Jake LaMotta—you know, he’s been nominated nine times for Academy Awards, and he’s won zero times.

AS: So he and Helen Mirren are gonna get the two awards this year, right?

JR: Right. But I do want to add this: Where do we see, in cinema of the past, let’s say, half-century, Jewface in the tradition of the vaudeville Jewface that I was describing? I’ll tell you where we see it: that famous scene in Annie Hall, where Annie Hall’s looking across the table and seeing Woody Allen, who suddenly got the Payos and the beard. Or Mel Brooks in Blazing Saddles, who was a rabbi. And so now, we’re circumnavigating back to the point that I was making in the beginning, which is in fact, Jewface is a Jewish tradition. It’s a Jewish performance tradition. It’s a way that Jews have worked through questions of Jewish identity for well more than a century. Just to return to the turn-of-the-century Jew face: Why was this form of comedy so popular to Jewish audiences at that point? Well, these were depictions really of Jewish greenhorns. Like the immigrant, right? The old-world Jew. And for an audience of Jews who were assimilating, Americanizing, modernizing, who are trying to distance themselves, sort of wash off the old-world taint—to go to the theater, see those Jews, and laugh at it, that made you, as an audience member, not one of those. “I’m a different kind of Jew.” So it was really serving an important purpose, I think, for those audiences in the process of their assimilation and Americanization. I think if you’ve traced the tradition straight through to Mel Brooks and Woody Allen—and, I would argue, Ben Stiller, and Seth Rogen, and Sarah Silverman—what you see are Jewish stereotypes of the neurotic Jew, the anxious Jew, the overeater, Larry David, the persnickety Jew, right? Those are just extensions of that Jewface tradition, which again, are extremely popular with Jews, because as Rebecca was saying, we like to see ourselves represented. It’s fun to see ourselves represented, and there’s lots of in jokes. And it’s also just a way to think through what being Jewish means.

AA: I want to pick up on this thread of assimilation, because for me, this is what is at the heart of the whole way that people talk about this. What I see when I look at these conversations and the passion that they arise is a real sense of anxiety about assimilation now. What I see is people basically feeling anxious that, perhaps, there’s nothing special about being Jewish and wanting to draw a line around it, to be able to say, “Actually, a non-Jewish person can’t play a Jew because they don’t know what it’s like to be this.” And I think what’s really underneath that is some feeling that maybe there’s nothing at this point there.

AS: I think that’s right. And maybe the anxiety is about the thing that sets Jews apart. They don’t even know what that is, so it gets racialized. I mean, that’s the thing that’s the creepiest to me about it, is like Jews especially: Are we really trying to go back to an idea of Jews as a distinct racial category? Because that’s what a lot of this argument finally boils down to, and that’s terrifying to me.

RP: I’ve noticed as assimilation becomes more and more prevalent, people do seem to have almost a nostalgia for being a racial other. And I’ve noticed, for example, European Ashkenazi Jews have a hard time being called white: “No, were like semitic, were like this.” And you’re actually falling back onto the literal race science terms that were used to other Jewish people in Nazi race law and American eugenics. I think there’s got to be a way to deal with this otherness that we carry with us, through the centuries, because of what’s happened to us, and the cultural things that are still part of our lives, without being like, “Actually, the head measure, guys were kind of right.” There’s gotta be a way to do that. And so often, what provokes that sort of nostalgia for racialization in that way is being confronted with people who are racialized today. Like when I was first doing Jews of color organizing, we just formed a caucus within a lefty Jewish group for Jews of color. And the first day we’d ever met, there were a bunch of white people who showed up. And we weren’t even saying you can’t be here, we were saying, “This is our space,” and afterwards, I was confronted by someone who said, “I don’t like that you call yourself a Jew of color because that means that I’m white.” And this was an older person who had experience being racialized in school, and there was almost a yearning for that position again. And that is a really weird space to hold, and I don’t know what to do with it or what to tell people, other than to say, like, “maybe don’t fall back on to the literal thing that was used to support discriminating and harming Jewish people.”

AA: Or maybe just like, build Jewish life. Like if the anxiety is assimilation, build Jewish life.

AS: Yeah. Because if the anxiety is around assimilation but the only thing you have to fall back on is the racialization, then the question is, “Well, where are you building the meaning of culture, religion, whatever it is?” There’s got to be some content to it if you’re bemoaning the erosion of that through assimilation.

JR: For me, it’s this Jews kind of wanting in on it, like, “I’m a victim too,” which is very seductive thing, to be a victim, for some reason.

RP: Victimhood is part of a Jewish historical experience. That’s a position we’re used to being in, in some ways, and I think having that be your historical background and then being in a moment where you actually are in a different rung on the ladder, I think does create this cognitive dissonance for people. And you have to question yourself in a way that maybe previous generations and your family didn’t, or maybe they should have, but they weren’t there yet because the oppression was so much closer. And now, it’s kind of like we do have to dig a little deeper, as people.

AA: I think what’s frustrating to me about this conversation, routinely, is that I sometimes agree with some of these people. I sometimes agree that the oppression Olympics system or whatever sucks and is not right. But it seems like the way that people have chosen to engage in this is not to say, “We need another way of engaging in politics that isn’t a kind of identity essentialist way of engaging in politics,” but to say, “Actually, we just need more clout in that system.” That’s just so disingenuous, because it’s like, as you’re describing Rebecca, they’re not actually trying like to be a part of the political project at all. And that’s what we’ve been describing the whole time, the frustration of this.

RP: The term that came to mind when you were talking just now is hostile dependency. This idea of like, “I’m mad at you, you owe me something, and I need it from you, and I will only be happy when I get this from you,” and not figuring out, which everyone else has to figure out, how do you build what you want for yourself?

AA: I wanted to end with something a little bit lighter, which is just to ask you all about your favorite Jewish portrayal by a non-Jew.

JR: What struck me about both Silverman and Baddiel is they both have notorious incidents of blackface, of wearing blackface, in their backgrounds. David Baddiel did it in 1995, when he blacked up and put on dreadlocks to impersonate a soccer star. Sarah Silverman did it on her Comedy Central sketch show in 2007. But if we pull out the lens a little bit, this whole Jewface thing strikes me as a pretty fascinating chapter in the ongoing story of Black Jewish relations, because you can’t talk about Jewface without thinking about blackface and then that leads you back to Al Jolson and to all these Jews who were such, for various complicated reasons, enthusiastic participants in that enterprise.

AS: Okay. My least-favorite favorite is Charlton Heston as Moses.

AA: Uh huh.

RP: The only thing in my head right now is Tony Shalhoub in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

AA: He’s so good in it.

RP: I just love Tony Shalhoub in everything he does, and he’s so good.

AA: I thought his performance was one of the best things about the show.

RP: Agreed.

AA: A lot of people really liked Rachel Sennott in Shiva Baby, and I thought she was fine, too.

AS: I mean, on stage, I’d say John Douglas Thompson’s Shylock was one of the great performances.

JR: It’s funny, because when you first asked the question, in my mind, I inverted it, and I was thinking of Jason Alexander as George Costanza, the greatest crypto-Jewish character in history. Because George Costanza is supposedly Italian but he’s obviously the most Jewish character in the history of television.

AA: So I’ll say this, actually. I saw Adam Driver play Louis in Angels in America. He hadn’t been in Girls yet, so I didn’t know who he was, and I saw him on stage, and I was like, “This is the weirdest casting, like this guy is buff and hot.” That’s not really Louis, you know?

AS: Louis is hot. It’s a mistake to cast him as a schlub.

AA: No, I know Louis is hot, but not like used-to-be-in-the-Army hot. Like Adam Driver’s buff in a different way. Like Louis not supposed to look like that. And I was like, “How is this guy gonna pull it off?” And then it was like virtuosic. It was unbelievable. He just totally brought out a new Louis for me that I was really thrilled about. I’ll also say, wait, Pacino as Roy Cohn.

AS: Yes, yeah.

AA: That is just one of the best things that ever happened.

RP: There’s been some great Roy Cohns.

AA: Angels in America for the win. Thank you all for joining us today. I hope you all at home got what you wanted out of this since we’ve been hounded on the internet to do an episode on the nose—On the Nose on the nose. If you liked this episode, share it, rate the podcast, and see you next time.

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Jan 26 2023
Fables and Lies (43:37)
Rebecca Pierce joins Jewish Currents editors to discuss the visions of 20th-century American Jewish family life in Oscar contenders The Fabelmans and Armageddon Time.
Jan 11 2023
Chevruta: Debt (41:54)
Rabbinical student Allen Lipson and members of the Debt Collective study a rabbinic responsum from 14th-century Spain that explores questions about state force and economic consent in debt collection.
Dec 21 2022
Who Is Tom Stoppard’s “Jewish Play” For? (44:56)
Jewish Currents discusses Leopoldstadt’s tired revelations with critics Alisa Solomon and Gabrielle Hoyt.
Dec 8 2022
The Meaning of Apartheid (33:55)
Alex Kane hosts a discussion between Noura Erakat, John Reynolds, and Omar Shakir on the way Western human rights groups use the term “apartheid”—and the different definition at the heart of a long Palestinian intellectual tradition.
Nov 23 2022
“The Jews” (53:00)
Ari Brostoff, Rebecca Pierce, Jasmine Sanders, and Sam Adler-Bell discuss Dave Chapelle's controversial Saturday Night Live monologue.
Nov 8 2022
Victory for Netanyahu’s Far-Right Alliance (26:34)
Alex Kane speaks with Peter Beinart, Joshua Leifer, and Elisheva Goldberg about Netanyahu’s likely return to power and the rise of the far-right Religious Zionism coalition.
Oct 20 2022
Ye (35:43)
Rebecca Pierce, Adam Serwer, and Arielle Angel discuss Kanye West’s recent antisemitic comments.