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Arts & Culture

Zionism Before Herzl Zionism Before Herzl
Monday, April 22, 2013 by Erika Dreifus | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

In 1876, 21 years before Herzl convened the First Zionist Congress, a non-Jewish woman, writing for an English audience, published a novel with a powerful Zionist message.  She went by the name of George Eliot. 
Back When the Jews Built Like Jews Back When the Jews Built Like Jews
Thursday, March 21, 2013 by Ben Greenfield | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

In December 1872, authorities in Florence halted elaborate plans for a grand synagogue and criticized the city's Jews—for not building more Jewishly.
Shani Boianjiu and the Past and Present of Jewish Literature Shani Boianjiu and the Past and Present of Jewish Literature
Wednesday, March 20, 2013 by Melissa Weininger | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Israeli writer Shani Boianjiu's first novel, composed in English, is a rare contemporary addition to the Jewish tradition of transnational literature. 
The Jewish Egyptian Revival The Jewish Egyptian Revival
Wednesday, March 13, 2013 by Diana Muir Appelbaum | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Passover marks the day on which God liberated the Israelites from Pharaoh’s rule.   But three millennia after the Exodus, emancipated Jews expressed their national identity by building synagogues in the Pharaonic style.
Covering the Bases Covering the Bases
Monday, March 11, 2013 by Michael Arkush | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

"Sandy Koufax was not just the greatest left-handed pitcher I ever saw," recalled his biographer, Jane Leavy , at a recent celebration of Jewish baseball.  "He’s also the greatest mensch I’ve ever met in my life."
The Fool and the Assassin The Fool and the Assassin
Monday, February 18, 2013 by Dan Kagan-Kans | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Most movie stars don’t act, they play themselves.  Danny Kaye, the biggest star of all in the 1940s and 1950s, who would have been 100 last month, was different. 
Is Judah Halevi’s <i>Kuzari</i> Racist? Is Judah Halevi’s Kuzari Racist?
Wednesday, February 13, 2013 by Ari Ackerman | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

A recent attempt to redeem the Kuzari from the charge of ethnocentrism raises the question as to whether Jewish texts should be reinterpreted to accord with modern sensibilities.
Life Goes On Life Goes On
Monday, February 4, 2013 by Jonathan Gondelman | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Life Goes On, by German-Jewish novelist Hans Keilson, had been forgotten since the Nazis banned it in 1934.  Now, a year after Keilson's death, it has been translated into English.
Raider of the Lost Knish Raider of the Lost Knish
Wednesday, January 30, 2013 by Laura Silver | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

More than Hebrew School, a Torah scroll or the eternal light in the synagogue, the knish provided sanctuary.  It encapsulated my identity: ethnic, funny, and grounded in the past.
A Voice Saying Something Right A Voice Saying Something Right
Tuesday, January 29, 2013 by David Curzon | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Poet Harvey Shapiro, who passed away this month at age 88, captured in plain words the mystery of everyday life, the trauma of war, and the grandeur of Jewish tradition.
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Editors' Picks
Rehabilitating Fagin Charles Drazin, Jewish Chronicle. Charles Dickens regretted having associated Fagin's malice so closely with his being Jewish—which has forced modern adaptations to recast the Oliver Twist villain as a loveable rogue.
Ordinary Jews Michael Berkowitz, H-Net. A new translation of Yehoshue Perle's 1935 novel Yidn fun a gants yor offers "a vivid portrait of the shtetl before the Holocaust."
"My Negro Problem—and Ours" at 50 Norman Podhoretz, Commentary. "Ellison was right to excoriate me for my dismissive attitude toward black culture, and my Jewish critics were right to take offense at my questioning whether the survival of the Jewish people was worth the suffering it entailed."
"Was I a Man or a Jerk?" David Wolpe, Los Angeles Review of Books. Greg Bellow's memoir of his father, author Saul Bellow, reveals "a sort of uneasy, seesaw truce between a famous, domineering, and rageful father, and a sensitive son."
Warning Notes Daniel Johnson, Standpoint. Jewish composer Arnold Schoenberg could not have anticipated the future for Vienna's Jews, but a piece entitled "Premonition" reflects growing anti-Semitism 30 years before the Holocaust.
Steinhardt Goes To Sotheby's Jeannie Rosenfeld, Tablet. An auction of the finest pieces from philanthropist Michael Steinhardt's Judaica collection will take place on Monday.  It is the most significant of its kind in 50 years.
"How the Mighty Have Fallen!" Geoffrey O'Brien, New York Review of Books. Marc-Antoine Charpentier's opera David et Jonathas, now playing in Brooklyn, minimizes the religious elements of the biblical narrative to turn the fall of Saul's dynasty into a tragedy.
Jew in a Box Benjamin Weinthal, Foreign Policy. Is an exhibit at Berlin's Jewish Museum featuring a Jew sitting in a glass box, to answer visitors' questions, useful pedagogy, or "pathetic and useless"?
Shalom Bollywood Emily Wax, Washington Post. With Hindu and Muslim actresses unwilling to appear onstage, producers turned to dancers from India's tiny Jewish community—and launched Bollywood in the process.
Before Kafka Became Kafka-esque William Giraldi, New Republic. "Kafka's diaries are evidence that he was incapable of a quotidian thought; his letters are astonishing documents with an intellectual and stylistic register to rival Keats's."