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Agnon Agnon
Thursday, February 25, 2010 | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

In 1966 a diminutive man, a large black kippah perched on his head, was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. His acceptance speech, delivered in the lilting cadences of his native Galicia, brimmed with allusions to holy texts, conjuring up an evanescent aura of piety and sacred longings.  Yet underneath that kippah, and vibrating in the spaces between the ancient Hebrew words, was one of the most cunning minds and radical pens in Jewish literary history. Born Shmuel Yosef Czazkes in the town of Buczcacz, S. Y. Agnon, who died 40 years ago today at the age of eighty-one, moved to...
Judaica by Design Judaica by Design
Wednesday, February 17, 2010 | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

"Art for art's sake"—the idea that works of art must be judged solely on their own terms, apart from any considerations of moral, religious, or civic value—has by now become largely devoid of meaning, especially as so many artists openly hitch their work to one or another of today's political wagons. But with the lapsing of the polarities to which the phrase once gave rise, in particular those between art and religion, it has also become possible for newer generations of artists to turn their talents unapologetically to religious motifs. The results, as several recent exhibits suggest, are both intriguing and markedly uneven. Reinventing Ritual, a show from last fall at the...
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Editors' Picks
Her Price is Far Above . . . . Philologos, Forward. The King James Version puts the price of a virtuous woman above "rubies"; others say "pearls" or "corals." Who is right?
Rebbe Redux Alan Mintz, Jewish Review of Books. Haim Be'er's masterful new novel does something unique in Israeli literature: it examines the inner life of an ultra-Orthodox rabbi.
At the Bar of Justice Eliezer Segal, Jewish Star. In envisioning the great annual "day of judgment," the ancient rabbis and poets invoked legal and military images drawn from Greek and Roman life.
A Living, Humming Instrument Allan Nadler, Forward. The great poet of cultural Zionism, Hayim Nahman Bialik (1873–1934), also gave voice to the predicament of loving religious Judaism while violating its norms.
Home as Found Sam Munson, Tablet. The Israeli writer Yoram Kaniuk lived the bohemian life of 1950s America to the hilt, only to find what he needed on returning to Tel Aviv; his latest book tells the raucously turbulent story.
An Israeli Nightingale YouTube. Shalev Menashe, a boy soprano, rehearses an aria from Mozart's The Magic Flute and, on tour in Poland with the Raanana Symphony, sings "A Ray of Light" by Koby Oshrat. (Video)     
Treasures from the Vault Ilana Tahan, British Library. Hundreds of digitized images from splendidly illuminated and decorated Hebrew manuscripts in London's British Library are due to go live at the end of June.
Strings Attached Paul Berger, Forward. Money alone has not sufficed to buy a treasured Judaica library containing, among other unique specimens, hundreds of handwritten Hebrew documents dating back as much as 1,000 years.
Mystical Pleasures Peter Cole, Paris Review. There isn't a great deal of kabbalistic poetry, but the best of it epitomizes a potent if lesser-known aspect of Judaism. (Interview by Robyn Creswell)
Master Illustrator Eve M. Kahn, New York Times. A new, annotated edition of Arthur Szyk's Haggadah brings back a long-neglected Jewish artist.