December 12, 1999 |
Great balls of fire! Who would have guessed that Jerry Lee Lewis would be the inspiration behind such a weighty tome as In Search of American Jewish Culture (Brandeis/New England, $26)? But he was, says author Stephen J. Whitfield, who recalled in a recent interview how he had been "chatting with a student several years ago who was wearing a kippah skullcap and who wanted to write a paper on Jerry Lee Lewis. The discrepancy between so observant a Jew being enthusiastic about Southern rock and roll of an era long before he was born made me intrigued by how easy it is to reconcile being Jewish and being American.
September 22, 1999 |
There are more dead Jews than alive in this medieval imperial city. In the Cimetiere Israelite, some 12,000 souls are buried in immaculately white mausoleums and domed shrines splayed across a hillside lush with pear trees and kumquats. Even though the dead outnumber the living, they continue to haunt the city's past and play a startling role in its future. In Fez, as in several Moroccan cities, intricately tiled synagogues and ancient cemeteries are being restored. There is a Jewish museum here, and one about to open in Casablanca, all part of a campaign to encourage Jewish tourism and draw Morocco closer to the West.
March 1, 1999 |
Hazy skies and constant rain made for a dreary morning, but it didn't dampen people's spirits at an indoor carnival as dozens of costume-clad children played in a colorfully decorated synagogue yesterday. Parents in tow, the children traipsed from booth to booth at Congregation B'nai Jacob's festivity, a prelude to the Jewish holiday of Purim, which starts at sundown tonight. "It's literally the most joyous day in the entire Jewish calendar," Rabbi David Mayer said. "It's the one day when the [Jewish community really]
October 26, 1998 |
"Have you ever thought about the history of the Jews?" A book editor popped the question three years ago. Not really, replied cartoonist Stan Mack. Living in New York City, as the celebrated reporter-artist behind Stan Mack's Real Life Funnies, a weekly cartoon in the Village Voice since the mid-'70s, Mack eavesdropped on the life of the city. He was a wry fly-on-the wall, a chronicler of the counterculture. Religious? No. He hadn't been to synagogue regularly since his bar mitzvah decades ago. Growing up in Providence, R.I., he knew more about Irish and Italian friends' traditions than his own. But now he'd left the Voice, had finished a cartoon history of the American Revolution, and was looking to write another book.
September 27, 1998 |
The postmodernist says: History is not one story, but many stories. And even a single tale can be told from many perspectives. But in a museum setting, where visitors may lack the time or patience to decode complex texts and displays, postmodernist narrative techniques raise obvious difficulties. How can such an approach to history be made clear and compelling? How can many stories be told as well as a single, overarching one? The National Museum of American Jewish History deserves credit for grappling with this dilemma in its newly installed core exhibition, "Creating American Jews" - even if, in the end, it doesn't succeed in resolving it. While it is meticulously researched and, in some ways, quite beautiful, the exhibition bogs down in a morass of textual detail, confusing displays and a nonlinear narrative that is a chore to follow.
September 18, 1998 |
American society, says author and musician James McBride, sees him as a black man. But when he looks in the mirror, he sees only himself. "If I grew up in a truly color-blind society, I would not be a black American," McBride said. "I wrote this book [The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother] because I wanted people to see that our community is more than our differences. I've talked about this book to people around the world, black, white, Asian, short, tall, and literally I've met people who have had the same experiences growing up. " McBride, 41, the son of a white Jewish mother and a black Baptist minister, spoke this week to ninth through 12th grade students at the private, all-female Baldwin School.
September 18, 1998 |
Gratz College has chosen as its next president a scholar in biblical studies from Connecticut who has a distinctive ability to mingle comfortably among each of the three main branches of Judaism. Jonathan Rosenbaum, 51, chairman of the University of Hartford's history department, established a respected Judaic studies program there and will take over at Gratz Oct. 1. Gratz's board of overseers will announce the appointment today and hopes Rosenbaum can boost enrollment and spark renewed interest among the area's Jewish community in the school's degree programs in Judaic and biblical studies.
March 27, 1998 |
Bernard Levinson is challenging a sacred cow of biblical scholars, and some of the biblical scholars are challenging back. The bearded, 45-year-old Canadian sits at the head of the long table in the sixth-floor conference room of the Center for Judaic Studies, formerly the Annenberg Research Institute, in the nine-year-old modern-Colonial building at Fourth and Walnut. Listening thoughtfully, after polishing off a kosher lunch, are the 17 biblical scholars - 12 men and five women, all called fellows - who are spending the academic year doing research at the center, plus several visitors from the University of Pennsylvania.
October 8, 1997 |
Like the place's convoluted name, the twin epigraphs that greet visitors entering the new Museum of Jewish Heritage - A Living Memorial to the Holocaust hint at the complexity of its undertaking. "Remember . . . Never forget," says the first, from Deuteronomy. "There is hope for your future," counters the second, from Jeremiah. Just as telling as the dual epigraphs - an exhortation to recollect past injuries paired with the promise of better times ahead - is their source.
November 7, 1996 |
GET IN THE RING WITH MIKE Planning to watch the Mike Tyson-Evander Holyfield WBA heavyweight match at 9 p.m. Saturday on pay-per-view cable? Did you know you can take part in the scoring of the fight? No, not the official scoring, but a viewer/Internet-participation event that works this way: While you watch the main event - and the undercard as well - sign on to http://www.mtyson.com - a site set up to let you use your personal computer to score each round. While the responses won't affect the judges' decisions, the Web score results will be announced during the cablecast of the bouts and at the conclusion of each fight.