The Arty Semite

Forward Fives: 2010 in Poetry

By Forward Staff

In this, the second annual Forward Fives selection, we celebrate the year’s cultural output with a series of deliberately eclectic choices in film, music, theater, exhibitions and books. Here we present five of the most important Jewish poetry books of 2010. Feel free to argue with and add to our selections in the comments.

JEMIMAH KUHFELD

All the Whiskey in Heaven: Selected Poems
By Charles Bernstein
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 320 pages, $26

Co-founder of the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E magazine, Charles Bernstein has long been recognized as one of the key avant-garde figures on the contemporary poetry scene. Until now, however, most of his work has been published by university or indie presses. This handsome sampling of his oeuvre presented by FSG is a reason for celebration, yet it is bittersweet, for doesn’t it imply a shift toward the mainstream? Or is it vice versa, and we have all become, in a sense, avant-garde? The Jewish angle in Bernstein’s work is complex, fraught with ambiguity and tension, though thankfully, also with humor. It is discussed in further detail in last year’s “Radical Poetics and Secular Jewish Culture” (University of Alabama Press) which, aside from Bernstein’s work, contains the poetics of many of his excellent colleagues.

Read the Forward’s review of ‘All the Whiskey in Heaven’ here.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Tanya Reinhart, Poetry, Peter Cole, Paul Celan, Joy Ladin, James Franco, Howl, Forward Fives 2010, Forward Fives, Eric Drooker, Daniel Y. Harris, City Lights, Charles Bernstein, Books, All the Whiskey in Heaven, Allen Ginsberg, Aharon Shabtai, Adam Shechter, 2010 in Books

Forward Fives: 2010 in Non-Fiction

By Gal Beckerman

In this, the second annual Forward Fives selection, we celebrate the year’s cultural output with a series of deliberately eclectic choices in film, music, theater, exhibitions and books. Here we present five of the most important Jewish non-fiction books of 2010. Feel free to argue with and add to our selections in the comments.

As Forward readers surely know by now, my own book, “When They Come for Us, We’ll Be Gone: The Epic Struggle to Save Soviet Jewry,” was published this year. I’ve been lucky to find it mentioned on two end-of-year lists — The New Yorker’s and the Washington Post’s. For this, I am very grateful. And partly by way of passing on the favor, I was happy to choose the Forward’s five best non-fiction books of the year. These are all books that sparked conversations and that were, more importantly, great reads.

LUIGI CAPUTO

Simon Wiesenthal
By Tom Segev
Doubleday, 448 pages, $32.50

Who was Simon Wiesenthal? Tom Segev takes as his most recent subject a man whose reputation as Jewish avenger completely overshadowed all else about him. Segev brings Wisenthal back down to human size. He shows us the Nazi-hunting operation for what it was — both impressive and more slapdash than we knew — and explores controversies like Wiesenthal’s friendship with Kurt Waldheim and his work for the Israeli Mossad. It was a life, as Segev shows, that was forever linked to the great 20th century cataclysm. The horror never let him go.

Read the Forward’s review of ‘Simon Wiesenthal’ here.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: When They Come for Us We'll Be Gone, Washington Post, Tom Segev, Timothy Snyder, The Rebbe, The Sabbath World, Simon Wiesenthal, Samuel Heilman, New Yorker, Menachem Friedman, Meachem Mendel Schneerson, Lubavitch, Judith Shulevitz, Gal Beckerman, Forward Fives 2010, Forward Fives, Books, Bloodlands, 2010 in Books

Forward Fives: 2010 in Fiction

By Allison Gaudet Yarrow

In this, the second annual Forward Fives selection, we celebrate the year’s cultural output with a series of deliberately eclectic choices in film, music, theater, exhibitions and books. Here we present five of the most important Jewish novels of 2010. Feel free to argue with and add to our selections in the comments.

JOYCE RAVID

It’s been some year for Jewish fiction, though we continue to scream about, ponder and dissect what that even means. It is produced by Jewish writers, certainly, but not always. It centers on otherness, our history and culture, the nature of family and whatever we call god. It’s set in Israel or in Europe before or after the war, in New York City, England and America’s heartland. Its heroes are bold, men-children, revolutionists or the inward-looking. And like we’re boarding Noah’s ark, much of the fiction we loved this year can be discussed in pairs.

There were the young men who wrote big books that tinkered with language and form while winking at their readers. Joshua Cohen mellifluously skewers capitalism in “Witz” as he writes about the last Jew on earth. With less hubris, Adam Levin’s “The Instructions” spurred difficult conversations about religion and terrorism by tunneling into the mind of a puckish Day School student.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Yann Martel, Witz, To the End of the Land, There Is No Other, The Invisible Bridge, The Instructions, The Finkler Question, The Escape, The Ambassadors, Super Sad True Love Story, Philip Roth, Justin Taylor, Nicole Krauss, Nemesis, Julie Orringer, Joshua Cohen, Jon Papernick, Howard Jacobson, Henry James, Great House, Forward Fives 2010, Gary Shteyngart, Forward Fives, Foreign Bodies, Fiction, David Grossman, Cynthia Ozick, Books, Blooms of Darkness, Aharon Appelfeld, Beatrice and Virgil, Allison Gaudet Yarrow, Adam Thirlwell, 2010 in Books, Adam Levin

Record Prices for Israeli Art at Auction

By Ellie Armon Azoulay

Crossposted from Haaretz

Edward Kaprov

He may not be the most popular artist in the local Israeli scene, but the rising prices for works by Yaacov Agam at the close of 2010 signify his stature as one of the most important kinetic artists in the world. Perhaps the time has come for us to take stock.

On a wintry evening last week at Sotheby’s Auction House in New York, about 50 people (plus a large number of buyers via telephone and Internet) gathered for the sale of 112 works by great Israeli artists, both veteran and contemporary (Reuven Rubin, Nachum Gutman, Gal Weinstein, Adi Nes and others), and one Yaacov Agam, who has never quite belonged to any clique. Two of his pieces sold at prices far beyond the estimates they’d been given; pieces by the same Agam who made headlines last year when his “4 Themes Contrepoint” sold for a record amount for Israeli art — $326,500.

Read more at Haaretz.com


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Yaacov Agam, Visual Art, Sotheby's, Reuven Rubin, Nachum Gutman, Israeli Art, Haaretz, Gal Weinstein, Adi Nex, Elli Armon Azoulay

Forward Fives: 2010 in Music

By Forward Staff

In this, the second annual Forward Fives selection, we celebrate the year’s cultural output with a series of deliberately eclectic choices in film, music, theater, exhibitions and books. Here we present five of the most important Jewish music releases of 2010. Feel free to argue with and add to our selections in the comments.

The Bowls Project
By Charming Hostess

Charming Hostess

Jewlia Eisenberg has been something of a hidden treasure since the release of her 2001 album “Trilectic,” a conceptual exploration of the writings of Walter Benjamin and Asja Lacis, and her 2004 follow-up, “Sarajevo Blues.” With Eisenberg’s latest album, created with her band Charming Hostess, she may finally be getting the credit that is her due. Inspired by ancient Babylonian mysticism and featuring a mix of Hebrew lyrics and American-style rock ‘n’ roll, “The Bowls Project” is another counter-intuitive combination by this talented avant-pop composer.

Read the Forward’s review of ‘The Bowls Project’ here.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Trilectic, Walter Benjamin, The Shondes, The Naming, The Bowls Project, Socalled, Silver and Ash, Sarajevo Blues, My Dear One, Music, McGarrigle Sisters, Harlem, Jewlia Eisenberg, Gillian Welch, Galeet Dardashti, Fred Wesley, Forward Fives 2010, Forward Fives, Divahn, David Krakauer, Clare Burson, Charming Hostess, Asja Lacis, Apollo Theater, Abraham Inc. Tweet Tweet

A Fading Beauty Outside Safed

By Noam Dvir

Crossposted from Haaretz

No one seems to question the historical and architectural importance of Bosel House, a spacious, eight-dunam compound in a green forest at the entrance to Safed. It is a splendid building in a European-Arab style, an important icon of the glory days of modern architecture in Israel. Bosel House has been at the center of an endless correspondence — for years — between the authorities, the forces for preservation and the owners. There have been big plans for it, for a student dormitory complex and for a luxury hotel for Kabbala-loving tourists, but it always falls between the cracks.

Part of Bosel House has become a popular events venue while the condition of its other part (or what remains of it) is degenerating. And all of this right under the authorities’ open eyes.

Read more at Haaretz.com


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Noam Dvir, Haaretz, Bosel House, Architecture, Safed

Forward Fives: 2010 in Film

By Forward Staff

In this, the second annual Forward Fives selection, we celebrate the year’s cultural output with a series of deliberately eclectic choices in film, music, theater, exhibitions and books. Here we present five of the most important Jewish films of 2010. Feel free to argue with and add to our selections in the comments.

The Matchmaker
By Avi Nesher

Set in Haifa in the aftermath of the Six Day War, Avi Nesher’s “The Matchmaker” follows a matchmaker and Holocaust survivor named Yankele Bride and his young protégé, Arik. Through the eyes of his 16-year-old protagonist, Nesher explores the coming-of-age of a teenager and a country dealing with the trauma of the Holocaust as well as more recent military triumph.

Watch the trailer for ‘The Matchmaker’ below and read the Forward’s review here.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: The Strange Case of Angelica, Yael Hersonski, Forward Fives 2010, Julia Bacha, Manuel de Oliveira, Richard J. Lewis, The Matchmaker, Forward Fives, Film, Budrus, Barney's Version, Avi Nesher, A Film Unfinished

Out and About: Third-Generation Holocaust Literature; Whither the Israel Philharmonic?

By Ezra Glinter

Getty Images
Israel Philharmonic Orchestra music director Zubin Mehta

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Waves Audio, Vos Iz Neias, Sonderkommando Revolt, Stéphane Hessel, Morris L. Cohen, Out and About, Mordecai Richler, Lilith, Lady Gaga, LABA, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Kanye West, Ezra Glinter, Dan Kurzman, Chibi Vision, 14th Street Y

This Week in Forward Arts and Culture

By Ezra Glinter

LUKE NORBY

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Xmas Jollies for Jews

By Jon Kalish

Courtesy Bill Adler

In the subculture of Christmas mixtapes Bill Adler is a very important Jew. For close to 30 years, the Manhattan music maven has put out “Xmas Jollies,” which just may be the most eclectic Yuletide mixtape on the planet. Adler has what musicians refer to as very big ears and for many of his 300 or so friends — Jews, as well as gentiles — his Jollies mixtape is a major part of the holiday soundtrack.

“My northern star in this has always been Santa Claus, not Jesus,” Adler told The Arty Semite.

A Detroit native who married outside the tribe (his wife is the TV chef and cookbook author Sara Moulton), Adler decided to create his own Christmas soundtrack in the early 1980s when he started celebrating the holiday with his in-laws in New England. The goal was to assemble an hour of music that would serve as an antidote to what he felt was “the oppressive corniness of the holiday.”

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Yogi Bear, Xmas Jolies, Xmas, WFMU, The Three Weissmen, Silent Night, The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews, Sara Moulton, Santa Claus Express, Run DMC, Nation of Islam, Public Enemy, Music, Murry the K, Mojo Nixon, Mixtape, Mae West, Julia Childs, Jon Kalish, Johnny Cash, Jingle Bells, Jew On the Brain, Jack Benny, Ice Cube, Howdy Doody, Duke Ellington, Dread Zeppelin, Def Jam, Daniel Rubin, Crusty the Clown, Christmas Music, Christmas, Bill Adler, Big Maybelle, Betty Boop, BBC Orchestra

'Mean Old Jews Who Crucify My Lord'

By Forward Staff

Hats off to New York Times music critic Ben Sisario for posting this rousing holiday song by one Sister Albertha Harris Lewis on his blog. Our question is, who is Sister Albertha Harris Lewis, anyway? One thing is for sure though: Anti-Semitism never sounded so good. Please share any info in the comments and listen to the song after the jump.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Sister Albertha Harris Lewis, New York Times, Music, Mean Old Jews Who Crucify My Lord, Christmas, Ben Sisario

The Genesis of a Cartoon

By Ken Krimstein

Ken Krimstein is the author of “Kvetch As Kvetch Can: Jewish Cartoons.” In his previous posts he wrote about how to be a Jewish cartoonist, making it as a professional and kvetching and wining. His blog posts are being featured this week on The Arty Semite courtesy of the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning’s Author Blog series. For more information on the series, please visit:


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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Kvetch As Kvetch Can, Ken Krimstein, Jewish Book Council, Comics, Cartoons, Books, Author Blog Series, My Jewish Learning

The Tenderness of Age

By Rodger Kamenetz

Each Thursday, The Arty Semite features excerpts and reviews of the best contemporary Jewish poetry. This week, Rodger Kamenetz introduces “The Change” by Alicia Ostriker. This piece originally appeared on August 3, 2001, as part of the Forward’s Psalm 151 series. It is being published here online for the first time.

Ms. Ostriker has published nine books of poetry, full of biblical and Jewish themes with a feminist approach. Her most recent book, “The Little Space: Poems Selected and New” (Pittsburgh, 1998), was a National Book Award finalist in 1998. “The Nakedness of the Fathers: Visions and Revisions” (Rutgers, 1994), her study of Midrash, may also be read as an autobiography.

In this suite of five poems, Ms. Ostriker touches deeply on the experience of role reversal. The simple story line is familiar: A daughter removes her aging mother from her home, sells her house and places her in a nursing home. We see the mother stripped of her familiar surroundings and of her dignities — but we see the speaker, the poet, also reverting. Ms. Ostriker’s carnal, unflinching view brings us back to the pity of the body and reminds us of our vulnerabilities and our tenderness.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: The Change, Rodger Kamenetz, Alicia Ostriker, Poetry, National Book Award

Running Down a Dance

By Elad Samorzik

Crossposted from Haaretz

Courtesy Janice Ross
Irina Jacobson

Leonid Jacobson bears the distinct honor of being both the only Jewish choreographer active in the Soviet Union during the Communist era and a man who won praise from Mikhail Baryshnikov and Natalia Makarova after they defected to the West. The search for Jacobson has brought dance historian and researcher Janice Ross to Israel.

“When I was a dance critic, I kept hearing about a Jewish choreographer whose works were amazing, but no one had ever seen them outside of Russia,” says Ross. “There was an attempt to erase him. His work was either prohibited or censored or repressed for years during his lifetime.”

In the 1980s Ross learned that in San Francisco, not far from where she lived, there was a ballet teacher called Irina Jacobson who taught technique in an unusual way. Ross found out she was the widow of the choreographer, who died in 1975.

Read more at Haaretz.com


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Mikhail Baryshnikov, Leonid Jacobson, Janice Ross, Irina Jacobson., Haaretz, Elad Samorzik, Dance, Natalia Makarova, Russia, Soviet Union

Jewish Gag Cartoonists

By Ken Krimstein

Ken Krimstein is the author of “Kvetch As Kvetch Can: Jewish Cartoons.” In his previous posts he wrote about making it as a Jewish cartoonist and kvetching and wining. His blog posts are being featured this week on The Arty Semite courtesy of the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning’s Author Blog series. For more information on the series, please visit:


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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Ken Krimstein, Jewish Book Council, Comics, Cartoons, Books, Kvetch As Kvetch Can, Author Blog Series, My Jewish Learning

Tied in Knots

By Jenna Weissman Joselit

Crossposted From Under the Fig Tree

Natasha C. Dunn

The recent announcement of the impending nuptials of David Lauren, son of the celebrated fashion designer Ralph Lauren, and Lauren Bush, George W’s niece — and, I hasten to add, a former Princeton student of mine — has set tongues wagging. Following on the heels of a slew of highly placed mixed marriages, this one appears to seal the deal: Intermarriage has become de rigueur.

At the turn of the last century, mixed marriages, especially those that crossed social as well as religious lines, also fanned the fires of the nation’s gossip sheets. One of the most infamous, even downright scandalous, of the lot took place between Rose Pastor, a recently arrived East European Jewish immigrant, and James Graham Phelps Stokes, a true-blue American, if ever there was one.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Ralph Lauren, Lauren Bush, New York Times, Jenna Weissman Joselit, James Graham Phelps stokes, Intermarriage, George W. Bush, From Under the Fig Tree, David Lauren, Rose Pastor, Weddings

Kvetch and Wine

By Ken Krimstein

Ken Krimstein is the author of “Kvetch As Kvetch Can: Jewish Cartoons.” In his last post he wrote about making it as a Jewish cartoonist. His blog posts are being featured this week on The Arty Semite courtesy of the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning’s Author Blog series. For more information on the series, please visit:


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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Kvetch As Kvetch Can, Ken Krimstein, Jewish Book Council, Comics, Cartoons, Books, Author Blog Series, My Jewish Learning

No Montreal Street for Mordecai Richler

By Michael Kaminer

Courtesy Canadian Jewish Congress National Archives

He won a slew of awards, had his books translated into multiple languages, and captured the soul of Jewish Montreal in novels like “The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz” and “Barney’s Version” — both adapted into big-budget Hollywood productions. But Mordecai Richler doesn’t merit the renaming of a street or other public place in the Plateau neighborhood of his youth, the borough’s administration has decreed.

The proposal is “misguided” and reminiscent of a “Soviet mindset…to be renaming streets after figures,” Mile End councilor Alex Norris told Montreal weekly The Suburban. The paper reported that “Norris didn’t approve of The Suburban’s suggestion to name the area in front of [legendary deli counter] Wilensky’s as ‘Carré Richler,’ because it is an open intersection and it’s ‘not a public square.’”

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste, Quebec, Plateau, Mordecai Richler, Montreal Gazette, Montreal, Michael Kaminer, Mile End, Fairmount Avenue, Canada, Bill Brownstein, Barney's Version, The Suburban, Wilensky's Alex Norris

Cameri Theater to Receive Unclaimed Holocaust Assets

By Nir Hasson

Crossposted from Haaretz

Gerard Allon
A scene from the play “Ghetto,” put on by the Cameri Theater.

The company charged with reinstating the heirs of Holocaust victims who had assets in Israel will provide a large chunk of its funding this year to the Cameri Theater.

The Company for Location and Restitution said that it will distribute a total of NIS 5 million this year for Holocaust commemoration and education activities. Of this sum, the Cameri will receive NIS 1.4 million to enable tens of thousands of soldiers and students to see the play “Ghetto.”

The company, which was founded in 2007, is obligated by law to allocate funds from unclaimed assets to help Holocaust survivors in need as well as to fund Holocaust memorial and education projects.

Read more at Haaretz.com


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Theater, Nir Hasson, Holocaust Restitution, Ghetto, Haaretz, Holocaust, Company for Location and Restitution, Cameri

Let There Be Kvetch!

By Ken Krimstein

Ken Krimstein is the author of “Kvetch As Kvetch Can: Jewish Cartoons.” His blog posts are being featured this week on The Arty Semite courtesy of the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning’s Author Blog series. For more information on the series, please visit:


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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: My Jewish Learning, Ken Krimstein, Kvetch As Kvetch Can, Jewish Book Council, Comics, Cartoons, Books, Author Blog Series



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