Reviews

Poetry

A Poet’s Meditation on Force

Army Cats by Tom Sleigh Graywolf Press, 2011 In Army Cats, American poet Tom Sleigh takes on the topic of the 2007 Lebanese Civil War not as an excuse for wanton journalistic rubbernecking, but as a catalyst for a series …
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Art

Art and Science: A Marriage Made in Heaven?

At the turn of the past century, Vienna—even more than Berlin, Paris, or London—stood out as the European city most friendly to radical innovation of every kind. Helping us to understand this era, which introduced the modern world that we inhabit today, is Eric Kandel’s book, The Age of Insight. Neuroscience, Kandel argues, can help to close the traditional gap between scientific and nonscientific forms of inquiry.
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Film

Lincoln: A Review

Lincoln comes from the cameras of Steven Spielberg, probably the most influential storyteller in modern cinema, and certainly one of the most vexing. But when the subjects aren’t pure make-believe, his movies tend to run aground on real-world complexities that flighty imagination can’t handle on its own.
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Books

Torah Stories for Young Children

Alison Greengard and Carol Racklin-Siegel’s series of Bible stories is a thoughtfully laid-out reading experience, but one that also comes with limitations. In contrast, The Bedtime Sh’ma: A Good Night Book and Modeh Ani: A Good Morning Book, both adapted by Sarah Gershman with illustrations by Kristina Swarner and also published by EKS, are lyrical and engaging books for both the youngest listeners and early readers.
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Christianity

Legacies of the Cross and the Lynching Tree

The lynching tree is a metaphor for white America’s crucifixion of black people. It is the window that best reveals the religious meaning of the cross in our land. In this sense, black people are Christ-figures, not because they wanted to suffer but because they had no choice. Just as Jesus had no choice in his journey to Calvary, so black people had no choice about being lynched. The evil forces of the Roman State and white supremacy in America willed it. Yet, God took the evil of the cross and the lynching tree and transformed them both into the triumphant beauty of the divine. If America has the courage to confront the great sin and ongoing legacy of white supremacy with repentance and reparation there is hope “beyond tragedy.”
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Books

Black Liberation Theology and the Lynching of Jesus

It took James H. Cone four weeks to write his first book, Black Theology and Black Power, a work surging with revolutionary expectation. It took him six years to write his latest work, The Cross and the Lynching Tree, a book of haunting sorrow and beauty.

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Culture

In Death’s Dominion

I am writing this by the bedside of my ninety-eight-year old mother, watching the life forces slowly ebb. It is a strange privilege, the fear of the inevitable and the sorrow of anticipated loss mingled with gratitude for so many years of presence and a minimum of pain in this twilight time. On the table beside the hospital bed on which Mom lies, rests Eitan Fishbane’s Shadows in Winter: a Memoir of Love and Loss. Eitan is my nephew and Mom’s grandson. In 2007, his wife, Leah, was two months pregnant when she died suddenly at the age of thirty-two of an undetected brain tumor, leaving her husband and a four-year-old daughter.
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Books

Jewish Values in the Face of Ecological and Humanitarian Crisis

Who Stole My Religion is an inspirational and prophetic book that explores the deep issues that are facing us today: how to heal the ecological world and save the soul of humanity.
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Israel/Palestine

Mapping a Jewish Activist Future: A Review of Nepon’s Justice, Justice Shall You Pursue

How can we create space for friction and dissent from within Jewish institutions, such as the Jewish Federation or Hillel?
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Film

Hollywood Sci-Fi Goes Back to the Future

The value of sharing and selflessness even gets a nod, as Peter struggles to balance personal obligations with his dawning sense of purpose as a crusading superhero. Go Spidey!
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Books

Our Progressive Traditions

The source waters of the American religious imagination are larger than Christian orthodoxy—just as Jesus was an Orthodox Jew only more so, and St. Francis, a cosmic Christian whose love for his brethren included birds, donkeys, and the sun. Whatever the source of our common faith, it contains multitudes.
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Books

Comics and Jews

A most unusual book by a most unusual author in the comics world, this small-sized, thick, square volume follows in many ways upon Fredrik Strömberg’s Black Images in the Comics (2001). It also departs in so many other ways that the contrast is vastly illuminating.
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Film

Dark Days with the Dark Knight

We are the beneficiaries of the most advanced audiovisual systems ever known, capable of moving our emotions, challenging our ideas, and opening our imaginations. Is it right that the most technologically sophisticated and financially expensive products of this system are entertainments like the Batman movies, designed to deliver their gratifications not to the mind but to the gut?
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Film

Sociopaths Rule

A fundamental examination of the nature of our economy and its consequences is long overdue, and widespread distribution of Heist could go a long way toward making this happen.
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Culture

SF Jewish Film Festival Opening–Go To It This Week

What’s more Jewish than bagels, lox, and schmear? Film! At least, so says the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival (SFJFF), which invited viewers into and beyond the stereotypes at its Opening Night festivities Thursday evening in San Francisco. A lively and boisterous crowd packed the Castro Theater, kicking off SFJFF’s thirty-second year with the world premiere screening of Roberta Grossman’s comic documentary Hava Nagila (the Movie).
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