Reviews

Books

Literary Bridges to the Middle Eastern “Other”

The Arab Spring has challenged Western stereotypes of Middle Eastern civil societies. We’ve seen insatiable demand for democracy in a region that most analysts had written off as politically passive or hopelessly brainwashed by authoritarianism and misogyny. We’ve seen formalized instruction and training on how to engage in nonviolent protest. Tablet & Pen and Out of It , two recently released works of literature, both written before the Arab Spring, introduce Westerners to an array of fictional characters and real people who exemplify the creativity, agency, and diversity that have always been present in the Middle East but have received scant attention in Western media.
Read more >>

Books

A Memoir of Gender Transition

In Through the Door of Life, Stern College professor Joy Ladin offers this analysis of why her colleague Moshe Tendler reacted so negatively to her announcement that she is transsexual: “Rabbi Tendler isn’t only worried about what I am; he is worried about what I mean.” This pithy line sums up why things transgender unsettle us so. It also hints at why this book is a worthwhile read for anyone.
Read more >>

Culture

Retelling Hasidism for the Twenty-First Century

A Hidden Light is the interesting experiment of an insider who stands outside a world he left but never abandoned. The work is neither critical nor apologetic, nor is it polemical. It is the loving, creative rendition of a devotee who has tried in his long career to separate Hasidism’s radical theology from its rigid and conventional sociological framework.
Read more >>

Books

Unitarian Universalism and the Story of Forrest Church

Forrest Church’s initial interest in religion was mainly geared toward avoiding the draft as a conscientious objector. But what began as a dodge became a calling that was as much intellectual as religious, and resulted in a theology based on a belief in communal responsibility. In Dan Cryer’s Being Alive and Having to Die: The Spiritual Odyssey of Forrest Church, we learn that the Unitarian Universalist minister was hardly a paragon of old-fashioned virtue. Yet he urged parishioners to believe in compassion, love and service, and then practiced what he preached.
Read more >>

Books

Correcting the Canon: The African American Feminist Art of Meta Fuller

In 2012, the gap between the rhetoric of inclusion and the reality of exclusion remains huge. Renée Ater’s new book, Remaking Race and History: The Sculpture of Meta Warrick Fuller, goes a long way in correcting the glaring omission of one of the key African-American woman artists of the twentieth century. Learn how Meta Fuller went from making her art in the evenings after finishing her domestic chores to creating one of the most remarkable Pan-African artworks of that era.
Read more >>

Books

Prisoner of the Deep

The Leviathan may look to us like a cautionary tale about the peril to traditional provincial folk of entering the modern world. But interwar-period author Joseph Roth was no traditionalist at all but a cosmopolitan committed to the an imperial ideal. Perhaps The Leviathan should be seen as Roth’s farewell to the continent. Meet the protagonist of the story—a Jewish coral merchant living in a small town in the Ukrainian region of Volhynia who loves his merchandise a bit too well—and meet Roth at the same time.
Read more >>

Books

How Come We Exist?

We meet in these pages eloquent summaries of how the evolution of the human mind may be the greatest mystery of all. Generations ago, modern physicists and astronomers informed us that “one of the stranger things about our universe is that we are present in it.”
Read more >>

Books

A Novel of Jewish Upheaval, Flight, and Transition

The Free World presents a sprawling cast of characters in limbo. Chronicling everything from pogroms to Soviet politics to 1970s Rome, Bezmozgis’s first novel depicts one family in the midst of monumental transition.
Read more >>

Books

Our Exile: A Chilean Memoir of Dislocation

Ariel Dorfman is one of our era’s many citizens of nowhere, and Feeding on Dreams is the story of his exile from Chile. It was an accident, a gift of destiny, or a curse, that he was not at La Moneda, the Presidential Palace, on September 11, 1973, the day of the coup by General Augusto Pinochet. That day, Salvador Allende died and Dorfman received a permanent enemy to orient him in his disoriented life.
Read more >>

Books

Setting the Record Straight: The Arabs, Zionism, and the Holocaust

There is, on the face of it, no more need for a book on the Arabs and the Holocaust than for a book on the Africans or the Australians and the Holocaust. But Israel was created in the Arab world, and Israelis and Arabs have long been fighting a bitter war about both the nature of Israel and that of Arab opposition to Zionism.
Read more >>

Books

Assimilation for Muslims and Jews?

Twenty U.S. states are considering laws that would prohibit courts from considering any “foreign law” in their deliberations. These laws raise the specter of fundamentalist Muslims turning the United States into an Islamic theocracy. There is no question that this perceived threat is absurd. And while Muslims currently bear the brunt of this fear-mongering, other groups’ religious practices may also soon fall under the scrutiny of these new laws, revealing seams in the supposedly flawless integration of Judaism and American life.
Read more >>

Books

The Growth of a Global Community

Shanahan finds fault with the American Dream and our focus on purely economic growth. The focus upon prosperity has left Americans in a vacuum where meaning is concerned. Shanahan fears that this cycle has already infected not only other Western democracies, but also the many countries that are striving to achieve economic liftoff. This requires progressives to reexamine the foundation of their political philosophy, but also affords the opportunity for growth of a more satisfying and ultimately a more deeply human kind.
Read more >>

Books

Our Saving Grace: A Relational Mode of Being

We need relationships; they provide meaning and context. Charlene Spretnak identifies the fallacies of modernity that have led to our current crises by highlighting one very basic point of reference underlying the predominant mode of living today: the mechanistic worldview. And she offers a way of moving beyond the limited and problematic mechanistic mindset.
Read more >>

Film

A Polish Depiction of Genocide and Redemption

In Darkness, Poland’s nominee and a finalist for this year’s Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, immediately plunges the viewer into an unrelenting world of thuggery and mass murder in Nazi-occupied Poland.
Read more >>

Film

Renouncing the Nuclear Idol

The film, The Forgotten Bomb, is a stark reminder of how we, as a people, have betrayed our trust in God and, for sixty-six years, have instead placed our trust in a nuclear idol.
Read more >>