Creating art from the events of the Holocaust remains as daunting as ever. Soon, those awful events will move beyond the reach of living memory while the need for testimony grows more pressing, not less. But the responsibilities of art are different from those of history: Theodor Adorno’s much-misrepresented dictum that “it is barbaric to write poetry after Auschwitz” can simply be used as a lazy shorthand for refusing to engage with difficult and challenging creations.
At the very beginning of his probing, disturbing account of the Nazis’ destruction of Dutch Jewry, Bernard Wasserstein asks what is no doubt the most terrible question that can be posed about Jewish behavior during the Holocaust: “Confronting the absolute evil of Nazism, was there any middle road between outright resistance and abject submission?”
“Marc loved the small-town feeling of Georgetown,” Evelyn wrote. “He liked being able to greet our neighbors and walking to Woolworths to buy postcards and an art-supply store to buy more brushes.” One day he told her that he wanted to “do something for the house,” but later, he said, “No, the house is perfect; I’ll make a mosaic for the garden.”
Among the trendy ingredients today’s chefs are adding to their repertoires, paprika is the latest darling. Cooks either sprinkle the bright red spice—made of dried and ground red chili peppers—on top of their creations or swirl it with oil to add a crimson hue.
A heartfelt letter sent to a newspaper editor a century ago has long stayed with me. I happened upon it decades after it was written. With his soul in torment, a New York factory owner had turned to the editor for advice. He was not paying his workers— like him, Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe—nearly enough for them to make ends meet. He had a business to run, and there were limits to the wages he could afford. Still, the suffering of his employees and their families tore at his heart. What should he do?
The term haredi comes from the Hebrew root meaning “to tremble” (hared) and a verse in Isaiah, in which God says, “But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at my word.” “Haredi really means those who are in awe, or who tremble or quake,” says Samuel Heilman, professor of sociology at Queens College of the City University of New York.