Behind the Magic Curtain book cover

Were Birmingham’s Civil Rights Era Jews ‘Inside Agitators’?

Calvin Trillin, an incomparable reporter, brought his wry, Midwestern Jewish perspective to coverage of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, first for Time magazine and then for The New Yorker. He once observed, tongue in cheek, that it must have been awfully crowded in the South back then “behind the scenes.”

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Book cover: Book review: Meir Kahane: The Public Life and Political Thought of an American Je

Book Review | America’s Homegrown Jewish Terrorist

For liberal supporters of Israel, the unresolved status of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza presents a dilemma: a choice between a single state with so many Arab citizens as to inevitably dilute the Jewish character of the country, or the insistence of control over but denial of equal rights to millions of Palestinians, diluting if not destroying Israel’s democratic character.

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Eva and Eve

Memory Speaks, But It Doesn’t Always Tell the Truth

Eva and Eve: A Search for My Mother’s Lost Childhood and What a War Left Behind By Julie Metz Atria Books; 320 pages; $28 The Eve in the title was Julie Metz’s mother, a rare example in her day of a woman who managed to have it all. She rose to the position of art director at Simon & Schuster while raising a family, running their city apartment and country house, cooking meals, doing laundry, preparing tax forms, and on and on. She was a formidable woman, who was more feared than loved by her daughter. The two tussled throughout the latter’s childhood and eventually settled into a calmer relationship that was, for Julie, no more satisfying, characterized as it was by her conscious avoidance of conflict and “without the full abandon we probably both craved.” The Eva in...

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Morningside heights

Book Review | When Honor Fades

Morningside Heights By Joshua Henkin Knopf Doubleday; 304 pp.; $26.95 During the early days of the pandemic, I noticed many readers craving dramatic stories in exotic settings to take their minds off the crisis. Others, like myself, felt so disconnected from humanity and pre-COVID-19 life that we searched for relatable narratives of people navigating the old problems we tackled before the world was thrown into chaos. Joshua Henkin’s new novel, Morningside Heights, reconnected me to the everyday problems that I’ve missed over the past year. At first, it seems as though the book will focus on a heady romance between a young, besotted literature student and her older, hotshot Shakespeare professor. The central question, however, is not how young love is born, but how it ages. The novel glosses over the drama and angst involved in building a relationship...

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Book Review | Greed, Drugs and Philanthropy

In this time of corrective unnamings—to remove traces of admiration or gratitude for the morally reevaluated—the names of unrepentant slaveholders, Confederate generals, contemporary sexual predators and other assorted wrongdoers have been erased or proposed for erasure from college dorms, military bases, city streets and more.

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Book Review | Building Community One Tile at a Time

At the Museum at Eldridge Street’s Egg Rolls, Egg Creams and Empanadas street festival—a celebration of Ashkenazi Jewish, Chinese and Puerto Rican communities held each summer (pre-pandemic) on New York’s Lower East Side—groups of Chinese Americans and American Jewish women play mahjong side by side, sometimes pausing to teach younger festivalgoers how to play.

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