Jewish Journal

Gene Lichtenstein

  • Books: Mailer scrutinizes evil in form of young Hitler

    March 8, 2007 | 7:00 pm

    "The Castle in the Forest," by Norman Mailer (Random House, $27.95).

    Of all the Jewish American writers who have shaped our culture these past 60 years, none has been so controversial or "outside" society as Norman Mailer, who recently published his 36th book, "The Castle in the...

  • Believe It or Not

    August 5, 2004 | 8:00 pm

    "It's All True" (Simon & Schuster, 2004) by David Freeman offers us a portrait of an outsized Hollywood, so unbelievable that it must be dead on. It is, more precisely, a novel, lovingly unfolded about the movie business: How it works and how its players -- adults spoiled by too much...

  • The Silent Minority

    April 29, 2004 | 8:00 pm

    If there had been any doubts that I was in another country, they were erased when the first reviews of Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" began to appear in the London press.

    While there was a mixture of praise and repugnance (just like the United States), with negative voices...

  • Tikkun Alone

    February 26, 2004 | 7:00 pm

    Tikkun and its founder-leader Rabbi Michael Lerner came to Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 8 to run an area-wide conference, which proved both heartening and disappointing.

    It was heartening because, on one level, Lerner and his progressive San Francisco-based organization have remained...

  • When Marriage Sinks Into Madness

    August 21, 2003 | 8:00 pm

    Over the past 40 years, Ted Solotaroff has developed a reputation as a distinguished literary critic and editor. Then, in 1998, at 70, he suddenly appeared, full-blown, on the literary stage as a writer, winning the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for First Nonfiction for the first volume...

  • Hollywood, History and the Holocaust

    December 26, 2002 | 7:00 pm

    Two celebrations took place in Los Angeles recently, and "Max," a new film about the young Adolf Hitler, opens today.

    In a peculiar way, all three events are related.

    The first celebration seems straightforward enough -- at least on the surface. Sara and Charles Levin, who preferred...

  • Secession Question

    October 10, 2002 | 8:00 pm

    USC recently hosted a panel discussion around this topic: Is secession good for the Jews?

    Secession, in this instance, referred to the referendum calling for the San Fernando Valley to separate from Los Angeles and become an independent city of 1.35 million.

    The panel's title was...

  • Land of the ‘Lost’

    September 19, 2002 | 7:59 pm

    "A Nation Lost and Found: 1936 America Remembered by Ordinary and Extraordinary People" edited by Stanley K. Sheinbaum and Frank Pierson (Tallfellow Press, $24.95).

    In 1936, there were 130 million Americans, roughly 3 percent were Jewish, and many existed on the margins of an...

  • Gathering for Peace

    August 29, 2002 | 8:00 pm

    Last Sunday afternoon, I and about 30 other Angelenos accepted an invitation to gather at the Brentwood home of Joan and Rabbi Leonard Beerman to meet with Nafez and Laila Nazzal, two Palestinian professors who were visiting Los Angeles.

    Of course, we knew what to expect. Beerman,...

  • L.A. Museums: Saved by the Jews

    August 15, 2002 | 8:00 pm

    A small museum opened its doors in Pasadena last month and naturally enough made local headlines. The stories touched on the museum's focus -- California art, architecture and design from 1850 to the present day; and on the personal angle, namely that the $5 million Pasadena Museum...

  • Criticism Remains

    August 8, 2002 | 8:00 pm

    Shortly after the bomb went off at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, killing seven and wounding more than 80, David Ward, president of the American Council on Education, sent off a strongly worded statement of sympathy.

    "The leaders of American higher education join me in condemning...

  • Hollywood Dreams

    June 27, 2002 | 8:00 pm

    They told this story at the recent Film and Television Writer's Conference and swore that it was true.

    Two young women, posing as survey researchers, stood outside Ralphs grocery store in Hollywood and asked shoppers, as they left, how their script was going. Sixty-five percent...

  • Dissent in Los Angeles

    June 13, 2002 | 8:00 pm

    A few weeks ago, two Israeli army reservists came to Los Angeles to explain why they (members of an organization called Yesh Gvul), and perhaps 450 of their fellow reservists, refused to serve their time of duty in the Occupied Territories. They had already spoken in San Francisco,...

  • Second Take

    May 30, 2002 | 8:00 pm

    This is a Los Angeles story, moreover one with a Hollywood ending. But it is also partly a Jewish American tale.

    It is the story of 20 months in the early adult life of Frances Kroll Ring, written in the form of a memoir, "Against The Current." "Last Call," on Showtime last...

  • Differing Views on European Anti-Semitism

    May 16, 2002 | 8:00 pm

    The talk here in Los Angeles -- about anti-Semitism and Europe -- is by turns angry and cynical. And not just from the proverbial "Jewish man on the street," so quick to respond both to real and imagined slights. It is almost as though the suspicion that Europeans could not be...

  • The Mideast Comes to L.A.

    April 18, 2002 | 8:00 pm

    I suppose there has always been a division between Jews who are affiliated and those who are not. Two separate worlds. The first wears the definition with pride: The Jewish Community. The second by default or distrust or indifference, or maybe choice, seems to be cast adrift, at...

  • An Affair to Remember: Hollywood and the Jews

    March 21, 2002 | 7:00 pm

    Oscar night is almost upon us, and there is considerable talk (and pride) about three of the chief contenders -- Halle Berry, Will Smith and Denzel Washington -- all of whom are black. But don't be fooled: Hollywood and the film industry is still primarily a Jewish story, no matter...

  • Well Versed

    November 9, 2000 | 7:00 pm

    The trouble with reading Judith Viorst's delightful new book of verse, "Suddenly Sixty, And Other Shocks of Later Life," is that you recognize another decade has gone by in her life and so, presumably, in yours as well. "Suddenly Sixty "follows on the high heels of those earlier...
  • Beginnings and Endings

    September 21, 2000 | 8:00 pm

    Every newspaper editor knows that one day he will have to step down. He may put the idea out of mind or revel in denial. But the thought is always there, loitering out of sight. Departure may come suddenly by way of death, illness or age. Or it may spring up with the changes that...

  • The State of Play

    September 14, 2000 | 8:00 pm

    September 13 has come and gone and we are, thankfully, without a Palestinian state - one that Yasser Arafat threatened to create even if it meant a unilateral declaration on his part. That he has backed away from this action - and persuaded a number of reluctant PLO leaders to go...

  • Jewish Angst

    September 7, 2000 | 8:00 pm

    Lieberman's Presence

    Recently, a Chinese-American doctor was monitoring my heart as the speed and incline were increased on the treadmill during a stress test. Perhaps he wanted me to relax; perhaps he was bored and was trying to make conversation. Apropos of nothing but my presence...

  • The Great Divide

    August 24, 2000 | 8:00 pm

    Who are your readers, a friend asked me recently. He is not Jewish, which perhaps explains the question.I gave a pat answer: Young and old; men and women; observant and secular; liberal and conservative; survivors and their offspring; families that often trace their history through...

  • With Power Comes Responsibility

    August 17, 2000 | 8:00 pm

    From a Jewish perspective, this past week in Los Angeles was a tremendous success. Among other things, it tended to confirm the influential role of the Jewish community in L.A. From the parties that President Clinton attended to the panelists at the Shadow Convention who derided and...

  • Lieberman and the Jews

    August 10, 2000 | 8:00 pm

    The selection of Sen. Joseph Lieberman as the Democratic vice presidential candidate, while clearly a political tactic, has nevertheless managed to thrill most of us, Jewish Republicans as well as Democrats. Even those most at ease with their access to, and success within, mainstream...

  • Political Realities

    August 3, 2000 | 8:00 pm

    1. The Convention of Politics: Israel

    A poll this week within Israel indicated that a majority (54 percent) ofthe voters would have voted directly for Shimon Peres as president (inthe main, a ceremonial role). The determining vote, however, was castnot by the voters but by the...

  • Camp David Fallout

    July 27, 2000 | 8:00 pm

    The sudden early-morning conclusion of the Camp David talks last Tuesday were expected, and yet came as something of a shock. The odds of a breakthrough agreement on Palestinian refugees and Jerusalem seemed impossibly high, even though we had come a long way to understanding that...

  • Barak at Camp David

    July 20, 2000 | 8:00 pm

    There is a sense at this moment that "time has stopped." That all political voices have become silent, in Israel no less than in the United States, while Messrs. Arafat, Barak and Clinton struggle over language, issues and principles in an effort to reach a peace agreement.

    It is, of...

  • Barak at Camp David

    July 13, 2000 | 8:00 pm

    There is a sense at this moment that "time has stopped." That all political voices have become silent, in Israel no less than in the United States, while Messrs. Arafat, Barak and Clinton struggle over language, issues and principles in an effort to reach a peace agreement.

    It is, of...

  • Iran: Politics Gone Wrong

    July 6, 2000 | 8:00 pm

    There is not a reader of this newspaper who does not believe - does not know - that the conviction of the 10 Iranian Jews last Saturday was wrong. Wrong and unjust in its violation of due process. Wrong in its disregard of human rights. And wrong in its basic allegation that the 10...

  • Jewish Journalism

    June 29, 2000 | 8:00 pm

    Last week the American Jewish Press Association held its 19th annual conference in Washington DC. Part of the proceedings always include a closing night dinner where reporters and their newspapers are honored for Excellence in Jewish Journalism. These are known as the Simon Rockower...

  • Surprised by Assad

    June 15, 2000 | 8:00 pm

    The first report on Assad's death caught me by surprise. It was from Eric Silver, our Jerusalem correspondent (see page 20), and it recounted his interview with the former chief rabbi of Syria, Avraham Hamra, who now lives in Israel.

    Apparently in 1992 Assad had "opened the gates for...

  • Memories of Summer Camp

    June 1, 2000 | 8:00 pm

    My first and only experience at summer camp was magical, or so it seemed to me. I entered a world I had never known before, and by summer's end had gained some recognition into who I was and who I was not. No mean feat at 13.

    A city boy, I developed at camp a feel for the country,...

  • Memories of Summer Camp

    May 25, 2000 | 8:00 pm

    My first and only experience at summer camp was magical, or so it seemed to me. I entered a world I had never known before, and by summer's end had gained some recognition into who I was and who I was not. No mean feat at 13.

    A city boy, I developed at camp a feel for the country,...

  • The New Jewish State

    May 18, 2000 | 8:00 pm

    I have been reading a fascinating book, "The Jewish State: The Struggle for Israel's Soul,""that has set me to thinking about Jewish identity -- both in Israel and in the United States.The beauty of a book like this is that its impact is measured not by agreement with the author (or...

  • Inventing Oneself

    May 11, 2000 | 8:00 pm

    In Philip Roth's new novel, "The Human Stain," a classics professor at a small New England college creates a fictional identity for himself. His name is Coleman Silk, and he lets colleagues and friends know that he is Jewish.

    Since Silk is an academic, an intellectual, a former...

  • New Sculptures Debuted

    February 17, 2000 | 7:00 pm

    Sculptures by two prominent local artists are now on permanent display.

    "Benediction"(above) by Charna Rickey stands at Temple B'nai Emet in Montebello. The bronze sculpture was dedicated by Rickey and her brothers, Bernard and Howard Barsky, to the memory of their parents, Sonia and John Barsky, who were among the Temple's founders.

    A new marble sculpture (right) at the University of Judaism represents Ruth and Naomi mourning the death of Boaz. It is the work of 86-year-old sculptor Ben Bronson, who created it at a marble quarry in Carrara, Italy. -- Tom Tugend

  • A Weekend in San Francisco

    February 17, 2000 | 7:00 pm

    Generation J is Lisa Schiffman's shorthand for American Jews born after World War II who feel connected to their Jewishness in some way they can't explain and, at the same time, feel ambivalent about that connection.

    "We were a generation of Jews who'd grown up with television, with...

  • An Evening with August Wilson

    February 10, 2000 | 7:00 pm

    August Wilson's "Jitney," currently playing at the Mark Taper Forum, focuses on Pittsburgh's black Federal Hill District in 1977; the setting: a run down car hire office where half a dozen black men hang out, answer the telephone and take their turn picking up passengers.

    Like most of...

  • Culture, High & Low

    January 13, 2000 | 7:00 pm

    Billy Wilder made movies -- not auteur films in the manner of Truffaut, not carefully composed scenes like Hitchcock, not "cinema." But movies that were mostly witty and almost always entertaining. It seems fitting that this 93-year-old writer-director should be honored (Jan. 13) by...
  • Jewish Croatia: Through the Looking Glass

    December 2, 1999 | 7:00 pm

    This past October I found myself, along with four other North American Jewish journalists, flying business class -- a wonderful way to fly -- to Croatia on Lufthansa Airlines. The Croatian Tourist Office in conjunction with Lufthansa had generously put together a 12 day guest...
  • Uncle Vanya’ Hits Sour Note; ‘Amadeus’ in Perfect Harmony

    October 14, 1999 | 8:00 pm

    No one ever said Anton Chekhov was an easy fit for American actors. In Chekhov, there may be scoundrels, but no villains; interesting, appealing women, but no heroine; a central figure perhaps, but flawed. Under the surface, it is the human condition that he unfolds for us.

    In the...

  • Tweaking David Ives ‘Ancient History’

    September 16, 1999 | 8:00 pm

    Dear David Ives:

    I attended a preview performance of your play "Ancient History" last Saturday (Sept. 11) at the Fountain Theatre, where a member of the production company announced that the play still needed "tweaking," and so we should feel free to pass along our comments and...

  • The Artistry of ‘Art’

    January 21, 1999 | 7:00 pm

    The internationally acclaimed play, "Art," arrived at the UCLA/Doolittle Theatre in Hollywood this past week with tremendous advance billing. Hosannahs for the original Paris production; a grand salute for the London staging; the Tony Award plus the 1998 New York Drama Critics Circle...

  • Russian Artists on Display

    January 21, 1999 | 7:00 pm

    It's common knowledge that the Jewish exodus from Russia in the late 1980s brought to Israel a flood of talented artists and musicians. Less well known is that many came to the United States as well. On Sunday, Jan. 24, the Simon Wiesenthal Center will spotlight the works of a...

  • The Artistry of ‘Art’

    January 21, 1999 | 7:00 pm

    n it debuted in the summer of 1994, Saveur reinvented the food magazine genre by focusing, like any good chef, as much on ingredients as on finished dishes. With its expertly lit and angled close-ups, the magazine gave food the same kind of attention most magazines devote to...

  • The Artistry of ‘Art’

    January 21, 1999 | 7:00 pm

    "Tongue of a Bird," now playing at the Mark Taper Forum, is a confoundedly difficult play. I'm not sure whether that's due to this reviewer's denseness or to the layers upon layers of meaning and tortured psychological undertones offered by playwright Ellen McLaughlin.

    In its simplest...

  • UJ Stages ‘The Quarrel’

    January 7, 1999 | 7:00 pm

    About 10 years ago, give or take a year, I was invited to director Arthur Hiller's home to attend a reading of a work in progress. About 80 to 100 people turned out and listened raptly as two wonderful actors, script in hand, read the work in progress. It was a play called "The...
  • The Editor’s Corner

    April 9, 1998 | 8:00 pm

    The good news about Passover in America circa 1998is that more Jews than ever are embracing the holiday. It has become,as Dr. Ron Wolfson tells us (in the Passover section), our mostpopular Jewish holiday. Even non-Jews seek an invitation to a sederat the home of Jewish friends.


  • The Editor’s Corner

    April 2, 1998 | 7:00 pm

    My problem with Dennis Prager, author, radio host,newsletter writer, is simple: I like the man, but I just can't readhis writing. In person, I find him open, engaging, serious. In print,he comes across to me as narrow-minded, ponderous and self-involved.I usually settle my conflict...

  • The People vs. The Executive Committee

    March 5, 1998 | 7:00 pm

    This story should be called The People vs. TheExecutive Committee. The People in this instance are the families andindividuals who make up the approximately 5,000-strong membership ofthe Westside Jewish Community Center on Olympic Boulevard nearFairfax Avenue. The Executive Committee...

  • American Books and Jewish Identity

    December 4, 1997 | 7:00 pm

    Tucked away in a collection of J.D. Salinger's"Nine Short Stories" is a work of fiction I've always liked: "Down atthe Dinghy." When I read the story for the first time, maybe fiveyears after it was first published (perhaps sometime in the early1950s), the thought occurred to me that...

  • The Bible Codes

    October 30, 1997 | 7:00 pm

    A Caltech mathematician and a leading Orthodox educational institution teamed up recently to turn up the heat on a simmering controversy over what they say is a scientifically and religiously suspect tool used by Jewish outreach organizations -- the Bible codes. Aish HaTorah, a...

  • A House Divided

    July 10, 1997 | 8:00 pm

    My grandparents were Orthodox Jews. They arrived on these shores shortly before the onset of the first world war and had four children, two sons and two daughters. Two of the children were artist-intellectuals, somewhat on the bohemian side (a musician and an artist) and quite...