Jewish Journal

Cover of January 31-February 6, 2014 Jewish Journal

Born loving Stalin, raised to revere Roth

by Jonathan Kirsch

The key to Gary Shteyngart’s best-selling novels can be found in the title of his second book: “Absurdistan.”

(January 31-February 6, 2014: Volume 28, Number 47)


    January 31, 2014 | 2:08 pm

    A year after graduating college, I worked downtown in the immense shadows of the World Trade Center, and as part of my freewheeling, four-hour daily lunch break I would eat and drink my way past these two giants, up Broadway, down Fulton Street and over to the Strand Book Annex.

  • Howard Stern’s secret, and ours

    By Rob Eshman

    January 28, 2014 | 4:10 pm

    On my way to work every morning I listen to Howard Stern. I’ve been listening for 20 years.

  • The post-wandering Jew

    By David Suissa

    January 29, 2014 | 3:46 pm

    What does it mean to be a nomadic people? For most of our long history, Jews have been nomads. It’s only recently that we’ve started to settle down. But have we lost something in that process? Has Judaism lost some of its vitality in the absence of movement, which has defined so much of its history?

  • The curious case of criticism

    By Marty Kaplan

    January 23, 2014 | 2:29 pm

    What do you say to a friend whose work has been panned by a critic?

  • We care about Ukraine

    January 27, 2014 | 12:28 pm

    We Jews cannot forget millennium-long atrocities and persecutions, and we shall never forget about the Holocaust.

  • Hitler’s e-book blitzkrieg

    January 15, 2014 | 5:35 pm

    France is agog over whether to ban Dieudonné, the comedian who invented the 'quenelle' reverse Nazi salute to give the anti-Semitic finger to decent society.

  • A Judaism of public service

    By Bill Boyarsky

    January 29, 2014 | 3:58 pm

    When I asked Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky whether his Judaism has influenced his work as a supervisor, which involves helping some of society’s sickest and poorest people, his answer was as complicated as the man himself.

  • Groups join to oppose sanctions

    By Ron Kampeas

    January 29, 2014 | 2:04 pm

    A loose coalition of advocacy groups and policy experts, including a pair of dovish Jewish organizations, have been coordinating messaging in support of the Obama administration’s Iran strategy.

  • Domain name .kosher gets closer

    By Jonah Lowenfeld

    January 29, 2014 | 1:55 pm

    Earlier this month, the world got one step closer to the day when Web sites can end not just with .com, .net or .org — but with the suffix .kosher as well.

  • New Skirball chair no stranger to community leadership

    By Ryan Torok

    January 31, 2014 | 12:41 pm

    Twenty years ago, Peter M. Weil enjoyed a private tour of Hebrew University of Jerusalem that left a lasting impression. A friend of the university had arranged the visit, during which the school’s leaders took Weil to see their archive of some of Albert Einstein’s personal manuscripts.

  • Skirball’s founding chairman passes the baton

    By Jonah Lowenfeld

    January 31, 2014 | 12:55 pm

    Addressing the more than 600 attendees of the Skirball Cultural Center’s Founders Gala last October, Howard I. Friedman, the center’s first, and until Jan. 2 its only, board chairman, spoke about one of his favorite subjects: the significance of ideas in sustaining Jewish life.

  • UNESCO sets date for Jews in Israel exhibit

    By Jonah Lowenfeld

    January 28, 2014 | 10:30 am

    After sustaining withering criticism for its abrupt decision to postpone a planned exhibition about the millennia of Jewish history in the land of Israel, UNESCO, the United Nations’ cultural and education arm, announced Jan. 21 that the exhibition will be presented at its Paris headquarters, opening June 11.

  • Moving and shaking

    By Ryan Torok

    January 29, 2014 | 2:19 pm

    Temple Beth Am congregants Louis and Judith Miller have bequeathed $1 million to the Schechter Institutes’ TALI Education Fund in Israel.

  • New kosher oversight board established

    By Jonah Lowenfeld

    January 22, 2014 | 12:08 pm

    A group of local Orthodox rabbis has begun regularly inspecting the businesses in Los Angeles certified as kosher by the Rabbinical Council of California (RCC)

  • 5 Jews, 5 opinions

    By Jared Sichel

    January 31, 2014 | 10:50 am

    Before any members of the recent TED-style panel at The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles spoke even one word, the expectations for what the panelists would accomplish were great.

  • Bikel plays ‘Jewgrass’

    By Tom Teicholz

    January 31, 2014 | 9:56 am

    Although I know it will disappoint some readers to learn that “A Jewgrass Revival,” at American Jewish University on Feb. 1, will not be a presentation of the latest Israeli hydroponic farming techniques for marijuana, I can say with confidence that this evening of Jewish Bluegrass music featuring Theodore Bikel and hazzan Mike Stein of Temple Aliyah in Woodland Hills will produce feelings of elation and wonder without any attendant paranoia or munchies. No less a source than Bikel himself guarantees, “It’ll be fun.”

  • Steinberg’s ‘Quality Balls’

    January 31, 2014 | 10:31 am

    “I would have been a lousy rabbi,” confided David Steinberg, candidly reflecting on what would have happened if he’d continued his yeshiva studies and followed in his father’s footsteps.

  • Calendar February 1-7

    By Laura Donney

    January 29, 2014 | 12:44 pm

    Tamara Cohn Eskenazi explores the Persian period of the Hebrew Bible not only as an example of reconstruction of Jewish life under Persian rule, but as a moment when women became pronounced participants in biblical literature.

  • The power of two

    January 31, 2014 | 10:37 am

    Lee Shoag is the kind of husband who tells his wife he loves her wrinkles. Barbara Shoag says her husband’s excess pounds mean she has more of him to hug.

  • Betty Cohen

    By Jane Ulman

    January 29, 2014 | 10:58 am

    During her first night in Birkenau, on May 22, 1944, Betty Cohen — née Beppe (Rebecca) Corper — slid out of her lower bunk and stepped outside to use the toilet.