The central character of Purim is Esther, whose name means hidden. The story is full of things hidden, and waiting for the right time to be revealed.
Al Azus has found his fountain of youth, and he’s not keeping it a secret. In fact, the 92-year-old philanthropist recently published a memoir whose title all but gives his formula away: “Live Longer by Giving.”
Wearing a silk kerchief and a plain apron - a combination of holiday and weekday attire - Mama stood by the table, practically at her wit’s end. It was no trifle, you know, receiving almost 100 shalakhmones...
Army Archerd, whose 52-year run as a Daily Variety columnist made him unique among showbiz reporters, died Tuesday
Oscar-winning director Ari Sandel ("West Bank Story") racked up yet another prize when Americans for Peace Now presented him the 2008 Cine-Peace Award.
Right there, in the shadow of the ever-popular "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself," another mitzvah quietly sits: "Thou shall surely rebuke thy friend." And while this may seem rude or intrusive, the Torah regards the obligation of mutual rebuke as the engine of communal righteousness.
It's one of the great mysteries of the Jewish tradition. Every year, Jews around the world gather around a seder table to retell the story of our people's liberation from slavery. You can read a thousand articles, talk to a thousand rabbis, and they'll all say the same thing: At the Passover seder, we retell the story of the Exodus.
There's only one problem with this statement: It's not really true.
It is late in the game for Pharaoh. Mitzrayim has just endured the penultimate plague: Dark. Pharaoh now knows he has little time left: It is, for him, the bottom of the ninth.
He summons Moshe, as he has done so many times before, and for the first time conducts an earnest negotiation. The king of Egypt now concedes the demand Moshe had made earlier -- everyone may go, even the women and children. Only, says the Pharaoh, you must leave your cattle behind. Moshe declines the offer, and ups the ante. Not only are we going to take our cattle with us, he insists, but you must supplement the herd with some of your own.
With Chanukah recent history, I came across a fascinating review of a new book, "The Business of Holidays." The book's editor, Maud Lavin, notes that 81 percent of U.S. households celebrate Christmas with a tree in their homes, and not everybody is Christian. The line between Christmas and Chanukah has become very blurry in recent years, according to Lavin.
A funny thing happened to young Jeffrey Rosenberg on his way to becoming a bar mitzvah -- the lights went out all over town.
I would take my mom against Clint Eastwood in any movie. Sure, he usually plays a grizzled, gunslinger with cat-like reflexes and something to prove, but if you cross my mother, you will find yourself, like the title of Clint's greatest Western, "Unforgiven."
Eric Roth's impressive resume as a Hollywood screenwriter includes an Oscar (for adapting "Forrest Gump") and a string of reality-based screenplays about the difficulties important people face choosing between realpolitik and personal morality.
Jon Kean succeeds at having the women speak with candor about their families and their experiences as the war took hold, and how the Nazis put them in ghettos, on the transports to Auschwitz, as well as about their arrival and their tribulations there.
Jewish Book Month's Table of Contents
Israel beyond the headlines, a country that has produced a world-class literature.
Noach invokes juvenile fascination upon reading the pshat. But we are not children. And underneath whimsical images and happy songs exists grown-up information to which we must attend if we have any hope for hearing youthful voices in our future.
The Jews of Shanghai, fleeing Nazi persecution, thousands of Jews journeyed halfway around the world to the sanctuary offered by Shanghai's unique status as a free trade city.
What will Lemony Snicket do now? And who is Beatrice? These are the questions that are setting children abuzz -- a word which here means "something that everyone is talking and guessing about," -- now that "The End" (Harper Collins), the final, 13th book of 13 chapters in Snicket's "A Series of Unfortunate Events," hit bookstores on Oct. 13, which happened to be a Friday.
We look back on the past because it was another era. In our youth and young years, life included activities you chose. Your responsibilities were minimal compared to those as you grew older. Being young and thinking young allowed you to exist in a world that is the start of the middle age.
Daniel, a 24-year-old UCLA student, has gotten under my skin. I met him a month ago when I followed Rabbi Yossi Carron on his rounds through Men's Central Jail and Twin Towers Correctional Facility in downtown Los Angeles.
If you are willing to inflict physical pain upon yourself as a service to your god, why not treat others to the same spiritual experience? Paradoxically, they will be killed or harmed because of your love for them.
The giving has special meaning for Jews who not long ago enjoyed the umbrella of protection Israel offered them while living in Iran. Now, they feel a sense of duty to support Israel at a time when it is being threatened by Iran.
With our children as our inspiration and the news of Katyusha attacks getting worse, despite the heroic efforts of the Israel Defense Forces, my husband, Rabbi Joel Zeff, and I decided we needed to do whatever we could to help, even if just a little.
Diamont -- a 21-year "Restless" veteran -- has been sworn to secrecy about future episodes. He says he only learned of his character's true name upon reading a script a couple months ago. He was so startled that he telephoned head writer Lynn Latham, who confirmed that Kaplan was Jewish.
There is logic to honoring one's parents. There is a rationale for not stealing or murdering. But for purification in a ruddy, bovine shower, why would God ask such a thing of us?
I'll be honest with you. I don't know. But neither did King Solomon, the wisest of men. It seems that this is part of the definition of a chok, that its raison d'etre remains a mystery.
Kodlawsky said her goal was to tell Thiranagama's story vividly; in a way, it reminded her of those late-night discussions over cigarettes and coffee. Her mother's friends often spoke of how Kodlawsky's mother risked death to smuggle food to others at Bergen-Belsen.
Rumors of anti-Semitic laws in Iran have disturbed local Iranian Jews who have been increasingly concerned for the safety of roughly 25,000 Jews still living in Iran since Ahmadinejad denied the existence of the Holocaust and called for Israel to "wiped off the map" late last year.
The film version of author Dan Brown's bestseller, "The Da Vinci Code," premiered this week amid a cacophony of unhappy historians and theologians who hoped to reach the horde of curious moviegoers seeking a good diversion -- which is also what prompted many readers to pick up the book in the first place.
Gehry's creative solution -- his psychoanalytic victory -- was to embrace the delight of free-form design, while making sure that his buildings met the needs of his clients. His freedom in designing what appear to be purely sculptural objects that subsequently win rapturous praise must make him the envy of all architects who secretly wish they could find such willing clients.
"Aliya: Three Generations of American-Jewish Immigration to Israel" by Liel Leibovitz.
7 Days in the Arts.
In this week's double Torah portion, Tazria-Metzorah (Leviticus 13, in particular), God instructs Moses and Aaron on the role of priests when people take ill.
The author, who also graduated from Harvard Law School, keenly portrays the life of well-to-do professionals who strive for the best for their children, unable to see the downside of their single-minded pursuits.
On April 7, 1944, Rudolf Vrba escaped from Auschwitz, one of very few to do so; he died last week at age 81, a professor of pharmacology at the University of Vancouver, British Columbia. Vrba once said that he spent 95 percent of his life on science and 5 percent on the Holocaust. It is worth considering the importance of that 5 percent and the controversy it engendered, which resonates to this day.
Today, Judaism is undergoing a transformation, as we seek to embody the words of Rav Kook, who said we must make the old new and the new holy. Prayer must be made spiritually meaningful, whereby it becomes what Heschel described as the language of the soul, not just the language of the past.
Scientists will tell you that the senses of smell and taste are most strongly associated with memory. I think eating resembles what learning the Passover story should be -- we allow something from outside of ourselves to enter us; we "digest it" and change it (it is we who must tell the story so that our children can hear it) and it changes us and nourishes us and stays with us forever.
The title, "Madame Dread: A Tale of Love, Voodoo and Civil Strife in Haiti," comes from the nickname given to her by the kids in her Port-au-Prince neighborhood. In Haitian tradition, women take on the first names of their husbands; in her case she was named for the dreadlocks of her boyfriend (who later became her husband). She also refers to herself as a "Voodoo Jew."
"When Do We Eat?" centers on the Stuckman family, which includes grandfather Artur (Jack Klugman); father Ira (Michael Lerner), who tries to lead "the world's fastest seder"; his neglected wife, Peggy (Lesley Ann Warren); and their children.
Vasily Grossman's stories helped him gain admittance to the Soviet Writer's Union. As a successful writer, the state treated him well: He was paid handsomely, had good housing (an apartment in the center of Moscow) and was invited (and allowed) to take his family on vacation to a dacha on the Black Sea.
A new version of "The Ten Commandments," with its timeless themes of slavery and freedom, faith and doubt, adultery and fidelity, battles and miracles, has been shaped into a four-hour miniseries by ABC-TV.
In the listing by countries of the five nominees for foreign language film honors, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences gives the origin of "Paradise Now" as "Palestine."
In various Academy news releases, the designation has been "Palestinian Authority."
7 Days in the Arts
Don't have time to shlep to a museum? Too tired to remember if the free museum day is the first or second Tuesday of the month?
Caroline Baron, the film's producer who worked with Hoffman on "Flawless" and has known screenwriter Dan Futterman and Miller for a number of years, said that all films present challenges, but that from the outset, she had "100 percent confidence in Bennett as a director and Phil as an actor."
"Truthfully, my grandfather really was the catalyst for the journey," Brian Bain said in a phone conversation from Dallas, where he relocated after his New Orleans home was damaged by Hurricane Katrina. He was referring to Leonard Bain, a retired traveling hat salesman and silent film editor who was 99, in 2002, when the film was made. The elder Bain has since died at the age of 101.
Thanks to Valerie, two best friends were reunited after more than three decades apart. More importantly, Glenn and Val had found each other. Their love was intoxicating, with family and friends commenting how happy each was to have found his/her soul mate.
This week we meet Moses, our new leader and adviser. Moses is commanded to go to Egypt, gather the people and demand their freedom from Pharaoh.
Joe Louis' boxing match against Max Schmeling at Yankee Stadium in 1938 remains one of the great sporting events of the 20th century -- even though the fight in front of nearly 70,000 spectators lasted all of two minutes and four seconds.
Perhaps what's at issue is my own life: I'm a word person. For more than 20 years I've made my living by writing and editing. Getting the words right is what I labor to achieve, all day every day. It's a struggle that often leaves me in despair.
Forty years ago this Oct. 15, Houghton Mifflin published "The Painted Bird" by Jerzy Kosinski. The book was immediately acclaimed as a must-read text on the Holocaust and the nature of human cruelty.
Often pictured in Christian iconography as solitary figures, lost in a unique and incommunicable holiness, Rice's "holy family" of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, by contrast, is part of a large, boisterous, affectionate Jewish clan, living a full, observant Jewish life together, full of rituals and prayers and the rhythm of the holy day feasts.
Writing is said to be a lonely business, solitary in the task to fill up so many empty pages. And before I decided to try my hand at writing my autobiographical novel, "The Other Shulman," I'll confess I had fears about such an undertaking.
Although Rice's hero is meant to be every inch the Jesus of the Gospels (she says she's proselytizing), she views her book as a kind of antidote to Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ." She appreciated Gibson's film for its felicity to Catholic doctrine but disliked its portrayal of Jews.
The sound and feel of Broadway's "Rent" are intact, even while the music assumes a slightly edgier rock core, and some dialogue is spoken rather than sung.
Narrated in the first person, present tense (always risky), "Love With Noodles" follows Gelder's canoodling with a string of women who enter his life just as he emerges from mourning his late beshert, Ellen. Gelder lives alone. His grown son, Eric, faces financial ruin. What's worse, Eric is planning to marry a non-Jew.
Prickly relationships between fathers and sons, messy divorces and radical personal awakenings. All are subjects tackled by two searing, semiautobiographical films by Jewish directors now playing in Los Angeles.