Monthly Archives: April 2014

(Bitter Sweet) Moses Mendelssohn Bio (Shmuel Feiner)

I finally got around to reading Shmuel Feiner’s biography, Moses Mendelssohn: Sage of Modernity , a less than the brilliant title that I imagine was chosen by the series editors at Yale University Press for the Jewish Lives Series. A graceful little … Continue reading

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New York Garden Spring Sentimental (2014)

New buds and a New York City side-garden in the middle of the Passover holiday. As always, I’m drawn to the combination of concrete and organic materials, the new bright green and the dark branch. The iron wrought garden furniture … Continue reading

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Gazelle-Like God (Rabbis Read Song of Songs)

About the love between God and Israel, Song of Song Rabbah looks like a miscellany of rabbinic commentary with little to nothing to do with the biblical poem. But I think the rabbis get the leap and bound of the … Continue reading

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An Idol in the Holy of Holies (Song of Songs)

R. Akiva called the Song of Songs the Holy of Holies. And there the Beloved is, in this image-rich picture of a human-not-so-human presence in the midst of the garden sanctum –head, arms, torso, legs, made up of bright precious … Continue reading

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Song of Songs Elegant Decadence (George Barbier)

In black-gold-white, did the Song of Songs ever look so elegant, strange, and sexy? Greek or Japanese? Designed by George Barbier in art nouveau style, the version of the biblical book reeks of perfume and musk. There’s a definite air of Japonisme … Continue reading

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Shadows & Silhouettes (Martin Buber)

“They announced to me nothing other than their presence. And they did this with the precision of a shadow…Look at the ground, at the shadows of the trees as they stretch themselves over our path. Have you ever seen in the … Continue reading

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(Bloody Mess) Expressionist Chad Gadya (Menachem Birnbaum)

My father buys one kid. Cat kills kid. Dog kills cat. Stick kills dog. Fire burns stick. Water consumes fire. Ox drinks up water. The butcher slaughters ox. Angel of death slays butcher. And God, the Holy One, kills the angel of … Continue reading

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Moshe and Sorel (The Pressburg Haggadah of Hatam Sofer)

I saw this 1924 facsimile copy of the Pressburg Haggadah at Marilyn Braiterman Rare Books this year at the New York Antiquarian Book Fair. I’m sure I’m getting details wrong but apparently the ms. was  presented to the Chatam Sofer to … Continue reading

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Palestinian Students Visit Auschwitz (Professor Mohammed Dajani)

Professor Mohammed S. Dajani of Al-Quds University took a group of twenty-seven students to visit Auschwitz. It created a bitter reaction on campus, and the Al-Quds University administration disowned any connection to the trip, which is not surprising but very … Continue reading

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Fine Arts & A Little Apocalypse (Marilyn Braiterman Rare Books at New York Antiquarian Book Fair) (2014)

Mixing up worlds from the fin de siecle at Marilyn Braiterman Rare Book, where fine arts Judaica are enmeshed in architecture and design. The elegant intelligence of this inventory reminds me that Jewish Studies and the German Jewish philosophical tradition have … Continue reading

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