April 2, 2014 |
NEW YORK - The elderly woman had stopped by the Jewish Community Center in the Canarsie area of Brooklyn and was shuffling away, leaning heavily on her walker, when a young man punched her in the head as he walked past, knocking her to the ground. When she returned to the center for help, the staff called for an ambulance, vigilant that this might have been another example of the "knockout game," a social media trend that had young people punching out random individuals on the street last year.
March 27, 2014 |
TOLEDO, Spain - The Jews who flock to the two medieval synagogues in this walled city are tourists, not worshipers. No one of their faith has practiced it in the temples' exquisitely decorated precincts since 1492. That was the year King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, besides dispatching Christopher Columbus to look for a passage to India, decreed that the Jews of Spain had to either convert to Christianity or quit the country. Many fled - and were robbed, beaten or raped on the way out. Those who stayed faced possible torture and a gruesome death in the Spanish Inquisition.
March 25, 2014 |
Simon Schama, the British historian and television personality and name-in-the-title host of "Simon Schama's History of Britain," "Simon Schama's Power of Art," "Simon Schama's Shakespeare" and "Simon Schama's Obama's America," is back with "Simon Schama's The Story of the Jews. " Premiering Tuesday on PBS, it attempts to distill 3,000 years of Jewish history into five hours of TV and does a fine, if necessarily incomplete, job of it. Like many British documentaries - the series originally aired in September on the BBC - "The Story of the Jews" comes with a personal touch.
March 21, 2014 |
When telling a tale that includes centuries of endurance, moments of triumph, bursts of humor and sudden, unspeakable atrocities, what's the right tone with which to articulate it all? That's the trick historian Simon Schama had to figure out in his new documentary, "The Story of the Jews," which begins in the Middle Eastern desert about 3,000 years ago and tracks up to the more-or-less present. The program, in five hourlong parts, broadcasts on PBS on Tuesday and April 1. "I wanted to say, without putting on a ridiculous smiley face or making light of the tragic aspects, that there is a story to be told beyond one clearly framed by the assumption of catastrophe," the British historian said in Pasadena.
March 14, 2014 |
Whatever you might say about Simon Schama, one of our most prominent and accomplished narrative historians, you can't say he's afraid to tackle broad and challenging subjects. "The Story of the Jews" is the first of a two-volume work aimed at covering 3 millenniums, from 1000 BCE to the present day, with the break coming at 1492 and the expulsion of the Jews from Spain by Ferdinand and Isabella. That's a lot of ground to cover, greater geographically if not in chronological terms than Schama's last multi-volume work, a three-tome "History of Britain" published in 2000-02 that reached all the way back to 3500 BC. Like that work, the scale of "The Story of the Jews" was dictated by the requirement of a television documentary series, scheduled to begin airing on PBS toward the end of this month.
March 13, 2014 |
Ayelet Waldman's "Love and Treasure" (Alfred A. Knopf, $26.95, April 1) is a triptych novel that follows the lives of American and Hungarian Jews across the 20th century. A story of relationships, art and loss, it moves among a granddaughter trying to solve a puzzle, feminists in Budapest between the wars and European Holocaust survivors headed to Palestine. "When my book was being auctioned in Britain, one of the people who didn't bid on it said, 'This book is too Zionist for us.' And then my Israeli publisher, who did end up buying it, was like, 'Man, this is a really anti-Zionist book.' I got those responses the same day," Waldman says via Skype.