The Waxman Cometh
April 23, 2007
Save, perhaps, for his mustache, there's nothing about Henry Waxman that would lead anyone to mistake him for Joseph Stalin. Stalin’s rise to general secretary of the Soviet Communist Party included stints as a Bolshevik bank robber and a commissar in the Red Army; Waxman was elected to Congress after representing an affluent West Los Angeles district in the California State Assembly. Stalin’s policy of forced collectivization resulted in a famine that killed six million Ukrainians; the only person Waxman has ever starved is himself—and then only on Yom Kippur.
October 16, 2006
"Olmert, we forgive you," read an unsigned pre-Yom Kippur ad, placed in the newspaper Maariv by the amorphous movement to oust Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. "We forgive you for the first defeat in war since the founding of the state of Israel. We forgive you for the penetration of corruption into government. We forgive you for the confused leadership. We forgive you because the job is simply too big for you." Israelis have seldom been kind to their prime ministers, even the most beloved.
September 22, 2006
I write as the sun goes down over Manhattan, where I am this weekend to mark, with my children, the High Holy Days of the Jewish new year and the Day of Atonement. This is a period of penance, reflection, and prayer. The penance of individuals towards each, to the community, and to God. And, let me state that, as the great Yiddish poet Jacob Glatstein wrote, "der got fun mein nishgloybikeit is prekhtik" or, rendered in English, "the God of my unbelief is magnificent." This is the basic foundation stone of most modern Jews, though they can't always articulate this.
March 06, 2006
KAFKA: THE DECISIVE YEARS By Reiner Stach Translated by Shelley Frisch (Harcourt, 581 pp., $35) THERE IS A TANTALIZING gap between our increasingly detailed knowledge of Kafka's life and our imperfect understanding of his achievement as a writer. His work seems to cry out for biographical readings and has often been subjected to them, characteristically along psychoanalytic lines. Yet the obvious connections between life and work have not explained much about the work.
Pop Goes Elie Wiesel
November 10, 1986
"I was of course very stunned and grateful, and melancholy," Elie Wiesel told the The New York Times about his initial reaction to winning the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize. "I fell back into the mood of Yom Kippur, serious reflection about my parents and grandparents. It me half an hour to get out of it." But when Wiesel finally came to, he told a press conference in New York, "There are no coincidences. If it [winning the prize] happens after Yom Kippur here, then some of my friends and myself have prayed well." Actually, they did a little more than pray.