People of the Book James Rosenquist Wasn't Jewish

Somehow, James Rosenquist wasn’t Jewish, neither were Rauschenberg, Oldenburg, Wesselman, Hamilton, Warhol or Jasper Johns. The only Jew among the famous pop artists was Roy Lichtenstein. Art never got more “Jewish” than abstract expressionism, but pop art was most definitely “goyish.” Jews were too busy making popular culture to think about whether it was high… Read More

People of the Book Lumpen with Talent

The Onion is my generation’s Mad magazine. It is, ostensibly, a satirical website, and a funny one, but sometimes they’re so spot on they cross from funny into painfully true. I read an Onion article last week with the headline: “97-year-old dies unaware of being violin prodigy.” The article stated that she spent her life… Read More

People of the Book 'The Radetzky March' - Don't Blame the Grandson

It’s impossible to look at America in 2017 and not think of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the early 1910s at the end of its gloriously long sunset, unwittingly ready for the journey into eternal night. In those years, its capital, Vienna, was the most diverse, most exciting, most interesting place on Earth. Nobody knew it,… Read More

People of the Book Donald Trump: Goy

It feels like Donald Trump’s been president for almost three years, not three weeks, and even now that he’s committed so many executive orders — which are really decrees — it’s absurd to consider the effects of a Trump Presidency when they’re yet so unknown. But there’s a biblical three-score and 10 to consider of the life he’s already… Read More

People of the Book Never Change, Pikesville, Never Change

Last year, to my astonishment, I started attending a synagogue. I won’t say its name, but it’s an urban synagogue full of exemplary people of principle who realize that Jewish values mean little unless they can be practiced in the world, ministering to people who do not have the advantages of the smug isolation that… Read More

People of the Book Barack Obama: Jew

When you read “Dreams from My Father,” the first thing to strike you is the freedom with which Obama’s family shaped its identity. Obama’s story is one of self-discovery. No Jew discovers himself, he’s told what he is from birth and discovers his place within his roots. The Dunhams, uprooted by the Great Depression, move… Read More

People of the Book ‘The Brothers Ashkenazi’: The Giant Machine of History

Why is there no truly great Holocaust Novel? We have great Holocaust books, but no writer has ever been capable of conveying its tragic enormity. The few survivors dwindle rapidly from Old Age, the one killer the Nazis could never beat; and its most articulate witnesses, even world-renowned writers like Primo Levi or Elie Wiesel, can only tell… Read More