Noah Is A Hot, Wet, Cinematic Mess

Russell Crowe plays Noah as “a sort of two-fisted Buddhist for whom all life is sacred”. He is “recognisably Hollywood” but also “scarily Old Testament.” Aronofsky’s “entertainingly lurid” film is “the most eccentric Old Testament adaptation to come out Hollywood since John Huston’s The Bible“. And, with all due respect to The Ten Commandments, it is “the most Jewish biblical blockbuster ever made” (1,580 words)

Are Jews A Dog People Or A Cat People? Pick of the day

Dogs were often “held in contempt” in biblical Israelite society due to their “penchant for dining on blood and carcasses”. But cats ranked even lower. They are “not mentioned at all in the Bible”, perhaps because “Jewish attitudes were functional”, and cats performed no recognised service, whereas dogs could hunt and guard. “There might have been good dogs and bad dogs, but cats at best were merely suffered” (2,620 words)

Why Are Jews So Afraid Of Stepan Bandera?

Short primer on the complicated life of Ukrainian nationalist Stepan Bandera, whose “proto-fascist nationalist group” advocated “sovereignty for ethnic Ukrainians” in the 1930s, and helped the invading Nazis murder Jews in 1941. “While Bandera and his men were responsible for killing Jews, their ideology wasn’t fundamentally anti-Semitic; rather, it was pro-Ukrainian”. In 2010 he was declared “a hero of Ukraine” (860 words)

Put God In Charge Of Jerusalem

Israel and the Palestinians will never agree to cede or divide sovereignty over Jerusalem. But that alone need not block a peace deal. Both can agree that God is ultimately in charge; so formalise that arrangement. “Agree to leave the question of national sovereignty over Jerusalem permanently in abeyance, and instead acknowledge the sovereignty of God. The Zero Option, in other words; or, if you prefer, the God Option” (1,450 words)

Sigmund Freud’s Sicko Grandson

Remarkable appreciation of Lucian Freud, his genius and pathologies. “He thought of himself as a biologist arranging taxonomic categories in the same way that he thought of his grandfather Sigmund as a distinguished zoologist. His painterly practice constituted a parallel disrobing to the one that Sigmund had carried out upon the structures of the repressed id a half century before” (2,110 words)

A Manual Of Sacred Technology

On the relationship between religious behaviour and religious belief in Judaism. “Jewish observance can be likened to a technology — a series of tools that, if used correctly, will produce the desired result, which is to please God and win his blessing. The Talmud, then, would be a manual of sacred technology, showing how to calibrate every prayer, ritual, and action so that it will be most effective” (1,580 words)

Q&A With Art Spiegelman, Creator Of Maus

Interesting and provocative throughout. Spiegelman says his cartoon masterpiece has become something of a burden: it’s all that anyone wants to talk about. “I’ve now drawn it 15 different ways — the giant 500-pound mouse chasing me through a cave, the monument to my father that casts a shadow over my life right now. I’ve made something that clearly became a touchstone for people. And the Holocaust trumps art every time” (6,000 words)

Magical Thinking And Incantations In Jewish Oral Law

“Just as the rabbis codify in great detail exactly what can and can’t be moved on Shabbat, or how tall an eruv has to be, so they lay out the rules and exceptions about urinating between a wall and a palm tree. This is dangerous ‘only when there are not four cubits of space between the two objects’ … For the rabbis, Jews are the protagonists of a cosmic drama in which their every slightest action will be either rewarded or punished” (1,800 words)

Learning Judaism As A Native Language

“For most of the Jewish world, Judaism the religion is now a learned practice. Most of us can never practice Judaism in the easy, unearned way that, say, I can celebrate the rituals of being American: the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving. So, if Judaism is no longer a native language for many Jews, what is it? I believe that Judaism is best thought of now as an art, or maybe a sport. Put in even simpler terms, it’s like playing guitar, or playing tennis” (1,730 words)

Dr Who? Dr Jew

Is Dr Who the greatest Jewish character in the history of television? Consider the evidence: He is “wildly intelligent, intergalactically cosmopolitan, with a biting sense of humor. He is constantly wandering, never at home.” He is “surrounded by a host of belligerent warlike species who view him, alternatively and sometimes simultaneously, as both pesky and effete and oddly omnipotent” (1,084 words)

On The Origin Of “Shyster”

Profile of “master etymologist” Gerald Cohen, whose Comments on Etymology, still published only on paper, has documented, among many other things, the origins of “shyster”, “hot dog”, “the Big Apple”, “jazz”, and “dude”. His latest draft monograph on the origins of “jazz” runs to 167 pages. In his day job at the University of Missouri he teaches general linguistics, Russian, French, German, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew (1,566 words)

Cracking The Voynich Code

Backgrounder on enigmatic 240-page book written in as-yet undeciphered code or language and illustrated with drawings of plants, tubes, nudes and goats. Ink on early-15C vellum. Unearthed — or, just possibly, forged — by a Lithuanian antiquarian in 1912, who claimed it was written by Roger Bacon. “A beacon for a secular community of quasi-Talmudic scholars whose interpretive ingenuity and stamina have few parallels” (5,114 words)

We hope you are enjoying The Browser


Thanks for exploring the Browser


Thanks for exploring The Browser


Thanks for exploring The Browser


Welcome to The Browser


Log in to The Browser


Share this link via email


Email Sent