Joel Grey prepares for The Cherry Orchard: ‘I’m about surprises’4 days ago
The Broadway legend won over fans as the emcee in Cabaret and he gained more admirers when he came out at age 82 now he explains why theater is still sexy
Anton Chekhovs The Cherry Orchard ends with the aged servant Firs, a former serf, alone on the deserted stage. Lifes gone by like I never lived, he says.
In Stephen Karams new version, which opens at New Yorks Roundabout next month, the legendary actor Joel Grey plays Firs. That mournful sentiment is not one that Grey entirely shares. The Tony and Oscar-winning actor, now 84, has led an agreeably eventful life. For more than 70 years, he has lent his impudent grin and button-bright eyes to theater, television and film, offering an air of mischief and melancholy to the characters he plays. He titled his recent memoir, Master of Ceremonies, borrowing the name from his best-known role, the menacing, epicene emcee of Kander and Ebbs Cabaret, a part he recreated for the Bob Fosse movie version.
In his book, Grey discusses not only his professional life, but also his personal one, particularly his attraction to men, an orientation he concealed for several decades. On a recent morning, he spoke about returning to the stage in The Cherry Orchard, why hell never play Shakespeare and whether or not he still finds the theater a sexy place.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
Steve Reich: the composer with his finger on the pulseOne week ago
Reich showed the world the hypnotic pleasures of repetition as his music took in religion, politics and New York city life and aged 80, hes still moving forward
For 30 years I walked around Manhattan with earplugs in my ears. Steve Reich, whose music seems to embody the pulsing energy of the metropolis, doesnt enjoy being there that much. Whenever I went out I had to kind of gird myself, you know, he says. I basically dont like New York.
If the city had feelings, it would find that particularly hard to take right now. It is in the midst of feting Reich, who has just turned 80. Hes composer in residence at Carnegie Hall, which is throwing a birthday concert for him on 1 November. His work is being performed at the Guggenheim, the Juilliard School and NYU. Hes even in the process of moving back to his roots from the leafy upstate suburb of Pound Ridge, where we meet, to the Lower East Side. I mean, I owe a great deal to New York, he says, and all my best friends are there and I am a New Yorker. But theres a part of me that doesnt like noise, doesnt like a million people, doesnt like concrete.
Fans may have misread City Life, a 1995 work that riffs on slamming taxi doors, horns and sirens, then. That was written in hostility, before we left. It was like, I cant stand these car alarms, so Im going to put them in the piece and do what I want to with them. I know how to take care of you. Im just going to devour you in my music and make something that I really want to hear.
In Pound Ridge birdsong is the only noise likely to disturb him. The Frank Lloyd Wright-esque house that Reich shares with his wife, video artist Beryl Korot, sits on a beautiful wooded slope, and warm October sunlight fills the room in which we talk. It might be a wonderful place to compose, but its too isolated. Snow trapped him here one evening when he was supposed to be at a performance of his work in Manhattan. And Korots gallery is on the Lower East Side. So, despite his misgivings, hes returning to the city in which he made his name half a century ago.
In 1965 Steve Reich arrived back in New York after a spell at Mills College, California, where hed been studying composition. He had begun to experiment with tape loops, playing back snippets of human speech at different rates, letting them phase in and out of sync. Syllables sputter and stretch, zooming from one ear to the other, slowly reforming before deforming again. Its Gonna Rain samples a Pentecostal preacher in Union Square, San Francisco, declaiming the story of the Flood. Come Out, made once he was home again, uses the voice of one of the Harlem Six, black men beaten up by police, explaining how hed had to split the skin on a bruise and let the blood come out in order to prove hed been injured. Created to raise money to pay for the Sixs legal team, the piece was included in a Columbia records compilation of new music a couple of years later. It was singled out in reviews and Reich found himself and his phasing technique in the spotlight.
Not everyone was happy, though. Infantile! Reich shouts, mimicking outrage. Infantile. A critic used that word.
Why? When Reich was a student, serialism, a genre that deliberately avoided harmony, melody and rhythm, was the only game in town. Luciano Berio, one of his teachers at Mills College, was a leading exponent, but its inventor was the Austrian composer Arnold Schoenberg. It is difficult, highly intellectual music that makes sense as a stage in the development of the art, but has limited appeal. There have been periods in music called Mannerist, Reich explains. So at the end of Renaissance polyphony, it gets so convoluted, its brilliant but its always going to be off in a corner because its so recherche and so refined. And this always presages some move towards a drastic simplification, a back to basics. Like: hey lets just have a voice singing! Therell be a story, therell be people acting it out Opera!
And so it was in the middle of the 20th century. The skill particularly with Boulez and Stockhausen and the innovation is enormously admirable, enormously well done, and has its place in music history, no question about it. But, it attracted a minuscule audience. And if it werent for the fact that Stockhausen appeared on the cover of Sgt Pepper, it wouldve been ever smaller.
I felt in my gut: I became a composer because I love Bach, because I love Stravinsky, because I love bebop, because I love John Coltrane. Now, I just cant I dont want to spend my life doing this.
Reich did go back to basics and uproar ensued. A 1973 performance of Four Organs, a hypnotically beautiful work in which harmonic chords are played again and again, shifting and overlapping, for 15 minutes, became famous for all the wrong reasons. According to Michael Tilson Thomas, now director of the San Francisco Symphony, there were at least three attempts to stop the performance by shouting it down. One woman walked down the aisle and repeatedly banged her head on the front of the stage wailing, Stop, stop, I confess.
With the exception of a few European composers still, as Reich puts it, working in the graveyard, serialism has now mostly disappeared. I think we won hands down, he says, referring to the generation of musicians who broke away with him: Terry Riley, Arvo Prt, Philip Glass. But it is a restoration not a revolution. Swallow it: restoration. Of what? Harmony, rhythm and melody.
Its because of this that the pop, EDM and contemporary classical worlds are as close as they now are, he argues. More and more of the young highly skilled conservatory graduates like to hang out with DJs. He mentions Nico Muhly and the Nationals Bryce Dessner, two of the composers who will feature in his Three Generations programme at Carnegie Hall in April 2017.
Reichs son, Ezra, is also a pop aficionado, and has helped him appreciate artists like Prince and Giorgio Moroder. At the time, he says: I didnt pay any attention to Donna Summer or any of that, I knew disco existed but I didnt listen to it at all. He laughs and says that his favourite Summer track wasnt the famous one (I Feel Love). It was and here he bursts into song She works hard for her money ba da da da da da DA! … I really liked that a lot.
Pulse, which will be performed for the first time at the Carnegie Hall concert (its European premiere is at the Barbican in London on 5 November) was partly inspired Daft Punks collaboration with Moroder. Anchoring the winds, strings and piano is an electric guitar, which pumps out a repetitive bassline in homage to the 70s synth genius.
Also on the bill at both concerts are his collaborations with Korot, Three Tales. These video pieces, with accompanying scores by Reich, were designed to mark the turn of the millennium. They dramatise symbolic moments in the history of the 20th century: the explosion of the Hindenburg, the detonation of the hydrogen bomb at Bikini atoll and the cloning of Dolly the Sheep. As such and like Come Out theyre rare examples of political engagement by Reich.
I am not an activist, never have been, he explains, playing down the resonance between Come Out and the Black Lives Matter movement. I mean I have beliefs and if offered the opportunity, I will help out. But, he says in the long run, subject matter doesnt mean crap. Let me give you an example. One of the greatest artists of the last millennium is Pablo Picasso. And one of Picassos greatest masterpieces is Guernica Its extremely topical, its extremely passionate, its extremely political. As a work of art, its a towering masterpiece. As an effective political tool, its an absolute waste of time. Pablo, get out of here, youre an idiot.
His point is that, after Guernica, bombing civilians became more common, not less. So people ask me, should composers write political music? I say theres one obligation composers have. And that is to write the very best music they possibly can. If politics helps musicians get fired up to make good work then its done its job, he reckons.
Religion too. Reich rediscovered Judaism in his 30s the baseball cap hes never seen without is actually his version of a yarmulke and it has inspired some of his best-known works, including Tehillim and the Daniel Variations. On the wall behind him is a bookshelf stacked with weighty Jewish tomes. Theyre basically all centred around Torah, he explains, the first five books of Moses in the Christian Bible and in the Hebrew scriptures as well. Theyre read every year in a cycle. You start at the beginning of Genesis, and were now approaching the end of that cycle as we speak.
Theres a very famous commentary in the period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, which we are presently in its called Teshuvah, by Maimonides. Teshuvah means returning, returning in a very broad sense of the word, returning to who you are, to who you really are.
Some of Reichs contemporaries, including Glass, Riley and La Monte Young, were directly inspired by Buddhism, with its own narratives of rebirth. Is Jewish spirituality the key to his instrumental pieces, as abstract as they sometimes seem? There is, after all, repetition, cycling, returning, on every page. The answer to your question is: who knows. God knows, I dont. I wouldnt say, Oh no, what are you talking about? Youre talking about something real.
The cyclical is only interesting when its not a cycle but when its a spiral, he continues. If it goes around and around in a circle, youre really a rat in a trap, and just playing a loop is a bore. But if you return above that point, or in a different position, you have returned as a different person, you have returned as a different composer, and you have returned to a different musical accomplishment.
I think it was Charles Olson, a poet you may have heard of, who said: People dont change. They only stand more revealed. And that seems about right for this reluctant New Yorker, finally making his way home again.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
John Oliver: ‘David Cameron can’t attack a hotdog’8 days ago
As the British anchor of Americas funniest current-affairs series, the TV satirist is uniquely placed to educate each nation about the other. Here he tackles the basics, from Brexit to, er, turducken
Two years after going it alone from The Daily Show, satirist John Oliver may not be Britains biggest export to America (thats James Corden, for now), but hes certainly its sharpest and funniest. This apparently entitles him to no special privileges from HBO, which broadcasts his current-affairs show Last Week Tonight. Im sitting in a windowless room with two gigantic pictures of [The Jinxs villain] Robert Durst on the wall, he explains on the phone from New York. As Im talking to you, his beady eyes are burrowing into my face. Perhaps Robert Durst will soon be in a windowless room with two pictures of me on the wall. But I cant stress this enough: I did not murder three people.
The Guide has set Oliver a task: to explain aspects of modern America to Britain, and vice versa. Its one he sets about with relish, but also with a caveat. Ive been here a decade so Im institutionalised. My bafflement index is much lower than it used to be. This all kind of makes sense to me now.
Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
Read more: www.theguardian.com
The literary life of Michiko Kakutani: the book critic’s best conflicts and reviews11 days ago
The New York Times writer is stepping down from her role, leaving behind a remarkable career characterized by razor-sharp reviews and intra-literary rows
Michiko Kakutani, the New York Times adored chief volume critic, announced she was stepping down from her post on Thursday after 38 years, marking the end of a career that inspired both appreciation and anxiety in the hearts of the writers whose books she reviewed.
Kakutani was Americas most powerful literary critic, a person who has, with the stroke of a pen, wielded immense influence over the careers of both budding and established novelists. Over the course of her tenure at the Times, Kakutani was remarkably guarded, making few appearances in public and allowing her reviews to speak for themselves. In honor of a critic so widely celebrated the scribe behind pieces that launched the careers of David Foster-Wallace, George Saunders and Zadie Smith and indignation quite a few others here are her best feuds and reviews, broken down.
Kakutani v Franzen
Part of what so attracted readers to Kakutanis work was her constant objectivity, a quality that was on display in her ability to write admiringly of an author and then, if underwhelmed by a later release, roast them over a fire. Kakutani praised Jonathan Franzens novel The Corrections as a devastating family portrait and a harrowing portrait of America in the late 1990 s, but was less intrigued by his 2006 memoir The Discomfort Zone, questioning why anyone said he wished to pages and pages about this unhappy relationship or the self-important and self-promoting contents of Mr Franzens mind. The novelist fired back in an interview with the Guardian, calling Kakutani tone-deaf and humorless. Then, two years later, at a discussion with James Wood at Harvard, he upped the bet by referring to the critic as the stupidest person in New York City.
Kakutani v Mailer
Kakutani reviewed Norman Mailers 2006 novel The Gospel According to the Sun, a first-person autobiographical retelling of the Bible from the perspective of Jesus himself. She called it a silly, self-important and at times inadvertently comical volume that reads like a combination of Godspell, Nikos Kazantzakis Last Temptation of Christ and one of those new, dumbed-down Bible translations; Mailer, never one to shy away from a writerly bicker, called Kakutani a one-woman kamikaze in an interview with Rolling Stone. He then indicated the Times merely retains Kakutani because shes a woman of Asian descent: She disdains white male writers, and Im her number-one favorite target, he said. But the Times editors cant fire her. Theyre frightened of her. With discrimination rules and such, well, shes a threefer, Asiatic, feminist, and ah, whats the third? Well, lets only call her a twofer. She is a token. And deep down, she probably knows it.
Early Man review – back-of-the-net triumph from Aardman18 days ago
Nick Parks hilarious family animation pitches the stone age against the bronze age in a prehistoric football fantasy
Read more: www.theguardian.com
Gary Shteyngart: ‘As a Queens boy, Trump was very impressive’19 days ago
As a Russian immigrant to the US, the author grew up looking up to Gordon Gekko and Donald Trump now, he hopes his satire about a hedge-fund manager stops people from becoming bankers
In June 2016, Gary Shteyngart got on a bus. It was a cross-country Greyhound of a kind romanticised by those who don’t have to use them, and that he would describe in Lake Success, his fourth novel, as emanating from a depot in central Manhattan that “smelled like someone had eaten a fish sandwich”. The 46-year-old’s notion was to travel for a few months through the country he had entered in 1979 with his parents, from the Soviet Union, and elements of which he was failing to recognise. “At that point,” he says, “Trump was already a candidate and I didn’t think he would win when I got on the bus.”
Like many New Yorkers, Shteyngart grew up with Trump and had seen him through several iterations. “As a Queens boy, Trump was very impressive,” he says. “You could see his mansion, which back then seemed gigantic. And he was trying to do what we were all trying to do, which was to get the hell out of Queens and into Manhattan. But for Manhattan people he was a joke. And when I later became a Manhattan person, he also became a joke. In a weird way, I made the transition and he didn’t, and the whole country has to pay for that.”
These days, Shteyngart is a Manhattan person to such a degreethat he has found it necessary to move part time out of Manhattan, to his second home in upstate New York. We sit in a park around the corner from his city apartment, and across the street from his old school, the insanely competitive Stuyvesant high school (which has since moved to new buildings in Lower Manhattan), an environment of bone-deep familiarity to Shteyngart that became less appealing to him during the writing of Lake Success. The novel describes, in a slow, hilarious arc, the developing nervous breakdown of Barry Cohen, a hedge-fund manager who walks out on his wife and autistic child to take an odyssey on the Greyhound, just as Trump’s campaign is transforming America.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
The VR Metaverse of Ready Player One Is Just Beyond Our Grasp19 days ago
Virtual reality, as it’s been promised to us by science fiction, is a singular realm of infinite possibility. Star Trek’s Holodeck, Yu-Gi-Oh!’s Virtual World, Snow Crash’s Metaverse: Each is the all-powerful experience generator of its world, able to accommodate a character’s any desire. Novelist Ernest Cline sharpened this vision in his 2011 debut, Ready Player One, which hits theaters in March courtesy of Steven Spielberg. While the story is set in the strife-torn meatspace of 2045, most of its action unfolds in a vast network of artificial worlds called the OASIS. And in the tradition of reality playing catch-up to sci-fi, the OASIS has become the endgame for real-world VR developers, many of whom are actively trying to replicate its promise. Are they making progress? Absolutely. Are they doing it right? Absolutely not.
The OASIS is saddled with a terrible acronym—hopefully Spielberg never lets one of his characters say “Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation”—but it offers something attractive: breadth. Some of the environments contained in the OASIS are created by users, others by government agencies; they range from educational to recreational (reconstructions of ’80s fantasy novels are popular), nonprofit to commercial.
Today’s real-life multiuser VR experiences, by contrast, are less OASIS and more PUDDLE (Provisionally Usable Demonstration of Dazzling Lucid Environments). Some of the constraints are aesthetic: In AltspaceVR, users are limited to a narrow range of expressionless human and robot avatars, while the goofy up-with-people charm of Against Gravity’s Rec Room hinges on you not caring that avatars lack noses. Other constraints are experiential: Facebook’s Spaces lets you hang out only with people you’re already Friends with. Startups with OASIS-size ambitions are hampered by still other issues, whether that’s a noob-unfriendly world-building system (Sansar) or a dark-side-of-Reddit vibe that invites trollery (VRchat).
The problem, though, isn’t such metaphorical boundaries—it’s literal ones. None of these PUDDLEs touch. You can’t hop from Rec Room to VRchat; you’re stuck where you started. That’s why it’s hard to feel truly immersed. To reach Cline’s 2045, developers need to start laying the foundation now for an infrastructure that links each of these worlds. If that sounds idealistic, or even dangerous, it’s not. Think of the days before the internet, when various institutions ran their own walled-off networks. Only when computer scientists came together to standardize protocols did the idea of a single network become possible. Now imagine applying that notion to VR—a metaverse in which users can flit between domains without losing their identity or their bearings as they travel.
The OASIS works because it feels like it has no owners, no urgent needs. It’s a utility, a toolkit available for artisans and corporations alike. If we want to realize this potential ourselves—universal freedom and possibility—let’s start thinking about VR the way Cline does: not as a first-to-market commodity, but as an internet all its own.
This article appears in the March issue. Subscribe now.
All photo references by Getty Images
‘Everyone we know is white’: John Legend sings to Downton Abbey theme20 days ago
Singer concludes Americas love affair with the British show by adding lyrics to the instrumental theme on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Listen here
John Legend leant his vocal prowess and a dose of satire to the Downton Abbey theme song by adding lyrics to the shows famous instrumental opener.
Clad in a tuxedo, Legend appeared on Monday nights episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live to perform his rendition of the song on the heels of Downton Abbeys series finale, which aired Sunday night on PBS. The British period drama ran for six seasons, drawing millions of fans around the globe. Nearly 10 million viewers watched the final season premiere in January.
Legend spared no one in the song, poking fun at individual characters and noting the shows very white cast.
Everyone we know is very white, the song began. We dont have one black friend.
After pointing out that everyone in the show has so many hats to wear, Legend took aim at the Crawley family matriarch, famously portrayed by Maggie Smith.
Grandmamma is always such a witch, Legend sang. She needs to get laid.
He then melodiously stated facts about other characters like Mr Bates (a murderer but hes a real nice guy) and Thomas Barrow (We have a footman who is gay. Hes always carrying a tray). Legend couldnt sing about Downton Abbey without shedding light on favorite British period drama pastimes: drinking tea, taking naps, eating scones and gossiping.
Lets all ride horses and talk smack, he sang.
The song peaked and ended as Legend talked smack on Edith, the second Crawley daughter.
Edith is such a loser, why wont she just die? Why? Why? the Oscar-winner warbled.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
Microphone Cut After Mormon Girl Reveals She’s Gay At Church23 days ago
Salt Lake City( AP) — A video of a young Mormon girl expose to her congregation that she is lesbian and still loved by God — before her microphone is to turn by local church leaders — is sparking a new round of discussions about how the religion handles LGBT issues.
Savannah, 13, am speaking on May 7 in Eagle Mountain, Utah, about her faith that she is the child of heavenly mothers who didn’t make any mistakes when she was created. Her comments came during a once-a-month portion of Mormon Sunday services where members are encouraged to share impressions and beliefs.
“They did not mess up when they “ve been given” freckles or when they stimulated me to be homosexual, ” she said, wearing a white shirt and red affiliation. “God loves me only this way.”
Her mother, Heather Kester, said Friday that her daughter was passionate about coming out in church to be a voice and instance for other LGBT children who struggle for acceptance within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She asked that Savannah’s full name be withheld to protect her privacy.
The Mormon religion is one of many conservative faith groups upholding theological opposition to same-sex relationships amid widespread social acceptance and the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision legalizing lesbian wedding. At the same day, the Mormon church is trying to foster an empathetic posture toward LGBT people.
The video, which Kester says was taken by a friend of Savannah who came to support her, has generated buzz after it was circulated online this month and featured in a Mormon LGBT podcast.
While some consider Savannah a hero, other Mormons are upset that it was videotaped and is being circulated by church critics to try and paint the church in an unflattering light.
Judd Law, the lay bishop who results the congregation south of Salt Lake City, said in a statement distributed by church headquarters that Savannah is a “brave young girl” and that the congregation is constructing sure she and their own families feel loved.
But he called problematic the unauthorized recording and the “disruptive demonstration” by a group of non-Mormon adults who were there.
Law said they exploited the events to politicize worship services and infringe church propriety. “We do not politic in our chapels, and exploiting this recording for political intents is inconsistent with the nature of our worship services, ” he said.
Law didn’t address or explain the decision by two of his counselors to cut the microphone. Law wasn’t at the service that day.
Savannah read from written notes from the pulpit. Kester said she is not Mormon, but her husband is and Savannah has been raised in the religion.
“I do not choose to be this way and this is not a fad, ” Savannah told the congregation on May 7. “I cannot make someone else lesbian . … I believe that God wants us to treat each other with kindness, even if people are different, especially if they are different.”
Her microphone was muted after about two minutes — shortly after she said she’s not a “horrible sinner” and that she someday hopes to have a partner, get married and have a family. She turned around to listen to something a human in a suit told her and then was strolled down from the pulpit.
Kester said her daughter came and exclaimed in her lap. She told her she was beautiful and that God loved her, Kester said.
“I was devastated for her, ” said Kester, adding. “I was angry at how that was handled.”
After the Utah-based Mormon church received backlash in 2008 for helping result the fight for California’s Proposition 8 constitutional outlaw on homosexual matrimony, religious leaders expended several years carefully developing a more empathetic LGBT tone. That was interrupted in 2015 when the church adopted new rules banning children lives with gay parents from being christened until age 18.
In October, church leaders updated a website created in 2012 to let members know that that attraction to people of the same sexuality is not a sin or a measure of their faithfulness and may never go away. But the church reminded members that having gay sexuality transgresses fundamental doctrinal beliefs that will not change.
Scott Gordon, chairman of FairMormon, a volunteer organization that supports the church, wrote a blog defending the church against a rash of criticism over the incident.
Gordon said it would have been OK for Savannah to come out as homosexual during witnes, but that she crossed the line when she mischaracterized church teaches by saying God would want her to have a partner and get married.
“While you can believe almost anything you want to believe, you can’t preach it from the pulpit, ” Gordon said.
Britt Jones, a bisexual Mormon who runs a podcast called “I like to look for Rainbows” that featured Savannah’s story, said the leaders should have allowed Savannah to finish.
“Queer issues don’t get talked about in the church enough, ” said Jones, who is married to a woman and has children. “It was really brave and truly admirable, particularly for somebody that young, that she not only wanted to talk about it herself but has become a voice for others suffering in silence.”
The Chosen Wars review: examine of American Jews uncovers familiar schisms24 days ago
Steven Weisman determines contention and dispute at every stage of Jewish American history including modern-day politics
On election day 2016, Hillary Clinton won more than 70% of the Jewish election. But that number tells only part of a narrative. In some predominately Orthodox Jewish precincts, Donald Trump’s numbers were straight out of the rust belt or the deep south.
As in the rest of the electorate, religious commitment and educational attainment shaped how Jews voted. In the overwhelmingly religion Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, Trump took 68% of the vote. In New Jersey’s Lakewood Township, he won with a 50 -point margin. By contrast, the island of Manhattan was a sea of Democratic blue.
The political cleavages that mark the broader American scenery existing between America’s Jews. Just as Jews were to be found on both sides of slavery, secession and the civil war, they are again combatants in a political skirmish. Think of Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, and Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader.
Welcome to The Chosen Wars, a narrative of the Jewish journey in the different regions of the American scenery. Steven Weisman, who covered politics and economics at the New York Times for a one-quarter of a century, marshals an impressive array of facts to argue that the competing tugs of separatism and assimilation have been present ever since Jews landed in the New world in the 17 th century, that even among the devout the broader culture affected religious practice, and that Jewish communal participation has ebbed and flowed with time.
As Weisman frames things,” Jewish belief in the Jewish people’s own unique identity … has been so strong that it remains a foundation of Jewish life in the United States .” He also acknowledges that identity” has always been and is very likely be one of contention and dispute “. Things are alloyed.
The book chronicles how the constitution’s establishment clause led to the laity’s domination within the synagogue. Most notably for Weisman, a schism within a Charleston shul triggered a landmark lawsuit and decision. Unlike Europe, the civil authorities would not pick sides even when asked. Ultimately, a South Carolina appellate court ruled in 1846 that the judiciary must avoid” questions of theological dogma, depending on speculative religion, or ecclesiastical rites “.
In other words, they would let the Jews duke it out among themselves.
At hours they actually did. Weisman describes an actual riot that have broken out on Rosh Hashanah 1850 in Albany, New York, over the nature of the Messiah. The police were called and the congregation scattered, but not before the synagogue chairwoman taunted the rabbi, Isaac Wise, saying:” I have $100,000 more than you .” Yet it was Wise’s rejection of a personal and national Messiah that shaped Reform Judaism. It represented a break from 2,000 years of tradition.
The book also examines how Darwin and criticism impacted attitudes toward the Bible, divine authorship taking a make. Emil Hirsch, a Reform Rabbi and professor at the University of Chicago, declared:” Modern scholarship has spoken, and its voice cannot be hushed .”
To put things in context, even those more traditionally minded were forced to respond or adjust to science.
On the one hand, within the Hasidic movement the dominant mantra remains:” If you are still troubled by the theory of evolution, I can tell you without anxiety of contradiction that it has not a shred of evidence to subsistence it .”
On the other, within Orthodoxy’s more modern circles there was a retreat from taking the creation narrative and Genesis’s timeline literally. A “day” came to be read as eons, and the Divine Hand could be found guiding the Descent of Man.
Read more: www.theguardian.com