Dan Friedman

Archive for the ‘history’ Category

Shadows and Ghosts in Budapest

In Football (Soccer), history on September 29, 2016 at 8:06 am

When the Netherlands went to Budapest to play a qualifying game, it wasn’t only the current Hungarian team they had to face.

Read more at The New York Times Goal blog.

Amir Gutfreund, Writer of Wit and Power, Dies at 52

In Culture, history on February 20, 2016 at 4:18 pm

I first met Amir Gutfreund at the Pierre Hotel in the spring of 2007. To inaugurate the biggest Jewish literary prize ever, in honor of multi-millionaire Sami Rohr, literati, journalists and organizers had been gathered to one of Manhattan’s glitziest hotels. Gutfreund’s firm no-nonsense manner and even firmer sense of the absurd was in full force.

Read more: Forward, Culture

Occupy Thanksgivukkah

In Culture, history, Politics on December 5, 2013 at 11:35 pm

The santas who sunbathe on Sydney beaches, barbecuing their lunch on December 25th are revelling in the duality of the Christmas holiday. On the one hand it’s a universal holiday, celebrating the birth of the Christian messiah who was born for us all and so it’s perfectly appropriate for Australians (and their tourist visitors) to join in.

Hanukkah, which normally falls within the orbit of Christmas normally adopts the universalist aspects of its bigger, younger brother. Kislev 25 is usually around December 25 and Jews place the emphasis on being a festival of light, of liberation and of presents. But when paired with the more local, national holiday of Thanksgiving, its parochial side comes out. And, rather than being the Jewish Christmas (swap reindeer and trees for candles and latkes) Hanukkah ends up being, though disguised by a plethora of mutually appropriate foods, the anti-Thanksgiving.

Is it funny to be Jewish? Is it Jewish to be funny?

In Comedy, Culture, history on October 1, 2013 at 10:50 pm

Sarah Silverman is no accident. Adam Sandler didn’t just happen. Woody Allen is no statistical anomaly. Five thousand seven hundred and seventy four years after creation, the Chosen People have expressed a choice: And they’ve chosen to be funny.

At least that’s what American Jews have told a Pew survey released Tuesday morning. According to the Heebish citizens of the Land of the Free, Moses parted the Red Sea to lead the Israelites from bondage to the promised land not so that they could eat bagels (food=14 percent) or pray (Jewish religious law=19 percent) but so they could have a good chuckle (having a good sense of humor=42 percent).


Make the Claims Conference Accountable

In history, Politics on May 18, 2013 at 8:26 pm

As if the convictions in the $57.3 million (£37.6m) fraud case that was wound up in a Manhattan federal court last week were not enough, it was alleged on Tuesday that top officials at the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany were warned about the criminal activity nearly a decade before they called in external investigators.

Did the E-Book Kill the Prayer Book?

In Books, Culture, history on November 12, 2012 at 11:39 pm

The book is dead. This time killed by the e-book. But is the death knell a little premature for a people who still read a vellum scroll twice a week?

Read more: Jewish Quarterly

Going Dutch, Collaboration Style

In Books, Culture, Football (Soccer), history, Politics on October 19, 2012 at 8:33 pm

Bill Shankly, the legendary soccer coach of the British club Liverpool FC, is often quoted as saying, “Football is not a matter of life and death, it’s more important than that.” The attribution is erroneous, but in the face of the Holocaust, even the playfulness of the sentiment rings hollow. Soccer’s fanatical support and cultural centrality, however, can provide a crucial prism through which to view life and death, war and peace.

Simon Kuper, author of “Soccer Against the Enemy: How the World’s Most Popular Sport Starts and Fuels Revolutions and Keeps Dictators in Power,” is the world expert on the intersection of soccer, culture and politics. His newly rereleased book, “Ajax, the Dutch, the War,” is a revaluation of the Dutch role in the Holocaust, starting with the surprising silence of the country’s biggest soccer club, Ajax, regarding its actions during the Nazi occupation.

Arlen Specter z”l

In history, Politics on October 19, 2012 at 8:27 pm

Arlen Specter, who died of cancer last Sunday aged 82, had been a US Senator for 30 years — the longest serving in Pennsylvania’s history. He qualified as a lawyer from Yale in 1956 but was a politician by vocation, winning his first elected position in 1965 and staying in office for most of the next 45 years.

Throwing Muses Find Their Way

In Culture, history, Music on October 26, 2011 at 4:13 am

Joy and rage, as each new generation bangs up against its own possibilities and the world as it is, are what gives rock music its energy and power. This is why first albums are rarely surpassed, why corporate pop is such a betrayal, and why listening to Sir Michael Philip Jagger failing to get satisfaction aged 65 is less authentic than it was in 1965.

More compelled than most adolescents to turn her frustrations into music was Kristin Hersh. Suffering from an unusual type of bipolar disorder, she hallucinated music being played around her, only finding relief when the music had coalesced into a workable song for her band, Throwing Muses. Thirty years since they formed, and twenty-five since her diagnosis, the Muses played a few dates on the American East Coast, and are just embarking on a new European tour.

Read more: Souciant

Hedonism and Primal Therapy: Wham! and Tears for Fears Turn 30

In Culture, history, Music on September 9, 2011 at 2:46 am

Punk begat ska and ska begat a rainbow. Two-Tone, New Romantic and a slew of pop artists shone out of the darkness of early Thatcher Britain with lyrics and beats that ran the gamut from escapist to confrontational. Many bands have been discussed in print and film, but no one has yet noted the surprising similarities and radically different paths of two male duos, formed thirty years ago from the flotsam of the ska movement. They charted different paths. But both paths took them to the pop charts.

Read more: Souciant