Images in conversation: ‘Power Couples’ exhibit shows symbolism in pairs

My article “Images in conversation: ‘Power Couples’ exhibit shows symbolism in pairs,” about a show at Utah Museum of Fine Arts in Salt Lake City, appears in National Catholic Reporter.

Detail of Julius Rotermund, “The Wise and Foolish Virgin” (1856)/BYU Museum of Art

Why the baroque politeness of diplomatic notes may be what the world needs now

My article “Why the baroque politeness of diplomatic notes may be what the world needs now” appears in Washington Post Magazine.

(Illustration by Agata Nowicka/For The Washington Post)

When Climate Science Is Ignored, Try the Arts

My article “When Climate Science Is Ignored, Try the Arts,” about how college and university art museums are focusing on the environment, appears in the Sept./Oct. 2019 issue of Sojourners magazine.

You can read a PDF of the article here, and subscribe to Sojourners here.

How Hospitals Around the World Are Experimenting With the Healing Power of Art

Sant Pau in Barcelona. Photo:Menachem Wecker

My article “‘Fine Art Is Good Medicine’: How Hospitals Around the World Are Experimenting With the Healing Power of Art” appears in artnet.

Update: The Washington Post‘s Erin Blakemore published “Today’s hospitals discover the therapeutic touch of art” based on my reporting. And Kaiser Health News also links to the story.

Tintoretto and His Jewish Neighbors

Jacopo Tintoretto. “The Creation of the Animals” (1550-3), oil on canvas/National Gallery of Art.

My article “Tintoretto and His Jewish Neighbors: Art historians have almost completely ignored the many connections between the great Old Master and the Jews of Venice. Is there more to be said?” appears in Mosaic magazine.

New York State Cracks Down on Jewish Schools

My article appears in Education Next. Here’s the beginning:

When the New York Times ran an article headlined “Do Children Get a Subpar Education in Yeshivas? New York Says It Will Finally Find Out,” the newspaper illustrated the piece with a photo of a Jewish school in Queens.

An administrator from that school promptly complained to the Times about its photo selection, pointing out that six of the school’s recent graduates had attended Harvard Law School.

So the Times website swapped out the photo, replacing it with one of a Jewish school in Brooklyn. An administrator there complained too—noting that the school offers 24 Advanced Placement courses, including ones in physics, computer science, and calculus.

The Times then took down this second photo, replacing it online with a picture of an advocate whose organization sued the governor of New York in an attempt to force more secular instruction in Jewish private religious schools.

This episode from December 2018 neatly reflects the years-long policy battle over the curricula in Jewish schools in New York and the government’s role in overseeing them. High-quality educational offerings and outcomes are met with accusations of inferiority. And the Times is paying close, if clumsy, attention.

One can understand why. It’s a good story, of interest well beyond the Jewish community. Jewish schools educated more than 151,000 students in New York State in 2013, the last year a careful count was done. That’s more than the number enrolled in the Philadelphia City or San Diego Unified public-school districts. And taxpayers have a stake in how well the yeshivas are doing their jobs. The Jewish schools absorb more than $100 million a year in city government funds for things such as textbooks, special education, security, and transportation. What’s more, if yeshiva students don’t get the skills necessary to participate in the economy, other taxpayers may be stuck supporting them with subsidized housing and medical care, the schools’ critics contend

Read the full article in Education Next.

Update: The article is mentioned in TorahMusings.com’s “Daily Reyd” and in Mishpacha magazine.

One NRA fights for guns. One for restaurants. Yes, D.C. has abbreviation overload.

My article “One NRA fights for guns. One for restaurants. Yes, D.C. has abbreviation overload” appears in Washington Post Magazine.

Here’s the beginning:

It was the malapropism heard around certain corners of social media. When Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) asked Ben Carson recently about REOs — real estate owned properties — the housing and urban development secretary appeared to hear a reference to cookies, i.e., Oreos. While the incident quickly became a referendum on Carson’s knowledge of housing policy — he would later dismiss the episode as gotcha politics, telling ABC News, “Give me a break,” perhaps a subconscious Kit Kat allusion — it did point to a frequently overlooked hazard of life in Washington: Acronyms and other abbreviations, a second language for many wonks, can be confusing, problematic or simply embarrassing.


Just ask officials at George Mason University, who in March 2016 revealed a new name for their law school: the Antonin Scalia School of Law. The acronym ASSOL was mocked on social media, and the school was swiftly renamed the Antonin Scalia Law School. Officials with what is now called ASLS, who declined to comment, evidently weren’t concerned that the new abbreviation also refers to Advanced Stroke Life Support, audiology and speech-language sciences, the Association for Scottish Literary Studies, adult symptomatic lumbar scoliosis and the New York Library Association’s Academic and Special Libraries Section

2019 Catholic Press Association award

I’m excited to announce receiving a first-place 2019 Catholic Press Association award for my National Catholic Reporter arts coverage. Read more here about all the other awards NCR won.

What does a libertarian art show look like? The Cato Institute is finding out.

Cato Institute exhibit. Photo: Menachem Wecker

My article “What does a libertarian art show look like? The Cato Institute is finding out” appears in Washington Post Magazine.

Exhibit suggests ‘peaceful pluralism’ among ancient Jews, Christians and pagans

The Magdala Stone, a limestone box unearthed from a first-century synagogue in Migdal, Israel. (Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority/Yael Yolovich)
The Magdala Stone, a limestone box unearthed from a first-century synagogue in Migdal, Israel. (Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority/Yael Yolovich)

My article “Exhibit suggests ‘peaceful pluralism’ among ancient Jews, Christians and pagans,” about the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibit “The World between Empires: Art and Identity in the Ancient Middle East,” appears in National Catholic Reporter.

  • Selected articles

    NMAAHC "The Imitation Game: Are museums being clear enough with the public about what’s real and what’s fake?" Washington Post Magazine. March 3, 2019.

    Bobby Fischer gravestone "Searching for Fischer’s Legacy." Chess Life magazine. March 2018. (PDF file).

    Jules Olitski star "A Memorial That Knows Its Biblical History." Wall St. Journal. Sept. 22, 2017.

    CIA art collection "Infiltrating the CIA’s Secret Art Collection." Playboy. Jan./Feb. 2017.
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