Sandee Brawarsky's blog

This Week: "Jewish Journey: America" on PBS

Leaving and arriving – and crossing the sea -- is long part of the Jewish narrative. When the ancient Israelites left Egypt, the sea split and they crossed over.  Many Jewish immigrants to America had to endure crossings over rough seas, often crowded into the underbelly of the ship, in steerage.

Family Portrait: Jewish immigrants from Egypt in America at a 1928 wedding. Courtesy Andre Aciman

Ayelet Tsabari Wins Rohr Prize

Ayelet Tsabari has been named this year’s winner of the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature for her collection of stories, “The Best Place on Earth.” The award, recognizing an emerging writer, carries a cash prize of $100,000.

Ayelet Tsabari. Photo by Elsin Davidi

Three For Tu B’Shevat

Tu B’Shevat in New York requires some imagination, in order to picture these snow-covered trees in their spring finery. Here are three last-minute ideas to celebrate the new year of trees, engage all of the senses, and give thanks. 

Courtesy Ellen Bernstein

Opening The Red Tent On Screen

This Shabbat, we read the story of Dinah, the only daughter of the biblical Jacob, whose tragic tale is tucked into the narrative of parshat Vaylishlach. And on Sunday evening, Lifetime Television will air the first of a two-part mini-series based on Anita Diamant’s wildly successful 1997 novel inspired by Dinah’s  story, "The Red Tent." The confluence of these dates, according to Diamant, is “totally coincidental.”

Inside The Red Tent. Courtesy Lifetime

Sharon’s Life And Family Roots Celebrated In Belarus

Ariel Sharon’s grandfather moved to Palestine in 1910 from the town of Brest Litovsk in White Russia. But after two years in Rehovot, enduring hardships, he returned to his native town. Then, in 1922, his son (Ariel Sharon’s father), also made aliyah, to escape persecution. A student of agronomy, he and his wife settled on a moshav northeast of Tel Aviv, where their son was born six years later.  Ariel Sharon would often speak of his childhood on the moshav, Kfar Malal, where his love of the rural life took root. 

Gilad Sharon at the opening of the exhibition. Yossi Aloni

Breaking Away, Looking Back

Sara Erenthal likes to think of her one-woman gallery show as a brief memoir. From the moment that visitors walk through the door of the Soapbox Gallery in Brooklyn’s Prospect Heights, they enter her life, first via her childhood bedroom.

The artist Sara Erenthal next to "Eidele Meidele."

Chief Rabbi’s Historic Letter In New Hands

As reported last week, a 1954 handwritten letter from Chief Rabbi Isaac Halevi Herzog to the author of the book “Judaism in Islam” was offered at auction by Kestenbaum & Company. A private collector in Los Angeles, Alan Stern, bought the letter for $9000.

Courtesy of Kestenbaum & Company

Catskills On Broadway

“It was air conditioning that leveled the Catskills,” one of the cross-dressing characters in Harvey Fierstein’s excellent new play, “Casa Valentina,” says. “Why drive when you can use a machine to cool off your home?”

Nick Westrate, Patrick Page and Tom McGowan in "Casa Valentina." Courtesy of Manhattan Theatre Club

The Yiddish ‘Godot’ To Open Irish Festival

Attendees at the opening performance at this summer’s annual Beckett Festival in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland will hear the Irish-born Nobel-prize winning author’s most famous play not in French, the language in which he wrote it, nor English, his native tongue into which he translated it, but in Yiddish.

David Mandelbaum, Avi Hoffman and Shane Baker in New Yiddish Rep’s “Waiting for Godot.”   Ronald L. Glassman

Philomena’s Jewish Moment

"Philomena" may be the come-from-behind winner in Sunday night’s Academy Awards presentations. The outstanding film –based on a true story -- about an Irish Catholic woman searching for the son she was forced to give up as a teenager when she was sent to a convent has been nominated for four Oscars, including Best Film.

Judy Dench  and Steve Coogan in “Philomena.” Photo courtesy of The Weinstein Company
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