Sharon Anstey's blog

A Comedy Of Anxiety

Making choices can be immobilizing. If recently you’ve bought a laptop or printer, you may have a sense of how hard it is to make a decision. Do you really need a laptop? Perhaps a tablet might do? Do you stick with an inkjet or re-evaluate a laser? Will a multi-function hold up? Too many choices and variables can be overwhelming.

Adam Strauss in "The Mushroom Cure"

New Life For An Offbeat, Hilarious Novel

For most of us, “Oreo” does indeed conjure the beloved cookie. And most of us will not be aware that in the 70s, “Oreo” was the term used to denote those in the US who found themselves at that delicate nexus of Black and Jewish.

Courtesy of New Directions

One Room On The Prairie

Born in 1876 in Russia, a motherless Rachel Calof found herself at the age of 18 married to a stranger in Devil’s Lake, North Dakota, “the only place colder than Russia.” The couple shared a one-room shack with her parents-in-law, brothers-in-law, a nephew, chickens and a cow. Her bed was a depression in the floor of the shack; there was neither outhouse nor latrine. Back in Russia, Rachel, the daughter of an elegant mother and a long line of Cohanim, had not been permitted to accept the hand of a butcher’s son.

Kate Fuglei as Rachel Calof. Karen Richardson

Letters On Stage

If this were a tweet:  “Letters to Sala” is an extraordinary adaptation and a compelling evening of theater. Don’t miss it. The run ends October 18.

A scene from “Letters to Sala.” Michael Priest Photography

Iddo Netanyahu Off Broadway

The title of Iddo Netanyahu’s play, “A Happy End,” encapsulates irony. Mark and Leah Erdmann, Berliners of the early 1930s, struggle with the decision whether to leave the café society, a language that they love, a culture in which they participate and to which they contribute, and Berlin’s sophistication for an unknown Princeton where they will start from scratch.

Carmit Levite as Leah in “A Happy End.” Jonathan Slaff

A Kaleidoscope Of Jewish Identity

Cuban, Moroccan, Turkish, Libyan, Israeli, Puerto Rican, British and American influences swirl through the very Jewish stories presented in Vanessa Hidary’s “Kaleidoscope” at the 14th St Y.

Ahuva in “Kaleidoscope.” Jonathan Pillot

His History, Her Story, Their Movie

As Yom HaShoah approaches, Jews all over the world wrestle with how best to remember, retrieve and relay. Gyongji Mago, the catalyst for Gabor Kalman’s documentary “There was Once” has much to teach us. A high school teacher fascinated by local history, she came to realize that many of her students had no idea that Jews had ever lived in Kolocsa, a small town in southern Hungary. A Catholic, she too had had limited exposure to Jews.

Gabor Kalman

Reissued: A Jewish, Gay Voice Of Weimar Germany And Beyond

Charlotte Wolff died in 1986 and today is little known beyond an esoteric reading public. Plunkett Lake Press has just released an electronic edition of her autobiography, “Hindsight,” first published in 1980.

Image courtesy Plunkett Lake Press

From Teheran, Shiraz And Mashhad To America

Cranberry sauce is left untouched on the Thanksgiving table. A mullah proposes  a temporary marriage to a Jewess on a flight. A Southern woman who looks like she comes from generations of country club members is actually the daughter of an Iranian Jew.

Cast of "Saffron and Rosewater." Photo courtesy Jewish Women's Theater
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