Christmas

Soles With Soul

12/08/2009
Staff Writer

Sandwiched between the sparkly Christmas windows of Bergdorf Goodman and the high-end Under Armour sportswear store, 75 or so modestly, yet trendily, clad women sipped organic kosher wines, enjoyed cheese hors d’oeuvres and tested their luck with various Christian Louboutin wedges, Gucci boots and Marc Jacobs slingbacks. 

Well heeled: Designer couture and vintage shoes on display for auction at a benefit for TheJewishWoman.org.

The Jews Of ‘Restrepo’

06/30/2010

 His parents gave Misha Pemble-Belkin a pacifist, “hippie” upbringing, forbidding him and his two brothers from playing with toy guns or watching violent films.

But both of them, including his Jewish father, were “very proud” that he enlisted in the Army, says their son, now a sergeant at Fort Polk, La., and one of 11 soldiers interviewed in “Restrepo,” a new documentary about one company’s grueling tour of duty in Afghanistan.

Sgt. Misha Pemble-Belkin, left, is one of 11 soldiers featured in the new film “Restrepo,” about U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

Ten Republican Questions For Kagan

 Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan is scoring points for grace with her witty comeback during confirmation hearings to South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham's oddly non-sequitur question "Where were you last Christmas?"

To her credit, the solicitor general defused the situation by saying she was likely eating at a Chinese restaurant, to which Graham answered "Great answer."

She has also had to contend with questions that stress her Upper West Side origins and her admiration of an Israeli jurist.

Expect more fireworks.

Feeling Phil Spector’s Pain

New documentary sheds light on the ultimate outsider.

06/22/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

Among the myriad ways in which Jews became Americans in the 20th century, one of the most felicitous was their involvement in the creation of popular music. The overwhelming presence of Jewish-Americans in the pages of the Great American Songbook is proverbial. Even a gilt-edged WASP like Cole Porter prided himself on “writing Jewish.”

Spector, currently serving a 19-year prison sentence for murder, is the focus of a new documentary by Vikram Jayanti, “The Agony

A Ballet For Bugsy Siegel?

06/09/2010
Staff Writer

 When she was growing up, Melissa Barak hated Christmas. “I used to beg for a tree,” said Barak, a choreographer who premiered a new work for New York City Ballet last weekend.

Her mother, who was Jewish, tried to cheer Barak up by listing all the famous Jewish stars. “Joan Rivers, Barbra Streisand, she’d say. She did it to make me feel better.” It didn’t work, Barak said.

But then her mother added one more: “Well, the guy who created Las Vegas was Jewish,” Barak recalled her mother saying. That caught her attention.

Melissa Barak, foreground, rehearsing dancers Robert Fairchild and Jennifer Ringer for “Call Me Ben.” Paul Kolnik

Israel’s ‘Minority In A Minority’

Dor Guez’s video triptych examines the complicated identities of his Arab Christian family members.

06/01/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

If you don’t think that human identity is evanescent, multilayered, poly-vocal and downright confused, you probably won’t get “The Monayer Family,” a triptych of short videos by Dor Guez currently on display at the Jewish Museum.

Guez is a provocative, gifted artist who works in a variety of disciplines and media, focusing his attention on issues of multiculturalism, ethnicity and personal identity; appropriately, his own identity is as contested and complex as it is possible to imagine. The work, unsurprisingly, is the same.

The filmmaker’s grandfather, Jacob, in scenes from “The Monayer Family.”

Wrong Priorities

05/04/2010

 Regarding “Can We Afford To Make Others A Priority?” (March 12), I have conducted religious services at senior residences for close to a decade. In order to qualify for government funds, beds had to be full, forcing historically Jewish institutions to admit non-Jews. At first these admissions were limited in order to maintain their Jewish character, but gradually many institutions became Jewish in name only, catering basically to non-Jews, but still receiving Jewish communal funds. Fewer homes schedule services for remaining Jewish residents.

Finding A Rabbi Who Does Interfaith Weddings

When Joe and I got engaged 13 years ago in Ann Arbor, Mich., I was sure we’d have trouble finding a rabbi to perform our wedding.

As it turned out, the rabbi at the local Reform temple was willing and available. When we arrived for our first meeting, I came expecting a lengthy interrogation about exactly how we planned to raise our children. I was prepared to commit to taking an Intro to Judaism class together and ready to solemnly pledge we would hand over our future children to The Jewish People, never ever have a Christmas tree in the house and so on.

In the Mix: Religion And A House Divided

04/28/2010
Associate Editor

My parents’ divorce, a month before I entered first grade, was undoubtedly the great trauma of my life.
 
I say this not to make them feel guilty or even to argue against divorce; had they stayed together, their unhappy marriage would likely have caused just as much, if not more, misery for all involved.

When Intermarriages Get 'Hit By A Bus'

My friend Laurel Snyder, editor of “Half/Life: Jew-ish Tales from Interfaith Homes” and author of numerous children’s books, has a thoughtful piece out this week on Killing The Buddha about intermarriage, divorce and the Reyes case. 

Laurel who, like me, has divorced parents and is herself intermarried, explores a lot of the same issues I’ve been thinking about (some elaborated on a column to be published in next week’s Jewish Week), vis a vis how interfaith issues play out when marriages implode. In emphasizing how she advises interfaith couples to discuss their differences before they become problems, she writes

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