In American stage and film comedy, there used to be a sure-fire formula for success: take a Jewish boy and an Irish girl, make them fall in love with each other, and then watch the sparks fly as the immigrant parents get into all sorts of conflict with each other over the impending match.
How does a rabbi’s kid from New Jersey get swept up in a Brazilian musical wave? Meet singer-songwriter Avi Wisnia.
Special To The Jewish Week
If singer-songwriter Avi Wisnia’s new CD “Something New” were a tapestry, when you turn it over you would see a bright yellow-green thread running through every song, a skein of Brazilian jazz steeped in bossa nova and samba. That is a nice musical preoccupation to have under any circumstances, but as one critic asked recently, How does a rabbi’s kid from New Jersey get hooked on bossa nova? And we do mean hooked: Wisnia did his undergraduate work at NYU’s Albert Gallatin School on Brazilian music, language and culture.
Before Matt Groening, before Art Spiegelman, before even Charles Schultz, there was Milt Gross. Gross was a pioneering early-20th-century American cartoonist, one whose comic strips, graphic novels, and animated films were all inflected with an immigrant Jewish accent and sensibility. Almost a century later, Gross’ parody of Jewish life in 1920s New York, “Nize Baby,” has been adapted to the stage by the Medicine Show Theatre, a company that is known for its experimental approach to classic works.
With their own counter events, rallies and even popcorn,
pro-Israel students made sure Israeli Apartheid Week didn’t dominate campus discourse.
Last Wednesday, approximately 70 New York University students viewed “The Impact of Occupation: This Body is a Prison,” as part of Israeli Apartheid Week.
While they watched the film, which is highly critical of Israeli policies in the occupied West Bank, many in the audience noshed on popcorn from cups plastered with pro-Israel messages.
Demonstrating NYU students graft Gaza demands
onto their protest; campus bracing for
upcoming Israel Apartheid Week.
The students’ demands, at first glance, seemed like standard-issue ones: a tuition freeze, requests for budget transparency, student representation on the board of trustees, and fair labor contracts for all employees.
But the 64 New York University students who barricaded themselves inside a cafeteria for two days last week had two other demands, that seemed out of left field: Provide 13 Palestinian students from Gaza with scholarships to the university, and donate all excess supplies to rebuild the University of Gaza, damaged in Israel’s recent war against Hamas.
The eruv — that ethereal yet physical boundary enabling observant Jews to push strollers and use wheelchairs on Shabbat — fosters community even as it sparks tensions.
Before the Internet Age rendered geography irrelevant to community there was the eruv, the rabbinic response to spatial separation. A strategically placed wire here, a natural hedge border there, the inclusion of a fence or a highway, turns a neighborhood into an imaginary walled community of halachic intent, as such a deliberate remembrance of pre-diasporic Jerusalem.
Watching him in the kosher café at NYU, his BlackBerry on the table while he talks with a student, you would be forgiven for mistaking Rabbi Yehuda Sarna for an undergraduate himself. But Rabbi Sarna has served as the rabbi for the Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life at NYU since 2002, also founding the Jewish Learning Initiative on campus in 2005, building a reputation for engaging Jewish students in creative ways and for encouraging interreligious dialogue, especially through his close friendship with NYU Imam Khalid Latif.
From a pioneering journalist to a Jazz Baroness and beyond, all in week two of the N.Y. Jewish Film Festival.
Special To The Jewish Week
One of the most thankless tasks of a film critic is to troll around the depths and breadth of a festival looking for a theme that unites all the films on offer. Of course, the New York Jewish Film Festival’s entries all reflect on the Jewish experience in some way — “Doh,” as Homer Simpson might say — but this year there seems to be a bit more than that going on. Many, indeed most of the films in this year’s festival seem to be imbued with the spirit of a particularly resilient and indomitable Jewish womanhood. Push aside all the Jewish mother jokes, the Jewish American Princess jokes, all that self-defiling “comical” claptrap, and you find that she ferocity with which Jewish women have defended their heritage and their families is a significant reason why the Jews have survived for four millennia.
When Jamie Mendelovici Geller was in the fourth grade, her mom, Goldie, contemplated building a new family home in Philadelphia — one without a kitchen. Goldie came to her senses and instead instructed the architect to place the kitchen off to the side of the house, near the garage, so she would never have to walk through the kitchen if she didn’t have to.