The Workmen’s Circle/Arbeiter Ring started more than a century ago in a tenement on the Lower East Side. It developed over the decades from a mutual-aid society for immigrants into an activist organization bristling with radical ideologies and aimed at promoting secular Jewish education. Next week, the group marks the start of its second century with a celebration of Yiddish culture at Town Hall.
Steve Hoffman sees the world in black and white — at least when he is looking through a camera lens. In 1998, Hoffman focused on the Chabad-Lubavitch community of Crown Heights, in part because he knew the community would photograph well in his preferred palette.
The chasidic sect’s spiritually infused, communal lifestyle and its distinctive look — men characteristically wear black suits and fedoras — appealed to Hoffman, who says the group has an “old-world look in a modern society.”
Museum Mile — the stretch of Fifth Avenue from 82nd Street to 104th — offers an intriguing paradox this fall. The Jewish Museum, at the corner of 92nd Street, is presenting a retrospective of works by a Jewish painter who eschewed Jewish imagery in his embrace of the universal. A few blocks south, the National Academy of Design exhibits the work of a painter who rejected Judaism, but uses explicitly Jewish symbols as expressions of spiritual transcendence.
Last Sunday’s New York Times declared that Jewish life on the Lower East Side was in its death throes. Meanwhile, a gathering at the historic Eldridge Street Synagogue proved that, at least in some corners, the neighborhood’s Jewish activity was not yet gone, just showing its age.
A group of about a dozen poets aged 65 and older, and an audience twice their number, had gathered in the 115-year-old sanctuary that mellow morning for the Eldridge Street Project’s second annual Poetry Slam for Seniors.
New Jersey poet laureate Amiri Baraka says he will fight legislation aimed at removing him from the state-appointed position, telling The Jewish Week Tuesday he was prepared to take legal action if a bill being drafted this week in the state Senate passes. “I certainly will sue,” he said Tuesday by phone from his home in Newark.
Legal experts say the controversial poet could have a good case on free-speech grounds.
Constanza Garcia was looking to book New York performances for “Klezmer en Buenos Aires” — a tango-inflected klezmer duo that she promotes. She immediately thought of Makor, the cultural center on the Upper West Side that caters to Jews in their 20s and 30s.
“I thought Makor would be the right place for klezmer,” Garcia says. But Makor passed.
The careers of stage-and-screen star Mae West, moral crusader Anthony Comstock and birth-control pioneer Margaret Sanger are intimately bound up in the history of sexuality in America. So, too, are those of burlesque queen Ida Mencken, publisher Samuel Roth and condom-maker Julius Schmidt. Their enterprising exploits will be on display when the Museum of Sex opens this week.
New Jersey lawmakers were set this week to review bipartisan bills aimed at ousting the state's poet laureate, Amiri Baraka, who has been accused of making anti-Semitic remarks in his poem "Somebody Blew Up America." One bill, from Democratic state Senate President Richard Codey, would authorize the state Council for the Humanities to remove a sitting poet laureate. The other bill, sponsored by Republican Sen. Peter Inverso, would allow the governor to fire a poet laureate.
Hitler is coming to a theater near you. A film about the Fuehrer's younger years as a struggling artist opens Dec. 27 on both coasts, and nationwide in February. New York audiences can catch a preview of "Max," which stars John Cusack as the one-armed Jewish art dealer Max Rothman, at the JCC in Manhattan on Dec. 19.