Franz Kafka displayed theatrical flair from an early age, composing plays for his three younger sisters to perform. Cabarets and other popular entertainment fascinated him as a young man, and Kafka was especially influenced by the Yiddish theater, an emerging art form in prewar Prague: where he spent most of his short life.
Charly Rodriguez plays Latin jazz. So does Charly Schwartz: which may come as a surprise to his fellow band members in La Onda Va Bien. Schwartz and Rodriguez are the same person: the Brooklyn-born son of Cuban Jewish immigrants who raised him on equal parts Havana rhythms and "Hava Nagila."
Vera Felice won't do nudity. She won't work on Shabbat. But the 21-year-old actress and model can do accents. A native of Copenhagen, the shapely blonde has no trouble slipping from thick-tongued Russian to saccharine Southern. For her next role, however, the recent graduate of the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute says she won't have to learn a new accent, "just a new language."
Yiddish is the "mama loshen" to most Jews, the "mother tongue" spoken by generations of parents and grandparents. To David Roskies, Yiddish is also the language of his schooldays: the "lehrer loshen," or teacher language.
In print, the Middle East is a political hotspot of clashing ideologies. The music streaming out of the region, however, reveals that a harmonious cross-cultural interchange is also at work there and in countries to the west along the Mediterranean coast.
Two uniformed guards recently stopped Michal Rovner as she tried to enter the third-floor galleries at the Whitney Museum of American Art. "We're sorry, ma'am," Rovner said she was told, "the galleries are closed." To get through security, the diminutive Israeli-born artist simply looked up. Taped to the wall (in expectation of an upcoming exhibition) was a sign bearing her name.
The Museum of Modern Art's temporary move from Midtown to the former Swingline staple factory in Queens binds the venerable arts institution to New York's immigrant history. Swingline's founder, Jack Linsky, came to America from Russia as a boy and within three decades had revolutionized office work.
The fight over Edgardo Mortara is heating up again 144 years after Vatican police abducted the 6-year-old Jewish boy from his family's home in Bologna. At that time, the dispute was about who should raise the child, his parents or the Catholic Church. Today, it's a legal battle over who should tell the story.