Special To The Jewish Week
She pioneered a new form of theater by imitating dozens of New Yorkers who played roles in the anti-Jewish riots in Crown Heights. In “Fires in the Mirror: Crown Heights, Brooklyn and Other Identities,” Anna Deavere Smith brilliantly embodied both black and Jewish subjects, from the Rev. Al Sharpton to Lubavitch Rabbi Shea Hecht.
When he was 7, something happened that turned the late comedian George Burns away from Judaism.
“His father was sitting and reading a religious book and his mother was looking out the window at an organ grinder when his father called out to his wife and died,” said Burns’ biographer Lawrence Epstein. “He was not able to deal with his father’s death, and he found it very offensive that his mother had to hire men to complete the minyan at his house so his mother could say Kaddish during the shiva. It made Judaism unattractive in his eyes.”
This year’s commemorations of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire will be modest compared to the events marking its centennial in 2011, which included prayer services, marches in period costume and specially commissioned performances. But one group has decided to remember the workplace disaster, a 20-minute blaze that killed 146 workers, not only this year, but into the foreseeable future.