Well Versed

Picturing Anne Frank

The Anne Frank Center in New York is a tiny space, smaller than the secret apartment in Amsterdam where the Frank family spent much of the war in hiding.

© Anne Frank Fonds, Basel

Oh To Be A Center Fielder

Although they rank high among Nobel Prize winners, Jews are not generally known for their athletics.  But as “Chasing Dreams” at Philadelphia’s National Museum of American Jewish History demonstrates, baseball has fielded its way through the American Jewish psyche, from its very beginnings. 

Omer Counter made of Louisville Slugger baseball bats. Keneseth Israel Congregation, Louisville, Kentucky.

Punk Rock Pioneer 'Tommy Ramone' Passes Away At Age 65

The drummer known as Tommy Ramone passed away on Friday due to bile duct cancer. Though he was only 65, he was the last living original member of the Ramones, and instrumental in the creation of punk rock as a musical genre.

Tommy was born Erdélyi Tamás in Budapest to two Holocaust survivors; the couple had hidden with neighbors for the duration of the war. The Erdélyi family immigrated to the United States when Tamás was four.

Tommy Ramone. Wikipedia

Chief Rabbi’s Historic Letter In New Hands

As reported last week, a 1954 handwritten letter from Chief Rabbi Isaac Halevi Herzog to the author of the book “Judaism in Islam” was offered at auction by Kestenbaum & Company. A private collector in Los Angeles, Alan Stern, bought the letter for $9000.

Courtesy of Kestenbaum & Company

“Jewish Is Hard”

There are two things you should never discuss: politics and religion.

However, those are really the only two things worth talking about.

Katharine McLeod and Jamie Geiger in “The Religion Thing.” Jimmy Ryan

The Dizzying Heights Of Genius

I don’t often swoon in public, but the Morgan Library’s current exhibition “Marks of Genius: Treasures from the Bodleian Library” left me breathless.  It was dizzying, standing before 57 magnificent artifacts representing 2,000 years of intellectual and artistic accomplishment, from cultures, countries and religious traditions that ranged from around the world in place and time.  And among them are several of particular Jewish interest.

The Kennicott Bible, Corunna, Spain, 1476; The Bodleian Library, Oxford. Courtesy of The Morgan Library & Museum

Other People’s Memories

How do you transcribe memories that aren’t your own and pain you never felt?  These are the subjects that Miriam Mörsel Nathan addresses in her moving and elegiac works, ”I First Saw the World Through a Mosquito Net…,” now on exhibit at the Bohemian Benevolent and Literary Association.

© 2009 Miriam Mörsel Nathan, “Prague 1941” Gum Transfer, 30” x 44”

From Yiddish Melodrama To American Comedy

Yiddish melodrama popped up last week, just yards from the elevated tracks of the 7 train in Queens, at a theater so discreet its name is Secret. Target Margin Theater there presented Allen Lewis Rickman’s enormously enjoyable translation of Isadore Zolotarevsky’s “Gelt, Libe, un Shande” – “Money, Love, and Shame.” Once, perhaps, a play with both pain and laughter, the passage of time has rendered it pure comedy.

Samantha Maurice as Cecilia and Yelena Shmulenson as Sonia in "Money, Love, and Shame!" Erik Carter

This Jew Hath Eyes

"The Merchant of Venice," like many of Shakespeare’s middle “comedies,” is often considered a problem play: the language is dense, the final courtroom scene fraught with near-tragedy, and for even the most casual observer, the language is steeped with anti-Semitic vitriol.

Joseph Menino as Shylock and Imani Jade Powers as Jessica in “The Merchant of Venice.”  Allison Stock

Painting By Letter

“The beauty, meaning and form of Hebrew letters are the source of inspiration for Ric Pliego’s “Gematria” series, now on exhibit at El Taller Latino Americano.  Based on the Hebrew numerological system, the Gematria paintings are a sequence of brightly-colored oils, depicting the Hebrew letters “aleph” through “tet” with simple but beautifully rendered pictograms. 

Ric Pliego, “Bet.” Courtesy of El Taller Latino Americano
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