Well Versed

How Much Is It Worth?

“What do you know about it?” the first person in line is asked. The others, with grimly pursed lips, nervously await their turns to have valuables appraised.

Appraiser Helaine Fendelman examining an artistic work. Photo by Tzippy Katz

Israel’s Shmitta Year: From The Perspective of Artists

In a modest three room gallery in Jerusalem’s Baka neighborhood, paintings, photographs, sculptures and a video installation by Emunah College lecturers interpret the word shmot, the Biblical command to “release” the Land.  Images range from bare Israeli landscapes to a brightly colored Mandela, which you need to squint at in order to see the black forms of camels that create its arched frame.

Nir Brandt’s painting, Tel Shilo. Courtesy Emunah College

Crossing the Judeo-Persian Gulf

Among its many treasures, the JTS library holds one of the largest Judeo-Persian manuscript collections in the world. Dr. Vera Basch Moreen, a leading scholar of Judeo-Persian culture, recently completed a “Catalog of Judeo-Persian Manuscripts in The Library of The Jewish Theological Seminary.” Primarily a work of reference, the catalogue is a scholarly examination of the subjects that interested Persian Jews between the 15th-19th centuries, and makes clear the extent to which these Jews were enmeshed in the literary and artistic sensibilities of their Iranian environment.

Yūsuf va Zulaykhā ; Mashad, Iran 1852-1853. Courtesy of The Library of The Jewish Theological Seminary

Tale From The Italian Resistance

“The Garden of Letters” is the story of a young cello student, Elodie Bertoletti –- picture Audrey Hepburn in “Love in the Afternoon” –- who gets caught up in the Italian Resistance during WWII.  There’s been much written and filmed about the French and Polish Resistance but this is my first introduction to the heroes and heroines of the Italian cause.

Courtesy Berkley Books

Rebuilding The Past

In a rich display of historical reconstruction, the Yeshiva University Museum is exhibiting “Modeling the Synagogue – From Dura to Touro.” Accompanied by artifacts, prayer scripts, artwork and documents, the exhibition demonstrates the context of these buildings – that they are representative of an era, a people and a history.

Model of the Zabludow Synagogue, Poland, 17th century. Collection of Yeshiva University Museum

Granta Israel Explores Themes Of Borderlines And Wanderings

This summer of 2014/5774, unity within Israel in the war against terror prevailed, almost tangible. The movement beyond personal boundaries, and the outpouring of caring, shared responsibilities and actions, are hopeful signs of our society's capacity for love and tolerance.

Courtesy of Granta Israel

Letters From Afar Close Up

The four side-by-side frames shimmer as if blown by a gentle breeze. Scenes begin to flicker before you, like a dreamscape, some in black and white, some in color. Rock-solid, ageless buildings appear, their stone facades immortalized by light and film.

Warsaw street scene; still from Polish home movie, c 1920s - 1930s. From the archives of YIVO

An Illustrated Saga Of The Diaspora

Mark Podwal is once again the subject of a documentary by Czech Television. In the most recent film, the producers focused on the creative process behind the artist’s latest portfolio of works, “All This Has Come Upon Us,” a series of 42 paintings and drawings created for and displayed at the Terezin Ghetto Museum earlier this year. The works provide an illustrated history of Jewish tragedies and, according to the artist, offer “a disturbing reminder of how Europe’s extensive history of ‘Jew-Hatred’ laid the groundwork for Terezin and Auschwitz.”

Mark Podwal. “Terezin.” Courtesy of the artist

His Yamaha Says Yamulke: Meet Daniel Cainer

A singer songwriter's frank engagement with the fallible Jewish male enlivens “Jewish Chronicles” –- a one man cabaret show at the Soho Playhouse now through November 16th.

Daniel Cainer

The Greenest Sukkah

Anyone passing by the JCC in Manhattan over the course of Sukkot would happen upon a peculiar sight – a skeletally crafted hut with maize as a ceiling and bubbling, whirring bottles of variously hued greens embedded in its walls. This is the JCC’s outdoor sukkah, an extension of a larger exhibition “Incubating Ideas and Cultivating Connections: The Greenhouse of Ein Shemer,” present in the center’s lobby and roof.

Sukkot on Amsterdam Avenue. Yaakov Bressler
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