Well Versed

This Week: "Jewish Journey: America" on PBS

Leaving and arriving – and crossing the sea -- is long part of the Jewish narrative. When the ancient Israelites left Egypt, the sea split and they crossed over.  Many Jewish immigrants to America had to endure crossings over rough seas, often crowded into the underbelly of the ship, in steerage.

Family Portrait: Jewish immigrants from Egypt in America at a 1928 wedding. Courtesy Andre Aciman

On A Musical Museum Tour

In an unusual pairing of antiquities and music, the Yeshiva University Museum offered a program chosen by the cellist Elad Kabilio, accompanied by the clarinetist Avigail Malachi-Baev and the singer Inbal Sharret-Singer, to illuminate its exhibition of ten model synagogues. The selections reflect what might have been heard around the time of the synagogues’ creation.

Elad Kabilio, Avigail Malachi-Baev, Inbal Sharret-Singer. Courtesy Elizabeth Denlinger

Ayelet Tsabari Wins Rohr Prize

Ayelet Tsabari has been named this year’s winner of the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature for her collection of stories, “The Best Place on Earth.” The award, recognizing an emerging writer, carries a cash prize of $100,000.

Ayelet Tsabari. Photo by Elsin Davidi

Anita Diamant’s American Everywoman

Anita Diamant, best known for her best-selling novel, “The Red Tent,” based on the biblical story of Dinah, has published another historical page-turner, this one set closer to our own time. 

Anita Diamant. Photo by Gretje Fergeson

The Memorabilia Of Mourning

The chair where she isn’t sitting. The second cup of tea untouched. The postcard she wrote, back when you could still smell her, that simply reads: “Come find me.”  The Memorabilia of Mourning.

Robert Kitchens (Orpheus) and Amanda Dieli (Eurydice) in “The Orpheus Variations.”  Mitch Dean

Borscht And Belly Laughs

The Borscht Belt still draws crowds.

Slush and sleet on a recent evening couldn’t keep a group of Catskill buffs away from “Echoes of the Borscht Belt,” a Yeshiva University Museum exhibition of photographs by Marisa Scheinfeld. The gallery visit was followed by a screening of “When Comedy Went to School” and a discussion led by the documentary’s host and narrator, comedian and actor Robert Klein.

Robert Klein

Three For Tu B’Shevat

Tu B’Shevat in New York requires some imagination, in order to picture these snow-covered trees in their spring finery. Here are three last-minute ideas to celebrate the new year of trees, engage all of the senses, and give thanks. 

Courtesy Ellen Bernstein

Mendelssohn’s Unifying Voices

Carnegie Hall on a Sunday afternoon.  A young child sits next to an old man, while a young couple slides in next to a pair of stately aficionados. There are a few out of town visitors, but this afternoon’s presentation by the New York City Choral Society of Mendelssohn’s rarely performed “Saint Paul” is for us: the citizens of this great, and diverse city.

David Hayes conducts the New York Choral Society.  Courtesy Dan Dutcher Public Relations

Holocaust Generations

I try to avoid books about the Holocaust, especially those about children of survivors. As a member of the latter group, I find the books either too painful and too familiar or insufficiently painful and somehow not enough.

Courtesy Jewish Lights Publishing
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