Well Versed

Backstage At Club Gelbe Stern

Amidst the clink of cutlery and the gentle murmur of strangers cheerfully bumping elbows in the Laurie Beechman Theatre on 42nd Street, a striking woman rushes in, checks her face in the mirror—a little bruised, but still strong—and then brazenly takes the stage.

Alexis Fishman in "Club Gelbe Stern: Berlin’s Last Starlit Night." Photo courtesy Hunter Canning

The Art Of Forgiveness

Remembrance is always part of the Jewish consciousness; our calendar is linked throughout the year to events long past, to ancient rites, to ancient wrongs and to how our ancestors either succeeded or failed in their observance or existence. The High Holidays, though, are not only about remembrance; they are also about forgiving and forgetting — about conjuring up the past year, weighing the good and bad, of others perhaps, but especially of our selves, of letting go and hoping that our sins and misdemeanors of omission and commission, are let go as well.

Alex Mendoza, Untitled, from the series “Time and Place,” 2015. Courtesy of the artist.

Iddo Netanyahu Off Broadway

The title of Iddo Netanyahu’s play, “A Happy End,” encapsulates irony. Mark and Leah Erdmann, Berliners of the early 1930s, struggle with the decision whether to leave the café society, a language that they love, a culture in which they participate and to which they contribute, and Berlin’s sophistication for an unknown Princeton where they will start from scratch.

Carmit Levite as Leah in “A Happy End.” Jonathan Slaff

Last Chance: Michal Nachmany’s Artistic Journey

Michal Nachmany turns found objects into art, layering memory, memorabilia, meaning and color in her original collages and works on paper.  The work reflects her journey from Israel to America, and also, as is timely for the beginning of the New Year, a journey within. 

Michal Nachmany outside of La Boite, New York City.

Remembering Oliver Sacks

One thing I’ll never forget about my 1997 interview with Oliver Sacks was that, after trying for weeks to get to see him, I neglected to turn on the tape recorder. When I left his Greenwich Village apartment and tried to play back the tape, I realized it was blank. And his voice was so soft-spoken and gripping that I barely took notes. I felt like a character out of one of his studies: The Reporter Who Mistook Her Finger for a Microphone.

Oliver Sacks. Photo by Elena Seibert

An Old Vitality, Renewed

It was doubly fitting that Asa Zuskin Perelman, visiting from her home in Israel, spoke earlier this month at the Center for Jewish History. Her talk, co-sponsored by YIVO, was on her father, the famed Russian-Jewish actor Benjamin Zuskin, and the book she has written about his life and art, “The Travels of Benjamin Zuskin" (Syracuse University Press).

Asa Zuskin Perelman at the Center for Jewish History

An Island Of Creativity

On a gorgeous August afternoon, I had a seven-minute sabbatical on Governor’s Island. It was spiritual, uplifting and unforgettable.

Shira Dicker and David Chack leading "Seven Minutes Between Heaven and Earth"

Firsthand Memories Of Janusz Korczak

This week marks the 73rd anniversary of Janusz Korczak’s fatal march with the children of his Warsaw orphanage. While supporters arranged a path to freedom from the Nazis for him, the writer, educator and physician chose instead to stand by his children, and marched with nearly 200 of them to the train that would take all of them to their deaths in Treblinka. Some say that the children sang, but that might be legend. What’s known is that they walked in dignity, carrying the flag of their orphanage, with its emblem on one side and the Star of David on the other; they felt safe in Korczak’s presence.

Courtesy Marcia Talmadge Schneider

Dancing To A Different Beat

Noga, Israel’s first modern dance company to give the stage to religious women performers, brings to life the dance between Jewish spirituality and contemporary choreography.

Courtesy Noga Dance Company

The Book of Doctorow

E.L Doctorow was often described as a writer of historical fiction, but he disliked that term and preferred to say that he was “an American novelist writing about my country.”

E.L. Doctorow. Courtesy Random House
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