Attendees at the opening performance at this summer’s annual Beckett Festival in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland will hear the Irish-born Nobel-prize winning author’s most famous play not in French, the language in which he wrote it, nor English, his native tongue into which he translated it, but in Yiddish.
Yiddish was in the air last week in the nation’s capital as the Yiddish Book Center received the 2014 National Medal for Museum and Library Service in a White House ceremony. “Nachas” and “kvelling” were the words that most immediately came to mind for Aaron Lansky, the founder and president of the Center, one of ten U.S. institutions to win the honor.
One important feature in the historical works of “ma’asalech” (little stories), written in Yiddish for children, is a practice of “Juda-izing” popular stories. Instead of translating children’s stories into Yiddish, translators would often adapt stories to reflect Jewish society and values. For example, in 1913, a Yiddish version of a Hans Christian Anderson story was “translated” into Yiddish and titled “Big Fievel and Little Fievel.” In this remade version, the main characters were Jewish boys.
For the committed or observant Jewish artist, creating art that is meaningful, that stays within the bounds of the second commandment prohibition against graven images and yet avoids kitsch or dogmatism is a daunting challenge. Meeting this challenge head-on with serious humor is “Off Label: Ceremonial Objects Imagined,” an exhibit on view at the JCC in Manhattan that respectfully turns ritual and tradition on its head.
As Yom HaShoah approaches, Jews all over the world wrestle with how best to remember, retrieve and relay. Gyongji Mago, the catalyst for Gabor Kalman’s documentary “There was Once” has much to teach us. A high school teacher fascinated by local history, she came to realize that many of her students had no idea that Jews had ever lived in Kolocsa, a small town in southern Hungary. A Catholic, she too had had limited exposure to Jews.
Keep an eye out for future productions of Noémi Schlosser’s wry theater piece "Traktorfabrik." I was lucky enough to catch a staged reading of part of it recently as part of the Emerging Artists Theatre’s New Works Series.
Young Families, Singles Flocking to Upper East Side; ‘The Memory Is In Their Taste Buds’: The Lure of Sephardic Food; Safra Synagogue Rabbi’s Growing Empire; Sephardic And Egalitarian at B’nai Jeshurun; Giving Voice to Sephardic Music.