Well Versed

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

Ancient Master Of Glass

Long before the acclaimed Seattle glass artist Dale Chihuly exhibited his colorfully light-infused work in a highly popular installation in Jerusalem’s Tower of David Museum in 1999, another master glass blower was well-known in the ancient city: Ennion, who lived and worked in the coastal region of Phoenicia in the  early part of the first century C.E. 

Two-handled jug (amphora) signed by Ennion. Roman, 1st half of 1st century A.D. Ardon Bar-Hama

Young Jews Through A Russian-Speaking Lens

Chabad on the Bowery recently played host to a group of young Jews, some wearing kippot or long skirts, others less clearly Jewish-affiliated. What made this event singular was that most of its attendees were speaking Russian or Russian-tinged English.

Men's evening learning program in Makarov Kollel. Anna Chana Demidova

Susan Reimer-Torn’s Soaring Spiritual Memoir

In the many communal conversations about shifting Jewish identities and trends -– swelling ultra-Orthodoxy, burgeoning indie-groups, religious escapees, religious returnees, denominational switching and more –- one of the missing narratives is of those who leave religion but then come back in another way. It’s a version of Jewish identity that requires years or decades to truly understand and appreciate, and may apply to thousands of Jews, though we wouldn’t know because such a trajectory does not (yet) have a name. It’s a story about those who leave their religious lives because of abuse or tyranny or a need for freedom and independence, yet still cling to aspects of the heritage that they never really intended to leave behind. It is a story of longing and pain that holds up a mirror to the complexity of Jewish life

Courtesy of Blue Thread Communications
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