Well Versed

An Immigrant Tale, From An Ethiopian-Israeli

Dalia Betolin-Sherman’s first collection of short stories, “When the World Turned White,”  brings to life the breathless voice of an immigrant child who, along with her sisters, peers down at a neighbor’s laundry line from the high window sill perch of the southern Israeli absorption center, which her family calls the hostel.  Over the course of seven vignettes, the narrator grows up into a young woman, a voracious reader who grudgingly assists her overbearing mother in answering ads for assembly-line factory jobs.

The cover of "When the World Turned White." Photo courtesy Kinneret, Zemora-Bitan

Reclaiming An Ancient Judeo-Arabic Musical Tradition

On a Monday night in late September, forty people gathered in a spacious, two-floor Chelsea Loft for the debut of the Maqam Project, a fusion of Judeao-Arabic music and reflective Jewish poetry. A maqam is an Arabic musical scale, similar to a jazz mode, which repeats a musical theme while allowing for and encouraging improvisation. Spearheading the project was its musical director, Epichorus founder, and oudist Rabbi Zach Fredman, who was selected as one of The Jewish Week’s “36 Under 36” and serves as rabbi and music director of the New Shul in Greenwich Village. He was joined by a flutist, percussionist, and violin player. St. Louis-based writer and teacher Rabbi James Stone Goodman interspersed poetry pertaining to the parsha, or weekly Torah portion, across the Middle-Eastern melodies.

Rabbi James Stone Goodman and Rabbi Zach Fredman. Zivar Amrami

Treasures In The Bronx

One of the New York City’s best-kept secrets, The Hebrew Home at Riverdale is a treasure trove of unexpected delights. The permanent and rather eclectic collection housed there contains more than 5,000 works of art. Prepare to be surprised by the array: Around one corridor, Andy Warhol’s “Ten Portraits of Jews of the Twentieth Century,” around another William Wegman’s iconic Weimaraner photos. Here an Alex Katz, there a Picasso, or lurking behind a column, a Ben Shahn or Louise Nevelson.  And be sure to stare back at the “Portrait of Thomas Chaloner,” from the school of Anthony Van Dyck (c. 1630s) with its eponymous subject coolly gazing out at diners in the facility’s River Café. The sculpture garden, with its sweeping view of the Hudson River, includes work by Herbert Ferber and Menashe Kadishman. And, in the hallways, don’t miss the collection of Madame Alexander First-Lady Dolls.

Lynda Caspe, “Cain and Abel.” Photo courtesy Derfner Judaica Museum

Meeting Comics Artist Rutu Modan

If you don’t yet know the work of comics artist Rutu Modan, now is the perfect time to become acquainted with it: The Tel Aviv-based Modan is in New York this week to promote her latest graphic novel, “The Property” (Drawn & Quarterly). Translated by Jessica Cohen, this book—beautiful both in story and in images—depicts Regina and Mica, a grandmother-granddaughter pair on a journey from Israel to the grandmother’s native Warsaw. Their ostensible purpose: to investigate the reclamation of the grandmother’s former home. 

Image courtesy Erika Dreifus

From The Runway To Sacred Space

Multimedia installation is not a novelty on the contemporary art scene. Even the inventive fusing of avant-garde couture, architecture and video is not without precedent. However, The Jewish Museum’s exhibition “threeASFOUR: MER KA BA,” is hallowed ground. This is space made sacred by its fervid devotion to intricate detail and the purity of its spiritual vision. The effect is disorienting and ethereal.

Clothing © 2013 threeASFOUR. David Heald The Jewish Museum and Art Production Fund

Lab/Shul’s Eclectic Musical Lineup

How does one get in the right frame of mind for the High Holy Days? For Shira Kline, bandleader and musical director for Lab/Shul’s High Holy Day service, the answer is obvious: music. “Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur have such beautiful liturgy,” Kline said. “To not engage participants through music is to miss a huge opportunity.”

So Freud and Mahler Walk Into A Cafe...

In 1910, renowned composer and conductor Gustav Mahler met with Sigmund Freud to discuss his troubled relationship with his young wife, Alma. This became the basis for Otho Eskin’s play “Final Analysis,” now playing at the Signature Theatre. Eskin eagerly builds on the real life meeting of great minds by including several other famous figures (from Josef Stalin to philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein) who were also in Vienna around that time. The result is meant to be an exploration of the forces of love and hate in the world and what happens when conflicting worldviews clash. True, the characters rage, ache and exposit to one another in a variety of tones, but too often come off as rather lifeless and static.

Elizabeth Jasicki and Ezra Barnes in "Final Analysis." Joan Marcus

Reflecting The Spirit Of Elul, In Art

Israeli artist Ya’akov Boussidan’s latest study for stained glass windows soars with his lifelong passion for original calligraphy and his fascination with the “Song of Songs.” Exploring the theme of creation, this first study is naturally linked to Elul, the Hebrew month that augurs Rosh Hashanah, “the birth of the world.”  According to rabbinic tradition, Elul is an acrostic for the verse “I am to my beloved and my beloved is to me.”  (Song of Songs, 6:3).

(c) 2013 Ya'akov Boussidan

Unearthing Jerry Lewis's Holocaust Film

Jerry Lewis is known as a lighthearted slapstick comedian, and also for his charity work to fight muscular dystrophy. Few know him as the director of a Holocaust film so notorious, no clip has ever seen the light of day -- until now.

Getty Images

Modern Ruins In The Mountains

An empty yellow-and-white lounge chair graces the ungroomed grass and ferns surrounding the mildewed indoor pool at Grossinger’s. Not so long ago the grass was terracotta tiles and there were rows of chairs, a guest on each.

The haunting image is from “Ruins of the Borscht Belt,” a series of color photographs by Marisa Scheinfeld on exhibit at the Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy’s  Kling and Niman Family Visitor Center on Grand Street.

Coffee Shop, Grossinger's Catskill Resort and Hotel. Marisa Scheinfeld
Syndicate content