Well Versed

Painting By Letter

“The beauty, meaning and form of Hebrew letters are the source of inspiration for Ric Pliego’s “Gematria” series, now on exhibit at El Taller Latino Americano.  Based on the Hebrew numerological system, the Gematria paintings are a sequence of brightly-colored oils, depicting the Hebrew letters “aleph” through “tet” with simple but beautifully rendered pictograms. 

Ric Pliego, “Bet.” Courtesy of El Taller Latino Americano

I Am Vengeance. I Am The Night. I Am... Jewish?

Through an accident of fate (and plot holes), could Batman have just been made a member of the tribe?

Batwoman #25 (art by Trevor McCarthy, Jim Fern, Tom Nguyen, Jay Leisten, Patrick Olliffe, Andrea Mutti). Via AfterEllen.com

Gained In Translation

"Jerusalem is a port city on the shore of eternity," wrote poet Yehuda Amichai." Last week, contemporary Israeli writers and translated-into-Hebrew international writers sailed into the Fourth International Writers Festival in Jerusalem for conversations, encounters, music and films that were articulate, bracing, confrontational, moving and at times inspirational.

Nicole Krauss. Yossi Zamir/International Writers Festival

Sexual Violence, Art And The Shoah

Israeli artist Gil Yefman takes on the subject of sexual violence and the forced prostitution of women during the Shoah, a focus not often presented in Holocaust history, and he does so through a literal hook, the crochet hook.

Gil Yefman.Tumtum, 2012.Knitting and other materials, including sound and performance art. Courtesy of Ronald Feldman Fine Arts

Catskills On Broadway

“It was air conditioning that leveled the Catskills,” one of the cross-dressing characters in Harvey Fierstein’s excellent new play, “Casa Valentina,” says. “Why drive when you can use a machine to cool off your home?”

Nick Westrate, Patrick Page and Tom McGowan in "Casa Valentina." Courtesy of Manhattan Theatre Club

The Yiddish ‘Godot’ To Open Irish Festival

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.

David Mandelbaum, Avi Hoffman and Shane Baker in New Yiddish Rep’s “Waiting for Godot.”   Ronald L. Glassman

Lifetime To Pitch A 'Red Tent'

"The Red Tent" is becoming a miniseries. And it's about time.

Anita Diamant's "The Red Tent" is soon to be a miniseries.  Courtesy Picador

Farklempt At The White House

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.

Peter Manseau, Aaron Lansky and Michelle Obama at the White House. Courtesy Institute of Museum and Library Services

'Little Stories' In Yiddish

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.

El Lissitzky. Illustration for "The Hen Who Wanted a Comb", 1919.  WiKiPaintings

Remembering Jabotinsky On Yom Ha’Atzmaut

I am alive because of Vladimir Jabotinsky. True, I was born nearly two decades after the Revisionist Zionist leader's death, but that is a mere technicality, a wrinkle in time. 

Courtesy of Yale University Press
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