Well Versed

For The Time Being

So what do we mean when we talk about Jewish time? Always late by ten minutes? Days divided by requisite prayer services, weeks punctuated with the slowing down of Shabbat, years marked by yahrtzeits? Or is Jewish time always set in different time zones, as the Jewish people are dispersed throughout the world?  Or, as my grandmother would ask, Are you keeping time with anyone? To her, time meant sharing hours and it meant being together, in sync.

Installation view of "Using Walls, Floors and Ceilings: Valeska Soares." The Jewish Museum, NY. David Heald.

You Don't Have To Be Jewish...To Perform In Yiddish

It’s a well –worn joke: A couple dining in a Jewish deli on the Lower East Side at the turn of the 20th century are astonished when their Chinese waiter takes their order in flawless Yiddish. “Shh,” the manager tells them. “He thinks that I’m teaching him English!”

Cast of “Di Goldene Kale.” Ben Moody

Record Breaking Judaica Sale At Sotheby’s

An antiquarian book dealer based in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and Stevenson, Maryland is the new owner of Daniel Bomberg’s 16th century Babylonian Talmud, bought last week in auction at Sotheby’s New York. The $9.3 million sales price set a new world record for a single item of Judaica.

The Complete Babylonian Talmud, printed by Daniel Bomberg in Venice, 16th century. Courtesy of Sotheby's New York

Very Close-Up In Israel

Is an exhibit with more than fifty photos highlighting exclusion, violence, racial barriers, poverty and brutality in Israel good for the Jews and the future of Israel?

 Nir Kafri. Brothers Ahmed and Mahmoud of Yatta village, near Hebron. 2012. Courtesy of Ronald Feldman Fine Arts

Revisiting A Nutcracker Prince

A fairy tale within a fairy tale, the dancers playing the roles of the Prince and Marie in Gelsey Kirkland  Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” are newly husband and wife, and dancing together for the first time.

Dawn Milatin and Erez Milatin in rehearsal for Gelsey Kirkland Ballet's "The Nutcracker"

Shooting The Jewish Sow

Evil and rebellion lurk beneath the surface of Ilit Azoulay’s “a 7th Option,” on view at the Andrea Meislin Gallery. Initially, the single photomontage looks like a building undergoing renovation. On second look, it is a bizarre assortment of objects -- a shrunken head, a carving of a “Jewish Sow,” a pile of stones at a worksite and more. I thought I stepped into someone’s weird dream.   

Ilit Azoulay, "Seventh Option," 2014. Courtesy Andrea Meislin Gallery

Seasons Readings For Kids

For Chanukah 2015, young readers are treated to romance in the Atlas Mountains, stories of the real lives of Israeli kids, tales of helping others in this holiday season, easy-to-follow recipes and, as always, new spins on the Maccabee story.

Courtesy of Penguin Random House

A Fresh Look At Einstein

One hundred years ago this week, Albert Einstein published his theory of relativity, forever transforming the way we think about space and time. Since then, so many scores of books have been written about this great scientific luminary that you might well ask—why the need for another biography of Einstein? 

Courtesy Yale University Press

A New Chapter In Anne Frank’s Story

Anne Frank has become a metonymy, both a symbol and a shorthand for the Holocaust. Her youthful diary, hopeful, funny, frightened but stalwart, has been a source of inspiration to millions of readers worldwide. Still, after viewing the new film, “No Asylum: The Untold Chapter of Anne Frank's Story,” and hearing the details of her post-diary life and eventual death in the camps, I wonder: If Anne Frank had survived, would her subsequent writings more closely mirror the darkness of Elie Wiesel’s “Night” than the hopefulness of her diary.

Anne Frank modeling a new coat. United States Holocaust Museum. Courtesy Eva Schloss

One Room On The Prairie

Born in 1876 in Russia, a motherless Rachel Calof found herself at the age of 18 married to a stranger in Devil’s Lake, North Dakota, “the only place colder than Russia.” The couple shared a one-room shack with her parents-in-law, brothers-in-law, a nephew, chickens and a cow. Her bed was a depression in the floor of the shack; there was neither outhouse nor latrine. Back in Russia, Rachel, the daughter of an elegant mother and a long line of Cohanim, had not been permitted to accept the hand of a butcher’s son.

Kate Fuglei as Rachel Calof. Karen Richardson
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