Well Versed

Observing Israel In Black-And-White

In the Golan Heights in 1974, an Arab girl stares at the camera from behind a “stop” sign; an Israeli soldier buys a fruit juice from a stand right behind her. 

Jerusalem, 1974, gelatin silver print, 7 ¾ x 9 ¾ inches. Burt Allen Solomon

Tainted Names and New Jewish Identities

As I write that descendants of prominent Nazis have chosen to live in Israel today, and that some of them – with surnames like Goering, Goebbels or Himmler -- are converted to Judaism or in process, I realize that readers will reread this sentence to make sure they didn’t misread.

The 2000-Year-Old Hope

Not only is Hatikvah the national anthem of Israel, but Jews around the world have sung it for 135 years.

Naomi Alderman's Jesus, The Jew

A satisfying historical novel displays a flair for narrative and credible characters grounded on a solid base of research.  The more remote the period, the tougher the challenge.  In “The Liars’ Gospel,” (Little Brown), Naomi Alderman, a British writer, takes on perhaps the most difficult challenge of all.

Remembering Janusz Korczak, Anew

At the recent Jerusalem Book Fair, with many publishers from all over the world showcasing their new titles, it was Janusz Korczak who caught my attention.

Puppets, Klezmer And A Polish Tale

A dying puppet begs for water; laughing puppets share apples and steal horses; flirting puppets fly through the air like lovers in a painting by Chagall; in the last scene, a puppet father-to-be is saved from murderous despair by the stirrings of his puppet child in the belly of his puppet wife… Oh, yes, and the klezmer clarinetist (not a puppet), crazed by the Nazis’ murder of his band and everyone in his shtetl, crawls into an earthen burrow and declares himself a badger – a badger who wants his tallis. All this in an hour and ten minutes, and that includes nine songs arranged or composed by Frank London of Klezmatics fame. 
 

From The Hazamir Stage To The Audience

As Matthew Lazar stepped onto the stage, surveyed his creation, and began conducting the Hazamir choir, his face was shining. Hazamir: The International Jewish High School Choir, founded by Lazar in 1993, includes students active in 21 chapters across North America and one (soon to be two) in Israel. Two Sundays ago, they performed their 20th Annual Gala Concert at Jazz at Lincoln Center, with songs including “Shehechayanu” and “L’Eyla.

Springtime Rituals: A Seder And A Dance Festival Offer Annual Recharge

For the past 62 years, two seemingly unrelated events in the Jewish world mark the early days of spring in New York City: The Annual Israeli Folk Dance Festival and preparations for the Passover seder.

Drinking In The Texts

The evening had the feel of a Greek symposium or a party with your most creative friends. Last Thursday night, LABA (a laboratory for new Jewish art inspired by classical texts) hosted DRUNK, an intoxicating evening of learning at the 14th Street Y.  The theme of the evening was wine.
 

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