Like many New Yorkers looking to escape the cold, I settled down the other night with my hottest cuppa tea and delved into the world of Downton Abbey.
A world full of good old English values, a world where the introduction of a modern electric mixing bowl is greeted with alarm—and a world that would likely go into an apoplectic shock at the very thought of peyot and phylacteries.
Charlotte Wolff died in 1986 and today is little known beyond an esoteric reading public. Plunkett Lake Press has just released an electronic edition of her autobiography, “Hindsight,” first published in 1980.
This past Thursday night, in the basement of Mechon Hadar on the Upper West Side, nearly sixty people gathered to sit in the round and listen and participate with the music being performed by Joey Weisenberg and several other musicians. Weisenberg, a staff member at Hadar who leads regular music and singing workshops, also teaches at JTS, Hebrew Union College, and Yeshivat Chovevei Torah. An accomplished singer, guitarist, percussionist, and mandolin player, Weisenberg played mandolin and guitar on Thursday night, and was joined by the Hadar Ensemble, which featured two vocalists, a violinist, a fiddler, a stand-up bass player and a hand drummer.
In the uncanny way that art imitates life, Jerusalem’s literary café, Tmol Shilshom, has been the setting for fictional accounts of young Israelis in search of love. The café, named in honor of the masterpiece by Israeli Nobel Prize-winner S.Y. Agnon, is half-hidden in a courtyard of the city’s historic Nahalat Shiva neighborhood. It is renowned for an atmosphere that encourages both cultural dialogue and romance over shared meals and occasional evening talks by Israel’s literary lights.
On the coldest day this month, I stepped onto Brighton Beach and contemplated my identity. I am not a member of the Polar Bear Club. I hate being cold! Rather, I was participating in a “Casual Conversation” in the warmth of the lobby of the JCC in Manhattan.