Well Versed

Stand Up And Be Photographed!

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. 

Signs of dual identity. Jeff and Alina Bliumis. Photo courtesy The JCC in Manhattan

Vision For A 21st Century Synagogue

The Book of Genesis’ account of Jacob’s dream is one of the defining elements of artist Ya’akov Boussidan’s conceptual design for a synagogue in the village of Tzur Haddassah, some 7.5 miles west of  Jerusalem. For the artist, the simple stones that Jacob gathered at nightfall  represent the fusion of the varied elements of the Jewish people. Boussidan’s synagogue design, intended for a congregation of Ashkenazic and Sephardic worshippers from varied walks of life, includes a bima (podium) that is an original composition of twelve stones, symbolizing the twelve tribes of Israel.

Design for Tzur Haddasah synagogue. Ya'akov Boussidan

For 'Innocents' Author, A Triple Crown Of Fetes

Francesca  Segal has won the triple crown of Jewish book awards for her first novel, “The Innocents”.  She now adds Hadassah Magazine's prestigious Harold U. Ribalow Prize to the 2013 Sami Rohr prize for Jewish Literature and the National Jewish Book Award for Fiction.

Francesca Segal accepts Hadassah’s 2013 Ribalow Prize from Shira Nadich Levin, niece of Harold Ribalow. Tal Atzmon

From Teheran, Shiraz And Mashhad To America

Cranberry sauce is left untouched on the Thanksgiving table. A mullah proposes  a temporary marriage to a Jewess on a flight. A Southern woman who looks like she comes from generations of country club members is actually the daughter of an Iranian Jew.

Cast of "Saffron and Rosewater." Photo courtesy Jewish Women's Theater

Looking Back At Art Spiegelman’s Retrospective

What is beautifully presented in “Art Spiegelman’s Co-Mix: A Retrospective” at The Jewish Museum, in addition to original drawings from the “Maus” series, is the enormous range of work that Spiegelman produced beyond those volumes. Included are comic books, magazine illustrations, children’s books illustrations, political satire, trading cards and stickers, New Yorker covers, and even a collaboration with the dance group Pilobolus and a stained glass window for The High School of Art & Design, just to name a few.

Art Spiegelman, It Was Today, Only Yesterday (detail), 2012, The High School of Art and Design, New York.  Copyright © 2012

Hofesh Shechter's Deceptive Light At BAM

In “Political Mother,” Hofesh Shechter’s 2012 debut at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Howard Gilman Opera House was bathed in darkness. The music was loud, explosive hard rock.

“Sun,” Hofesh Shechter Company. Ian Douglas

The Yiddish Heart – Still Beating

The majestic Bartos Forum at the New York Public Library was nearly packed on November 6th for The Yiddish Heart, directed by Target Margin Theater’s David Herskovits, the first in a series of evenings aimed at bringing to life the collections of the Library’s Dorot Jewish Division. The crowd was interested and enthusiastic, but unless they read their programs carefully, they were at first a bit confused. This was because before the formal program, there was an informal one and this first program was, essentially, a three ring circus.

Shane Baker is a Yiddish maven. Andrew Ingall

Water Log

The effect of personal history in an artist’s oeuvre, the role of metaphor, the extent to which an artist can decipher or explain her own work – these are all questions that come to mind when viewing Yudith Schreiber’s photographs in “Blind Impress,” currently on exhibit at The Jewish Theological Seminary.

White Whale. Yudith Schreiber

Unorthodox: A New Film Explores Gap Year Journeys

The gap year in Israel is a phenomenon that has sprung up in recent decades in most Modern Orthodox communities. The idea is simple: 18-year old boys and girls who have just graduated high school spend a year of intensive study in yeshiva or seminary in Israel before they return to attend college. It is intended to be a year of reflection and growth, and it is not uncommon for many participants to return more religiously connected and observant than when they left.

Deep prayer, and light. Nadja Oertelt and Anna Wexler

Counting the Ninas

For over sixty years, readers of the Sunday New York Times bent over the first page of the Arts & Entertainment section, looking for the Ninas – the name of Al Hirschfeld's daughter, which he worked into his drawings. The triumph in solving those simple puzzles was addictive; once you knew to look for them, you could never turn away. An exhibit of his drawings and many objects from his own collection,“The Line King’s Library,” is now on view at the Library for the Performing Arts in Lincoln Center. 

Leonard Bernstein, date unknown. Photo courtesy the Al Hirschfeld Foundation
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