Chanukah begins early this year but you can get a jump on the festivities by attending what promises to be an eclectic and interesting day at the Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy Fifth Jewish Heritage Festival on Sunday, November 3. The all-day festival features events that will please a range of tastes: walking tours exploring neighborhood synagogues, including three of the oldest synagogues in New York City; a vintage goods benefit sale and a special presentation, "Gals From the Hood."
Tribeca’s Synagogue for the Arts, which is an architectural masterwork itself, is hosting a new exhibit in its downstairs gallery space, featuring work by Yona Verwer, a Dutch-born, New York-based artist and Heather Stoltz, also a New York artist. Each looks to the topic of vulnerability in New York City.
The “YH” in the name of the swanky YH4 Architects’ Gallery is for Yad Harutzim (loosely translated as “Striver’s Row’’), the name of the Jerusalem street where the Gallery established itself this past year. YH4 is a leader in the budding revival of the city’s dowdy Talpiot industrial district. The neighborhood’s car dealerships, retail and wholesale enterprises and fast-food restaurants are conspicuous, but some of the city’s premier cultural and business start-ups are hidden from the eye. One of YH4’s neighbors on the fourth floor of an aging grey-cement building is the Sam Spiegel Film and Television School.
Don’t go to this exhibition in a hurry; and don’t go with children; but if you have the slightest interest in mathematics or Jewish history of the twentieth century, then go. Seeing “Transcending Tradition: Jewish Mathematicians in German-Speaking Academic Culture” at the Center for Jewish History is like reading a short illustrated book mounted on plywood, but your patience will be rewarded. Where does the interest lie for the non-mathematician? In the characters of the people whose histories it tells; and for the glimpses of people at work on fundamental problems.
At one point in “Crazy Glue,” a short film by Elizabeth Orne, a young wife who has been involved in an extramarital affair returns home to find that her husband has crazy glued every movable object in their small apartment. The chairs won’t budge, the receiver will not lift off the phone, the fridge won’t open. When she looks up, she finds that her husband has even glued himself to the ceiling, hanging down, waiting for her to return to him.
Dalia Betolin-Sherman’s first collection of short stories, “When the World Turned White,” brings to life the breathless voice of an immigrant child who, along with her sisters, peers down at a neighbor’s laundry line from the high window sill perch of the southern Israeli absorption center, which her family calls the hostel. Over the course of seven vignettes, the narrator grows up into a young woman, a voracious reader who grudgingly assists her overbearing mother in answering ads for assembly-line factory jobs.
On a Monday night in late September, forty people gathered in a spacious, two-floor Chelsea Loft for the debut of the Maqam Project, a fusion of Judeao-Arabic music and reflective Jewish poetry. A maqam is an Arabic musical scale, similar to a jazz mode, which repeats a musical theme while allowing for and encouraging improvisation. Spearheading the project was its musical director, Epichorus founder, and oudist Rabbi Zach Fredman, who was selected as one of The Jewish Week’s “36 Under 36” and serves as rabbi and music director of the New Shul in Greenwich Village. He was joined by a flutist, percussionist, and violin player. St. Louis-based writer and teacher Rabbi James Stone Goodman interspersed poetry pertaining to the parsha, or weekly Torah portion, across the Middle-Eastern melodies.
One of the New York City’s best-kept secrets, The Hebrew Home at Riverdale is a treasure trove of unexpected delights. The permanent and rather eclectic collection housed there contains more than 5,000 works of art. Prepare to be surprised by the array: Around one corridor, Andy Warhol’s “Ten Portraits of Jews of the Twentieth Century,” around another William Wegman’s iconic Weimaraner photos. Here an Alex Katz, there a Picasso, or lurking behind a column, a Ben Shahn or Louise Nevelson. And be sure to stare back at the “Portrait of Thomas Chaloner,” from the school of Anthony Van Dyck (c. 1630s) with its eponymous subject coolly gazing out at diners in the facility’s River Café. The sculpture garden, with its sweeping view of the Hudson River, includes work by Herbert Ferber and Menashe Kadishman. And, in the hallways, don’t miss the collection of Madame Alexander First-Lady Dolls.
If you don’t yet know the work of comics artist Rutu Modan, now is the perfect time to become acquainted with it: The Tel Aviv-based Modan is in New York this week to promote her latest graphic novel, “The Property” (Drawn & Quarterly). Translated by Jessica Cohen, this book—beautiful both in story and in images—depicts Regina and Mica, a grandmother-granddaughter pair on a journey from Israel to the grandmother’s native Warsaw. Their ostensible purpose: to investigate the reclamation of the grandmother’s former home.
Multimedia installation is not a novelty on the contemporary art scene. Even the inventive fusing of avant-garde couture, architecture and video is not without precedent. However, The Jewish Museum’s exhibition “threeASFOUR: MER KA BA,” is hallowed ground. This is space made sacred by its fervid devotion to intricate detail and the purity of its spiritual vision. The effect is disorienting and ethereal.