Well Versed

Yesterday’s Broadsides – From The Valmadonna Trust Library – Still Gripping Today

Broadsides were never meant to survive. Defined as a single printed sheet posted in public, broadsides convey immediate information about a vast number of subjects: changes in the law, upcoming weddings or bnai mitzvot, the details of a death or a funeral, the arrival of the circus, just to name a few.

Menorah blessings, Calcutta, c. 1890. Ardon Bar-Hama

A Book For A Better Future

Writers, critics and publishers keep trying to refine their definition of a Jewish book, whether it’s a Jewish author, subject, or just sensibility. After meeting Molly Melching when she spoke at a breakfast sponsored by the American Jewish World Service, I’d vote to stretch the category. “However Long the Night,” which was written about Melching’s tremendous humanitarian work in helping African women, is essential reading – it’s a book about transforming the world.

Photo courtesy Tostan

Making The Case For The Arts As A Jewish Communal Priority

It is vital for arts institutions in the Jewish community, Jewish artists and the current generation of philanthropists that support the arts to begin articulating the argument that the support of the arts is not a distraction from the values the next generation of philanthropy seeks to support, but central to them.

Stepping Out In Yiddish

Never has gefilte fish sounded so sexy.

Eleanor Reissa belted out a number from the Yiddish theater, “ Borsht and Gefilte Fish ,” swaying her hips as she sang, as part of this year’s National Yiddish Theatre - Folksbiene’s gala concert at NYU’s Skirball Center, honoring financier, philanthropist and communal leader Morris W. Offit, 76. Tom Brokaw presented his friend with the award.

Joel Grey accepting his award. Photo courtesy National Yiddish Theatre -- Folksbiene

A Showcase Of Arts And Texts

How does an Orthodox center for rich and rigorous Jewish learning reach out to self-styled artists who are often in the margins of communal life?

Noach by Rabbi Joanne Yocheved Heligman. Photo courtesy Drisha Institute

Last Chance: Palestinian-Israeli Harmony … At The Metropolitan Room

Peace seemed not only possible, but was palpable this week at the Metropolitan Room as Mira Awad sang her own compositions in Arabic, Hebrew and English. Her words are earthy, her voice transcendent and the yearning for something better remains in the air.

Mira Awad is an Arab-Israeli performer. Nanni Fontana

A Rabbi And A Monk Walk Into A Courtyard

With the almost invisible strings of Fort Washington’s eruv stretching from pole to pole above us, we followed Rabbi Adam Mintz and Brother John Glasenapp, OSB up the hill where we found welcome refuge from Manhattan’s May heat inside the medieval walls of The Cloisters. An unlikely tag team, the rabbi and  the monk were leading  a group of 25 on a two hour walk and discussion sponsored by Yeshiva University Museum and The Cloisters museum to tease out the public/private nature of the eruv and Cloister, and how they create religious structures and community.

Rabbi Adam Mintz and Brother John Glasenapp. Angela Himsel

Was The Apple A Fig?

"EAT” is an irresistible imperative. Jews around the world are defined by our foods. So eager anticipation was tangible last Saturday night at the 14th St Y  where a supportive audience had come to encounter works by LABA fellows exploring texts centered on food.

Avivah Zornberg’s Intricate Patterns

Avivah Zornberg overlays a dizzying tapestry of midrashic, psychoanalytic and literary sources on her biblical themes. Her most satisfied listeners allow for the unmooring of the categorical mind. Zornberg, most recently the author of “The Murmuring Deep: Reflections on the Biblical Unconscious,” suggests that the hidden meaning of our classical texts is best perceived with our own porous and poetic unconscious minds.

Avivah Zornberg. Photo by Debbi Cooper

A Photographer With An Ironic Eye

Vivid purple, yellow and green feathers grow out of his face, peacock feathers crown his head, and green feathers wrap around his neck.  A beard pokes through and a trenchcoat covers his body. An avian humanoid or a man in a Purim costume?

Pavel Wolberg, Bnei Brak, 2012. Courtesy the artist and Andrea Meislin Gallery
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