Short Takes

A Dream ‘Gig’ In The Bygone Catskills

07/16/2014
Special to the Jewish Week
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By the time that Kutsher’s Country Club fell to the wrecking ball in May, the Catskills were already long past their prime as a Jewish vacation paradise. In fact, the popularity of the “Jewish Alps” was already waning in the 1970s, when “The Gig,” Doug Cohen’s new musical about a group of amateur jazz musicians who land a prized booking in the Borscht Belt, is set.

Doug Cohen’s musical captures a “sense of celebration” about the heyday of the “Jewish Alps.”  Courtesy of Doug Cohen

Everyone’s A Comedian

07/08/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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Miriam Borenstein, 27, had a great line about online dating. Saul Daiell, 33, joked about teaching. But in the end, “High-Powered” Howard Newman took home the title of Funniest Jewish Comedian in the annual contest sponsored by The Jewish Week.

Funniest Jewish Comedian winner Howard Newman, left, and Geoff, who produces the annual event.

Eyal Maoz’s Many Sides

07/08/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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Eyal Maoz not only remembers the first guitar he ever was given. He still has it, a Spanish classical guitar.

“I remember my first electric guitar, too,” he adds. “It was red and very hard to play, and I have it even now. I completely ruined it making it into a fretless.”

Eyal Maoz is curaing a week at The Stone.    Courtesy of Eyal Maoz

Pew, The Play(s)

07/02/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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Last fall’s survey of Jewish Americans by the Pew Research Center, which found increasing numbers of American Jews eschewing religious labels, triggered a chorus of commentators, galvanized a debate about Jewish identity, and pitted huge segments of the Jewish community against each other.

Survey says?… Actors who participated in last week’s “Pew-ish” theatrical showcase.  David Shmidt Chapman

‘The Joint’ As N.Y. City History

07/02/2014
Culture Editor
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On July 14, 1945, from Warsaw, Luba Mizne sent this pared-down story of her life in a cablegram to the New York office of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee: I LIVE REQUIRE HELP.

People waiting for food at Dreyfus soup kitchen in Jerusalem, Palestine, in 1921. Courtesy of JDC

An Israeli Pianist Pays Homage To A Rhythm Master

06/24/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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As an aspiring jazz pianist growing up in Israel, it was Anat Fort’s cherished dream to play with the great drummer Paul Motian, who anchored what is considered to be one of the most influential trios in all of jazz.

Israeli-born pianist Anat Fort, with her trio, is back in her home country. Robbin Valentine/ECM Records

Coexistence Between ‘Ishmael And Israel’

06/24/2014
Culture Editor
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For sale: A rabbinic voice from the past calling for peace in the Middle East.

This week, Kestenbaum & Company is auctioning a 1954 handwritten letter from Rabbi Isaac Halevi Herzog, then Chief Rabbi of the State of Israel, to Professor Abraham Isaac Katsh, written to congratulate the scholar on the publication of his “excellent” book, “Judaism in Islam.” Rabbi Herzog expresses the hope that the close connection between Judaism and Islam “may help to promote the cause, the sacred cause of peace between Ishmael and Israel!”

An unpublished letter from Israeli Chief Rabbi Isaac Herzog  goes on sale here this week. Wikimedia Commons

A Symbolic ‘Schlep’

06/18/2014
Staff Writer
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Three years ago, Natalie Gerber was undergoing treatment for breast cancer, while her friends and family were running a 5K race in her honor. This year the 30-year-old mother of three will be running the race herself as a testament to her recovery and in gratitude to those who helped her.

Friends of breast cancer survivor Natalie Gerber will run with her. Courtesy of American Friends of Rabin Medical Center

‘Hottest Ticket’ Friday Night Was To Central Synagogue

06/18/2014
Editor and Publisher
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Standing in the midst of a long line on Friday afternoon, as it wrapped around Lexington Avenue at 55th Street and reached all the way toward Park Avenue, one saw curious passers-by wondering what the attraction was. Especially when people in line referred to their having “the hottest ticket in town.”

Rabbi Peter Rubinstein was feted at Central Synagogue after 23 years as its spiritual leader. Wikimedia Commons

Strings Attached To ‘Fiddler’

06/11/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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While its central motif is a precariously perched violinist, “Fiddler on the Roof” has about as tight a grip on the Jewish — and non-Jewish — imagination as any work of popular culture. This was abundantly in evidence on Monday night, at the jubilant celebration of the 50th anniversary of the iconic musical, orchestrated by the Folksbiene Yiddish Theatre.

“Fiddler” lyricist Sheldon Harnick, whose 90th birthday was marked at gala. Michael Priest Photography
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