The Arts

A Grunt’s-Eye-View Of Modern Combat

Samuel Fuller’s WWII epic ‘The Big Red One’ raises big moral questions.
09/24/2012 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Lee Marvin in “The Big Red One.” Warner Brothers

Letters As A Lifeline

A book and an exhibit tell stories of family and identity, all in longhand.

02/09/2016 - 11:36
Culture Editor

Letters are delicate inheritances, especially the ones that are addressed to someone else.

To read them is to eavesdrop; to share them is, at best, an opportunity to provide historical testimony, but, potentially, a betrayal of privacy.

Ian Buruma, turned thousands of letters written by his grandparents into a study of assimilated Jewish life in Germany & England

From Groucho Marx To Seinfeld, Jewish Jokes Dominate Top 100 List

02/04/2016 - 12:08

New York Magazine’s culture section, Vulture, this week published a mega-listicle, “The 100 Jokes That Shaped Modern Comedy.” With the help of comedians and historians of comedy, the magazine’s editors compiled the most important jokes ever uttered — from Charlie Chaplin making dinner rolls dance to Louis C.K. dissing his daughter.

Jerry Seinfeld speaking onstage at the 2015 Hulu Upfront Presentation at Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City, April 29. JTA

No Direction Home: ‘Fiddler’s’ Lessons

02/02/2016 - 15:36
Special To The Jewish Week

“Hamilton” may be the hottest ticket in town, with its fusion of hip-hop patriotism and a colorful cast of homeboys for Founding Fathers, but not far behind in ticket sales and sentimental attachments to equally revolutionary times is the revival of “Fiddler on the Roof.”

Leaving Anatevka: A scene from the new production of “Fiddler on the Roof.” Joan Marcus

The Survivor Rocker

From Shoah-era Poland to Rivington Street, ‘Rock and Roll Refugee’ tells the little-known story of Genya Ravan.

02/02/2016 - 11:38
Special To The Jewish Week

Before the appearances on television and radio, the European tour with the Rolling Stones, the sexual abuse, the failed marriage, the heartbreak of alcohol and drug addiction — before all the notoriety of a career in rock and roll, she was a frightened little Polish Jewish girl, Genyusha Zelkovicz, escaping from the Nazis and coming to New York with her parents and older sister.

Scene from “Rock and Roll Refugee,” which is based on Ravan’s tell-all memoir from 2004. Russ Rowlands

Affairs Of The Heart, And Nation

01/27/2016 - 09:12

The playwright Richard Greenberg is musing about his new work, “Our Mother’s Brief Affair,” and about what happens when we’re dealt a hand we didn’t see coming.

For Richard Greenberg, in his new play “Our Mother’s Brief Affair,” domestic and societal sins differ only in magnitude.

The Murder That ‘Broke’ Israeli Society

Amos Gitai reflects on the Rabin assassination, and what came in its wake.

01/26/2016 - 13:28
Special To The Jewish Week

During the period of the Oslo negotiations, Israeli filmmaker Amos Gitai spent many hours interviewing Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin. He didn’t know it at the time, but that experience would become a pivotal part of a docudrama, the story of Rabin’s assassination by right-wing settler Yigal Amir. The product of three years of work by Gitai and his production team, “Rabin: The Last Day,” which opens on Friday, Jan. 29, paints a grimly vivid portrait of the maelstrom that surrounded the events of November 4, 1995, events that Gitai says left Israeli society “broken.”

In the aftermath of the Rabin assassination, Gitai says, “We have lost the [shared] project of Zionism. Michael Datikash/JW

Activist Cinema

In week two of the NY Jewish Film Festival, activism and justice seeking is a theme that binds.

01/19/2016 - 15:16
Special To The Jewish Week

To the extent that one can identify a running theme in this year’s New York Jewish Film Festival, which runs through Jan. 26, it might be the ways Jews have managed to negotiate a tricky divide; many protagonists in the festival’s films are balancing quietist assimilation in non-Jewish societies with the compulsion to activism that underlies the biblical injunction to seek justice.

Emmanuelle Devos as Simone Veil, France’s minister of health in the government of Jacques Chirac. Jewish Film Festival

Tevye, But Not ‘Larger Than Life’

Exclusive: Q&A with the new ‘Fiddler’ patriarch.

01/19/2016 - 09:00
Special To The Jewish Week

As “Fiddler on the Roof,” in its fifth Broadway revival, moves into its second month (to rave notices), we caught up with the new Tevye, the five-time Tony nominee Danny Burstein. He’s one of those Broadway actors whose range seems limitless. In the 2014 revival of “Cabaret,” directed by Sam Mendes, he played Herr Schultz, a Jewish fruit vendor who woos the owner of his boardinghouse, Fraulein Schneider. In a Jewish Week interview at the time, Burstein said that he found a personal resonance in portraying a Jew living in Germany during those turbulent years. Burstein “knew a lot about this particular time anyway,” but spent additional time doing research about European Jewry and the ascent of Nazism. “I think anybody who’s Jewish has a natural curiosity and a responsibility to know about it.”

Danny Burstein as Tevye in Fiddler On The Roof. Joan Marcus

The ‘Stuff’ Of Memoir

Judy Batalion’s book moves between order and disorder.

01/12/2016 - 12:09
Culture Editor

Judy Batalion’s mother had been an artist, a published poet who followed Leonard Cohen around Greece. When readers encounter her in her daughter’s fine memoir “White Walls: A Memoir About Motherhood, Daughterhood and the Mess In Between” (New American Library), she appears to be a shadow of that earlier self, surrounded in her Montreal home by piles of unreturned library books, thousands of videocassettes, stale danish and towers of rotting cans of tuna: Every surface is piled high with stuff, all precariously close to an avalanche.

It took years for Batalion to connect her mother’s and grandmother’s hoarding back to their experience of the Holocaust.
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