The Arts

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.

A Bygone Gotham

Two new memoirs evoke an earlier New York.

12/30/2015 - 08:56
Culture Editor

Looking back over this year in New York City, with a new Whitney Museum, a new sculpture that shouts OY or YO, depending on what side of the East River you’re on, a new World Trade Center observatory back in use and a much-discussed new novel set here called “City on Fire,” I’m still drawn to an older New York, to pockets of time that are no more.

Morris Dickstein, chronicles his intellectual awakening.

The ‘Fire’ This Time

12/23/2015 - 09:20

‘I always wanted to write a play about both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Argentinian playwright Mario Diament reflected recently, as his new work, “Land of Fire” (Tierra del Fuego), was about to open in New York at the New Yiddish Rep ([212] 868-4444, smarttix.com). Based on the 1978 attack by Palestinian terrorists of an El Al passenger jet in London, in which one flight attendant was killed and eight crew members wounded, “Land of Fire” runs through Jan. 3 at Theater for the New City in the East Village.

Mihran Shlougian as PLO terrorist and Dagmar Stansova as El Al flight attendant.

These Archie Comics Are Serious

Archie Rand’s ‘The 613’ is a graphic interpretation of the Torah’s commandments.

12/22/2015 - 15:30
Culture Editor

Conversation with painter Archie Rand is multilayered and goes in varied directions, but often swings back to the Jews and Judaism.  He’s not a religious man, nor a biblical scholar, but his interests in Jewish texts run deep. Over his distinguished and highly recognized career, Rand has worked to create a Jewish iconography, often combining words and images in vibrant, daring paintings.

“I swiped the images, mostly from EC Comics. A very Jewish source,” Rand says.

Reopening A Forgotten Chapter Of Yiddish Theater

An operetta from the ‘Jewish Verdi’ weds Old World and New.

12/15/2015 (All day)
Special To The Jewish Week

He was a Lithuanian immigrant whose sparkling operettas, which ranked with those of the greatest of European composers, wowed audiences on the Lower East Side and paved the way for the Broadway musical. They even called him “Victor Herbert with a yarmulke,” a reference to the German-raised prolific Tin Pan Alley composer of popular operettas. His name was Joseph Rumshinsky, and he wrote close to 100 light operas, almost none of which have been performed for at least half a century.

It takes a shtetl: A scene from the Folksbiene’s revival of “Di Goldene Kale.” Ben Moody

Carrying ‘That Destruction’ In Their Genes

‘Son of Saul’ filmmaker and star on what went into making the intense Sonderkommando story set in Auschwitz, and the controversy it engendered.

12/15/2015 (All day)
Special To The Jewish Week

László Nemes knew that when it came time to make his first feature film he wouldn’t have trouble finding a subject.

The Holocaust, in his native Hungary.

Director László Nemes and Géza Röhrig on the set of “Son of Saul.” Photo by Ildi Hermann, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
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