The Arts

Masada, The Novel

Alice Hoffman channels the panoramic history of the fortress through the first-person narrative voices of four women.
12/26/2011 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Masada: the very name of the towering mountain fortress overlooking the Judean Desert and the Dead Sea conjures images at once historic, mythic, and symbolic. King Herod built it between 37 and 31 B.C.E. as a royal refuge, and decorated it with splendiferous mosaics. But it is best known as the final refuge of 960 Jewish zealots who, in 73 C.E., committed suicide en masse, rather than succumb to a massacre by besieging Roman soldiers who were part of the army that had already quashed the Jewish rebellion and destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem.

Hoffman's research for her latest novel, set at Masada during the Jewish rebellion against the Romans, went far beyond Josephus'

Hypnotic Effect

12/19/2011 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

He was a Jewish astrologer and hypnotist who purportedly taught Hitler how to control the masses. Erik Jan Hanussen, whose performances of occult magic were the talk of Weimar Berlin, was credited with foretelling the Reichstag fire and the rise of the Nazis. In Ildiko Nemeth’s new play, “Hypnotik: The Seer Will Doctor You Now,” Hanussen (Peter B. Schmitz) returns to life in all his mesmerizing glory. The play opens Dec. 28 at the Theater for the New City in the East Village.

Sarah Lemp as the Baroness in “Hypnotik".

Rabbinic Jazz

Poet Jake Marmer teams up with Rabbi Greg Wall and trumpeter Frank London.
12/19/2011 - 19:00
Special to the Jewish Week

From the first, poetry was linked to music. Torah has always been chanted. The Greek bards accompanied themselves on instruments. The distinction between verse and song probably was an elastic one until the coming of the printing press. Whenever the disconnect took place, whatever its cause, poetry and music have continued to run alongside one another, two long railroad tracks that intersect frequently, if not constantly.

Just ask Jake Marmer.

“All poetry began as song, and jazz-and-poetry has always existed,” the Ukraine-born poet says with a grin.

Jake Marmer, who wants to complicate the distinction between poetry and music, is a newcomer to the jazz-and-poetry scene.

‘Shlemiel’ As ‘Post-Modern Farce’

David Gordon brings new movement, literally, to the Folksbiene’s production of the iconic Yiddish tale.
12/12/2011 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

A shlemiel is defined, according to the American Heritage Dictionary, as a “habitual bungler, a dolt.” In the hands of the creators of the rousing klezmer musical, “Shlemiel the First,” which is being revived this month by the Folksbiene Yiddish Theatre, we are all shlemiels in our fumbling attempts at knowledge of each other and ourselves. The tuneful, exuberant show began performances this week at the Skirball Center of NYU.

Michael Iannucci as Shlemiel, spreading the “wisdom” of the Wise Men of Chelm in “Shlemiel the First.” Gerry Goodstein

‘The Label Tried To Do It All’

Idelsohn Society unearths the eclectic offerings from Tikva Records covering the ‘Jet Set’ ‘50s and ‘60s.
12/12/2011 - 19:00
Special to the Jewish Week

Listening to Jewish-American music from the 1950s and ’60s is frequently a bewildering experience. Jewish cha-chas? Israeli fuzz-tone guitar bands? Johnny Mathis singing “Kol Nidre?”

“This [cross-cultural] music fascinated us,” says Roger Bennett, one of the co-founders of the Idelsohn Society for Musical Preservation. “Each track is a footprint through history. They pose a set of eclectic questions about Jewish-American identity and community, and how they changed in the post-war era.”

“Songs for the Jewish-American Jet Set” tells the story of Tikva Records’ contribution to musical culture from 1950 to 1973.

Illuminating The Chanukah Context

Cervera Bible on display at Met shows the brighter side of Sephardic Jewish history.
12/12/2011 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

The Jewish holiday of Chanukah lasts eight days, but New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art is celebrating over the course of eight weeks, in the form of its recently opened exhibition “Lisbon’s Hebrew Bible: Medieval Jewish Art in Context,” on display through Jan. 16. And the contexts are plural, not singular.

The image of a golden menorah framed by a pair of olive trees is the most famous from the “Cervera Bible".

Light Haunted By Darkness

Maurice Sendak handpicked menorahs from The Jewish Museum’s collection for a new show, and they reflect his life and work.
12/12/2011 - 19:00
Staff Writer

If you happened to have been at The Jewish Museum’s new holiday exhibit, “An Artist Remembers: Hanukkah Lamps Selected by Maurice Sendak,” last week, you would have noticed one menorah was missing. 

Thirty-three lamps are on display, all of them hand-picked by Sendak, the revered children’s book author, most famously of “Where the Wilds Things Are.” But there was an empty space under the small placard that read: “Hanukkah Lamp, Landsberg am Lech, Germany, 1945.”

Where had it gone? Why was it missing?

The missing menorah: The Jewish Museum’s menorah that was created in a post-war D.P.

Film Recalls Controversy Over U.S. Jews’ Inaction During WWII

12/08/2011 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Pierre Sauvage has focused as a filmmaker on Jewish subjects.  He owes his life to the good people of Le Chambon, France, who saved him as a child, along with many others, during the Holocaust.  His 1989 film, Weapons of the Spirit, documents their story. 

Illuminating The Chanukah Context

Cervera Bible on display at Met shows the brighter side of Sephardic Jewish history.
12/06/2011 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

The Jewish holiday of Chanukah lasts eight days, but New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art is celebrating over the course of eight weeks, in the form of its recently opened exhibition “Lisbon’s Hebrew Bible: Medieval Jewish Art in Context,” on display through Jan. 16. And the contexts are plural, not singular.

Menorah from the Cervera Bible.

The Choreography That Binds

Ohad Naharin’s relationship with the Alvin Ailey company goes back years. Now he’s helping the troupe’s new director ‘take the next step into the future.’

12/05/2011 - 19:00
Staff Writer

In the 1970s, Ohad Naharin’s career as a dancer in Israel was just taking off when he left for America to be with his wife. Naharin was, at the time, one of Batsheva’s most promising dancers, doted on by Martha Graham, the iconic American choreographer who helped train many performers in the budding Israeli company. But then he met Mari Kajiwara, an American dancer with the Alvin Ailey company.

Naharin, now 59, is dedicating all the performances of “Minus 16” to his late wife and former Ailey dancer, Maji Kajiwara.
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