The Arts

Preparing For The Inevitable

Waiting for the Nazis in the shadows, in ‘Mr. M.’

Special To The Jewish Week

Waiting for the unknown can be filled with terrors of its own. In “Mr. M,” a new work by Vit Horejs’ Czech-American Marionnette Theater, live actors and puppets combine to tell the story of a Czech Jew (Ronny Wasserstrom) during the Second World War who lives in such dread of being summoned by the Nazis that he takes on physical trials to prepare himself to undergo deprivation and torture. Adrienne Cooper performs Yiddish songs live as part of the production, which will be presented at both the Theater for the New City and at the JCC in Manhattan.

Ronny Wasserstrom, above, stars as the title character in “Mr. M.” The production at the Theater for the New City.

Mapping A Rich Heritage

Ex-Ailey dancer’s ‘HaMapah’ is ‘my own drash through dance.’

Special To The Jewish Week

Of all the arts, perhaps none surpasses dance at distilling the profound feeling of dislocation experienced by diasporic peoples.

McKinney “quilts” together the piece’s movement vocabulary from a rich array of sources.

Second Avenue Runs In The Family

Michael Tilson Thomas remembers his grandparents, the Thomashefskys,
and the heyday of Yiddish theater.

Staff Writer

The triple-barreled name Michael Tilson Thomas brings to mind gentility, aristocracy even. In fact, it is sort of prophetic: the real Michael Tilson Thomas is one of America’s blue-chip composers and conductors, a debonair figure whose elegant, long limbs and silver-draped hair suit the name well.

But if Thomas had had it his way, his name would have been something quite different: Michael Thomashefsky. “Thomashefsky” was the surname that of his paternal grandparents, whose names are synonymous with American Yiddish theater.

In “The Thomashefskys,” Michael Tilson Thomas, recounts a good part of the history of Yiddish theater.

Running From South Africa

In “My Race,” a Jewish athlete describes what it was like to grow up amid apartheid.

Staff Writer

After her grandchildren — twin girls — were born 12 years ago and she became a grandmother for the first time, Lorraine Abramson started thinking about her own, long-gone grandparents.

Growing up in South Africa during the heart of the apartheid era, Abramson, a prominent amateur athlete and member of a Jewish (i.e., white) family, knew three of her grandparents, who had grown up in Eastern Europe in a time of open anti-Semitism.

They had led entirely different lives than she did.

Lorraine Abramson with some of the artifacts she brought back from a trip to her grandparents’ hometowns in Eastern Europe.

The Aftermath Of Adolescence

Two ‘New Directors/New Films’ works, one French, the other Palestinian, focus on young adults.

Special To The Jewish Week

No amount of thoughtful planning can trump the serendipity of chance. Consider this juxtaposition: Last week, two Jewish-related films opened in New York that dealt with children under pressure. This week, the 40th annual New Directors/New Films event opens and among the films programmed are two Jewish-related films about young adults dealing with the aftermath of adolescence.

Prudence (Lea Seydoux), a troubled teen in "Belle Èpine," part of the New Directors/New Film series.

You Can Take A Boy Out Of The ‘Hood…

No novel has mined Philadelphia’s Jewish working class as powerfully as ‘Rich Boy.’

Jewish Week Book Critic

Robert Vishniak grew up on a Northeast Philadelphia street lined with identical narrow row houses, with clotheslines laced between them, canvas work shirts flapping in the wind. It was part of the Oxford Circle neighborhood of Sharon Pomerantz’s first novel “Rich Boy” (Twelve), which was crowded with Vishniak relatives and others who kept few secrets. Robert’s father shuttled between two jobs, as a postal worker and security guard; his mother ferried school kids to safety as a crossing guard; and Robert determined to have a very different life.

Pomerantz’s first novel.

Schnabel’s ‘Miral’ Falls Flat

Ponderousness, more than anti-Israel bias, is problem with the film based on Palestinian novel.

Special To The Jewish Week

Let’s get the controversy out of the way immediately: Anyone who finds Julian Schnabel’s new film “Miral” to be any more pro-Palestinian or anti-Israeli than dozens of other recent films about Israel’s policies in the West Bank hasn’t been getting out much.

Frieda Pinto as Miral. She is wearing the school uniform of the Dar Al-Tifel Institute.

British Jewish Culture Surging Into The Mainstream

From a Booker Prize-winning novel to a hit film to hip JCC programming,
a new Jewish confidence alongside increased anti-Semitism.

Special To The Jewish Week

‘Things are beginning to be vibrant — there is a new, unapologetic and unashamed generation, less worried about what will happen if the British notice there are Jews living here,” said British Jewish novelist Howard Jacobson, the 2010 winner of Britain’s most important literary prize, the Man Booker Prize, for his novel “The Finkler Question.”

Mary, Quite Contrary


Jewish mothers are a staple of Jewish humor, but as freewheeling as Jewish mother jokes may get, they do not typically relate to Mary, mother of Jesus. Now comes Michele A. Miller’s slapstick comedy, “Mother of God!,” in which what Christians deem the “greatest story ever told” is reframed as the tale of a dysfunctional Jewish family in ancient Nazareth. The play opened last week at the Richmond Theater on East 26th Street.

Scene from Michele A. Miller’s slapstick comedy “Mother of God!”

Putting The Triangle Tragedy To Music

Swados’ oratorio to include Jewish, Italian melodies.

Staff Writer

A native of Buffalo, where the dominant early 20th-century tragedy in the city’s collective memory was the 1901 assassination of President William McKinley, Elizabeth Swados never learned about New York City’s Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire.

Elizabeth Swados: Calls opportunity to write oratorio about 1911 fire “a blessing.”
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