The Arts

‘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.

Ghosts Of Chanukahs Past

12/05/2011 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Judging by the Jewish penchant for parody, nothing is sacred in Western culture. We’ve seen Yiddish translations of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, Mickey Katz and Allan Sherman spoofs of classical music and popular songs and Mel Brooks send-ups of classic film genres.

Jackie Hoffman as a Jewish scrooge in “A Chanukah Charol.”  Carol Rosegg

Too Much Mandy,Not Enough Patti

Patinkin shines (too brightly?) in uneven concert with LuPone.
11/28/2011 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

He seems capable of anything, this dashing man with the magical, mellifluous voice. The compulsively watchable Mandy Patinkin, back on Broadway in a concert of show tunes with Patti LuPone, is ever the master entertainer. If only Patinkin’s outsize ego did not practically crowd his costar off the stage. LuPone fans, take note. The much ballyhooed “An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin” is mostly, and most memorably, an evening with the latter.

Mandy Patinkin and Patti LuPone sing tunes from “Company,” “South Pacific” and “Evita,” among others, in their new show.

Two Jews Take On The Shakers

Playwright Alfred Uhry and choreographer Martha Clarke explore the devoutly Christian group in ‘Angel Reapers.’
11/28/2011 - 19:00
Staff Writer

These days, a musical about a community where all members gather in the nude to sing and dance wouldn’t seem all that strange.  After all, “Hair” has been around for decades.

But if you heard that this community was devoutly Christian, took vows of celibacy, and actually flourished nearly 200 years ago, you might raise an eyebrow. Perhaps you’d raise the other one if you heard that both the creators of this show were Jews. 

Simple gifts: Clarke used elements of Shaker prayer in her choreography. Rob Strong
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