The Arts

One Hungarian Town’s Lost Jews

There Was Once’ is an unusually effective and moving Holocaust documentary.
09/19/2011 - 20:00
Special to the Jewish Week

Eva Gregory recalls the moment when she realized that her family was in great peril. Then a young girl, she had accidentally dropped and shattered an entire set of expensive china. Horrified at what she had done, she braced for her mother’s explosion, but all her mother said was, “It’s all right. This doesn’t matter anymore.” Gregory, now an elderly woman, says, “That’s when I realized how bad the situation was.”

The elementary school in Kalosca, Hungary, in 1942.

The Last Jewish Olympiad Of Berlin

New film falls flat in its attempts to tell the story of Gretel Bergmann, the female high jumper pressured off the German team.
09/12/2011 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Racism is a virulent form of insanity. It makes people do stupid, self-defeating things. Consider the case of the Nazis and their preparation for the 1936 Olympics, held in Berlin. Among the best athletes preparing to compete was Gretel Bergmann, probably the finest female high jumper in the world. Only one small problem for the German track-and-field team: she was Jewish. So after the Nazis contrived to have her rejoin the team, apparently a response to American threats to boycott the Games, they did everything in their power to drive her off the team.

Members of the German track-and-field team with Nazi Party officials.

Drawing A Bead On Ezra Jack Keats

The children’s book author-illustrator broke ground with an African-American character in ‘The Snowy Day,’ but his Jewish identity isn’t black and white.
09/12/2011 - 20:00
Staff Writer

The publication of “The Snowy Day” in 1962 was a seminal moment in publishing history. Never before had a mainstream publisher put out a children’s book that focused on an African-American character, and never before had anyone thought that such a book could win a Caldecott Medal, one of the industry’s most prestigious prizes.

Keats’ “The Snowy Day,” was the first book published by a major publishing house to feature an African-American protagonist.

History And Jewish Identity, Times Two

Two one-woman shows measure the continuing impact of Anne Frank’s story and of apartheid.
09/12/2011 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

History’s shadows never stop lengthening. Two one-woman shows playing next week in New York explore how historical processes shape modern Jewish identity. Carol Lempert’s “After Anne Frank,” investigates the effect of the Dutch teenager’s story on the performer’s own life, while Gabrielle Maisels’ “Bongani” examines a relationship between a white Jewish girl and the black son of her family housekeeper in post-apartheid South Africa.

Gabrielle Maisels as one of 11 characters in her play “Bongani,” about the lingering effects of apartheid.

Russian Dolls’ Meets ‘A Doll’s House’

09/05/2011 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Talk about coitus interruptus. In Anna Fishbeyn’s new comedy, “Sex in Mommyville,” a couple struggles to find time in the bedroom while faced with unrelenting demands from whiny children and nosy parents. The show, which is a lusty, unbridled Russian Jewish updating of Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House,” will be performed this weekend at the Manhattan Repertory Theatre in Midtown.

A scene from Anna Fishbeyn’s “Sex in Mommyville.”

The Muslim Boy At The Yeshiva

In ‘David,’ a story of interfaith friendship manages to avoid feel-good clichés.
09/05/2011 - 20:00
Special to the Jewish Week

Any time you have two schoolboys of different ethnicities thrown together in a drama, there is the danger of creating an after-school special, one of those facile, rather fatuous feel-good movies in which everyone comes to love one another, regardless of any social reality and regardless of the outside world. So when someone tells you that “David,” a new indie film from writer-directors Joel Fendelman and Patrick Daly is about a couple of 11-year-olds, one Muslim the other an Orthodox Jew, who become friends due to a misunderstanding, you might expect the worst.

Yoav (Binyomin Shtaynberger) and Daud (Muatasem Mishal) in Chinatown in a scene from “David.”

‘Exodus’ And The Americanization Of Israel’s Founding

Maya Zack recreates a 1930s Berlin living room, complete with portents of doom.
09/05/2011 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

An entire generation of American Jews — and Americans generally — were riveted by the 1958 best-selling novel, “Exodus,” and by the blockbuster movie two years later. Mining the “Wild West” genre, Leon Uris’ “Exodus” sold more than seven million copies in the United States, and was the underground “bible” for Soviet Jews.

Leon Uris painted an inspirational -- but far from balanced -- picture of Israel’s fight for independence.

‘Exodus’ And The Americanization Of Israel’s Founding

A new book explores the impact of Leon Uris’ 1958 bestseller — but ignores many of its inaccuracies and omissions.
08/30/2011 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

An entire generation of American Jews — and Americans generally — were riveted by the 1958 best-selling novel, “Exodus,” and by the blockbuster movie two years later. Mining the “Wild West” genre, Leon Uris’ “Exodus” sold more than seven million copies in the United States, and was the underground “bible” for Soviet Jews.

The cover of M.M. Silver's "Our Exodus."

Refinancing Bernstein’s ‘The Debt’

Remake of Mossad movie, with Helen Mirren, is even better than the original.
08/30/2011 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

The difference between Assaf Bernstein’s 2007 film “The Debt” and the English-language remake that opens on Aug. 31 can be seen in the faces of the films’ respective female leads. In the Israeli original, Gila Almagor looks like a prosperous suburban matron, her face unlined except for an almost imperceptible scar on one cheek. By contrast, Helen Mirren sports an angry-looking L-shaped scar that draws her face taut, emphasizing the lined, almost craggy, and exhausted visage of someone with the weight of Jewish history on her shoulders.

Helen Mirren in "The Debt."

When Harry Met Eddie

Did the relationship between Harry Truman and Eddie Jacobson really lead to Israel’s creation?
08/29/2011 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Were it not for Eddie Jacobson, a Jewish haberdasher from Kansas City, the State of Israel might never have come to be. So contends Mark Weston in his play, “Harry & Eddie: The Birth of Israel,” which traces Harry Truman’s decision to recognize the fledgling Jewish state to his long-time friendship with Jacobson. Directed by Bob Spiotto, the play has its premiere Off Broadway next week at St. Luke’s Theater in Midtown. Rick Grossman, Dan Hicks and Lydia Gladstone are all in the cast.

Dan Hicks as Harry Truman, Rick Grossman as Eddie Jacobson and Lydia Gladstone as Bluma Jacobson in scene from “Harry and Eddie.
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