The Arts

Dancing Between Worlds

Acclaimed young choreographer Avi Scher has had to balance the rigors of ballet and of Orthodox Judaism. It hasn’t been easy.
09/26/2011 - 20:00
Staff Writer

When Avi Scher was accepted to the School of American Ballet almost two decades ago, when he was 10, he and his family faced a stark choice: they could stay in Israel with their tight-knit Orthodox community, where Scher was already training with one of the country’s prestigious ballet companies.

Nancy Richer and Kelsey Coventry in Scher’s “No Matter What.”

The ‘Key’ To ‘Kaddish’

Mourning and madness in stage version of Ginsberg’s elegy for his mother
09/26/2011 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

He was not a practicing Jew, but Allen Ginsberg’s poetry was deeply religious in its mystical energies, shimmering visions and profound longings for transcendence. Nowhere is this more apparent than in “Kaddish,” Ginsberg’s incantatory, surrealistic elegy for his mother, written in 1959. Now comes “Kaddish (or The Key in the Window)” as a one-man play starring Donnie Mather in a new production in the East Village.

Donnie Mather, above, in his one-man show “Kaddish,” an homage to Beat poet Allen Ginsberg, right.

The Kol Nidre Project

One prayer, several melodies and 18 perspectives explored in documentary and related concert.
09/20/2011 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

The text is straightforward but dry. It’s a little like singing a rental agreement.

Yet “Kol Nidre,” the liturgy for Yom Kippur eve, is one of the most spiritually powerful experiences Jewish worship has to offer. How does one explain this seeming contradiction?

Cellist Mairi Dorman-Phaneuf and Stephen Scholle

Love And Marriage, Song And Dance

From speed dating to weddings, three New York Musical Theater Festival productions give a 21st-century Jewish spin on romance.
09/19/2011 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

From the rival lovers in “Oklahoma” to the interracial relationships in “South Pacific,” romance has always been a major theme of the Broadway musical. Now come three new productions in the New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF) that give a 21st-century Jewish spin to themes of love and sex.

The cast of “My History of Marriage.”

Egyptian Girlhood Interrupted?

In ‘Arrogant Years,’ Lucette Lagnado explores her and her mother’s different, and at times disappointing, paths.
09/19/2011 - 20:00
Jewish Week Book Critic

Lucette Lagnado’s mother Edith grew up in a humble stone house in an alleyway in Cairo’s main Jewish neighborhood in the 1920s and ‘30s. The strikingly beautiful Edith was known as the Belle of the Alleyway. Late every afternoon, Edith and her mother Alexandra, who had been abandoned by her husband, would sit on their balcony, drinking Turkish coffee, enjoying the breeze of the Sahara, and then perhaps take a stroll, arm-in-arm.

Lucette Lagnado's book "Arrogant Years."

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.”
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