The Arts

Small Figures Reveal Big Holocaust Story

‘Kamp’ recreates Auschwitz in miniature.

06/01/2010
Staff Writer

When the Nazis invaded Holland in May of 1940, Pauline Kalker’s grandfather, Joseph Emanuel, who was Jewish, went into hiding. He moved from house to house, evading the Nazis for several months. But soon he was caught. The Nazis tortured him for three days, hoping to get information about where other Jews were hiding, but he did not crack.

Ten Dutch artists built a near-exact model of Auschwitz, including its gas showers and ovens. Photos by Herman Helle

Changing Images Muddy Picture Of Zionism, Israel

For young American Jews, it’s a long way from ‘Exodus’ to the separation wall.

05/26/2010
Staff Writer

 In 1960, the film “Exodus” was nominated for three Academy Awards. Based on Leon Uris’ novel about the founding of Israel, it seems hard to believe that such a film, drenched in Jewish military heroism and suffused with Holocaust imagery and Arab aggression, could have such broad and unambiguous appeal. But it did. It not only won an Oscar, it also starred a Hollywood icon, Paul Newman, as the heroic Jewish fighter, and even made a commendable showing at Cannes.

But almost a half-century later, a very different film about Israel won an Oscar nomination. “Waltz With Bashir,” (2008) directed by the Israeli Ari Folman, put a spotlight on the massacres at the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps during the first Lebanon War.  

Two images of Israel, two generations: “Exodus” and “Waltz with Bashir.”

Living By His Wits: New Play Highlights Eastern European Folk Hero, Joker

05/25/2010

Call him the Robin Hood  of Eastern European Jewish culture.

Hershele Ostropolyer was an exuberant trickster who roamed the Ukrainian countryside at the turn of the 19th century, playing jokes on the rich to help the poor. The Folksbiene Yiddish Theatre’s new production, “The Adventures of Hershele Ostropolyer,” stars Mike Burstyn as the legendary joker who always has another trick up his sleeve.

Jewish Songwriter Offers An Indie Take On Genesis

Wailing Wall’s Jesse Rifkin reimagines, and personalizes, the biblical story.

05/25/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

Jesse Rifkin is remembering his childhood in Annapolis, Md. He began writing songs when he was 4. At that age, he loved the Beatles. He was already thinking of himself as a career musician.

“Sometimes you just know,” he says firmly.

It all came true; he has recorded an EP and two CDs with his Wailing Wall band, with the latter recordings being released through JDub Records. He will be launching his new album, “The Low Hanging Fruit,” with a gig in New York on June 4.

Songwriter Jesse Rifkin’s “Low-Hanging Fruit” CD bridges the Bible and the economic downturn.

Israeli Authors Lost In Translation as Few Hebrew-language Books Published in English

New subsidized publishing venture holds out hope for greater literary visibility here.

05/25/2010
Staff Writer

Last year, a scandal erupted in Israel over the winner of the Sapir Prize, the country’s top literary award. The honor went to a book by Alon Hilu, 39, one of the country’s most promising young writers. Titled “The House of Rajani,” it focused on the complex relationship between an early Zionist from Russia who, in 1895, immigrates to Jaffa and falls in love with the Arab woman whose land he hopes to acquire.

Pianist Judith Berkson: A Journey Across Genres

05/21/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

If genetics count for anything, Judith Berkson’s career choice was foreordained. Her father is a cantor, her mother a pianist and, with her two sisters and one brother, the entire family formed a band that entertained at synagogues and JCCs in the Chicago area as she was growing up.

Pianist-singer Judith Berkson moves easily between cantorial music, classical and cutting-edge jazz.

Israel, Caught In All Its Complexities

Rina Castelnuovo’s photos, at the Meislin Gallery.

05/21/2010
Staff Writer

 On Tuesday, Andrea Meislin, an art dealer in New York, was on her way to Washington. Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, had asked her to help decorate his new home, knowing that she represented some of Israel’s most prominent photographers. But Meislin, unsure of Oren’s politics and his artistic tastes, was packing light. She was bringing only her laptop for this trip, she said, which contained images of all her artwork, instead of carrying just a few select prints. She did not want to offend him with any of her own choices.

“Cave of the Patriarchs, Hebron, 2010,” by Rina Castelnuovo.

Jew vs. Jew, The Musical

05/21/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

Which poses the greater threat to the survival of the Jewish people — internal division or external violence? For retired Cantor Harold Lerner, whose new play with music, “Kimber Road” will be performed in a free staged reading with a cast of ten at the 92nd Street Y next week, the answer is definitely the former.

And On The Seventh Day...

Judith Shulevitz’s ‘Sabbath World’ offers a thorough examination of Judaism’s weekly ritual.

05/18/2010
Jewish Week Book Critic

In New York City, we have neither the siren that sounds in Israel on late Friday afternoons, nor the town criers who would yell “Shabbos” adamantly into the streets of Eastern European towns. But there’s a certain quality of light, the glow before twilight, which signals — confirmed by a glance at a clock — the onset of Shabbat, no matter the season.

Shulevitz shifts from Kierkegaard to the prophet Nehemia to the Gospel of Mark in “The Sabbath World.”

Israel, Caught In All Its Complexities

Rina Castelnuovo’s photos, at the Meislin Gallery.

05/13/2010
Staff Writer

On Tuesday, Andrea Meislin, an art dealer in New York, was on her way to Washington. Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, asked her to help decorate his new home, knowing that she represented some of Israel’s most prominent photographers. But Meislin, unsure of Oren’s politics and his artistic tastes, was packing light. She was bringing only her laptop for this trip, she said, which contained images of all her artwork, instead of carrying just a few select prints. She did not want to offend him with any of her own choices.

Beth Haran, West Bank ("Harvesting"), 2009.
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