The Arts

Coming Home To Yiddish

Inna Barmash’s new ‘Yiddish Love Songs and Lullabies’ CD merges her professional and personal lives.

03/25/2014
Special To The Jewish Week

When Inna Barmash sings a Yiddish lullaby during her show next week at the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue, it won’t be an entirely unusual experience. She is more used to singing those songs to a pair of young men in their pajamas, but having a larger audience that is fully dressed won’t phase her.

Inna Barmash accompanied by her husband, Lev Zhurbin. Paul Birman

Downward Mobility In Israel

In Tom Shoval’s ‘Youth,’ the strains of the middle class are on full view.

03/19/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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There is a new generation of Israeli filmmakers out there, and its practitioners are taking the Israeli cinema in some fascinating new directions. Whether it’s the insider’s view of the haredi world given by Rama Burshtein in “Fill the Void,” the deeply disturbed teens in Jonathon Gurfinkel’s “S#x Acts” or the calculated ultra-violence of Aharon Keshales and Navot Pupashado in “Rabies” and “Big Bad Wolves,” these filmmakers are taking a subversive look at elements of Israeli society through the lens of the genre film. You can add another name to that list: Tom Shoval, whose first feature film, “Youth,” is on display in this year’s edition of New Directors/New Films, which runs from March 19-30.

David and Eitan Cunio as the brothers Yaki and Shaul in "Youth." Courtesy of United King Films

Tova Mirvis’ New York Novel

A sense of place — the Upper West Side, that is — runs through ‘Visible City.’

03/18/2014
Culture Editor
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Tova Mirvis’ new novel is full of Manhattan moments — when you learn that your neighbor is your best friend’s therapist, or that you can’t help but eavesdrop on a conversation behind you about people you know. It may be a combination of coincidence and close quarters, but lives in this city seem to overlap and intersect repeatedly.

Mirvis’ new novel offers a window on New York’s “anonymous intimacy."  Courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Feminist Seder Pioneer Esther Bronner Is Subject Of New Documentary

03/18/2014
Culture Editor
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At the feminist seders led by novelist E.M. Broner, the women would go around and introduce themselves matrilineally, naming as many ancestors as they knew. Broner wanted to be sure that they remembered the generations of women who spent the seder in the kitchen, preparing and serving, leaving the telling of the Passover story to the men.

Esther Broner, second from left, pioneered the first feminist seder in 1976. Joan Roth

A Jewish Outlaw, 17th-Century Style

03/18/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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He was a heretic who boldly helped to invent secular Judaism. The 17th-century Dutch Jewish philosopher, Uriel Acosta, questioned Jewish orthodoxy at a time when the Jewish community in Amsterdam was still reeling from the Inquisition — and desperately seeking respectability in the eyes of Jews and non-Jews alike. Now, in the capstone production of its two-year Yiddish theater project, comes Target Margin’s “Uriel Acosta: I Want That Man!” Now in previews, it opens next Monday night in Queens for a two-week run, with four actors each playing Acosta, in addition to other roles.

Scene from “Uriel Acosta: I Want That Man!” about 17th-century religious iconoclast. Erik Carter

Back From Iran

The new memoir “A Sliver of Light” sheds light on the captivity, for more than two years, of three Americans.

03/14/2014
Jewish Week Correspondent
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Josh Fattal was imprisoned in Iran for 781 days on the charge of espionage. In his fascinating new memoir, “A Sliver of Light,” co-written with Shane Bauer and Sarah Shourd, he describes how the three friends went hiking in Kurdistan and didn’t realize they were near the Iranian border. They were told to come forward by soldiers they soon realized were Iranian. They were placed in cars, blindfolded, and imprisoned. They would soon hear screams of torture, and they were uncertain if they would live or die. Fattal, who lives in Brooklyn and is pursuing a PhD in history at New York University, spoke with Jewish Week by phone.

Josh Fattal, left, Shane Bauer and Sarah Shourd

Your weekly guide to what's hot in New York area arts.

09/10/2014
Calendars Editor
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THE BUZZ

THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU

Jonathan Tropper’s 2010 novel gets the big-screen treatment in “This is Where I Leave You,” a dark comedy of family dysfunction as can only happen during the forced prolonged interaction of shiva. (Tropper wrote the screenplay.) Keep an eye out for Ben Schwartz as a “cool” rabbi, but the film features an all-star cast that includes Tina Fey, Jane Fonda and Adam Driver.

Tina Fey stars in “this is Where I Leave You,”  a film centering around a dysfunctional Jewish family.

Kaddish, From A Woman’s Perspective

Getting feminine voices into the discussion on mourning.

03/11/2014
Culture Editor
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In many a shiva house, books of consolation and Jewish ritual are as ubiquitous as archival photos and cellophane-wrapped platters of food. You’re likely to find Leon Wieseltier’s “Kaddish,” Rabbi Maurice Lamm’s “The Jewish Way in Death and Mourning” and perhaps Rabbi Richard Hirsh’s “The Journey of Mourning.” A new book by Michal Smart and Barbara Ashkenas, “Kaddish, Women’s Voices” (Urim) belongs on the table.

“Kaddish: Women’s Voices” was recently awarded a 2013 National Jewish Book Award in Contemporary Jewish Life.  Courtesy of Urim

A Bunch Of Real Characters

03/11/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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From Bert Lahr to Jack Gilford, among the most beloved of Broadway performers are “character actors” — those who play quirky and eccentric characters, often in supporting roles. With “Character Man,” Jim Brochu pays tribute to the character actors of yesteryear (many of whom were Jewish) who made an indelible mark on the theater. The one-man show opened last week Off-Broadway.

Jim Brochu channels character actors of yesteryear in “Character Man.”  Carol Rosegg

Catalan Film Puts New Spin On Spanish Anti-Semitism

‘The Stigma?’ leads the 17th annual Sephardic Film Festival.

03/11/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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At this stage of Jewish history, one might think that the last thing needed is a documentary that traces the ideological roots of ant-Semitism. We should know all this stuff by now, right? But “The Stigma?,” the new Catalan film that has its U.S. premiere as part of the 17th New York Sephardic Jewish Film Festival, which begins this week, puts that history in a subtly different context that makes all the difference.

Right, the poster for Martí Sans’ “The Stigma?” Below,  “The Rabbi’s Cat.” Courtesy of Sephardic Film Festival
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