The Arts

Pacino’s Ounce Of Flesh

His Shylock comes up thin in the Park.

06/29/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

He has been played for laughs and played for chills, but the soon-to-be homeless Shylock who has taken up residence in Central Park in the Public Theater’s new production of “The Merchant of Venice,” directed by Daniel Sullivan, is played purely for pity. That it is Al Pacino, of all actors, who fails to give the Jewish moneylender a menacing edge, is surprising beyond measure.

Al Pacino’s Shylock is wounded and bitter, but never particularly malevolent. Joan Marcus

Israel’s Black Panthers Remembered

BAM film documents Mizrahi civil rights movement of the ‘70s, though inequities still resonate for Jews from Arab countries.

06/29/2010
Staff Writer

Shortly after Israel’s victory in the War of Independence, the Jewish state took in a mass exodus of Jews from Arab lands, first in 1949, and then again in 1956. 

Jews from Arab lands, called Mizrahim, came to Israel not because they were ardent Zionists, but because their host Arab countries, angered by the establishment of the State of Israel, had turned against them. 

A scene from “The Black Panthers (In Israel) Speak” shows a Mizrahi protest from the early ‘70s.

Israeli Jazzman’s Southern Swing

From Houston to Hattiesburg, saxophonist Amir Gwirtzman’s four-month tour in the American South was ‘highlight of my career.’

06/28/2010
Staff Writer

Growing up along the shores of the Mediterranean, where a football is round and the sport is played by men in shorts on a grass-covered pitch, you don’t learn much about the huddling, helmeted brand of the NFL game beloved on the bayou.

But Amir Gwirtzman is a quick learner.

Amir Gwirtzman

Clash Of Zionisms In Academia

Group of scholars pressing idea of cultural Zionism, amid pushback.

06/23/2010
Staff Writer

 From the United Nations to the capitals of Europe to the pages of the New York Review of Books, Zionism — and the Israeli policies that undergird it — have lately come under withering attack.

Israel is reeling from the international condemnation following the failed flotilla attack. And Peter Beinart’s essay in the NYRB — which attacked Jewish leaders for failing to inspire a new generation of Jews committed to Israel — urged a more liberal Zionism as a way to get young Jews back in the fold.

Noam Pianko’s new book  focuses on forgotten cultural Zionists.

Between Oy Vey And Fuhgeddaboudit

06/22/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

In American stage and film comedy, there used to be a sure-fire formula for success: take a Jewish boy and an Irish girl, make them fall in love with each other, and then watch the sparks fly as the immigrant parents get into all sorts of conflict with each other over the impending match.

Jennifer Leigh Cohen and Peter Marinaro in the interfaith comedy “Spaghetti and Matzo Balls — Fuhgeddaboudit!”

Feeling Phil Spector’s Pain

New documentary sheds light on the ultimate outsider.

06/22/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

Among the myriad ways in which Jews became Americans in the 20th century, one of the most felicitous was their involvement in the creation of popular music. The overwhelming presence of Jewish-Americans in the pages of the Great American Songbook is proverbial. Even a gilt-edged WASP like Cole Porter prided himself on “writing Jewish.”

Spector, currently serving a 19-year prison sentence for murder, is the focus of a new documentary by Vikram Jayanti, “The Agony

Jewish Singer Hooked On Bossa Nova

How does a rabbi’s kid from New Jersey get swept up in a Brazilian musical wave? Meet singer-songwriter Avi Wisnia.

06/18/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

If singer-songwriter Avi Wisnia’s new CD “Something New” were a tapestry, when you turn it over you would see a bright yellow-green thread running through every song, a skein of Brazilian jazz steeped in bossa nova and samba. That is a nice musical preoccupation to have under any circumstances, but as one critic asked recently, How does a rabbi’s kid from New Jersey get hooked on bossa nova? And we do mean hooked: Wisnia did his undergraduate work at NYU’s Albert Gallatin School on Brazilian music, language and culture.

Singer-songwriter Avi Wisnia

‘I Never Felt In My Place’

In ‘Let It Rain,’ filmmaker/actress Agnes Jaoui, the French-born daughter of Tunisian Jewish
immigrants, explores damaged people.

06/15/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

Agnes Jaoui knows what it feels like not to fit in.

“My parents were Jews from Tunisia,” she says, sitting on the edge of the bed in a Soho hotel suite. “I was born in a suburb of Paris, but when I was 7 we moved to Paris itself. We lived in a poor and ugly block, but in a very chic arondissement [neighborhood]. So I went to very, very good schools, but it was purely by chance, because we were in this arondissement. I never felt in my place, nowhere.”

Agnes Jaoui as Agathe Villanova and Jean-Pierre Bacri in Jaoui’s “Let it Rain.”

A Ballet For Bugsy Siegel?

06/09/2010
Staff Writer

 When she was growing up, Melissa Barak hated Christmas. “I used to beg for a tree,” said Barak, a choreographer who premiered a new work for New York City Ballet last weekend.

Her mother, who was Jewish, tried to cheer Barak up by listing all the famous Jewish stars. “Joan Rivers, Barbra Streisand, she’d say. She did it to make me feel better.” It didn’t work, Barak said.

But then her mother added one more: “Well, the guy who created Las Vegas was Jewish,” Barak recalled her mother saying. That caught her attention.

Melissa Barak, foreground, rehearsing dancers Robert Fairchild and Jennifer Ringer for “Call Me Ben.” Paul Kolnik

A Rivers Runs Through It

06/08/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

In what must be one of the most peculiar assertions ever made by a major philosopher, Alfred North Whitehead once told an interlocutor that his only problem with the Jews was their lack of humor. Lack of humor?! Must have been those Anglo-Jewish academics he hung out with.

Syndicate content