The Arts

Rescued From Saddam’s Clutches

Trove of Iraqi Jewish treasures on view.

03/11/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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In 2003, when Coalition forces seized Baghdad, a group of American soldiers stumbled upon treasures from the Jewish community of Iraq. While the team had been sent to search for nuclear, biological and chemical weapons in Saddam Hussein’s intelligence building, what they found were nearly 3,000 books and documents that had originally come from synagogues and Jewish organizations. The items were submerged under four feet of water, and the reason they were there in the first place remains a mystery.

Items recovered from flooded basement of Saddam’s intelligence headquarters.  Photo courtesy of National Archives

Iraqi Jewish Music For A New Millennium

Dudu Tassa updates (and rocks) the musical heritage passed down to him from his ancestors.

03/04/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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It is a bitter thing for an artist to suddenly descend from stardom to obscurity through no fault of his own. When Daoud al-Kuwaiti and his brother Salah were forced to leave Iraq for Israel in 1951, along with 120,000 other Iraqi Jews, they went from being musical giants honored by the royal court to being... grocers.

Dudu Tassa, grandson Iraqi Jewish singing legend Daoud al-Kuwaiti.

Disabilities Film Festival Making Big Strides

Sixth installment brings subject of deafness to the fore.

03/04/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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Six years ago, when he was putting together the inaugural ReelAbilities: NY Disabilities Film Festival, Isaac Zablocki sensed he was on to something.

Tova, a matchmaker stricken with muscular dystrophy, is the central character in “Do You Believe in Love?”

A Curtain Call For Paddy Chayefsky

A new production of ‘Middle of the Night’ and a new biography fueling a reassessment of the screenwriter-playwright’s emotionally charged work.

03/04/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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Mention the name of Jewish screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky, and most people think of “Marty,” the path-breaking 1950s teleplay turned film about a lonely Italian-American butcher in the Bronx. Or they think of the electrifying scene in the 1976 Sidney Lumet film, “Network,” in which a TV anchorman demands that all New Yorkers throw open their windows and shout, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this any more!”

Nicole Lowrance and Jonathan Hadary, left, star in a revival of “Middle of the Night” by Paddy Chayefsky, right.  Carol Rosegg

‘She’ll Help You Live A Happier Life’

Doc featuring Alice Herz-Sommer, world’s oldest Holocaust survivor, wins Oscar just days after her death.

03/04/2014
JTA
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Los Angeles — In her 110 years, Alice Herz-Sommer was an accomplished concert pianist and teacher, a wife and mother — and a prisoner in Theresienstadt.

Alice Herz-Sommer, the subject of an Oscar-winning documentary. “Music is God,” she would say.  JTA

A Charged Photo Shoot

02/25/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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Conflict between brothers is a familiar theme in Jewish culture, from warring brothers in the Torah to sibling rivalry in Joel and Ethan Coen’s “A Serious Man.” Now comes Charles Gershman’s one-act drama, “Shooting Abe,” in which an Orthodox Jew bursts into his photographer brother’s nude male photo shoot. The play, which asks how far a Jew can stray from his heritage, continues this week at the Frigid New York Festival on the Lower East Side.

Ethan Fishbane (Abe), Christopher Moss (Ty), and Joe Kopyt (Shlomi) in scene from “Shooting Abe.”  Mike Lepetit

Klez Puts On Scottish Plaid

Museum at Eldridge Street show fuses baroque and klezmer.

02/25/2014
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The Jews of Scotland were recently awarded an official tartan. Actually, “they have three now,” says Hanna Griff-Slevin, director of the family history center and cultural programs at the Museum at Eldridge Street.

David Greenberg performs on baroque and octave violin. Holly Crooks

The Battle Of Stalingrad, In 3-D

Fedor Bondarchuk’s ‘Stalingrad’ tries to balance the epic with the intimate.

02/25/2014
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Vasily Grossman’s monumental novel “Life and Fate” is surely one that, like its inspiration “War and Peace,” defies easy adaptation to the movie screen. Frederick Wiseman’s “The Last Letter” took a masterful minimalist approach, using a single chapter from the 900-page volume and turning it into a monodrama showcasing Catherine Samie as a Jewish doctor recounting the coming of the Nazi murder machine to her hometown. The BBC turned “Life and Fate” into an eight-hour radio drama anchored by Kenneth Branagh and David Tennant. And Russian television tackled it in 2012 in a nine-hour miniseries.

Fedor Bondarchuk, left, filming “Stalingrad.” Wikimedia Commons

When History Disrupts Dreams

The characters in Molly Antopol’s debut collection of ‘diasporic’ stories face a series of disconnects

02/25/2014
Culture Editor
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At night, Talia and her sisters liked to sneak onto the kibbutz adjacent to their land and hang out in the date palms, climbing and balancing themselves while trying to steer clear of the thorns — they understood that whatever was said there stayed there.  Everything in life seemed solvable among those trees. She also loved the walk back home in the dark, when it was impossible to distinguish between sky and hills.

Molly Antopol writes short stories that combine personal challenges with sweeping historical events. Courtesy of Norton

Choreographing A New Purim Story

02/18/2014
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Jewish holidays typically dramatize the struggles of men — Abraham being commanded to sacrifice his son, Moses trying to persuade Pharaoh to let the Israelites go, the Maccabee soldiers battling against the Seleucid Greek oppressors. But Purim puts a Jewish woman front and center, giving her a pivotal role in saving her people from destruction.

The Ariel Rivka Dance performs “Vashti” and “Esther” in two-part show.  Jonathan Beck
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