The JW Q&A

A weekly interview with notable figures and names in the news.

When The Deli Was A ‘Surrogate Synagogue’

A new book 'Pastrami on Rye' delves into deli culture, history and its layered connection to Jewish identity.

01/27/2016 - 09:36
Culture Editor

Ted Merwin, The Jewish Week’s longtime theater critic, was just awarded a National Jewish Book Award in the category of Education and Jewish Identity for his new book, “Pastrami on Rye: An Overstuffed History of the Jewish Deli” (NYU Press). Extensively researched, the book delves into deli culture, history and its layered connection to Jewish identity, seasoned with humor. Merwin, who is associate professor of religion and Judaic Studies at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa., is founding director of the Milton B. Asbell Center for Jewish Life. He grew up in Great Neck, L.I., where he spent many Sunday evenings procuring turkey and roast beef for his family from a nearby delicatessen, where he first observed the “intricate, elegant choreography to the movements of the counterman as he sliced up the meat.” We interviewed him via email.

Ted Merwin: Neo-retro delis like Mile End “have upped the gourmet quotient in Jewish food.”

Peres: ‘You Cannot Answer A Knife With A Knife’

01/19/2016 - 11:50

Last month, rumors flooded the Internet that former Israeli President Shimon Peres was dead. True to form, the man who tirelessly trumpets his country’s high-tech sector took to Facebook to clear the air.

Shimon Peres: At 92, still active, despite a recent mild heart attack. Getty Images

Jews ‘Stuck In Middle’ In A Changing Europe

Charles Asher Small runs an organization dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism "on the battlefield of ideas."

01/06/2016 - 10:48

Charles Asher Small is founder and executive director of the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy (ISGAP). He is also a fellow at Stanford University and a professor at the Moshe Dayan Centre at Tel Aviv University.

Charles Asher Small: Attacks on Israeli policies call for a “nuanced” response.

Brandeis’ New President: ‘We Need To Have Diversity’

Ronald Liebowitz says the school needs to understand itself: Who it is and what it wants to become.

12/29/2015 - 11:11

Brandeis University announced last week that its next president will be Ronald Liebowitz, the former president of Middlebury College. Liebowitz, a professor of geography, served as Middlebury’s provost for seven years. He replaces Frederick Lawrence, who served from 2011 until this past spring.

Though he won’t start until next July, Liebowitz shared some of his ideas about the challenges he faces in an interview with JTA. A condensed version of the conversation follows:

Ronald Liebowitz: “How does [Brandeis] reconcile its rich past with its future?”

New JCPA Head Sees Outreach To Latinos

12/22/2015 - 12:23
staff writer

David Bernstein takes over next month as president and CEO of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the voice of the Jewish federations’ 125 Jewish community relations councils on domestic and international issues, and which represents 14 national organizations.

A longtime Jewish advocacy professional, Bernstein was president of Culture Solutions LLC, which helps Jewish federations and national foundations become more effective, and served as executive director of The David Project, which helps to improve Israel’s image on campuses. In addition, he handled community and government relations at the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington. This is an edited transcript of an interview with him.

David Bernstein: Heading out on a listening tour to help determine priorities.

Working To ‘Construct’ A ‘New Yiddish Culture’

Josh Waletzky is creating a new festival to celebrate a culture in the making.

12/15/2015 (All day)
Culture Editor

As much of the city will be marking the festive end of 2015, the Lower East Side will be alive with Yiddish culture, with a new festival of Yiddish language, music, dance, theater, art and foodways. Yiddish New York, which runs from Dec. 24 to 30, includes workshops, concerts, lectures, dance parties, a visual art exhibition, walking tours in English and a nature tour in Yiddish, and programs for kids and teens, in a variety of venues below 14th Street. The festival is an unusual partnership between the Center for Traditional Music & Dance, the 14th Street Y, Town & Village Synagogue, YIVO, Workmen’s Circle, the Stanton Street Shul and other organizations.

Josh Waletzky: Yiddish New York festival replaces “hole in the calendar” left by KlezKamp.

New Look, Focus For Tel Aviv Museum

Irina Nevzlin, board chair of the Museum of the Jewish People, talks about its redesign.

12/07/2015 - 19:00

Israel’s Beit Hatefutsot, the Museum of the Jewish People, is undergoing a total redesign, including changing its name from Museum of the Jewish Diaspora Museum. The Tel Aviv museum is a must-see destination on the itineraries of many U.S. tourists. Irina Nevzlin, the museum’s board chairman, gives the Jewish Week a peek into its renewal in advance of the museum’s annual gala dinner in New York on Dec. 14.

Retooled Museum of the Jewish People will focus on the Jewish “story of creativity,” says its chair, Irina Nevzlin.Credit

Einstein And Judaism, Relatively Speaking

11/30/2015 - 19:00

Last Wednesday marked the centennial of Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity, a discovery that forever revolutionized the study of gravity, space and time. While Einstein’s genius was well established by 1915, the year the theory was published (he devised the famed E=mc2 equation 10 years earlier), the physicist’s relationship to Judaism and Zionism was still evolving.

Critical Jewish mass: Albert Einstein in 1946. Getty Images

Anatevka Dancing, ‘2.0’

Israeli-born choreographer enhances Jerome Robbins’ iconic steps.

11/24/2015 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Bartlett Sher, who is directing the “Fiddler on the Roof” revival now on Broadway, is a master of interpreting classics, having reworked “South Pacific,” which earned him a Tony Award in 2008, and Clifford Odets’ boxing drama “Golden Boy.” For his “Fiddler” interpretation, he has tapped the Israeli-born, London-based modern dance choreographer Hofesh Shechter to tweak Jerome Robbins’ original choreography. The Robbins Estate has granted more freedom to this revival than to most other productions of the musical, offering Shechter new creative opportunities within Robbins’ choreography.  

“I’m looking at the idea of how culture and tradition survive time,” says Hofesh Shechter. Jake Walters

Taking Up The Torch At AJWS

Robert Bank, a pianist and lawyer who has worked at the agency since 2009, will succeed Ruth Messinger.

11/23/2015 - 19:00

American Jewish World Service, the 30-year-old nonprofit organization that supports human rights and anti-poverty activism in the developing world and educates the American Jewish community about global justice, recently announced that in July, Robert Bank, executive vice president, will succeed Ruth Messinger as president. Messinger has headed AJWS since 1998.

Bank, a native of South Africa, moved to New York to study piano at Juilliard. He went on to study law at the City University of New York Law School and worked for the New York City Law Department and Gay Men’s Health Crisis before joining AJWS in 2009.

We caught up with Bank by phone earlier this month.

AJWS’ new head Robert Bank will follow in the footsteps of an icon, Ruth Messinger.
Syndicate content