The ‘biography’ of a work of synagogue art from 11th-century Cairo.
Special To The Jewish Week
Back in the 1990s, a medieval synagogue ark door from Cairo was sold at a Florida estate auction house. It dated back to the Fatimid period in the 11th century; how the ark made its way from Egypt to America remains unclear.
If he had done what he wanted, Jerome Felder would have become a professional athlete, but when the 6-year-old was struck down by polio, that career path was closed off. Not long after, he heard the mammoth voice of Big Joe Turner shaking his radio, and a new love was born. Felder became fascinated by blues and R&B music and, when he was 18, he managed to talk himself onto a stage where trumpeter Frankie Newton was leading the band, and suddenly, the short, pudgy Jewish kid on crutches was shouting the blues like a pro. Another door had opened and the result was the rebirth of that kid as Doc Pomus (so that his mother wouldn’t see his name on the marquees when he played clubs).
One of the most successful Jewish songwriters of all time, Burt Bacharach wrote no overtly Jewish tunes. But a new Off-Broadway show, “What’s it All About? Bacharach Reimagined,” will give New Yorkers the opportunity to assess the underlying Jewishness of Bacharach’s oeuvre. Featuring Kyle Riabko, who starred in “Spring Awakening” and “Hair” on Broadway, the show opens in December in the East Village.
Award-winning novelist Dara Horn has written a fourth novel of ideas, “A Guide for the Perplexed” (Norton, September), intertwining two stories set in different eras and playing off an important text with the same title written by Moses Maimonides, also known as the Rambam. One story, set in the past, relates to Solomon Schechter and his search for the Cairo genizah; the other involves a software designer who invents software called Genizah that categorizes and preserves the past, creating a personal archive of memory.
The upcoming Jewish Museum show “Chagall: Love, War, and Exile” is the first American exhibition to explore the iconic artist’s output during the turbulent 1930s and ’40s. It will feature 30 paintings (including crucifixions) and 24 works on paper in addition to other types of ephemera such as letters, poems and photos. “Chagall: Love, War, and Exile,” opens Sept. 15 and runs through Feb. 2, 2014 at The Jewish Museum, 1109 Fifth Ave. (at 92nd Street).
The personal and the political in Israeli photography and video.
Special To The Jewish Week
‘The land, of course, is a fundamental issue in Israel, as a homeland and a contested site,” wrote Helaine Posner, senior curator of contemporary art at SUNY Purchase’s Neuberger Museum, in an e-mail interview with The Jewish Week. The land, and more specifically settlers, the Arab-Israeli conflict, coexistence, history and memory are the central themes of the artwork in the Neuberger’s new exhibit, “The Compromised Land: Recent Photography and Video from Israel.”
Ongoing: New York Klezmer Series. Curated by Aaron Alexander, who is as adept with a calendar as he is with a drum kit, this is now the premier regular klezmer program in town. This fall’s events will include a birthday tribute to saxophonist-rabbi Greg Wall, a special program dedicated to the music of Moyshe Oysher and several dance parties. Bring your high-heeled sneakers and your bestest wig. Stephen Wise Synagogue (30 W. 68th St.)
John Zorn, the downtown Jewish music guru who will be feted this fall, may be 60, but Gary Graffman is turning 85, and the pianist is celebrating with the release of a 24-CD set that collects all the recordings he made for RCA and Columbia during his impressive career. Graffman was one member of the golden generation of classical pianists who were known colloquially as OYAPs, “outstanding young American pianists.” A group that emerged in the 1950s, its ranks included Leon Fleischer, Eugene Istomin and William Kappell, among others. Like many of their illustrious predecessors — Arthur Rubinstein, Vladimir Horowitz, Rudolf Serkin — this cohort were mostly Jewish.