Ever wondered about the history of the crowd-pleasing song at your cousin’s wedding? “Hava Nagila: A Song for the People” is an exhibit about the history and meaning behind the popular Jewish folk song. Known as the audio component of the hora circle dance, “Hava Nagila” is a staple at Jewish celebrations, and it has been covered by a number of mainstream musicians including Harry Belafonte and Josephine Baker.
Laura Kruger was inspired to mount “The Sexuality Spectrum” after observing the discussions that swirled around Marriage Equality Act here last year. “I became frightened by the politics related to it,” Kruger said in a walk-through at the Hebrew Union College gallery space. “It sounded to me like the kind of shouting and swearing in Nazi Germany prior to the Holocaust.”
There is a lot to be said for continuity. In a culture in which the “new” is exalted and traditions have the half-life of a morning glory, it’s nice to talk to someone like Eve Sicular, leader and percussionist for Metropolitan Klezmer and Isle of Klezbos. She respects the traditions — what klezmer artist wouldn’t? — and is proud of her current track record.
“Metropolitan Klezmer is 18 years old and counting; we’re at the chai mark,” she says, chuckling. “Isle of Klezbos turned 14 in August.”
Four years ago, Laurie Rubin, a mezzo with a dazzlingly rich voice and a rising star on the classical music scene, felt that she had to explain herself to people, because her music couldn’t answer the questions that audience members, fans and ordinary people she met in the street were hesitant to ask.
If there is a more iconic, more remembered, more quoted American film than “Casablanca,” I can’t imagine what it is. What is less frequently remarked upon is how very Jewish the film is, not surprising given that the director Michael Curtiz (born Manó Kertész Kaminer) was a Hungarian Jew and that the screenwriters were Philip and Julius Epstein and Howard Koch.
Undoubtedly film historian Noah Isenberg will remark on that fact when he gives a talk, “‘Casablanca’ at 70,” at the Center for Jewish History.
The High Holy Days may coincide with the beginning of the new theater season, but rarely do the two dovetail so neatly as they do in Joshua Elias Harmon’s “Bad Jews,” a play about two cousins fighting over the Chai necklace of their just-deceased grandfather. Directed by Daniel Aukin, the play starts previews in early October at the Roundabout Underground.
Culled from a rare collection of illuminated manuscripts from the Bodleian Library at Oxford University in England, “Crossing Borders” is a highly anticipated show opening at The Jewish Museum. According to curator Claudia Nahson, this is a rare opportunity for New York visitors because these manuscripts do not often travel from the Bodleian, home to one of the world’s most important collections of Hebrew illuminated manuscripts.
Elad Lassry and Uri Aran: High Line Arts Don’t miss Israeli artist Elad Lassry’s billboard entitled, “Women,” beside the High Line at West 18th Street and 10th Avenue. The billboard features portraits of two women gazing out of portholes. Lassry will also have an exhibition at The Kitchen, Sept. 7- Oct. 20. Fellow Israeli Uri Aran has a playful sound installation on the High Line between West 25th and West 26th streets, offering participants the opportunity to hear sounds of the jungle.
Roy Nathanson has always been fascinated by words. When he was an undergraduate at Columbia in the 1970s, he was studying theater. After dropping out he became immersed in the alternative theater scene in the East Village “when I wasn’t practicing saxophone a zillion hours a week,” he recalls. “I always felt I was a storyteller and I tried to work these things into my music — political issues, issues of identity — always a mixture of text and music.”