In the many communal conversations about shifting Jewish identities and trends -– swelling ultra-Orthodoxy, burgeoning indie-groups, religious escapees, religious returnees, denominational switching and more –- one of the missing narratives is of those who leave religion but then come back in another way. It’s a version of Jewish identity that requires years or decades to truly understand and appreciate, and may apply to thousands of Jews, though we wouldn’t know because such a trajectory does not (yet) have a name. It’s a story about those who leave their religious lives because of abuse or tyranny or a need for freedom and independence, yet still cling to aspects of the heritage that they never really intended to leave behind. It is a story of longing and pain that holds up a mirror to the complexity of Jewish life
Although Karl Marx is frequently recalled today, both to his credit and discredit, as the founder of Communism, his youngest daughter Eleanor has mostly been forgotten. But in her time, Eleanor was a figure of world renown, respected both as the primary editor and expounder of her father’s works, and in her own right as a social activist, leader of the burgeoning trade unions, a pioneering feminist, and translator and proponent of such defining works of the 19th century as Flaubert’s “Madame Bovary” and Ibsen’s entire oeuvre. Her story is finally given the attention it deserves in Rachel Holmes’ exhaustive biography, “Eleanor Marx: A Life” (Bloomsbury Publishing).
“Walking encyclopedia” may have been the idiom that appeared most often in tributes to culinary historian Gil Marks, who died in Jerusalem on December 5, 2014, after a courageous three-year battle with (nonsmoker’s) lung cancer. A memorial gathering of family and friends will be held in Jerusalem on January 5 and will be streamed.
Born in the United States, artist and teacher Leah Raab has twice gone on aliyah for extended periods, and twice returned to the U.S. Nevertheless, life in Israel, its landscape, religion and history, both past and present, remains a recurring theme in her work.
“On the Other Side of the River” opens promisingly: eerie bell-like music plays softly, and the set, three flats covered with stiffened, rippling gray gauze, seems to suggest a cave receding in the distance – until the lights come up, transforming them into a river, in a beautiful union of lighting and scenic design.
Elie Wiesel describes the Bible as “the pull of my childhood, a fascination with the vanished world, and I can find everything except that world.”
I feel much the same way, which is why the Metropolitan Museum’s exhibit “Assyria to Iberia at the Dawn of the Classical Age” so thrilled me. The premise of the exhibit isn’t Israel or the Bible. Rather, it explores cross-cultural interaction and global communication during the Assyrian Empire from roughly 1200 – 400 BCE, the time period that many major Biblical events took place.
Whiny trills of klezmer music reverberate from the towering coffered ceiling of the Museum at Eldridge Street as five firmly concentrating Israeli musicians connect deeply to their Jewish roots through the song of klezmer. Their focused brows and eased smiles signify the technicalities and synchronous timing of their music, as well as their delight in performing it. This is 12th Night Music, a quintet of highly creative classically trained Israeli musicians.
Why did I travel to the other end of town to see a tribute to Anna Sokolow so many decades after I last saw – or even thought about – her work? The answer is that Anna Sokolow, an important contributor to the repertory of American modern dance for sixty years, gave me permission to dance.
This Shabbat, we read the story of Dinah, the only daughter of the biblical Jacob, whose tragic tale is tucked into the narrative of parshat Vaylishlach. And on Sunday evening, Lifetime Television will air the first of a two-part mini-series based on Anita Diamant’s wildly successful 1997 novel inspired by Dinah’s story, "The Red Tent." The confluence of these dates, according to Diamant, is “totally coincidental.”