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Fact-Checking The Frisco Kid: A Historian’s Take on a Jewish Classic

Mon, 02/12/2018 - 12:00am
Shari Rabin for Jewish Book Council


While writing my book about Jews in the era of westward expansion, I found myself getting asked (a lot) about the Gene Wilder comedic western The Frisco Kid. Although there are countless cinematic depictions—and historical accounts—of Jewish life on the Lower East Side, apparently the rest of the country has to resign itself to this 1979 box office flop, which tells the story of a Polish rabbi traveling westward to San Francisco in 1850. Recently, some twenty years after I last saw it, I sat down to confront my subject’s most famous treatment.


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You Can’t Always Get What Jew Want

Mon, 02/05/2018 - 12:00am
By Miriam Anzovin for JewishBoston


My quest for fresh Jewish characters on television continues unabated.

 


When I first heard the buzz about “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” Amazon’s new show about a young Jewish housewife struggling to be a stand-up comic in New York during the 1950s, I was pretty amped. The show picked up several Golden Globes, and the hype increased. I’m just a Jewish girl, wandering through the television landscape in search of representation and validation. I was hopeful! Maybe we were finally getting a show that would introduce some dynamic new Jewish characters into the zeitgeist! Sigh. As if. I watched the series and lo! My hopes were dashed.

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Movies for Tu Bishvat

Mon, 01/29/2018 - 12:00am
BY TAMAR FOX for myjewishlearning.com 


Over at New York Magazine’s Vulture blog they have a list of movies to help you celebrate Tu Bishvat. Now, I have some issues with the pretense–of all holidays Tu Bishvat has no narrative, and so seems like it wouldn’t lend itself to cinema, plus the holiday is about trees and nature, so I’m not sure staying inside to watch a movie makes a huge amount of sense. On the other hand, it’s cold outside, and I like movies, so I’ll give it a pass. Number one on the list, of course, is the Giving Tree. But number 5 is Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and 2-4 will probably raise some eyebrows, too. Definitely check it out.

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Find some great ideas on JvillageNetwork's Pinterest page. 

 

New Netflix travel show spotlights the tastes of Israel

Mon, 01/22/2018 - 12:00am
By Rebecca Stadlen Amir for Israel21c


‘Somebody Feed Phil’ highlights a culinary adventure across Israel including stops in Tel Aviv, Jaffa, Caesarea and Acre.

 


A new Netflix show follows host Phil Rosenthal, creator of American TV series “Everybody Loves Raymond,” on a culinary tour of six cities known for their incredible food, including Lisbon, New Orleans, Bangkok, Saigon, Mexico City – and Tel Aviv.
The series, titled “Somebody Feed Phil,” encourages people to travel by depicting mouthwatering local delicacies. “If you want to know what Israel’s really like, you have to come here,” Rosenthal says at one point during the Tel Aviv-focused episode.


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The New ‘Star Wars’ Isn’t Pro-Reform Judaism. It’s Anti-Religious Inflexibility.

Mon, 01/15/2018 - 12:00am
By Jenny Singer for The Forward


I watched “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” this weekend because the group I was with couldn’t decide between “Call Me By Your Name” and “I, Tonya.” I did not intend to write something Jewish about “Star Wars,” just as I have not previously intended to write about Jews and sports or Jews and sex-spaghetti.

Then I saw an article in Tablet by Liel Leibovitz, called “Reform Jediism,” which used the plot of the new “Star Wars” film as an allegory for the lack of seriousness in Reform Judaism, and I was drawn into the fray like Kylo Ren, conflicted villain of “The Last Jedi,” is drawn to the dark side.

 
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Jewish Festivals 2018 - 2019 Calendar

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 12:00am
From everfest.com

 

From Tucson to Mobile, from Denver to Miami, there are Jewish film festivals, music festivals, food festivals, and more, all over the country. If there's none near you, take a vacation.  Keep up on all the Jewish Festivals with everfest.

 

A Place for the Disabled: on Stage and Screen

Mon, 01/01/2018 - 12:00am
By Jennifer Richler for Tablet Magazine 


Jewish organizations are at the forefront of the battle for greater inclusion of people with disabilities, particularly in the performing arts

When the movie Wonder opened last month, some criticized the choice to have a nondisabled actor play the role of Auggie, a boy with severe facial disfigurement. For these critics, the decision was yet another example of the way people with disabilities are excluded.

Advocates for the disabled have long been fighting for greater inclusion of people with physical and cognitive disabilities in all spheres of life, particularly in education, recreation, and employment. Among the most vocal of these advocates are leaders of Jewish organizations who say Jewish values are at the core of their work. “Everything comes back to treating someone well. If you’re not doing that, you’re not living up to Jewish values,” said Lauren Appelbaum, communications director of RespectAbility, based in Rockville, Maryland. Though it is not a Jewish organization, several of its core staff have strong ties to the organized Jewish community. As such, the agency has made Jewish inclusion a priority, choosing students to serve as Jewish Inclusion Fellows and maintaining a Jewish Inclusion Facebook page. 

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New film reminds us just how special Sammy Davis Jr. was

Mon, 12/25/2017 - 12:00am
By Dennis J. Freeman for news4usonline.com


'SAMMY DAVIS JR.: I'VE GOTTA BE ME' GIVES US AN INSIGHT LOOK INTO THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF ONE OF BLACK HOLLYWOOD'S GREATEST ENTERTAINERS


Sammy Davis Jr. was one of a kind. To be sure, there will not be another quite like him. For over six decades, Davis did thing on his own terms in the entertainment industry. The PBS American Masters produced film Sammy Davis Jr:. I’ve Gotta Be Me, which was recently showcased at the AFI Film Festival (AFI Fest), gives viewers an intimate look at the rarity of the triple threat entertainer that Davis was.

But more than the fact that he could act, dance and sing, Davis was a showman’s showman, according to the film’s depiction of him. His impeccable tap dancing skills was right up there with the famed Nicholas Brothers (Fayard and Harold). Impersonations of stars like Jerry Lewis and Humphrey Bogart became another gateway that helped cultivate his success on stage on the screen.

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Actress Hedy Lamarr, the Real-Life Jewish Wonder Woman Whose Inventions Led to WiFi and GPS

Mon, 12/18/2017 - 12:00am
By J. Hoberman for Tablet Magazine


The affecting new documentary ‘Bombshell’ is haunted by recordings of her lilting voice from the 1990s, after her descent into pop-culture hell


With all due respect, so far as movies are concerned, the Jewish “Wonder Woman” of 2017 is not Gal Gadot but Hedwig Kiesler (1914-2000), born in Vienna and reborn in Hollywood as Hedy Lamarr.

As detailed in Alexandra Dean’s affecting new documentary Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, and recent biographies by Ruth Barton and Richard Rhodes, Lamarr was not only the most beautiful woman in Hollywood—the icon whose look inspired Disney’s Snow White, Bob Kane’s Catwoman, and blonde star Joan Bennett’s brunette makeover, the subject of the adolescent Andy Warhol’s earliest recorded drawing—but quite possibly the smartest person in the movie industry of any gender.

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Top 10 Hanukkah Songs

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 12:00am

BY AMY DEUTSCH for Kveller
 



Want more great Hanukkah ideas? Find articles, crafts, and recipes in our Hanukkah Guide.


Maybe it’s the Christmas “competition,” but it seems like there are more songs about Hanukkah than about any other Jewish holiday. And why not? It’s fun and delicious and lasts for eight amazing days. So if the only Hanukkah song you know is “Dreidel Dreidel,” read on.


1. Michelle Citrin, “Left to Right“


In 2008, Michelle Citrin and William Levin created this music video (reminiscent of the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company ad from The Office) with help from people across the world who submitted short clips of themselves lighting Hanukkah candles and then passing the candle on to someone else. It’s an awesome video and a catchy and sweet song. And even better, it reminds you which way you’re supposed to light the candles. (I forget every year!)


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8 BEST (AND ONLY) HANUKKAH MOVIES AND TV SPECIALS

Mon, 12/04/2017 - 12:00am

From eonline.com

 

What's your favorite? The OC? Rugrats? See if it made the list. Start streaming.

 

 

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Remembering the Great Czech Jewish Harpsichordist Zuzana Růžičková

Mon, 11/27/2017 - 12:00am
Mark Glanville for Mosaic


Růžičková, who died in September, survived both Hitler and Stalin to become a brilliant interpreter of J.S. Bach—and the only person to commit his entire keyboard oeuvre to disc.


I was loaded on a wagon. My mother was left behind. A gust of wind came and took this piece of paper from my hand. And my mother, who knew how much it meant to me, started to run after this piece of paper and the other girls took her hand and pulled her up into the wagon where I was.

The words are those of the great Czech Jewish harpsichordist Zuzana Růžičková, who died on September 27 at the age of ninety. The episode recounted here is one among many riveting moments in a recently released documentary film, Zuzana: Music is Life. Hers was an adolescence and young adulthood that encompassed the full horror of the Holocaust, followed in turn by the brutal oppression of Soviet Communism, followed in the inspiring fullness of time by personal and musical vindication hard won and thrillingly deserved.

And the “piece of paper” that was so precious to her? It was a fragment of the Sarabande in E Flat Minor from the English Suites of Johann Sebastian Bach. The teenage piano student had kept it close during her internment at Theresienstadt, where her father had died of typhus. The wagon onto which her mother was hauled and thereby reunited with her daughter was carrying its transport in the direction of Auschwitz.

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Music Man: A Talk With Benj Pasek

Mon, 11/20/2017 - 12:00am
By Rahel Musleah for Hadassah Magazine


As part of the award-winning songwriting team Pasek and Paul, Benj Pasek’s star has risen high this year. The duo won an Academy Award for Best Original Song for “City of Stars,” from the film La La Land, and six Tony Awards (including Best Musical and Best Original Score) for Broadway’s Dear Evan Hansen, the story of a high school’s reaction to a suicide. Next up, The Greatest Showman, starring Hugh Jackman as P.T. Barnum, opens in movie theaters on December 25. Pasek, 32, is now working on Disney’s live-action film adaptations of the animated classics Aladdin and Snow White. A resident of Manhattan, Pasek grew up in Ardmore, Pa., and met his collaborator, Justin Paul, at the University of Michigan, where he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in musical theater. His father, Jeff Pasek, is an attorney, and his mother, Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, is a developmental psychologist who loves music. She was his date at the Academy Awards.

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The Parashot in Watercolor

Mon, 11/13/2017 - 12:00am
By Gabriela Geselowitz for Jewcy


Starr Weems is a Jewish teacher and artist in Alabama who’s taken on the mission of creating a piece of art for every parsha of the year. These watercolors are dreamlike and ethereal (and a little bit psychedelic), visual midrashim, of sorts.

“This project started two years ago with my personal sketchbook,” Weems told Jewcy. “I had decided to spend time studying the parsha each week and translating it into my own visual language. It was sometimes a challenge to keep up with it on top of my regular painting and illustration jobs, but I managed to get through the cycle of an entire year… I had been wanting to rework my sketchbook ideas into finished pieces for a while, and when a venue contacted me to book a spring exhibit, I decided that now is a good time.”

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Straight Outta Satmar: Hear the Biggest Hasidic Hit of Right Now

Mon, 11/06/2017 - 12:00am
By Liel Leibovitz for Tablet Magazine 


Go ahead, I dare you not to dance to Meilech Kohn’s ‘Ve’Uhavtu’


Growing up, Meilech Kohn didn’t like it in the Yeshiva. He was the quiet kid who liked to daydream and hum nice tunes, and his fellow students were so miffed by his strange ways that they shunned him altogether, refusing to speak to the awkward child. Increasingly distraught, he retreated into his inner world, which was increasingly consumed by writing songs and melodies. Eventually, he decided to drop out.

Much to the chagrin of his parents, Meilech left the fold of his tightly-knit Hasidic community. He moved to Los Angeles, then Puerto Rico, then Texas. He listened to any kind of music he could find, and continued to teach himself his craft. By the time he was ready to return home and recommit himself to religious life, he contained multitudes.

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Hollywood exec reveals secret of Israeli TV success abroad

Mon, 10/30/2017 - 12:00am
By Abigail Klein Leichman for Israel21c


‘It’s the compelling characters that draw you,’ says Adam Berkowitz, who has brought shows including ‘Fauda’ and ‘Greenhouse Academy’ to the US.


Why are Israeli TV formats like “In Treatment,” “Homeland” and “Fauda” extremely successful in the United States? It’s all about the characters, says Adam Berkowitz, co-head of the television department at Creative Artists Agency (CAA) in Los Angeles and president of the international TV Formats Conference  held September 12-14 in Tel Aviv.

“In Israel there isn’t a lot of money to do expensive action or adventure shows, so instead there is a focus on characters, and it’s the compelling characters that draw you,” Berkowitz tells ISRAEL21c.

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