Brief Review: Remembering a Neighborhood and a Life
Refuge Rock Sublime
Singer-actor Mare Winningham has invested her Jewish devotional album with country twang, guitar pickings and a passion for her newfound faith. “A Convert Jig” is how she learned to “be a Jew like all of you and dance the convert jig.” Craig ’N Co. (www.craignco.com).
The Merlin Shepherd Kapelye: Intimate Hopes & Terrors (Tales from the Kishkes)
Klezmer clarinetist Merlin Shepherd’s original tunes are light and delicate, high-stepping and mournful as well as heart-tugging. His potpourri of humorous, joyful and danceable songs includes “Never Enough Cilantro, My Dear” and “Pass the Kasha.” Oriente Musik (www.oriente.de).
Dus Gezang Fun Mayn Harts—Tango oyf Yiddish
The tango was born in Argentina but Yiddish is its second language. Vocalist Karstan Troyke and Trio Scho deliver smooth renditions of lovesongs despite betrayal and as a remedy for sadness. Accordion, violin, clarinet and double bass sweep aloft melodies such as “A Song of My Heart.”Oriente Musik (www.oriente.de).
Tikkun Olam: Repairing the World
Artist Christy Honigman’s installation has 12 plaster columns that bear inscriptions by 54 participants from 27 countries. From Estonia to Israel. Bosnia to Ghana,Taiwan to Sudan, people write of the desire and need for love, war and peace, hard work, neighborliness and respect for life. The universal expressions show people’s interconnectedness. Sponsored by the Mizel Museum at the Denver Public Library through December 3 (www.mizelmuseum.org).
—Corinne J. Brown
Isaac Bashevis Singer and the Lower East Side
The writer’s world is revealed by the neshomo-filled photos taken by his friend Bruce Davidson, who was also his neighbor on the Upper West Side, and by the denizens of his favorite hangout, the Garden Cafeteria on East Broadway on the Lower East Side. The 40 images— including one of Gus’s Pickles (left)—were shot between 1957 and 1990. Through February 3, 2008, at the Jewish Museum, New York (www.jewishmuseum.org).
—Elin Schoen Brockman
They Called Me Mayer: Painted Memories of a Jewish Childhood in Poland Before the Holocaust
In 1990, at age 73, Mayer Kirshenblatt began painting his memories of growing up in Poland: his family kitchen (left), the market, wigmakers, prostitutes and Gypsies. In naïve style, he re-creates the everyday to the hair-raising (his grandmother being shot by Nazis). At the Judah L. Magnes Museum in Berkeley through January 13, 2008, then traveling to Atlanta, New York and Amsterdam (www.magnes.org; there is a companion book of 196 color images, University of California Press).
In his new work, Israeli director Eytan Fox boldly depicts homoerotic love in the context of the Palestinian-Jewish conflict that is a twist on Romeo and Juliet. Three Tel Aviv friends have included an illegal-resident Palestinian in their protective circle until the reality of their separate lives and expectations intrudes in a horrific way (www.filmfund.org.il).
Aviva My Love
Everybody loves Aviva Cohen—and takes advantage of her: her unemployed husband, her crazy mother, her sullen kids, even her dentist. How will she pursue her writing career while holding her fragmented family together? Shemi Zarhin’s examination of the sometimes comic, sometimes wrenching life of this working-class woman has won six Israeli academy awards. Evanstone Films (firstname.lastname@example.org).
David & Layla
A Jewish boy in Brooklyn dumps his assertive Jewish fiancée when he falls for a lovely Kurdish Muslim girl. Both sets of parents are horrified but reconcile at the raucous wedding. There are some fairly gross sexual scenes and hoary ethnic jokes, but Kurdish director Jay Jonroy introduces outsiders to the customs and tribulations of his people with sympathy and humor (www.davidandlayla.com).
My Fuehrer: The Truly Truest Truth About Adolf Hitler
Adolf Gruenbaum, a renowned actor-director, is pulled out of a concentration camp to coach Hitler in speechmaking. His wife doesn’t want him to “sell his soul,” but he has plans. Meanwhile, Hitler is unaware that his Reich is losing the war—fast. Thought it has its moments, Dani Levy’s satire lacks the right balance of drama and comedy. Beta Cinema (email@example.com).
This magical film evokes sensuous memories—a cultural fabric as intricate as the design on a Moorish tile, where colorful strands of different languages, religions, races and customs interlock. When Jews faced oppression in their native Aden in the 1880s, many immigrated to the Italian community of Asmara, where they were joined by other Jews from the Mediterranean basin to form a community that thrived until World War II. In Italian, Amharic and Arabic. Marco Cavallarin (firstname.lastname@example.org).
—Judy Gelman Myers
Discussion on eco-kashrut, sustainable agriculture and healthy eating are brought to the table on The Jew and the Carrot: Jews, Food & Contemporary Issues, a new blog from the Jewish environmental organization Hazon.
The site, at https://jcarrot. org, won the Award for Best New Blog and Best Kosher Food Recipes Blog at the 2007 Jewish and Israel Blog Awards. It includes posts from Jewish farmers; lists upcoming conferences and events; and offers recipes, holiday suggestions and ideas.
Before Rosh Hashana, for example, there were posts about local apple growers and problems in the honey bee community and the flavors of raw honey.
—Leah F. Finkelshteyn
The Jewish laws of burial challenge the Schwartz grandmother. She has to figure out how to honor her husband, who committed suicide in wake of a financial scandal; she does not want him buried in a segregated plot. Meanwhile, a young Russian ola is trying to figure out how to prove to the rabbis that her father was Jewish so he could be buried in a Jewish cemetery. In Shmuel and Amir Hasfari’s film, fathers, sons, uncles and other assorted relatives complicate matters as the two women search for creative, loving solutions. Sisu (www.sisuent.com).