Brief Review: Trips to Find Ourselves and Others
Making Trouble: Three Generations of Funny Jewish Women
In her documentary, Rachel Talbot uses clips of Molly Picon, Fanny Brice, Sophie Tucker, Joan Rivers, Gilda Radner and Wendy Wasserstein (from left). These all-too-brief illustrations from stage, screen and television are framed by four young comedians—Judy Gold, Jackie Hoffman, Cory Kahaney and Jessica Kirson—schmoozing at Katz’s Delicatessen on the Lower East Side, though the older comics are a lot more entertaining. Jewish Women’s Archive (www.jwa.org).
Moshe has left his insular Hasidic family in Israel to live in New York, where his secular grandparents support him financially and emotionally. The 20-year-old discards his religious garb, enrolls in a high school equivalency program and befriends other rebellious Orthodox young men while continuing to struggle with his new identity. John Mounier’s documentary captures Moshe’s uncertain journey during six tumultuous months. Dok Arts (www.beyondeyruv.com).
—Sara Trappler Spielman
Sleiman Cohen, an 82-year-old Yemenite Israeli, wants his son, film director Shahar, to make a documentary about World War II’s Jewish Brigade, in which the elder Cohen served. Shahar sees the film as an opportunity to search for any siblings—“souvenirs”— his father might have left behind in the Netherlands. The two men go on a road trip through Italy, Germany and, finally, the Netherlands, all the while examining, with humor, emotional and weighty issues such as the meaning of family and heroism. Was Sleiman as brave as his son likes to think he was? And how did he get to be Israel’s boxing champion? Cinephil (www.cinephil.co.il).
The Unknown Soldier
Most Germans acknowledge that the SS committed wartime atrocities against Jews and others, but when a photo exhibit touring Germany proved that ordinary Wehrmacht soldiers participated in the crimes, demonstrations shook major cities in the country. Photos and videos document the horror, but most of director Michael Verhoeven’s film is devoted to abrasive discussions on the guilt of the present generation’s “fathers and grandfathers.” First Run Features (www.first runfeatures.com).
David Broza at Masada
Dubbed “The Bruce Springsteen of Israel,” David Broza mixes Hebrew folk tunes, Spanish flamenco and American rock. His recent dramatic sunrise concert is being presented by PBS as a 90-minute special during pledge week. The concert started at 3 A.M. with dawn gradually revealing the Judean Hills and Dead Sea. Jackson Browne, Shawn Colvin and 4,000 fans joined in the emotional high. The show premieres the first week in December (www.pbs.org). Check for local listings.
The L.A. Story
Ten Los Angeles artists explore the impact of place on Jewish identity, their search for artistic community and the diversity of backgrounds that also reflects Los Angeles’s sprawling mosaic. Photographer Bill Aron celebrates the indomitable spirit of Holocaust survivors. Eugene Yelchin’s caricatured self-portraits based on his Russian passport photo and Toby Berlant’s print on metal collage of an isolated Jew silhouetted against a fragmented desert landscape offer somber notes. Through January 25, 2008, at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Museum in New York, then traveling (www.huc.edu/museum/ny).
We Make the Road by Walking
Sama Alshaibi, a Palestinian Iraqi now living in the United States, and Beth Krensky explore the differences and similarities between Islam and Judaism through their activist art. In her photographs, Alshaibi integrates herself into various landscapes reminiscent of the Middle East and contemplates exile and the disinherited. Krensky’s sculptures are made of bronze, olivewood, copper and gold leaf (left, “Portal”), and spiritually fit in the Jewish home. Through January 24, 2008, at the Mizel Museum in Denver (www.mizelmuseum.org).
—Corinne J. Brown
Your Jewish Home
“Mind your Keppe” reads the placard at 613 Srochi Street, part of the interactive exhibit of the Sophie Hirsh Srochi Jewish Discovery Museum. A playhouse for kids, the exhibit displays key elements of Jewish home life: a kosher kitchen is replete with objects for setting a holiday table. A child’s bedside window has levers to engineer the descent and approach of sunshine or three stars—the Shema prayer hangs nearby. Through February 1; in March, the exhibit “Your Jewish Town” will feature storefronts that might comprise a Jewish community. At Atlanta’s Marcus Jewish Community Center (www.atlantajcc.org).
Martin Luther King Jr.’s visage and his voice declaring the necessity of interreligious and interracial cooperation opens the American Jewish Committee’s online archives. The audiovisual introduction ends with a photo of American G.I.s in talitot and the sounds of the first broadcasted Jewish prayers in Germany since Hitler. Moments such as these American Jewish landmarks of the past 100 years, shown through an interactive timeline and over 40 films and broadcasts, fill the site, at www.ajcarchive.com.
—Leah F. Finkelshteyn
Elements of Alchemy: Prints by Paul Weissman
Inspired by Primo Levi’s The Periodic Table and the Chernobyl disaster, printmaker Paul Weissman explores the human capacity to use or misuse the raw material of the world. In “Aurum” (gold), 11 layers of handprints grope toward a golden calf, also a symbol of beauty. “Neos” (neon) contrasts a clear, constellation-filled night sky with blurred, bar-coded consumerism. “Arsenic” (above) is a lithograph/woodcut. Through January 25, 2008, at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Museum in New York, then traveling (www.huc.edu/museum/ny).
Last Jew in Europe
Days before Maria and Jozef’s wedding, identities are called into question and help is sought from a visiting Mormon. Writer and director Tuvia Tenenbom explores lingering anti-Semitism in Poland in modern times. The actors forgo the stage, and while the performance is dramatic, the effect is loud and dizzying. The Jewish Theater of New York (www.jewishtheater.org).