Brief Review: Appreciating Passover; Faking It in Sachsenhausen
Bob Dylan’s American Journey, 1956-1966
During this decade, Robert Zimmerman left his Jewish home in Hibbing, Minnesota, and transformed himself into Bob Dylan (right)—folk singer and composer, rock icon and social conscience. The compelling exhibit tracks Dylan’s career and often cryptic persona through more than 160 artifacts, personal letters and photos as well as his songs and the music of his contemporaries, from Joan Baez to The Beatles. Through June 8 at the Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles (www.skirball.org).
The Papercut Haggadah: Archie Granot
Fifty-five pages of multilayered paper cuts relate the story of Passover through colorful, abstract and geometric motifs combined with Hebrew text, all hand cut. Jerusalem artist Archie Granot was privately commissioned to create the only all-papercut Haggada, which took almost 10 years to complete using a scalpel and cutting board. Each individually framed page measures 21 inches by 15 inches, with some pages weighing over five pounds. The entire Haggada is online at www.archie granot.com. Through June 22 at the Yeshiva University Museum, New York (www.yumuseum.org).
—Sara Trappler Spielman
Shahrokh Yadegari: Through Music
Iranian Jewish composer Shahrokh Yadegari’s digital-sound installation uses English, Hebrew and Persian texts and is performed on violin, oud, tabla and with vocals. A major text is the priestly benediction, sung in English and Hebrew. A 19th-century brass basin, a Judeo-Persian miniature and a photograph of Leonard Nimoy’s hands in the split-fingers gesture associated with the priestly benediction are exhibited in the small room in which Yadegari’s haunting composition plays. Through July 6 at Judah L. Magnes Museum, Berkeley, California (www.magnes.org).
The “pieces” in Lisa Miriam Silver’s mosaic mirror her own way back to Judaism. A cantorial soloist, her new renditions of prayers include the reflective “Hineini,” a serene “Ritzeh,” lively “Kadosh” and wistful “Shalom Rav,” with original English words and texts adapted from the Reform siddur.
Benjamin Lapidus: Herencia Judia
If you like the rhythms of Spanish-Caribbean bombas and bembes, changuis and baras, listen to these traditional liturgies arranged by Lapidus, who also sings and plays accordion and percussion. A shofar blast opens a Ladino version of “Aveenu Malkeinu,” a rhythmic, haunting song. Passover fare includes “Ma Nishtana” and a fun “Dayeinu.” “Kaddish Para Daniel” honors murdered journalist Daniel Pearl. Tresero Productions (www.sonidoisleno.com).
Adapted from Elinor Lipman’s novel, director Helen Hunt (above, with Colin Firth) stars as a woman who was herself adopted and, at 39, is desperate to have a child—but won’t consider adoption. Rooted in Jewish tradition, she finds her life taking unexpected turns when, after her adoptive mother dies, her birth mother (Bette Midler) shows up. Can she recapture the faith that seems to be failing her, adjust to life’s vicissitudes—and find happiness? Think Film (www.thinkfilmcompany.com).
Director Stefan Ruzowitzky’s Academy Award-winning film portrays a massive counterfeiting operation in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp that produced millions of British pounds, used to disrupt the British economy and support the German war effort. There is an ethical debate between master Jewish counterfeiter Salomon Sorowitsch (Karl Markovics), who wants to fulfill the German command in order to survive, and ideologue Adolf Burger (August Diehl), who is sabotaging the work. This well-acted Austrian film is a thought-provoking revelation. Sony Classics (www.thecounterfeiters.com). —Z.S.
This fascinating, award-winning documentary opens with a little-known fact: When a Muslim widow remarries, she cannot bring her children into the new marriage. Accordingly, many widows choose not to remarry. With the lightest of touches—a choice snippet of music here, a telling reaction shot there—this film by Nitza Gonen shares the story of eight Muslim widows who band together in a northern Israeli town to create, against all odds, their own pickle factory. Gon Productions (www.firsthandfilms.com).
—Judith Gelman Myers
It’s an online health library and social network, a site that helps you search for medical information on an ailment then seek adviceor sympathy—from those experiencing the same thing. Tel Aviv-based iMedix, www.imedix.com, evaluates articles, pictures and videos from all over the Web, listing the top resources in any health field. Users of iMedix set up profiles with their medical concerns, assess articles and develop support groups. The innovative site is among a number of recent award-winning Web start-ups from Israel.
—Leah F. Finkelshteyn
The Last Schwartz
After reaching its bat mitzva year, the theater program of the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta is carving out a new identity. Until now, its successful centerpiece—with 1,000 subscribers—was the Jewish Theatre of the South, a professional theater with Jewish content and universal appeal that produced regional premieres and seldom-seen plays.
The MJCCA will be broadening its arts mission to include more mainstream plays as well as community and teen theater.
The final season concludes with the regional premiere of The Last Schwartz (above), under JTS founder Mira Hirsch’s direction. The dark comedy by Deborah Zoe Laufer concerns a dysfunctional family with open wounds and long-kept secrets gathering for the first yortzeit of its patriarch. Loyalty to spouses, family and tradition is challenged as the wife of one brother relives the pain of infertility and infidelity and the non-Jewish girlfriend of another tries to inject humor and seductiveness. From April 30 to May 25 at the Morris & Rae Frank Theatre (770-395-2654; www.jplay.org).
—Barbara Trainin Blank.