Brief Review: Chagall Redux, Israel’s Early Fight
13, A New Musical
Former New Yorker Evan Goldman, the hero of 13, calls his upcoming bar mitzva “the Jewish Super Bowl,” and musical quarterback Jason Robert Brown has passed a smartly eclectic score to the winning young cast in this fast-paced Broadway take on popularity and friendship in rural Indiana, but the Dan Elish-Robert Horn book needs touchdown insights about manhood and Jewishness a la William Finn’s stronger Falsettos. Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, New York, open-ended run (https://13the musical.com). —Jules Becker.
Chagall’s Bible: Mystical Storytelling
Marc Chagall’s fascination with biblical imagery is well known, but this small exhibit is a revelation. Though a few of his more representative, color-saturated works are on display, it is his small-scale depictions of biblical characters (above, Joseph Interprets Pharoah’s Dream) that cast new light on the artist’s prodigious talents. One group of black and white etchings are highlighted with watercolor. Rachel hiding her father Laban’s idols and Hagar cast out in the desert are rendered with a spareness and directness of emotion that demystifies the legendary figures. Though January 18, 2009, at The Museum of Biblical Art, New York (www.mo bia.org).—Adeena Sussman
Woman of Letters: Irène Némirovsky & Suite Française
Who could have predicted that Suite Française, two novellas lost when Irène Némirovsky’s was sent to Auschwitz, would become a best seller in 2006? Now, her life work and the circumstances of her death are in this major exhibit, which displays, among other artifacts, family photographs, her ration card, the last note written to her daughters as well as the book’s manuscript and the valise in which it was secreted. Through March 22, 2009, at the Museum of Jewish Heritage–A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, New York (www.mjhnyc.org). —Joseph Lowin
Twisted Into Recognition: Clichés of Jews and Others
This fascinating multimedia collection looks at stereotypes and their origins through the centuries and illustrates how they can foster prejudice and anti-Semitic clichés. Using sculpture, film, paintings, masks and other art, the provocative exhibit features the controversial and the comical—49 casts of Jewish noses, a Barbie doll wearing tefilin and the famous advertising campaign for Levy’s Jewish rye bread. Through January 18, 2009, at the Spertus Museum, Chicago (www.spertus.edu).
Voices of Resilience
The words “hopeful” and “genocide” don’t often coexist, but this exhibit explores genocide through the work of those who survived. Nigerian artists Wole Lagunju and Moyo Okediji showcase life’s joy in found-object and fabric pieces. There is student poetry on the Holocaust’s horrors; and the “Dead Weight of Complacency” panels show that genocide is still a reality in the 21st century. Through January 8, 2009, at the Mizel Museum, Denver (www.mizelmuseum.org). —Lois H. Feinstein
Hill 24 Doesn’t Answer
Israel became a state in 1948; five years later, British director Thorold Dickinson made the country’s first full-length film about the battle for Jerusalem and a strategic hill outside the city. This re-release tells the story, through the experiences of four idealistic fighters, of the unfolding saga of illegal aliya after the Holocaust, the complicated British presence and the role of American Jews in fighting for Israel’s independence. Ergo Media (www.ergomedia.com). —Susan Adler
It is fun to watch the singing and choreography in the 1973 Israeli musical—an Ashkenazic-Sefardic version of West Side Story (minus the tragedy)—starring Yehoram Gaon. It takes place in the early days of the state in poor Jaffa, where ethnic differences and conflicts keep two lovers apart, until the townsfolk find a common enemy. A Menachem Golan–Yoram Globus Production (www.sisuent.com). —Zelda Shluker
Four Seasons Lodge
“Who would think after the Second World War we would have another life?” asks one of the residents of the Four Seasons Lodge, a Catskills resort founded nearly 30 years ago by Holocaust survivors. In the summer of 2006, reporter Andrew Jacobs turned his New York Times article about the remaining vacationers into a documentary film. By turns nostalgic and joyful, the film follows the 80 and 90-year-olds as they dance, feast, share nightmarish memories and debate whether to sell the resort or hang on. The film is a tribute to courage and optimism (www.fourseasonsmovie.com).—Renata Polt
Salma, a Palestinian widow, earns her living from the lemon grove her father planted 50 years ago. When Israel’s defense minister moves in next door, security advisers rule the grove to be a safety risk and order it torn down. The dispute (based on a true story) goes all the way to Israel’s Supreme Court. En route, there’s a romance, a failed marriage and international publicity. As they try to settle ancient disputes, Salma and the minister’s wife are the only characters whose behavior is above reproach. Eran Riklis Productions (erp@netvis ion.net.il). —R.P.
Helen Jonas-Rosenzweig and Monika Hertwig have one thing in common: Hertwig’s German father, Amon Goeth. As commandant of the Plaszow concentration camp, Goeth was known as a sadistic murderer, much as he was portrayed in the film Schindler’s List. Polish-born Jonas-Rosenzweig was his enslaved Jewish housemaid. The women’s meeting is revealing, moving and painful. James Moll’s film will be aired on PBS on Wednesday, December 10 (www.allentownproductions.com). —Z.S.
One of the most popular resources for genealogical research has become the best place for Jewish research. Recently,www.ancestry.com joined JewishGen, part of the Museum of Jewish Heritage–A Living Memorial to the Holocaust in New York and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee to introduce the largest online collection of Jewish family history records. Ancestry.com subscribers can access newly digitalized documents, such as Joint’s Displaced Persons cards, and JewishGen’s over-300 databases, including its burial registry and the list of inmates in Oskar Schindler’s factories. —Leah F. Finkelshteyn