Cut & Post
Music Man, Monk, Jew
After a 15-year hiatus, 74-year-old singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen is on the road again, emerging from financial and legal difficulties and continually seeking spiritual fulfillment. He is entertaining audiences across North America with his classics such as “So Long, Marianne,” “Suzanne,” “Bird on the Wire” and “Hallelujah,” which has been recorded by other singers almost 200 times (including a performance on the seventh season of American Idol).
Inducted into the Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2008, the Montreal native has influenced four decades of musicians with songs and poetry that explore sex, spirituality, relationships, power, social justice, politics and more. His Jewish background infuses songs like “Story of Isaac” and “Who by Fire,” but he has also been ordained as a Zen Buddhist monk. For tour information, check outwww.leonardcohen.com. —Rahel Musleah
Courtesy of Artsbridge
Art for Dialogue’s Sake
Peace camps bringing together Israeli and Palestinian teenagers are nothing new, but Artsbridge isn’t trying to teach peace, or even coexistence. The summer camp, set to welcome its second class of campers this July to its Boston-area campus, focuses on dialogue through art projects, hoping that self-expression and creative reflection might someday lead to greater understanding.
To that end, campers—between the ages of 15 and 19 and hailing from Israel and the Palestinian territories—cooperate on projects ranging from 2-D and 3-D art, such as sculpting and painting, to filmmaking.
Artsbridge (www.artsbridgecamp.org) is the labor of love of Deb Nathan, an art therapist and artist in Swampscott, Massachusetts. After living in Israel for several years in the 1970s, Nathan grew convinced that the key to bringing together Israelis and Palestinians in dialogue was the creation of a safe haven—in this case, art therapy. Teachers include artists, art therapists and psychologists, and after the summer program ends, students participate in year-round programs held throughout Israel and the Palestinian territories. —Libby Barnea
The Lady in Question
Since celebrated Shakespeare scholar A.L. Rowse identified Amelia Bassano—a woman of probable Italian Jewish descent loyal to her heritage—as the likeliest candidate for the Dark Lady of Shakespeare’s sonnets, her role in the writer’s life has been questioned.
Could she have written or collaborated on some plays, too? Maybe. John Hudson, a scholar based in New York now completing Bassano’s biography, argues that she was a published poet, had firsthand knowledge of Italy, and that Shakespeare’s plays contain around 2,000 musical allusions only musically knowledgeable people, like Bassano, could have incorporated. The Shakespearean Authorship Trust (www.shakespeareanauthorshiptrust.org.uk), which gathers information on credible alternatives, has added her to its lists.
And David Basch, a Jewish Shakespeare scholar in Fairfield, Connecticut, has searched for hidden Judaic references. He says that whoever wrote the plays and sonnets “shows an uncanny familiarity with the prayers, Midrash and Talmud.” —Andrée Aelion Brooks
Pedal Pushers: Wheels of Change at Tel Aviv Cafés
On the corner of Dizengoff and Jabotinsky streets in Tel Aviv, four white bicycles are parked outside Café Michal, and several times a day a patron lays a five shekel coin on the bar and rides off on one of them.
The café is one of three in Tel Aviv where customers can take bicycles for free or pay a nominal fee to go for a ride around town, take care of errands and get a sense of the ease bicycle transportation provides.
“I came to the idea because I think the transportation problems and pollution in this city are a catastrophe and I see bicycles as the easy solution,” said Rafael Aharoni, a partner at the small restaurant Cabina (10 Herzl Street) who brought the idea to Café Michal and another Cabina outpost, at the corner of Washington Boulevard and Salame Street.
With its flat landscape and new bicycle lanes, Tel Aviv is slowly becoming a more bicycle-friendly city.
“But people tend to still see bicycles as something backward,” said Aharoni. “Through this project I am hoping to convince people to change their ways.”
Courtesy of The Ribalow Family
A Sporting Chance
Harold U. Ribalow (1919-1982) was an American journalist and editor who had a passion for sports. His three books about Jews in the athletic fields stirred a great interest in the subject in the United States after World War II—so much so that his The Jew in American Sports was reprinted four times between 1948 and 1952.
In July, Ribalow (left) will be inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame (www.jewishsports.net) at a ceremony at the Wingate Institute in Netanya, Israel. He is honored in the Pillar of Achievement category, for those who have made contributions to society through sports, though not necessarily as athletes.
Hadassah Magazine’s annual Harold U. Ribalow Prize for fiction was endowed by his children in his memory, recognizing his other major life work: promoting and publishing new, talented Jewish fiction writers.
“There is a wonderful irony in the fact that a man who was not a fiction writer should have a major literary award named in his honor,” said Ribalow’s son, Meir, who nominated him to the IJSHF, “and that the same man, who was never an athlete, should join the likes of [Sandy] Koufax, [Hank] Greenberg and Benny Leonard in the annals of sports greatness.” —Rachel Schwartzberg
It’s water, water everywhere for Bar Rafeali. This year, the Israeli supermodel splashed her way onto the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue for the first time, and now, she has signed on to be the face of the Israel Water Authority’s latest conservation campaign, rolling out this summer.
The water authority has already had success enlisting the public support of other Israeli celebrities, including actress Renana Raz. After Raz’s television advertisement ran, the authority recorded significant reduction in water consumption.
Rafeali, who turns 24 in June, may be the most internationally recognizable Israeli after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres—no doubt largely due to her long-term relationship with Hollywood heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio. But that celebrity hasn’t necessarily won her fans back home. Rafeali famously dodged her mandatory service in the Israel Defense Forces and has been trying to make amends with her compatriots every since.
Maybe this public service work will finally do the trick. —L.B.