Guide to the Arts
From the Bronx to the Bay:
Paintings of Philip Rosenfeld
Represented in this exhibit are examples from Philip Rosenfeld’s compelling series “Faces of the American Labor Movement,” which is comprised of 20 powerful oil portraits of key female labor leaders from the 1920s and 1930s, and abstract paintings from the “From the Bronx to the Bay.” These series encompass Rosenfeld’s life in art and bring together his convictions and his artistry. June 5 through August 29 at the Elizabeth S. and Alvin I. Fine Museum of Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco (415-751-2535; www.emanuelsf.org).
Lights, Camera, Action:
Comic Book Heroes of Film and Television
This companion exhibition to ZAP! POW! BAM! explores the long connection between comic book heroes and the moving image. It also examines the close relationship and parallel development of the comic book and motion picture industries. Objects on view include the original 1966 Batcycle from the Batman television series, vintage movie posters, original comic books and other movie and television memorabilia.
Through August 9 at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles (310-440-4500;www.skirball.org).
Omer Calendars by Community Artists
Omer counters, or calendars, have been part of Jewish tradition for centuries. Modern examples demonstrate how a wide variety of contemporary materials and techniques can be used to create pieces that reflect both ancient and new ideas about time and spiritual values. Contemporary artists have incorporated all these ideas into their own personal expressions of the significance of counting the Omer, the period of time between Passover and Shavuot. Through July 26 at the Bureau of Jewish Education Jewish Community Library in San Francisco (415-567-3327;www.bjesf.org).
Mystery Made Manifest
Drawn to the mystery and magic of the ancient, ceramic artist Susan Duhan Felix employs the primitive method of pit firing to evoke similar responses in her artwork. Noting that the Hebrew words faith (emuna) and art (omanut) derive from the same root, she explains that her pieces, from ritual objects to inspirational creations, represent the constant struggle to find the light amid the darkness and chaos of our lives. Through June 30 at the Badè Museum of Biblical Archeology at the Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley (510-849-8286; www. bade.psr.edu). Through July 26 at the Jewish Community Library, San Francisco (415-567-3327; www.bjesf.org).
Rivington Street: Yiddish Culture in Comic Strips
San Francisco writer Joel Schechter collaborates with illustrator Spain Rodriguez (just Spain to readers of underground comics in the 1960s) to create a series of comic strips about Jewish culture. Their illustrated stories tell about popular Yiddish actors, poets and artists such as Menasha Skulnik, Ida Kaminska, Chayale Ash, William Gropper, Yosl Cutler and Leo Fuchs. On display are original drawings and reproductions first published in the journal Jewish Currents. Through July 26 at the Bureau of Jewish Education Jewish Community Library in San Francisco (415-567-3327; www.bjesf.org).
The First Hebrew City:
Early Tel Aviv Through the Eyes of the Eliasaf Robinson Collection
Bookseller Eliasaf Robinson collected photographs, images, pamphlets, posters, maps and other ephemera on Tel Aviv for over 40 years. His collection documents the development of Israel’s great metropolis. At Stanford University, through August (650-725-1054; www.stanford.edu).
ZAP! POW! BAM!
The Superhero: The Golden Age of Comic Books, 1938-1950
Art and objects explore the genesis of cultural icons such as Superman, Batman, Captain Marvel, Wonder Woman and Captain America. In the midst of the economic and political turmoil of the 1930s and 1940s, young Jewish artists were among those who created these champions of the people. On display are rare vintage artworks and books, 1940s Hollywood movie serials, interactive displays and stations that allow children to dress up as superheroes. Through August 9 at the Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles (310-440-4500; www.skirball.org).
Irina Kopelevich Exhibit
Kopelevich’s work features scenes of contemporary Jewish themes and characters captured in movement. “I am not concerned with proportions but with movement and colors, I am trying to paint music in my pictures, I am trying to freeze a moment,” says Kopelevich, who was originally from Riga, Latvia. She primarily paints with watercolors and a mixture of tempera and ink wash. Kopelevich’s work is being presented by the Mizel Museum Artist Alliance and may be viewed at Kohelet Congregation through August 11 by appointment only. Schedule an individual or group viewing or appointment by contacting Georgina Kolber at 303-394-9993, ext. 107.
My Self: Original Self Portraits by the Artists of the Mizel Museum Artist Alliance
The ”My Self: Original Self Portraits” exhibit features original works by local and national artists who comprise the Mizel Museum Artist Alliance, formerly known as the Colorado Jewish Artists Guild of the Mizel Museum. MMAA members were asked to submit self-portraits in various media portraying traditional or conceptual/abstract figural works. In a collaborative display of exceptional talent, the group exhibit delivers a diverse body of work through the lens of “self” interpretation fashioned from various materials, and media in a variety of artistic styles. Through September 1 at the Mizel Museum in Denver (303-394-9993;www.mizelmuseum.org).
Florida Jews in Sports
This exhibit showcases a great variety of athletes who have distinguished themselves in baseball, football, basketball, golf, tennis, handball, boxing, soccer, martial arts, jai alai, equestrian competition, billiards, sailing, mountain climbing, swimming and table tennis. This includes Jewish coaches and those who have played key roles behind the scenes in sports as owners, in management and journalism. Florida born or connected individuals include Mike “Lefty” Schemer who played for the New York Giants; Sandy Koufax, one of the greatest pitchers of all time; and Mark Spitz, who won seven golds at the 1972 Munich Olympics. From July 1 to August 23 at the Jewish Museum of Florida in Miami Beach (305-672-5044; www.jewishmuseum.com).
History Revealed: True Treasures and Coveted Curiosities
On display are objects, photographs and documents from rare and surprising archival collections: Civil War artifacts, World Wars I and II memorabilia and documentation of the Civil Rights movement including never before exhibited treasures from the Cuba Archives and vault. Through July 19, in the Schwartz Special Exhibitions Gallery at the Breman Jewish Heritage and Holocaust Museum in Atlanta (678-222-3700; www.thebreman.org).
A Force for Change
African American Art and the Julius Rosenwald Fund
On display are more than 60 paintings, sculptures and works on paper by 22 Rosenwald fellows, African-American artists, writers and scholars who were awarded stipends between 1928 and 1948. Documentary and archival materials are also on display. Through August 16 at the Spertus Museum in Chicago (312-322-1700; www.spertus.edu).
Ground Level Projects:
This spring, Spertus Museum launches a new initiative called Ground Level Projects, a series of artist commissions for Spertus’ glass-enclosed, street-level vestibule space. A new work by Chicago-based artist Deb Sokolow will be the first Ground Level Project. Sokolow’s imaginative narratives of hand-drawn texts and images are loosely based on her own personal experiences as well as media stories and films she finds compelling. Spinning off into numerous tangents in an attempt to uncover “truths,” these comic and often-paranoid ramblings lead viewers on a journey that rarely culminates in answers. Through July 19 at the Spertus Museum in Chicago (312-322-1700; www.spertus.edu).
Drawing on Tradition:
The Book of Esther
Illustrations from J.T. Waldman’s bold retelling of the story of Esther in graphic novel form bring an added visual layer full of historical detail and midrashic allusions to the epic tale. Through July 26 at the Jewish Museum of Maryland, Baltimore (410-732-6400; www.jhsm.org).
In the Beginning Was the Kheyder.…
The kheyder curriculum remained essentially the same from the 16th century until World War II. In these small rooms, every Jewish boy—and sometimes girls—learned how to read the Hebrew Bible by laboriously translating each Hebrew word into Yiddish; it is where modern Yiddish writers and readers acquired their literary language. The spaces, people and practices of kheyder are explored through text, literature and images. Open-ended at the National Yiddish Book Center in Amherst (413-256-4900; https://yiddishbookcenter.org).
Of Life and Loss: The Polish Photographs of Roman Vishniac and Jeffrey Gusky
Images from the mid-1930s and the 1990s of the Jewish communities of Poland.Through July 12 at the Detroit Institute of Arts (313-833-7900; www.dia.org).
Fighting the Fires of Hate: America and the Nazi Book Burnings
This traveling exhibit from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., focuses on how Nazi book burnings became a potent anti-democratic symbol during World War II in America’s battle against Nazism. Through July 15 at Branigan Cultural Center in Las Cruces (203-314-0325;www.ushmm.org).
Between Collaboration and Resistance:
French Literary Life Under Nazi Occupation
This exhibit looks at the effects of World War I, the decline of the Third Republic, and the installation of the Vichy regime followed by thematic sections examining everyday life, collaboration, resistance, the Holocaust and international solidarities. It features unique and unpublished contemporary documents; included is the manuscript of Irène Némirovsky’s Suite Française. Through July 25 at the New York Public Library in New York (www.nypl.org/research/calendar/exhib).
Beyond Swastika and Jim Crow: Jewish Refugee Scholars at Black Colleges
When German Jewish professors were forced out of their native country in the 1930s, many found positions at black colleges in the Jim Crow South. This exhibit shows how these teachers influenced their students and how they and their students shared the early years of struggle in the Civil Rights movement. Through January 2010 at the Museum of Jewish Heritage–A Living Memorial to the Holocaust in New York (646-437-4200; www.mjhnyc.org).
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Museum
The following four exhibits are on view at the HUC-JIR Museum in New York (212-824-2205; www.huc.edu):
Envisioning Maps is an exhibition of paintings, sculptures, and prints by contemporary American and international artists who use actual maps, real or imagined, as metaphors for human relationships, historical experience, social values, global politics, and issues of identity and heritage. The exhibition offers contemporary expressions of the full range of maps throughout the centuries. Through June 26.
A Centennial Tribute
“Arbit Blatas: A Centennial Tribute” is a major exhibition of the works of this powerful, sensual 20th century artist, the first New York retrospective since the artist’s death 10 years ago. Blatas’s vivid palate communicated itself in Holocaust works, opera and theater stage set designs, landscapes, and portraits—all of which are represented in this centenary exhibition. Through June 26.
•Arie Bar Lev:
Israel Then and Now
Translating his personal feelings through a camera lens, Arie Bar Lev’s photography provides a unique insight into the rise and growth of the State of Israel. Embodied by a pioneering spirit, Israel has flourished into a formidable cultural and technological hub. As the personification of that spirit, Bar Lev, in over 50 years of photography, shows that determination can cultivate beauty out of an arid wasteland. Bar Lev’s work confronts changes in immigration, education, healthcare and military capability, which reflects Israel’s conscious effort to forge a cohesive nation. Through June 26.
•Judith Margolis: Countdown to Perfection-Meditations on the Sefirot
Countdown to Perfection-Meditations on the Sefirot is a limited edition fine art unbound book contained in an individual, linen clad, oyster box. This exceptional Omer Counter identifies 49 personality traits that, taken together, map a mystical journey of change. An examination of Kabbalistic insights and meditations offers personal inspiration and spiritual discipline. Through June 26.
How They Lived: The Daily Lives of Hungarian Jews in Photographs, 1867-1940
A photography exhibition providing visitors with rare insight into the everyday lives of Hungarian Jews before World War II. The over 100 photographs explore the diversity of Hungarian Jewish life before the War, documenting the way Hungarian Jews dressed and the range of places in which they lived and worked. The exhibition is presented at the 92nd Street Y in conjunction with Extremely Hungary, a yearlong festival showcasing Hungarian arts and culture in New York and Washington, D.C. Through July 2 at the Milton J. Weill Gallery at the 92nd Street Y’s Tisch Center for the Arts in New York (212-425-5562; www.92y.org).
One Soul: When Humanity Fails
The first in a series of traveling exhibits from the Afikim Foundation explores America’s liberation of Europe through striking photographs, text, film and audio testimonies from survivors and liberators. Disturbing images, such as the remains of prisoners from Ohrdruf concentration camp, highlight the destruction of German society and the United States Army’s sacrifice. Through June 16 at the Queens Library. (On view at www.whenhumanityfails.com; for schedule or bookings, go towww.afikimfoundation.org; 212-791-7450)
Our Gang in World War II
This exhibit is dedicated to “Our Gang,” Greek-Jews, most sons of immigrants from Ioannina, many from the Lower East Side, who proudly fought to defend their country. The exhibit includes photos and artifacts. Through November at the Kehila Kadosha Janina Synagogue and Museum in New York (212-431-1619;www.kkjsm.org).
Publishing in Exile:
German Language Literature in the U.S. in the 1940s
“Publishing in Exile” brings together for the first time literary works published by German-speaking exiled publishers in the United States during the Third Reich. Displayed along with the original books, rare photos, letters, and archival material are several unique manuscripts that characterize the writing done during this dark time, such as Thomas Mann’s, Joseph der Ernährer [Joseph the Provider] and Franz Werfel’s Die wahre Geschichte vom wiederhergestellten Kreuz [The True Story of the Restored Cross], as well as materials from collections in Germany and across the United States. Many of the titles published by the exile presses in the U.S. were written by authors banned by the Nazis: Jewish writers, Marxists, pacifists, internationalists, and other undesirables, but some were classics that were out of line with Nazi dogma, such as Grimm’s Märchen. Through June 28 at the Leo Baeck Institute in New York (212-744-6400; www.lbi.org).
Reclaimed: Paintings from the Collection of Jacques Goudstikker
This exhibit reveals 40 works from the legacy of Jacques Goudstikker, a preeminent art dealer in Amsterdam who was forced to flee the Netherlands in May 1940. His collection of 1,400 masterpieces fell victim to Nazi looting, but in 2006, Goudstikker’s family successfully reclaimed 200 of his paintings from the Dutch government. Highlights on view include Jan Steen’s 1971 Sacrifice of Iphigenia, two river landscapes by Salomon van Ruysdael and a rare early marine painting by Jacob van Ruisdael. Through August 2 at the Jewish Museum, New York (212-423-3200; www.thejewishmuseum.org).
Signs of Life
Rebecca Lepkoff’s rare early photographs taken around New York—especially the Lower East Side—from the 1940s and 1950s document the city. One series, title “Morning Rush, Midtown,” depicts the daily hustle and bustle of one of the world’s busiest neighborhoods. Through July 11 at Howard Greenberg Gallery in New York (212-334-0010; www.howardgreenberg.com).
Stars, Strikes, and the Yiddish Stage:
The Story of the Hebrew Actors’ Union, 1899–2005
On display are original letters, theater posters, manuscripts and artifacts from the Hebrew Actors’ Union: a telegram from Molly Picon from Poland reporting on concerts she gave for Holocaust survivors after the war; financial ledgers showing the weekly wages of actors; and items on stars such Ludwig Satz, who earned $500 a week at a time when others were earning $40. Open- ended at the Center for Jewish History (212-246-6080; www.yivo.org).
Ten Commandments/Ten Images: A Visual Journey
Rudi Wolff’s vivid visual language juxtaposes brilliantly colored, Matisse-like cutout shapes in dynamic arrays. Ten digital serigraphs have interconnecting images and ideas. Mid-May, it was installed at the UJA-Federation in New York (212-980-1000;www.ujafedny.org).
The Danube Exodus: The Rippling Currents of the River
Three historical stories are interwoven in this interactive exhibition: East European Jews fleeing Nazi persecution in 1939 trying to reach a ship that will carry them to Palestine; German farmers from Bessarabia, following the Soviet re-annexation in 1940, returning to the Third Reich. Both groups were transported along the Danube by Captain Nándor Andrásovits; he and the river are the subjects of the third story. The installation is based on The Danube Exodus, an award-winning film by Hungarian filmmaker and scholar Petér Forgács, with The Labyrinth Project. Through August 2 at the Jewish Museum, New York (212-423-3337;www.thejewishmuseum.org).
They Called Me Mayer July:
Painted Memories of a Jewish Childhood in Poland Before the Holocaust
The lost world of Opatów, Poland, is captured in more than 80 vibrant paintings and drawings by Mayer Kirshenblatt. The 92-year-old artist began to paint at age 73. The pictures show his childhood town in scenes of birth and death, and images of kitchens and farms, inhabited by a lively cast of shoemakers, butchers, prostitutes, street performers, thieves, chimney sweeps and musicians. Through October 1 at the Jewish Museum in New York (212-423-3337;www.thejewishmuseum.org).
Tobi Kahn, artist-in-residence at the Jewish Theological Seminary, has created a site-specific work based on a library card catalog, as well as ceremonial art and a series of paintings on the transition between day and night. Through June 30 in the library of the JTS in New York (reservations and photo ID required: 212-678-8839; e-mail email@example.com).
Yeshiva University Museum
The following six exhibits will be on view at the Yeshiva University Museum in New York (212-294-8330; www.yumuseum.org).
•Passages: Sculpture by L.T. Syms
Lynn Syms sculpts the people she admires, those she loves and those she identifies with. Her realistic and figurative work tells the story of her life—her love for her family, friends and the world around her filled with interesting things, people and beauty that are always in motion. Through July 16.
•Testimony and Memory: Contemporary Miniature Torah Mantles
On display are the diminutive Torah mantles of London-based textile artist Carole Smollan—well known in England for her commissioned wedding canopies—who created the mantles from the remnants of lavishly ornamented huppa commissions. Through July 26.
•Final Mourner’s Kaddish:
333 Days in Paintings
by Max Miller
These emotionally charged paintings of synagogues express the artist’s grieving during his year of mourning for his father, when he prayed in many different locations. Through August 16.
•Joseph, the Bull and the Rose
Mexican artist Anette Pier uses the bullfight as a metaphor to portray the biblical story of Joseph and his brothers in vibrant, intensely colored, mixed-media paintings on canvas and palm paper. Through August 30.
•I of the Storm: Michael Hafftka, Recent Work
The son of Holocaust survivors, Hafftka uses Hebrew letters as visual imagery to express his reflections on life, history and, specifically, the Zohar, the Jewish book of mysticism that teaches that the world was created with Hebrew letters. Through August 30.
•From Malabar and Beyond: The Jews of India will showcase the rich culture of Indian Jews through photographs and artifacts of ritual and daily life featuring a selection of textiles and ceremonial objects. Open ended.
Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race
Nazi Germany merged racism and pseudoscience in its attempts to rid German society of individuals viewed as threats to the nation’s “health.” This traveling exhibit uses Nazi eugenics as a springboard, bringing together objects, photographs, documents and historic film footage from Germany, the United States and other countries to reflect on humanity’s continuing drive toward perfection—and the moral and biological issues that spring up from such attempts. Also available online on the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Web site (202-314-0325; www.ushmm.org/museum/exhibit/traveling).
Through July 5 at the Science Museum Oklahoma in Oklahoma City (405-602-6664; www.sciencemuseumok.org).
48 Jews: Paintings by Avshalom Jac Lahav
Avshalom Jac Lahav is a conceptual painter interested in issues of representation and identity. The paintings of 48 Jews ask questions that provide something essential and new to our understanding of visual representation. What can be captured in a portrait? More importantly, how do we represent a particular identity—what it is to be a Jew—especially when the subjects of these portraits define their own identity in idiosyncratic ways or are defined by forces outside of themselves? Through September 6 at the Oregon Jewish Museum in Portland (503-226-3600;www.ojm.org).
Alfred W. Fleisher Memorial Synagogue
Completed around 1924 and used continuously until the Eastern State Penitentiary closed in 1970, the synagogue has been faithfully restored with dark wooden benches, a beautiful Ark, reader’s table, ornate plaster Star of David and an eternal flame. A set of workshops next to the synagogue has been converted into an exhibit about the synagogue’s history and Jewish life inside the 142-year-old institution. Permanent exhibit at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia (215-236-3300; www.easternstate.org).
Shaping Space, Making Meaning
Visitors can learn how a museum creates a major exhibition and at the same time have input into developing a show prior to opening. The design team is now in the process of creating the 22,000-square-foot exhibition for the new museum now under construction and scheduled to open in 2010. National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia (215-923-3811; www.nmajh.org).
Never Let It Rest! An Art Project
German artist Hans Molzberger looks at the concentration camp in the German town of Salzwedel in the Saxony-Anhalt region, where up to 1,200 Jewish women were imprisoned. This project historically documents events of the time, and an art installation addresses persecution, war propaganda and the concentration camps and includes oral testimonies from former inmates. Through August 9 at the Holocaust Museum Houston’s Morgan Family Center Mincberg and Central Galleries (713-942-8000; www.hmh.org).
Fighting the Fires of Hate: America and the Nazi Book Burnings
This traveling exhibit from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., focuses on how Nazi book burnings became a potent anti-democratic symbol during World War II in America’s battle against Nazism Also available online on the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Web site (202-314-0325; www.ushmm.org/museum/exhibit/traveling).
Jewish Life in Mr. Lincoln’s City
This original exhibition, in honor of the 2009 bicentennial celebration of Lincoln’s birth, and held at several venues, tells stories of Jewish life in Civil War Washington and in Alexandria, Virginia. On display are a photograph of the unfinished Capitol dome that served as the backdrop for Abraham Lincoln’s first inauguration on March 6, 1861; an image of Eugenia Levy Phillips, a Jewish Confederate spy; the ketuba of Bettie Dreifus and Henry Baum, who married in Washington because wartime restrictions didn’t permit Baum to travel to his bride’s home in Alexandria. Fridays through May at Washington Hebrew Congregation (3935 Macomb Street NW, Washington, D.C.). Sundays, June 9 to September, at the Lillian & Albert Small Jewish Museum (701 Third Street, NW, Washington, D.C.) Fridays, September 11 through December at Beth El Hebrew Congregation (3830 Seminary Road, Alexandria, VA) (202-789-0900;www.jhsgw.org).
Bernard Weintraub’s play is based on the true story of Palestinian freedom fighter Peter Bergson’s struggle to save Jews in the 1940s, by alerting the United States government and the American Jewish community to the Nazis’ intentions in Europe. Ultimately, he was disappointed. Through June 14 at the Odyssey Theatre, Los Angeles (323-663-1525; www.fountaintheatre.com).
The Floating Light Bulb
Nancy Carlin directs Woody Allen’s exploration of love and loneliness in a working-class Jewish family. Set in 1945 Brooklyn, a teenage boy with a passion for magic tricks provides the light for his mother’s otherwise frustrated life. Her husband is a petty gambler and philanderer, and the coming visit of a talent scout to see her son perform holds a promise for a better future. Through May 24 at A Traveling Jewish Theatre, San Francisco (415-292-1233; www.atjt.com)
Fiddler on the Roof
Topol goes on the road reprising his role as Tevye. This may be his farewell tour but the veteran Israeli performer proves as vocally robust and winningly definitive as ever as the Jewish Everyman. Director Sammy Dallas Bayes reproduces the original Jerome Robbins choreography. Through June 28 in Chicago. The tour ends in January 2010; for dates and venues, go to www.fiddlerontour.com.
The Actors Rehearse the Story of Charlotte Salomon
An eye-opening and inventive play within a play that tells the mother-daughter story, artistic journey and ultimate tragedy of Charlotte Salomon, an inspired young artist who was murdered by the Nazis but left behind an amazing body of work. Written by David Bridel, Penny Kreitzer and Jonathan Rest and starring Kreitzer in multiple roles.September 12 from Shakespeare&Company in Lenox (413-637-3353;www.shakespeare.org).
William Gibson’s play features Annette Miller as Golda Meir, in a riveting and inspiring portrait of Israel’s fourth prime minister during a harrowing period of Israel’s history. June 17 to July 3 and September 13 from Shakepeare&Company in Lenox (413-637-3353; www.shakespeare.org).
Festival of Jewish Theater & Ideas
Mostly new theater offerings will be presented by companies from Canada and around the United States. Among the dozen plays and staged readings are Doctors Jane and Alexander, written and directed by Edward Einhorn, which examines art, science, ambition and achievement in humor and song; Emma by Howard Zinn, a toy-theater adaptation that celebrates the life of Emma Goldman in New York; and Hard Love by Motti Lerner, a romantic drama involving the children of a divorced couple. From May 20 to June 14, presented at various venues by the Association for Jewish Theatre (773-654-1282; www.afjt.com;www.untitledtheater.com).
Tova Feldshuh stars in the true story of the courageous and unsung heroine Irena Gut Opdyke. During the German occupation of Poland, the Polish Catholic woman was forced to work as head housekeeper for a prominent Nazi major. Over a two-year period, she secretly risked her life to save the lives of 12 Jewish refugees. Through September 6, the Directors Company production of the play by Dan Gordon is at the Walter Kerr Theatre (212-239-6200; www.walterkerrtheatre.com).
The Seagull on 16th Street
Anton Chekhov’s play The Seagull has been adapted by director Ari Roth to explore the dynamic clash between spiritual yearning and artistic ambitions in this tale of lovelorn artists, civil servants and household workers. June 17–July 19 in the Aaron & Cecile Goldman Theater at the Washington, D.C., Jewish Community Center (202-777-3210 or 800-494-TIXS; www.boxofficetickets.com).
Although this series, created by Michael Green, has not been renewed for next year, you can still see the remaining episodes of this modernized story of King Saul and the young David when the show resumes in June (check papers for air dates). In this show, King Silas Benjamin is the hard-bitten ruler of Gilboa, a nation at war with Gath. Idealistic and charming David Shepherd is an auto mechanic-turned-soldier whose rescue of the king’s son, Jack, makes him a hero. There is also a prophet, the Rev. Ephram Samuels. Goliath is not a flesh-and-blood enemy but rather a menacing series of tanks protecting Gath’s border. Sunday evenings on NBC (www.nbc.com/kings).
San Francisco Jewish Film Festival,
July 23 to August 10 (415-978-ARTS; www.sfjff.org).
Boston Jewish Film Festival, Encores and More 2009,
Through July 2 (617-244-9899; www.bjff.org).
Randi and Bruce Pergament Jewish Film Festival,
Through July 30 (516-484-1545; www.sjjcc.org).
Rochester Jewish Film Festival,
July 12 to 20 (585-461-2000; www.rjff.org).
From Sea to Shining Sea
A glance at the landscape of Jewish Americana, a wide field that embraces everything from ephemera and art to Judaica, photography and objects of material culture, suggests that we are fast becoming the people of the museum. Here’s a coast-to-coast sampling of what’s current, upcoming and ongoing.
Judah L. Magnes Museum, Berkeley (510-549-6950; www.magnes.org). The Western Jewish Americana Collection here is the largest in the world documenting the Jewish contribution to the American West (from the Gold Rush to the present) and includes documents, photos, books, ceremonial objects, textiles, fine art and music.
From July 7 through October 20, “Jews of the Fillmore,” an exhibition mounted in collaboration with the Magnes and the Koret Foundation, will be at the Jazz Heritage Center (415-255-7745; www.jazzheritagecenter.org), in San Francisco. Photos and objects depict 11 aspects of the little known Jewish culture in this historic San Francisco neighborhood, ranging from Temple and Education to Protest, Food and Fun. And self-guided walking tours of the Fillmore District include Diller’s Strictly Kosher Deli, birthplace of violin virtuoso Yehudi Menuhin; Waxman’s Bakery; Temple Beth Israel; and the Yiddish Cultural Center.
Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles (310-440-4500;www.skirball.org). “Zap! Pow! Bam! The Superhero: The Golden Age of Comic Books, 1938-1950” and “Lights, Cameras, Action: Comic Book Heroes of Film and Television” both run through August 9. Coming up November 19 through March 7, 2010: “Road to Freedom: Photographs of the Civil Rights Movement, 1956-1968.” A special logo identifies “Project Americana Collection” (objects that reflect the Jewish experience in the United States) items in the permanent exhibition “Visions and Values: Jewish Life from Antiquity to America” in which you’ll find an early-20th-century tailor shop and kitchen re-created down to the last nostalgia-inducing detail.
Contemporary Jewish Museum of San Francisco, San Francisco (415-655-7800; www.thecjm.org). “Jews on Vinyl,” showcasing “a quest for identity, history, and culture between the grooves of LPs,” according to the CJM, runs through October 13.
Sandford L. Ziff Jewish Museum of Florida, Miami Beach (305-672-5044;www.jewishmuseum.com). “Florida Jews in Sports” will be on exhibit through August 23; “Capturing Memories in Collage,” Marilyn Cohen’s evocative conjuring of the immigrant experience, through October 9; and “Judy Chicago: Jewish Identity” from September 8 through February 7, 2010. Coming up from October 20 through April 4, 2010: “48 Jews: What It Means to Be Jewish,” paintings by Abshalom Jac Lahav of Albert Einstein, Alan Dershowitz, Barry Manilow, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Bob Dylan and other luminaries. “Mosaic: Jewish Life in Florida” is ongoing.
The William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum, Atlanta (678-222-3700;www.thebreman.org). “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Untold Georgia Stories” is on display through September 17. The ongoing “Creating Community: The Jews of Atlanta from 1845 to the Present” is more compelling than most local narratives since its focal points are the harrowing Leo Frank case, which shattered the community in 1913, and the 1958 bombing of the temple on Peach Street which, ironically, helped the community to heal.
Spertus Museum, Chicago (312-322-1700;www.spertus.edu). “A Force for Change: African-American Art and the Julius Rosenwald Fund” runs through August 16 and includes works by artists Gordon Parks, Katherine Dunham and Jacob Lawrence. The September “Object of the Month” in the ongoing Open Depot Collection Display will be 19th- and early-20th century pop-up New Year’s cards, which open into three-dimensional scenes of, say, a family Rosh Hashana party, or idealized scenes of the Holy Land, with greetings in English and Hebrew.
Jewish Museum of Maryland, Baltimore (410-732-6400; www.jewishmuseummd.org). A core exhibition called “The Synagogue Speaks: Revisiting a Community Landmark” is scheduled to open in early 2010 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the museum, which boasts the largest collection of regional Jewish history in the country, including 5,000 objects and 20,000 photographs. Meanwhile, try the ongoing “Voices of Lombard Street: A Century of Change in East Baltimore.” And you can tour the museum’s two historic synagogues, B’nai Israel (1876), a Moorish Revival masterpiece that is in the National Register of Historic Places and one of America’s oldest synagogues, and the Greek Revival Lloyd Street Synagogue (1848), which is being renovated and will reopen in time for the anniversary celebration.
The Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience’s Utica location features the ongoing exhibit “Alsace to America,” and at the museum’s Natchez branch, you can see “Of Passover and Pilgrimage: the Natchez Jewish Experience” and tour one of the noblest synagogues of the South, Temple B’nai Israel, opened in 1905 and still going strong. Its sanctuary has the original Henry Pilcher’s Sons organ, listed on the National Register of Historic Organs. Visits by appointment only for both locations (601-362-6357; www.isjl.org).
American Jewish Historical Society, New York (212-294-6160; www.ajhs.org). The current exhibit is “Pages From a Performing Life: The Scrapbooks of Molly Picon”; “Voices of Change: Jewish Youth in America,” which survey the role of young Jews in modern political and social movements, opens October 26.
The Jewish Museum, New York, (212-423-3200;www.thejewishmuseum.org). “They Called Me Mayer July,” Mayer Kirshenblatt’s Painted Memories of a Jewish Childhood in Poland Before the Holocaust is open through October 1; “Reinventing Ritual: Contemporary Art and Design for Jewish Life” runs from September 13 until February 7, 2010; and there’s plenty of Americana throughout the two-floor permanent exhibit “Culture and Continuity: The Jewish Journey.” Adolph Gottlieb’s abstract expressionist 1950s Torah cover for Congregation B’nai Israel in Millburn, NJ, and Mae Rockland Tupa’s famous “Miss Liberty” Hanukka Lamp (1977).
Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art, Tulsa (918-492-1818;www.jewishmuseum.net). The ongoing exhibition “The Oklahoma Jewish Experience” includes furnishings and artifacts from former synagogue buildings in Tulsa, Sapulpa and Muskogee, Oklahoma, and Houston, Texas. The magnificent Tiffany stained glass window of Abraham and Isaac (from a Gustave Dore illustration) in the lobby is from the Houston synagogue.
Oregon Jewish Museum, Portland (503-226-3600; www.ojm.org). “Women of Valor,” Jan Rabinowitch’s evocations in glass of Biblical women, and “48 Jews,” a series of conceptual portraits by Abshalom Jac Lahav, will be on display until September 6. “The Shape of Time: Accumulations of Place and Memory”—a photographic examination of ordinary urban landscapes and public memory through the lens of the Jewish experience in Oregon—will run from November 5 through March 28, 2010.
National Museum of American Jewish History, Philadelphia (215-923-3811;www.nmajh.org). “Shaping Space, Making Meaning”—a highly interactive exhibition about the making of an exhibition, namely the one for the new museum building, in which museum-goers get to give their input to museum designers—will be ongoing and ever-evolving as construction progresses.
Beth Ahabah Museum & Archives, Richmond (804-353-2668;www.bethahabah.org). The former synagogue’s ongoing exhibitions here are “Minding the Store: Richmond’s Jewish Merchants,” “Commonwealth and Community: The Jewish Experience in Virginia” and “Answering the Call: Prayer, Patriotism, Service, & Sacrifice,” about Jews in the U.S. Army. And don’t miss the amazing Tiffany window depicting Mount Sinai in the synagogue’s sanctuary.
—Elin Schoen Brockman