Chanukah is here and our cruse runneth over with light-filled concerts, shows, stand-up acts, lectures and family programs, extending far beyond the prescribed eight days. The festivities kick-off with a laugh (and probably a kvetch, too) — courtesy of the irrepressible comic Jackie Mason. He’ll deliver a special holiday show showcasing his famously Yiddishly flavored zingers (Saturday, Dec. 9, B.B. King Blues Club & Grill in Times Square, bbkingblues.com). The Zamir and Zamir Noded Chorale, under the direction of Maestro Matthew Lazar, ushers in the holiday with a program of Jewish choral music both ancient and new (Sunday, Dec. 10, 11 a.m., Kaufman Music Center, 129 W. 67th St., kaufmanmusiccenter.org).
For the first candle of Chanukah, violin diva Alicia Svigals, one of the top klezmer fiddlers around, will be joined by Will Holshouser on accordion and Brian Glassman on bass for a concert of upbeat, ecstatic Jewish melodies (Tuesday, Dec. 12, 6 p.m., Seaport District, corner of Front and Beekman streets, eventbrite.com). The Maccabeats and Six13 celebrate the second night of the Festival of Lights with an all-Jewish, all-male, all-a cappella concert, MC’d by comedy duo The Bible Players(Wednesday, Dec. 13, 6:30 p.m., Temple Emanu-El Streicker Center, 1 E. 65th St., emanuelskirballnyc.org).
Moshav, the internationally acclaimed band fronted by Yehuda Solomon and Duvid Swirsky, rocks the third candle with its high-energy mix of rock, reggae and Israeli music (Thursday, Dec. 14, 7:30 p.m., JCC Manhattan, 334 Amsterdam Ave., jccmanhattan.org). Further down the line, JQY (Jewish Queer Youth), a leading nonprofit supporting at-risk LGBTQ Jewish youth from Orthodox homes, is sponsoring a high-power Chanukah benefit concert, headlined by Jewish rock/reggae star Matisyahu, “Soul Daughter” Neshama Carlebach and pop rocker and producer Eli Schwebe (Sunday, Dec. 17, 6-9:30 p.m., Congregation Rodeph Sholom, 7 W. 83rd St. Tickets at jqyouth.org)l.
Happy Chanukah, and spread a little light.
AWAKE AND SING!
The New Yiddish Rep’s revival of a 1938 Yiddish musical, based on the play by Clifford Odets, follows the Bergers, a financially strapped family of three generations living under one roof. Its themes will likely strike a resonant chord in a 2017 America in which many families are struggling. — Now open, Theater at the 14th Street Y, 344 E. 14 St., newyiddishrep.org, (646) 395-4310.
DESCRIBE THE NIGHT
In 1920, Jewish-Russian writer Isaac Babel wanders the Russian countryside with the Red Cavalry. Seventy years later, a mysterious KGB agent spies on a woman in Dresden and falls in love. In 2010, an aircraft carrying most of the Polish government has a suspicious accident and crashes in the Russian city of Smolensk. Inspired by his love of Babel’s work, playwright and Pulitzer Prize-finalist Rajiv Joseph tells a three-act, three-hour historical thriller that follows the interconnected stories of seven Russian men and women over nine decades. — Atlantic Theater Co., 336 W. 20th St., (866) 811-4111, atlantictheater.org.
NEXT STOP: A COMEDY OF MISCONNECTIONS
Fresh off the boat, Hazan (Ben Perry), an Israeli newcomer to New York, is suffering from IPAD — “Israeli Personality Assimilation Disorder.” After a decade here, Maya (Noga Milstein), an Israeli-American would-be actress, is just too American for him — though she is still too Israeli for her American prospects. Written by Milstein and produced by Israeli-American movie star Mili Avital, this original rom-com explored the hybrid Israeli-American identity. — Through Dec. 12, Broadway Comedy Club, 318 W. 53rd St., (212) 757-2323, nextstoptheshow.com.
This play tells the story of a contemporary Birthright Israel trip to Masada, a Roman-era fortress and tourist attraction in the Israeli desert. While the participants examine their identities and relationships to Israel and Jewishness, they share the stage with actors retelling the infamous events that took place on Masada almost 2,000 years ago. As the two dramas mix and intertwine, staying on Masada becomes more and more contentious and dangerous. — Through Dec. 23, The Gym At Judson, 243 Thompson St., (866) 811-4111, thegymatjudson.com.
THE BAND’S VISIT
In the hit Israeli film, the Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra travels to Israel from Egypt for a concert, ending up in the wrong place and bonding with local Israelis in the process. David Yazbek’s musical of the same name and based on the film won the 2017 Obie for Best Musical. Now on Broadway after a sold-out Off-Broadway run. —Barrymore Theatre, 243 W. 47th St., telecharge.com, thebandsvisitmusical.com.
Ayad Akhtar, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “Disgraced,” a play about a Muslim and Jewish couple discussing identity over dinner, turns to investment banking in “Junk.” It stars Steven Pasquale as Robert Merkin, a financial kingpin of the ’80s (a la Michael Milken) who attempts to take over an iconic American manufacturing company, changing all the rules in the process. — Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center, 150 W. 65th St., lct.org.
“Lili Marlene” was the title of a World War II-era German song that became popular with both the Axis and the Allies. Set in pre-WWII Berlin, this similarly titled Off-Broadway musical (with book and music by Michael Antin) centers on the fictional character of Rosie Pen (Amy Londyn), a Jewish cabaret singer whose rendition of the song makes it famous. With Nazism on the rise, Rosie’s unlikely love affair with a young German count named Willi (Clint Hromsco) drives them both to seek ways out of the country. — Tuesdays through Dec. 19, 7 p.m., St. Luke’s Theatre, 308 W. 46th St., (212) 239-6200, telecharge.com.
Composer David Yazbek (“The Full Monty,” “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown”) has won raves for his Broadway adaptation of the hit Israeli film, “The Band’s Visit.” Accompanied by a live band, Yazbek performs songs from his many albums and shows, in a concert The Times has hailed as “a raucous evening of unclassifiable musical comedy, and “a thrill-ride at a volcano’s edge.” With special guest actor and singer Katrina Lenk, who stars in “The Band’s Visit.” — Monday, Dec. 11, 7 p.m., 54 Below, 254 W. 54th St., (646) 476-3551, 54below.com.
KLEZBOS IN THE SKY
Kicking off the Chanukah holiday season, the acclaimed, all-female klezmer sextet Isle of Klezbos gets close up and intimate in a house concert featuring holiday themed neo-traditional dance rollicks, mystical melodies, re-grooved standards and genre-defying originals. Latkes, snacks, wine and soft drinks will be served. Seating is limited, RSVP advised. — Wed, Dec. 13, 7 p.m. doors, 7:30 p.m. concert, Piano on Park, Ten Park Avenue, 22nd fl., Apt. 22D, klezbos.com or eventbrite.com.
ASSAF AMDURSKY ACOUSTIC SHOW
The iconic Israeli singer-songwriter and producer Asaf Amdursky has been shaping the Israeli pop-rock scene for the past 25 years. This versatile musician will perform acoustic versions of his most popular songs, in Hebrew. — Sunday, Dec. 10, 6:30-8:30 p.m., The Green Room 42, 570 Tenth Ave., (646) 449-7792, eventbrite.com.
ISRAELI JAZZ SPOTLIGHT
Curated by Israeli-American bassist Or Bareket, Cornelia’s monthly “Israeli Jazz Spotlight” features singer-songwriter and pianist Noa Fort, who writes dark, jazz-influenced songs, with touches of rock, punk and ska; also on tap is recent arrival Idan Morim, an up-and-coming guitarist and composer, who leads a quintet. — Sunday, Dec. 10, 8 p.m. Noa Fort, 9 p.m. Idan Morim, Cornelia Street Café, 29 Cornelia St., (212) 989-9319, corneliastreetcafe.com. $20, drinks included.
With six albums to date, Hadag Nahash is one of Israel’s most recognizable hip hop/funk bands. Combining Middle Eastern music, world music and hip-hop with strong political and cultural messages, some of Hadag Nahash’s songs have become akin to national anthems, while others have become standard soundtracks for peace rallies and protests. Featuring special guest Israeli singer/songwriter and rising pop-star Hanan Ben Ari. — Saturday, Dec. 10, 8 p.m., Gramercy Theatre, 127 E. 23rd St., (212) 614-6932, thegramercytheatre.com.
A YIDDISH LIEDERABEND
YIVO presents a nostalgic program devoted to treasures of Yiddish song and the poetry that inspired it. The concert features leading Yiddish singers Ida Rae Cahana, Elizabeth Shammash, Raphael Frieder, Simon Spiro and a cameo appearance by Robert Paul Abelson, together with pianist Yehudi Wyner. The performance will be preceded by a lecture by Anne E. Leibowitz, YIVO’s visiting music professor-in-residence, and followed by a meet-the-artist reception, with a candlelighting ceremony and communal singing. — Wednesday, Dec. 13, 7:30 p.m., Center for Jewish History, 15 W. 16th St., (917) 606-8290, yivo.org/Liederabend.
NITZAN GAVRIELI TRIO
Since moving to New York in 2007, the Israeli-born pianist and composer has been performing with his trio and as a sideman. Rhythmically complex and rich with Middle Eastern motifs, “the melodically inventive piano work of Nitzan Gavrieli moves from one tempo to another, never diminishing the energy,” says Jam Magazine. — Thursday, Dec. 14, 8 p.m., Cornelia Street Café, 29 Cornelia St., (212) 989-9319, corneliastreetcafe.com. $20, drinks included.
JOHN ZORN’S BAGATELLES DOUBLE BILL
In 2015, during the 61 days between March and May, the downtown music legend and Tzaddik Records founder John Zorn wrote 300 short compositions, which he collected in a book of music called “The Bagatelles.” The Harris Eisenstadt Trio and the Hollenberg-Millevoi Quartet will play several of them. — Monday, Dec. 11, 8 p.m., The Stone, Avenue C and Second st., thestonenyc.com.
Eight years after his highly acclaimed “Lebanon,” which took viewers into the interior of an Israeli tank, Samuel Maoz is back with “Foxtrot.” Jewish Week film critic George Robinson calls it “an intricate, bleak but often funny rumination on the no-exit nature of life in contemporary Israel; that life is seen as an absurdist tragicomedy of often fatal errors, underpinning the profound melancholy of aging and mortality.” The film, he continues, “has an intricate structure that replicates the box step of its title dance.” “Foxtrot” is the official Israeli selection for the Academy Award for best foreign film. — Opens Friday, Dec. 8, Quad Cinema, 34 W. 13th St., (212) 255-2243, quadcinema.com/film/foxtrot/. (See review here.)
Hedy Lamarr, the ’40s screen siren, was praised for being the most beautiful woman to “ever storm the doors of moviedom” (Photoplay). The fact that she was the inventor of a groundbreaking communication system that underlined modern encryption has so far been largely overlooked. Following the starlet through her turbulent marriage and career, this documentary gives a sympathetic look into Lamarr’s struggle – and ultimate failure – to be recognized for something other than her beauty. — IFC Film Center, 323 Sixth Ave., (212) 924-7771, ifccenter.com.
On a sweltering August day in 1945, Hungarian villagers prepare for the wedding of the town clerk’s son. Meanwhile, two Orthodox Jews arrive at the village train station with mysterious boxes labeled “fragrances.” The town clerk fears the men may be heirs of the village’s deported Jews and expects them to demand their illegally acquired property, lost during the war, be returned. Variety called the film “a fresh, intelligent cinematic approach to a difficult topic that takes on a transitional time in Hungarian history with subtlety and nuance.” — Lincoln Plaza Cinema, 1886 Broadway, (212) 757-0359, lincolnplazacinema.com.
FROM BROOKLYN TO BEIRUT
Jews have lived in what is today Lebanon since biblical times. As internal and regional tensions tore Lebanon apart, Lebanese Jews began to emigrate and settle abroad in France, Israel, Brazil and the United States. This documentary follows the Jewish-Lebanese emigrants and their descendants as they form vibrant communities abroad, where Lebanese culture — from literature to music to cinema — is preserved, celebrated and developed further. — Thursday, Dec. 14, 7 p.m., Center for Jewish History, 15 W. 16th St., (212) 294-8301, cjh.org.
ABE & PHIL’S LAST POKER GAME
In his final film performance, Martin Landau (who was terrific, along with Christopher Plummer, in the 2015 Holocaust-themed “Remember”) plays Abe Mandelbaum, a doctor who moves into Cliffside Manor nursing home with his deteriorating wife and forms an improbable friendship with gambler and womanizer Phil Nicoletti (Paul Sorvino). The screening will be followed by a Q&A with director Howard L. Weiner. — Tuesday, Dec. 17, 7 p.m., Manhattan Jewish Experience, 131 W. 86th St., 10th fl., (212) 787-9533, jewishexperience.org.
JEWISH COMEDY: A SERIOUS HISTORY
In his new book from W.W. Norton and Co., Columbia Professor Jeremy Dauber traces the origins of Jewish comedy and its development from biblical times to the age of Twitter. The Book of Esther gets a shout-out, as does, of course, “Seinfeld.” He’ll talk about what makes Jewish humor tick this week. — Friday, Dec. 8, noon, 92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington Ave., 92y.org.
WHEN DAVID BECAME GOLIATH
Rabbi Donniel Hartman, president of the Shalom Hartman Institute, speaks about the legacy of Israel’s Six-Day War, followed by an audience Q&A moderated by Rabbi Peter J. Rubinstein. — Tuesday, Dec. 12, 8 p.m., 92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington Ave., 92y.org.
This Jewish Museum exhibit features early drawings by famous Italian painter and sculptor Amedeo Modigliani, who died in 1920. The drawings, which were acquired directly from the artist by Dr. Paul Alexandre — his close friend and first patron — illuminate how Modigliani’s heritage as an Italian Sephardic Jew is pivotal to understanding his artistic output. Many of these works are being shown for the first time in the U.S. — Through Feb. 4, 2018, The Jewish Museum, 1109 Fifth Ave., (212) 423-3200, thejewishmuseum.org
REDISCOVERY, RESTORATION AND RENEWAL
Ten years ago, the restoration of the Eldridge Street Synagogue was completed. After a 20-year, $20 million effort, the building was brought back from the verge of collapse to stand once again as a Jewish landmark. In celebration of this milestone, the Museum at Eldridge Street presents 45 large-scale photographs, dating from the 1970s to the present, of the synagogue in different stages of its transformation. —Museum at Eldridge Street, 12 Eldridge Street, eldridgestreet.org. Through March 1, 2018.
Playing out more like a spy novel than a museum show, this multimedia exhibit features recently declassified materials charting the tracking, capture, extradition and trial of Adolf Eichmann. — Through Dec. 22, Museum of Jewish Heritage, 36 Battery Place, (646) 437-4202, mjhnyc.org.
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