What’s a Jew to do in and around Christmas?
Scrap Chinese and a movie this year and trade in the routine for a healthy portion of kvetchy, self-deprecating, mother-blaming Jewish stand-up.|
MERRY CHANUKAH WITH JUDY GOLD
Emmy Award-winning actress and comedian Judy Gold discusses being Jewish on Christmas. She also talks about her Jewish relatives, kids, partners, sex life and lack thereof. Most famous for her one woman play “25 Questions for a Jewish Mother,” Gold has been described as “an underappreciated gem of the New York comedy scene” by The New York Times. — Friday-Saturday, Dec. 22-23, 10 p.m., Carolines on Broadway, 1626 Broadway, (212) 757-4100, carolines.com. $31.25.
JEWISH CHRISTMAS COMEDY
From his stint on the Solomon Schechter basketball team to his tour of duty in the IDF, nothing escapes comedian Joel Chasnoff’s sharp — yet 100 percent clean (read: unblue) — Jewish wit. Joined by fellow comics Jessica Kirson, Phil Hanley and more, Chasnoff will throw Jesus a very Jewish birthday party. — Sunday, Dec. 24, 6 p.m. doors, 8 p.m. show, City Winery, 155 Varick St., (212) 608-0555, citywinery.com/newyork/tickets. $60.
A VERY JEWISH CHRISTMAS
A group of leading Jewish comedians — including Jared Freid (MTV, NFL Network, “The Today Show”), Canadian comic Ophira Eisenberg (Comedy Central, The Oxygen Network, VH-1), Brad Trackman (CBS, MTV, NBC, Comedy Central) — gather for Gotham’s annual “kosher” Christmas comedy set. — Sunday, Dec. 24, 7 and 9 p.m., Gotham Comedy Club, 208 W. 23rd St., (212) 367-9000, gothamcomedyclub.com. $25.
Sotheby’s annual sale of Important Judaica features one of the finest decorated Hebrew Bibles from Spain to come to auction. Produced in Castile in the early 1300s, this illuminated manuscript is a unique testament to the cross-cultural influences in the Golden Age of medieval Spain. From the noted collection of J.E. Safra, the Bible will be offered with a pre-sale estimate of $3.5 to $ 5 million. — Public exhibit opens Thursday, Dec. 14, auction Wednesday, Dec. 20, Sotheby’s, 1334 York Ave., (212) 606-7000, sothebys.com.
THE SORCERESS (DI KISHEFMAKHERIN)
This 1879 operetta by Boris Thomashevsky, the “father of Yiddish theater,” follows a fairy tale-like story featuring an innocent young heroine, her wicked stepmother, dashing fiancé, an itinerant peddler and a local witch. Yiddish with English translation supertitles. Written by Avrom Goldfaden, directed by Motl Didner, music direction by Zalmen Mlotek. — Monday, Dec. 25-Jan. 1, Museum of Jewish Heritage, 36 Battery Place, (646) 437-4202, mjhnyc.org.
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. —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.
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.
JQY (Jewish Queer Youth), a leading nonprofit supporting at-risk LGBTQ Jewish youth from Orthodox homes, will be holding an impressive Chanukah benefit concert headlined by Jewish rock/reggae legend Matisyahu, “Soul Daughter” Neshama Carlebach and Jewish pop star Eli Schwebel. — Sunday, Dec. 17, 6-9:30 p.m., Congregation Rodeph Sholom, 7 W. 83rd St. Tickets at jqyouth.org.
SANTA KLEZ WITH METROPOLITAN KLEZMER
Cornelia Street Café’s annual Merry Klezmer show features Metropolitan Klezmer, “one of America’s finest klezmer bands” (Songlines Magazine). Known for its sweeping arrangements and versatile ensemble playing, the quintet blends downtown, classical and world music into a danceable neo-traditional Yiddish repertoire. New York Music Daily called them, “Exhilarating … high-voltage … deliciously shape-shifting … with a love for resurrecting obscure treasures from across the decades.” — Monday, Dec. 25, 3 and 5 p.m., Cornelia Street Café, 29 Cornelia St., (212) 989-9319, corneliastreetcafe.com. $20 cover plus $10 minimum.
MATT DARRIAU AND XALAM TRIO
Matt Darriau, composer and reed player for the Klezmatics and the Paradox Trio, has influenced both the Balkan and Yiddish music revivals. Featuring Darriau, Middle Eastern oud player Brandon Terzic and drummer Matt Kilmer, the Xalam Trio plays a rhythmic blend of African ngoni, blues, klezmer, jazz and Balkan sounds. — Wednesday, Dec. 20, 6 p.m. doors, 7 p.m. concert, City Winery, 155 Varick St., (212) 608-0555, citywinery.com. $10.
Moshav, the acclaimed band fronted by Yehuda Solomon and Duvid Swirsky, brings in Christmas with their high-energy mix of rock, reggae and Israeli music. Blending traditional Jewish music with the sounds of rock, folk, soul and world rhythms, Moshav has been hailed as “one of the more unique and underrated rock bands that exists today” (New Noise Magazine). — Sunday, Dec. 24, 8 p.m., Highline Ballroom, 431 W. 16th St., highlineballroom.com. $15-$35.
Cellist Elad Kabilio and an ensemble from MusicTalks present stories and songs inspired by the Festival of Lights, across different cultures and musical styles, from klezmer and Ladino to classical opera and jazz. Part of the Center For Jewish History’s “Not Just For Kids” Chanukah program. — Sunday, Dec. 17, 3 p.m., Center for Jewish History, 15 W. 16th St., (212) 294-8301, cjh.org..
ANNUAL CHANUKAH CONCERT
Folksbiene artistic director Zalmen Mlotek presents a collection of Yiddish folk and theater songs, with singers and piano and klezmer clarinet, plus a Chanukah sing-along and a special story for the holiday. — Wednesday, Dec. 20, 7 p.m., Center for Jewish History, 15 W. 16th St., (212) 294-8301, cjh.org.
DAVID BROZA’S ‘NOT EXACTLY CHRISTMAS EVE’ CONCERT
His infectious, percussive strumming and his equally infectious smile can carry you from here to the Holy Land. The iconic singer-songwriter returns to 92Y for his 20th annual Christmas Eve concert. Broza’s folksy music represents a cultural fusion of the four different countries in which he was raised and now lives: Israel, Spain, England and the U.S. — Sunday, Dec. 24, 8 p.m., 92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington Ave., 92y.org.
A VERY JEWISH CHRISTMASI
It’s an open secret that many of the most popular Christmas songs were written by Jewish composers. Broadway actor-singer Joanne Borts and composer-keyboardist Rob Schwimmer will lead a Jewishly-inflected holiday sing-along. After the concert, Jody Rosen, author of “White Christmas: The Story of an American Song,” will discuss Irving Berlin, Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn and the unique cultural phenomenon of Jews penning Christmas music. Followed by a Chinese food reception. — Thursday, Dec. 21, 7 p.m., YIVO Institute, 15 W. 16th St., (212) 246-6080, yivo.org.
A GERMAN LIFE
Brunhilde Pomsel, now 105, describes herself as an “apolitical girl” and a “figure on the margins,” but she got closer to one of the worst criminals in world history than anyone else left alive. Pomsel served as Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels’ stenographer, and her unusual biography and personal journey into the past leads to thorny moral questions. — Opens Friday, Dec. 22, Cinema Village, 22 E. 12th St., (212) 924-3363, cinemavillage.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.” “Foxtrot” is the official Israeli selection for the Academy Award for best foreign film. — Quad Cinema, 34 W. 13th St., (212) 255-2243, quadcinema.com/film/foxtrot/.
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.
Richard Sassoon is an Iraqi-American of Jewish heritage. He studied at the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, traveled extensively throughout the Middle East and North Africa, lived in Morocco while studying at al-Akhawayn University and assisted Syrian and Iraqi refugees in Jordan. Ahmed Omar, deputy director of MALA (Muslim American Leadership Alliance), is a Somali-American of Muslim heritage, a refugee genocide survivor and has grappled with radicalism within his own family. The two will discuss their first-hand experiences facing extremism and how bridges of understanding can be built. — Wednesday, Dec. 18, 7 p.m., Center for Jewish History, 15 W. 16th St., (212) 294-8301, cjh.org.
In the context of Chanukah, Jewish contemporary artists react and interpret the concept of resistance — personally, historically and of course politically. In conjunction with the Yiddish New York Festival. — Thursday, Dec. 14, 6-9 p.m., City Lore Gallery, 56 E. 1st St., (212) 529-1955, citylore.org/the-gallery.
Reflecting upon personal experiences, historical and contemporary events and the universal human condition, HOME(less) features the mixed-media works of seventy international artists exploring the meaning of home, and the loss of it. — Through June 29, 2018, Hebrew Union College Museum, 1 W. 4th St., (212) 824-2218, huc.edu/homeless.
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. —Through March 1, 2018. Museum at Eldridge Street, 12 Eldridge St., eldridgestreet.org.
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