The top three events, as curated by our arts & culture editors:
The World Music Institute is launching a new Contemporary Jewish Music series focused on developments in modern Jewish music. The series kicks off with the Grammy-winning Klezmatics, the Jewish roots band that helped launch the klezmer revival more than 30 years ago. The group still retains three of its original members: vocalist Lorin Sklamberg, who Robert Christgau described as “transcendent, ethereal and sensual,” downtown composer/trumpeter Frank London and tsimbalist Paul Morrissett. The concert also features special guests Fred Hersch, one of the most lyrical jazz pianists around, and singer-songwriter and activist Holly Near, as well as a special appearance by alt-rock singer-songwriter Natalie Merchant. A pre-show Q&A with the artists will be moderated by the Museum at Eldridge Street’s Hanna Griff-Sleven. — Saturday, Jan. 20, 8 p.m., The Town Hall, 123 W. 43rd St., thetownhall.org.
Recently hailed as “one of New York’s more interesting and original artists” (New York Music Daily), Israeli-American singer-songwriter and pianist Noa Fort writes eclectic, dark, jazz-influenced songs, with touches of rock, punk and ska. “She can channel torchy cabaret, creepy circus rock or work the corners of a song with a jazz and blues sophistication,” NYMD said. Fort will be performing excerpts from her newly released CD, “No World Between Us.” — Tuesday, Jan. 23, 7 p.m., Rockwood Music Hall, 196 Allen St., (212) 477-4155, rockwoodmusichall.com.
THE BAND’S VISIT — SCREENING AND DISCUSSION
Following the misadventures of an Egyptian “Ceremonial Police Orchestra” stranded in a remote Israeli town, David Yazbek and Itamar Moses’ hit Broadway musical was hailed by The Times as “one of the most ravishing musicals ever.” The show’s wildly successful second life on stage (it won the 2017 Obie for Best Musical) makes it easy to forget that it began as an award-winning Israeli film of the same name. Following a screening, Eran Kolirin, the film’s screenwriter; Moses, who wrote the play’s book; Tony Shalhoub, star of Broadway production, will tell all about “The Band’s” unique screen-to-stage journey. — Monday, Jan. 29, 7-9 p.m., Temple Emanuel Streicker Center, 1 E. 65th St., (212) 507-9580. Free but seats are limited; RSVP at emanuelskirballnyc.ticketleap.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. (See The Top Three for special event.)
Comedian and ventriloquist John Pizzi stars in a one-man show of comedy, magic tricks and rude (but not too rude for shul) puppets. — Saturday, Jan. 20, 8-10 p.m., Bialystoker Shul, 15-17 Willet St. RSVP to BialystokerSynagogue@gmail.com.
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.
INTERNATIONAL LADINO DAY
Celebrate Ladino, the language also known as Judeo-Spanish, with lectures, music and storytelling. CUNY’s Jane Mushabac will perform excerpts from her 2016 Ladino-rich novel, “His Hundred Years, A Tale”; singer/accordionist Jane Carver performs Ladino songs; Rabbi Marc Angel and Rabbi Nissim Elnecavé, two Ladino Sephardic scholars, speak about the language’s history; and Trio Sefardi — with Howard Bass, Tina Chancey, and Susan Gaeta — perform the musical finale. — Sunday, Jan. 28, 2 p.m., Center for Jewish History, 15 W. 16th St., (212) 294-8301, cjh.org.
New York Jewish Film Festival Now in its 27th annual run, the NYJFF showcases documentaries, features and short films from around the world that explore the diverse Jewish experience. The two-week festival closes Jan. 23. Screenings at the Film Society of Lincoln Center – Walter Reade Theater, 70 Lincoln Center Plaza, filmlinc.org/festivals/new-york-jewish-film-festival/. Highlights include:
IOM ROMI (A DAY IN ROME)
The only cultural group that has lived in Rome uninterrupted since the days of the empire, Roman Jews have fostered their own unique set of traditions. Taking place over the course of one day, this short documentary by Valerio Ciriaci chronicles a day in the life of the contemporary Roman Jewish community, providing a glimpse into a way of life that is at once distinctly Roman and distinctly Jewish. A Q&A with director Valerio Ciriaci follows. — Sunday, Jan. 21, 4:30 p.m.
Radu Jude’s film consists entirely of photographs from Romanian photographer Costica Acsinte and audio of diary excerpts from Jewish doctor Emil Dorian, both spanning the period from 1937 to 1944. A study in contrasts, the images portray an idyllic, pastoral life, while the diary excerpts speak of a surging wave of anti-Semitism and brutality. — Sunday, Jan. 21, 6:30 p.m.
When Victor (Hippolyte Girardot), a middle-aged French businessman, comes upon a trove of wartime letters from his late father, he discovers his mother’s (the late Jeanne Moreau) hidden past as a Jew. When he presses her about it, she demurs, leaving Victor to uncover the secrets behind his mother’s past. Director Amos Gitai crafts a haunting and finally optimistic tale of memory, denial and reconciliation. A Q&A with Gitai follows. — Monday, Jan. 22, 1 and 6 p.m.
Building on the work he set forth in “Rabin, the Last Day” and “Shalom Rabin,” Amos Gitai’s new work returns to the West Bank to better understand the efforts of the citizens, both Israelis and Palestinians, to overcome the consequences of a 50-year occupation. The film emphasizes the lasting side effects of Rabin’s assassination on the country. — Tuesday, Jan. 23, 12:30 and 6 p.m.
THE NUMBER ON GREAT-GRANDPA’S ARM
THE NUMBER ON GREAT-GRANDPA’S ARM
When 10-year-old Elliott asks his 90-year-old great-grandfather, Jack, about the number tattooed on his arm, he sparks an intimate conversation about Jack’s life that spans happy memories of his childhood in Poland, the loss of his family, surviving Auschwitz and finding a new life in America. Directed and produced by Emmy-winner Amy Schatz, this short film weaves haunting historical footage and hand-painted animation. — Sunday, Jan. 21, 6:30 p.m., Museum of Jewish Heritage, 36 Battery Place, (646) 437-4202, mjhnyc.org.
ISRAELI JAZZ FESTIVAL
Curated by Israeli-American bassist Or Bareket, Cornelia Street Café’s monthly Israeli Jazz Spotlight features drummer Ofri Nehamya, who leads his quartet through jazz, Middle-Eastern fusion and world music (Wednesday, Jan. 24); Israeli-born pianist Eden Ladin, a veteran sideman with his Israeli compatriots, plays a set of jazz, funk and Hebraic fusion (Thursday, Jan. 25); Shai Maestro, a former member of bassist Avishai Cohen’s Trio, leads his own trio. (Friday, Jan. 26) — Sets at 8 and 9:30 p.m., Cornelia Street Café, 29 Cornelia St., (212) 989-9319, corneliastreetcafe.com.
Vocalist Julie Eigenberg co-wrote “Why Not!”; pianist and composer Yaron Gershovsky arranged the tune that garnered a Grammy for the Manhattan Transfer. Together with bassist, composer and arranger David Finck and drummer Norberto Goldberg, the two perform Eigenberg’s soulful interpretations with some swinging original songs. — Sunday, Jan. 21, 11 a.m. doors, noon concert, City Winery, 155 Varick St., (212) 608-0555, citywinery.com/newyork/tickets. $10.
ASAF YURIA – AFTER HOURS
After playing alongside Israeli jazz A-listers Omer Avital and Anat Cohen, the Israeli-born saxophonist leads his own quintet in a repertoire of familiar pieces from the swing and jazz traditions, alongside original works. — Sunday, Jan. 21, 1-4 a.m., Smalls Jazz Club, 183 W. 10th St., (646) 476-4346, smallslive.com.
Author Alan Kaufman discusses his memoir, which moves from the streets of the Bronx to the kibbutzim and army service in Israel, and finally to Germany. “Jew Boy” explores the pain, guilt and confusion shaping the lives and characters of American-born children of Holocaust survivors. The conversation will be moderated by Michael Sladek. — Thursday, Jan. 25, 7 p.m., Museum of Jewish Heritage, 36 Battery Place, (646) 437-4202, mjhnyc.org.
THE BOOK OF SEPARATION
When she broke away from Orthodox Judaism, the noted novelist Tova Mirvis left her marriage and the way of life she’d always known. The author, most notably, of the novel “The Ladies Auxiliary,” the Memphis-raised Mirvis speaks with columnist Marjorie Ingall (Tablet) about her moving new memoir, “The Book of Separation,” and her new life in the secular world. Book signing and reception to follow. — Wednesday, Jan. 24, 6:30 p.m., Center for Jewish History, 15 W. 16th St., (212) 294-8301, cjh.org.
THE HISTORY OF JEWS IN BASKETBALL
A few years after its invention by James Naismith, basketball became the primary sport in the crowded Jewish streets of the Lower East Side. Sports author and former NBA analyst Charley Rosen hosts a discussion about Jews’ contributions — from the Philadelphia Spas to Dolph Schayes to Red Holzman — to the evolution of present-day pro basketball. — Tuesday, Jan. 23, noon, 92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington Ave., 92y.org.
GLASS MOUNTAINS AND SABRA TRACES
Israeli photographer Oded Balilty (the first and only Israeli photographer to receive the Pulitzer Prize, for breaking news) presents two aesthetically bold and thoroughly Israeli photo series in his New York solo debut. — Through March 1, Laurie M. Tisch Gallery, JCC Manhattan, 334 Amsterdam Ave., (646) 505-4444, jccmanhattan.org.
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, Hebrew Union College Museum, 1 W. Fourth 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, The Jewish Museum, 1109 Fifth Ave., (212) 423-3200, thejewishmuseum.org.
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