The Week in Arts & Culture: ‘Latter Day Jew’, Ari Shaffir, Ashley Blaker, Shai Bachar…
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The Week in Arts & Culture: ‘Latter Day Jew’, Ari Shaffir, Ashley Blaker, Shai Bachar…

H. Alan Scott in “Latter Day Jew.”
H. Alan Scott in “Latter Day Jew.”

LATTER DAY JEW

While they are both People of the Book, so to speak, and have a shared history of persecution, Jews and Mormons have had some rough chapters when it comes to interfaith relations. Foremost among them is the Mormons’ on-again, off-again practice of baptizing dead Jews (including Holocaust survivors — even Anne Frank!). Which, understandably, has driven the Jewish community nuts. Into this fraught relationship comes the 2019 documentary “Latter Day Jew,” the title of which is a clever pun that plays off both The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the official name of the Mormons) and the conversionary spirit of the film. Aliza Rosen tracks the truly wacky (but somehow inspiring) journey to Judaism of H. Alan Scott, a gay former Mormon and stand-up comic who believes he’s had a Jewish neshama his whole life. (All his favorite comics, of course, are Jewish.)

Oh, and did we say he’s also a cancer survivor? And that he’s studying for his bar mitzvah with a class of wise-cracking 12- and 13-year-olds? Screening followed by a Q&A with Scott and Rosen. — Tuesday, Feb. 11, 7 p.m., Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan, 334 Amsterdam Ave. jccmanhattan.org, $15.

 

LAST CHANCE: EDITH HALPERT AND THE  RISE OF AMERICAN ART

Caption NeededPioneering gallerist Edith Halpert photographed by Charles Sheeler in between two of his paintings. Smithsonian/Photograph © Lane Collection

In the rarefied world of the New York art scene, she was an outsider three times over: Edith Halpert was a woman, an immigrant and a champion of American art when European painters held sway. When the Odessa-born Halpert opened her gallery in the 1920s, it was tucked into the ground floor of a Greenwich Village townhouse at a time when the art world was uptown. The show about her at The Jewish Museum, which closes Sunday, reveals her fierce commitment to the work of American modernists like Georgia O’Keefe, John Marin and Jacob Lawrence. John Frederick Peto’s 1904 oil painting made to look like a collage on weathered board, “Lincoln and the Star of David,” speaks to Halpert’s wide-ranging tastes; with its depiction of everyday objects and rough-hewn look, it captures something hauntingly and sweetly American. It’s worth the price of admission. — Through Sunday, Feb. 9, The Jewish Museum, Fifth Avenue and 92nd Street, thejewishmuseum.org.

Theater

THE WHORE FROM OHIO

Hanoch Levin’s acclaimed black comedy, the parable of a not-so-holy trinity of father and son paupers and the prostitute whose services they are unable to fully enjoy, is presented by New Yiddish Rep. Originally written in Hebrew by the Israeli playwright, the play is presented in Eli Rosen’s Yiddish translation with English supertitles. — Feb. 19-23, Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave., newyiddishrep.org. $25.

BRECHT: CALL AND RESPOND

via newlighttheaterproject.com

Bertolt Brecht’s iconic 1938 one-act play “The Jewish Wife,” about the way in which the politics of hate seeps into the everyday lives of ordinary people, is the inspiration behind two world-premiere one-acts on the same bill. Arlene Hutton’s “Sunset Point” explores the effect of the past on a young couple’s life, and Kristin Idaszak’s “Self Help in the Anthropocene” examines the holes in our lives that we try to fill through consumption. A production of New Light Theater Project. — Through Feb. 15, Paradise Factory, 64 E. 4th St., newlighttheaterproject.com $25-$35.

MISS AMERICA’S UGLY DAUGHTER

Barra Grant stars in her two-character, one-woman autobiographical show about growing up as the un-pageant-ready daughter of Bess Meyerson, the first and so far only Jewish Miss America, and then having a daughter of her own. The Los Angeles Times calls the play “harrowing, heartbreaking, hilarious comic gold.” — Through March 1, Margorie Dean Little Theater, 10 W. 64th St., missamericasuglydaughter.com. $49-$89.

Film

INCITEMENT

Yaron Zilberman’s new film, about the assassination of Yitzchak Rabin on Nov. 4, 1995, at the hands of a religious nationalist, arrives at a moment when nationalism is sweeping the globe. The film, Israel’s entry in the best foreign film category in this year’s Oscars, probes Yigal Amir’s mindset and chronicles the year leading up to the killing; it is an assassin’s-eye view. — Angelika Film Center (18 W. Houston St., angelikafilmcenter.com) and Landmark at 57 West (657 W. 57th St., landmarktheatres.com).

JOJO RABBIT

The 2020 Academy Award-nominee for Best Picture “has defied all odds to become one of the year’s most beloved films,” says The Hollywood Reporter. It’s a comedy about a very young, very nationalistic Hitler Youth recruit whose imaginary friend is none other than Adolph Hitler. With Scarlett Johansson, Rebel Wilson and Jewish director Taika Waititi as the imaginary Hitler. — In wide release. (See story on page 3.)

WAITING FOR ANYA

 

“Some people collect coins, stamps. We collect enemies of the Reich — children … Jewish children.” So intones a kerchiefed Anjelica Huston, looking every inch like a French peasant in the new film, “Waiting for Anya.” Based on Michael Morpurgo’s children’s book from 1990, the film, like the book, is set in the mountainous region of southern France near the border with Spain, wherein lies freedom. It follows Jo Lalande (Noah Schnapp), a 13-year-old shepherd boy, and reclusive widow Horcada (Huston), who come together with their village to help smuggle Jewish children into Spain during the Nazi occupation. — Opens Friday, Feb. 7, Kent Theatre, 1170 Coney Island Ave., Midwood, Brooklyn, fandango.com/kent-theatre.

WAITING FOR GIRAFFES & WILD

With help from the Israeli zoo in Jerusalem, the only zoo in the Palestinian territories is trying to replace giraffes that died during the last intifada. The documentary “Waiting for Giraffes” exposes the difference in standards between the two institutions as well as the politics that permeate the collaboration of their passionate veterinarians. “Wild” visits an Israeli wildlife hospital where injured owls, snakes (one with a “shoulder wound”), hyenas and leopards are given medical care so they can be released back into the wild. — Feb. 12-18, Film Forum, 209 W. Houston St., filmforum.org.

Comedy

ASHLEY BLAKER

Ashley Blaker, England’s leading cultural export when it comes to observant comics, doesn’t work blue. He works … black. The Orthodox Blaker is back in New York with an Off-Broadway set, “Goy Friendly,” that might be dubbed “coexistence comedy.” Turns out that Blaker’s friendship with the Kenyan-born British comic Imran Yusuf, who is Muslim, has had a deep effect on him. So much so that he’s crafted a new Ten Commandments for the 21st century. — Through Feb. 23, Soho Playhouse, 15 Vandam St., sohoplayhouse.com/ashley-blaker-goy-friendly. $50.

ARI SHAFFIR: JEW

The acerbic comedian recently in the news for his coarse comments about the death of Kobe Bryant — for which he was dropped by The New York Comedy Club, where he regularly performs, and by his talent agency, according toThe Times of Israel — will be taping his next one-hour special. Shaffir describes himself as a yeshiva-educated Orthodox Jew who lost his religion, and his comedy as “a puppet show — but way filthier and without the puppets.” — Friday, Feb. 7, 7:30 and 10 p.m.; and Feb. 8, 7 and 10 p.m., NYU Skirball, 566 LaGuardia Pl., tickets.nyu.edu/arishaffir. $35.

Music

ARI AXELROD: A CELEBRATION OF JEWISH BROADWAY

Beloved melodies and lyrics by the likes of Irving Berlin, Leonard Bernstein and Carole King will transport you back to the streets of the theater district and your bubbe’s Shabbos table. — Friday, Feb. 7, 9:30 p.m., The Beach Café, 1326 Second Ave., thebeachcafe.com. $20-$150 for bar and table seating ($20-$49 minimum). 

SHAI BACHAR

 

The Jerusalem-born pianist is a lyrical player who can conjure up Keith Jarrett with his rolling, blues-tinged improvisations. Bachar has gigged with the acclaimed Israeli bassist Avishai Cohen, and has an ear for the Ladino musical tradition, having accompanied noted singer Sarah Aroeste. Here he plays solo. — Monday, Feb. 10, 7:30 -8 :30 p.m. Soapbox Gallery, 636 Dean St., Brooklyn, soapboxgallery.org. $20/$10 for students.

Talk

FAREWELL MAMA ODESSA

Emil Draister will talk about his autographical novel set at the height of the movement to free Soviet Jewry. “There is no better opportunity to show the dark comedy of immigration,” says the celebrated Russian-American writer Lara Vapnyar, “and Emil Draister does this with more humor, intelligence, and compassion than any other writer.” There will be a Q&A and refreshments will be served. — Thursday, Feb. 13,  6:30 p.m., Shakespeare & Co, 939 Lexington Ave., shakeandco.com. Free.

Exhibitions

CITY/GAME: BASKETBALL IN NEW YORK

Like bagels and yellow cabs, basketball is woven tightly into the city’s fabric. This show traces the game’s impact on the city — from the early days (when the “city game” was Jewish) to Kareem and Clyde Frazier and beyond. — Opens, Friday, Feb. 14 (through Jan. 3, 2021), Museum of the City of New York, Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street, mcny.org.

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