What’s Going On In NYC This Week (Nov 15 – 24)
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Arts & Culture

What’s Going On In NYC This Week (Nov 15 – 24)

Shulem, Other Israel Film Festival, Dida Pelled, Peter Himmelman — Your guide to Jewish-y arts and culture happenings in New York City.

Scene from “Abe,” about a young aspiring chef. Courtesy of Other Israel Film Festival
Scene from “Abe,” about a young aspiring chef. Courtesy of Other Israel Film Festival

ABE AND BREAKING BREAD
With Mediterranean-inspired cuisine ascendant (see top chefs/restaurateurs/cookbook authors like Yotam Ottolenghi and Michael Solomonov), perhaps it’s not surprising that not one, but two, offerings at this year’s Other Israel Film Festival deal with food and its societal implications. “Abe” features an aspiring 12-year-old chef whose half-Israeli, half-Palestinian family are always at each other’s throats. Can fusion cuisine bring peace? The documentary “Breaking Bread” follows Dr. Nof Atamna-Ismaeel, the first Muslim Arab to win Israel’s MasterChef television competition. She went on to create the A-Sham Arabic Food Festival, where Arab and Jewish chefs collaborate. It’s her quest to effect social change, chef by chef. — “Abe” (Sunday, Nov. 17, 2 p.m., Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan, and Monday, Nov. 18, 6:15 p.m. at Alamo Drafthouse, Downtown Brooklyn); “Breaking Bread” (Sunday, Nov. 17, 4:30 p.m., JCC Manhattan, otherisrael.org).

PETER HIMMELMAN
The recent CD from singer-songwriter (and Bob Dylan son-in-law) Peter Himmelman, released as the Trump era got going, carries a hopeful, though barely so, title: “There Is No Calamity.” But a quick spin through the song titles tells a different story: “Smoke and Flames,” “Fear Is Our Undoing,” “Rich Men Run the World.” And there’s this from “245th Peace Song”: Scapegoating, killing, hating on the other / Isn’t it time we finally discover / Everyone you see could be your sister and your brother.” The Minnesota-bred and L.A.-based musician is an observant Jew whose signature black porkpie hat seems a hip riff on the black fedora. — Monday, Nov. 18, 7:30 p.m., City Vineyard (at City Winery), 233 West St., cityvineyardnyc.com. $20. Tickets are sold out but there is a wait list.

Special Event
SINGER’S WARSAW FESTIVAL
It’s all I.B. Singer all the time for three days next week as the local outpost of Singer’s Warsaw Festival of Jewish Culture returns for its second year. The Singer smorgasbord includes a cantorial show featuring Yaakov Lemmer and Frank London performing Gershon Sirota and Mordechai Gebirtig. There’s a production of Itzik Manger’s play “Humesh Lider” by the Jewish Theater in Warsaw, as well as screenings of “Yentl” and “Enemies, a Love Story,” films adapted from Singer’s stories. There’ll be Singer Storytime readings at libraries around town. The festival concludes with a production of “A Wall,” a play based on the story of Holocaust hero Irena Sendler. — Nov. 17-19, various locations, shalom.org.pl.

JEWS AND BASKETBALL

Jews and the “city game” at 92Y.

Ever look up in the rafters at The Garden and see the banner with the number 613 on it? It’s not celebrating the Torah commandments, but Knicks fans believe the banner suggests something sacred, just the same. It’s the number of wins Knicks coach and MOT Red Holzman amassed in his legendary career. Times writers Ira Berkow and Jonathan Segal along with authors Matthew Goodman and Mort Zacker discuss the rich history of Jews and the “city game.” Ozzie Schectman, anyone? — Sunday, Nov. 17, 7 p.m., 92nd Street Y, 92y.org/event/jews-and-basketball. $29.

Theater
Just opened:
A BRIGHT ROOM CALLED DAY
Tony Kushner’s 1985 cautionary tale about the possible rise of authoritarianism in America centers on a group of progressive friends in Weimar Germany as they worry about Hitler’s rise to power. But a Jewish American character (in the original production, at least) interrupts to comment on what she sees as the cruelties of the Reagan administration. Takes its inspiration from Brecht’s anti-Nazi play, “The Private Life of the Master Race.” — Through Dec. 16, Public Theater, 425 Lafayette St. (Astor Place), publictheater.org.

EINSTEIN’S DREAMS
In a musical based on the best-selling novel by Alan Lightman, the young Albert Einstein is inspired by a mysterious muse to explore his radical new concepts in physics. — Through Dec. 14, 59E59, 59 E. 59th St., 59E59.org.

BELLA BELLA
Harvey Fierstein (“Torch Song Trilogy”) writes and stars in a new theater piece based on the words and life of Bella Abzug, the larger-than-life congresswoman, human rights lawyer and feminist leader (at shul as well as in the world). A Manhattan Theatre Club production. — Through Dec. 1., New York City Center, 131 W. 55th St., manhattantheatreclub.com.

FIRES IN THE MIRROR
Anna Deavere Smith’s tour de force one-woman show from 1992 exploring the violence in Crown Heights a year earlier (she played 19 different roles from the black and Jewish communities) gets a revival. This time it stars Michael Benjamin Washington; directed by Saheem Ali. — Opened Monday, through Dec. 15, Pershing Square Signature Theater, 480 W. 42nd St., signaturetheatre.org.

Long runs:
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF (A FIDLER AFN DAKH)

Tevye’s daughters sing “Matchmaker” in the Yiddish “Fiddler.” Courtesy of Victor Nechay/ProperPix

In Yiddish. Directed by Joel Grey. Stage 42, 422 W. 42nd St., broadway.com.

Games
Henry Naylor’s exploration of Jewish identity, set against the 1936 Summer Olympics, features two Jewish athletes, the fencer Helene Meyer and the high jumper Gretel Bergmann. Through Nov. 24, Soho Playhouse, 15 Vandam St. (Sixth Avenue and Varick Street), sohoplayhouse.com.

Film
JOJO RABBIT
A lot of children have imaginary friends. But a slapstick Adolf Hitler? That’s the set-up of Taika Waititi’s dark comedy. Jojo’s in the Hitler Youth, but a secret undoes him: His single mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a Jewish girl in their attic. — In wide release.

OTHER ISRAEL FILM FESTIVAL
The annual festival, now in its 13th year, shines a light on Israel’s marginalized communities. Some of this year’s selections include the closing night feature “Screwdriver,” about a long-imprisoned man who struggles to adjust to modern Palestinian life; the first two episodes of Israeli TV’s gritty detective series “Asylum City,” about the mean streets of Tel Aviv; and the documentaries “Comrade Dov,” about a leading member of Israel’s Communist Party, and “Samaritan,” about adherents to the ancient religion who hold dual Israeli-Palestinian nationalites. — Through Nov. 21 at various venues, otherisrael.org.

MR. KLEIN

 

When a Jewish newspaper appears unexpectedly at the front door of one Robert Klein (Alain Delon), this taut psychological drama set in occupied Paris takes off. There is (not to give too much away) another Robert Klein, which leads to an exploration of Jewish identity in a fraught time. Directed (in 1976) by the blacklisted Joseph Losey. — Film Forum, 209 W. Houston St., filmforum.org.

Music
DIDA PELLED

Dida Pelled
In this “Lost Women of Song” gig, the New York-based Israeli guitarist and vocalist Dida Pelled uncovers folk music’s forgotten treasures, exploring the songs and stories behind influential yet underground female artists who wrote music that was ahead of their time, from 1950s singer-songwriter Connie Converse and self-taught American blues guitarist Elizabeth Cotten to Molly Drake, Vashti Bunyan and Norma Tanega. — Wednesday, Nov. 20, 8 p.m., Barbés, 376 Ninth St., Park Slope, barbesbrooklyn.com.

ISABELLE GEORGES
The French cabaret star mixes Brel, Piaf and Aznavour — and some Yiddish. She has an achingly pretty version of “Loz Mikh Nisht Aleyn,” a Yiddish version of Brel’s “If You Go Away.” — Friday, Nov. 15, 9:30 p.m., Feinstein’s/54 Below, 254 W. 54th St., 54below.com.

ANBESSA ORCHESTRA
This groove-centered seven-piece ensemble mines Ethiopian pop music from the 1960s and ’70s and mixes it with funk and other soulful elements. Driven by hip horn arrangements. — Saturday, Nov. 23, 10 p.m., Barbes, 376 Ninth St., Park Slope, barbesbrooklyn.com.

SHULEM

 

There’s something of Mandy Patinkin in the vocal quality of this young, peyes-sporting Brooklyn tenor who goes, simply, by Shulem. As a sign of his talent, he became the first singer from the chasidic community to sign with a major label, Decca Gold. He mixes Billy Joel and Josh Groban with prayers and Psalms, all in a heartfelt style. A City Winery presentation. — Monday, Nov. 18, 8 p.m., The Cutting Room, 44 E. 32nd St., citywinery.com.

TSOYBER
Next up in the N.Y. Klezmer series is the vocal-accordion duo of Susan Leviton and Lauren Brody. The two move seamlessly from Judeo-Spanish to Russian to Balkan Jewish music. There’s a touch of magic (befitting their name) in it. — Thursday, Nov. 21, 8;30 p.m., Town & Village Synagogue, 334 E. 14th St., nyklezmer.com.

WEILL AND BLITZSTEIN
They were two of the most talented composers of the 20th century, dogged by the diseases of their era: fascism, anti-Semitism, homophobia and political paranoia. Kurt Weill and Marc Blitzstein seem inevitably to be linked in the memory, a pair of Jewish musicians who were set scrambling across the globe by the upheavals of their time. So it is entirely appropriate that they are linked, once again, in a program featuring highlights from two of their neglected works, Weill’s “Der Silbersee” (SilverLake) and Blitzstein’s “No for an Answer.” Part of the N.Y. Festival of Song, with a script by Adam Gopnik. — Tuesday, Nov. 19, 8 p.m., Merkin Hall, 129 W. 67th St., nyfos.org.

Talk
ASK DR. RUTH
Film historian Annette Insdorf interviews the irrepressible Dr. Ruth (“it’s perfectly natural”) Westheimer after a screening of a new documentary about the leading sex therapist, Ryan White’s “Ask Dr. Ruth.” At 91, the Holocaust survivor, Israeli sniper in ’48 and pop culture icon is still telling it like it is about sex. — Wednesday, Nov. 20, 7:30 p.m., 92nd Street Y (Buttenweiser Hall), 92y.org. $35.

Exhibitions
Just opened:
RACHEL FEINSTEIN: MAIDEN, MOTHER, CRONE
The sculptor, who grew up in Miami, creates fantastical and highly sexualized wooden pieces that probe notions of “the feminine” in pop culture. This show marks the first survey of her work in the U.S. — Through March 1, The Jewish Museum, Fifth Avenue and 92nd Street, thejewishmuseum.org.

EDITH HALPERT AND THE RISE OF AMERICAN ART

Edith Halpert promoted the work of Jacob Lawrence, whose “The Music Lesson” is shown here.
Artwork © The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Halpert (1900-1970), a Jewish immigrant, is considered the first significant female gallerist in the country. She championed American art at a time when the European avant-garde was in ascendance, and her Downtown Gallery in Greenwich Village promoted the work of modernists like Jacob Lawrence, Georgia O’Keefe and Ben Shahn. — Through Feb. 9, The Jewish Museum, Fifth Avenue and 92nd Street, thejewishmuseum.org.

MARK TWAIN AND THE HOLY LAND
In his “New Pilgrims’ Progress” (or “The Innocents Abroad”), Mark Twain’s 1869 travelogue that took him to the Middle East, the great humorist wasn’t beyond kvetching. He griped about the size of the grapes and the smallness of Jerusalem. But there were moments of loveliness in the dispatches originally published in a San Francisco newspaper. This show marks the 150th anniversary of the travelogue’s publication. — Through Feb. 2, New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West (77th Street), nyhistory.org.

J.D. SALINGER
The reclusive Salinger grew up Orthodox and his conflicted Jewish identity (he found out after his bar mitzvah that his mother was actually Irish Catholic) may have inspired the teenage angst in his most memorable character, Holden Caulfield from “The Catcher in the Rye.” This show offers a rare glimpse into Salinger’s life and work through manuscripts, letters, photographs and personal effects drawn exclusively from his archive. — Through Jan. 19, NYPL, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, nypl.org.

Long runs:
Russ & Daughters, An Appetizing Story
A history of the iconic smoked fish shop. Through Jan. 31, Center for Jewish History, 15 W. 16th St., http://www.ajhs.org/RussandDaughtersExhibition.

Auschwitz. Not Long Ago. Not Far Away.
The large-scale show explores the history of the death camp and its role in the Holocaust. Through Jan. 3, Museum of Jewish Heritage, 36 Battery Place, mjhnyc.org.

Relative Relations

The art of connection: Barbara Hines’ “Spotlight on Joseph,” Courtesy of Heller Museum/HUC

Seventy artists explore human connections shaped by genetics, proximity, interests and shared destiny. Through June 30, Dr. Bernard Heller Museum at HUC-JIR, One W. Fourth St., huc.edu.

Auction
SACRED SPLENDOR: RARE JUDAICA
Sotheby’s is auctioning rare Judaica objects from the Arthur and Gitel Marx Collection. The approximately 300 lots in the auction — comprising Judaica books and manuscripts, paintings and metalwork from the 15th through 20th centuries and originating from Europe, the Middle East and North Africa — touch every aspect of Jewish life. — Opens Nov. 17, auction on Nov. 20, Sotheby’s, 1334 York Ave., sothebys.com.

To publish events, submit them to jewishweekcalendar@gmail.com two weeks or more in advance. We cannot guarantee inclusion due to space limitations. Since scheduling changes may occur, we recommend contacting the venue before heading out to an event.

 

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