HAVE I GOT A CARTOON FOR YOU!
The much-put-upon characters in Roz Chast’s cartoons raise the level of the kvetch to a high art. They are Carusos of kvetch. But they don’t just kvetch — they moan, they carp in ways that are Jewish to the bone. In “Yenta Theatre Presents Waiting for Godot,” four elderly women slump in chairs onstage wondering what became of the old guy: “So, where’s Godot?” the first says. “He’s always late,” followed by, “Maybe something happened to him!!!” And finally, “I heard he moved to Florida.” More Jewish, you can’t get. New Yorker cartoon editor Bob Mankoff has collected the best of the magazine’s Jewish strips in “Have I Got a Cartoon For You! The Moment Magazine Book of Jewish Cartoons.” Chast wrote the foreword. The two join in conversation. — Wednesday, Dec. 4, 7:30 p.m., 92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington Ave., 92y.org. $35.
ANTI-SEMITISM, ISRAEL AND THE NEW POLITICS
Two leading Jewish voices in the public square, The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg and The Times’ Bari Weiss, are in conversation in a new installment of The Israel Forum. Expect the contentious politics of anti-Semitism to come up, and, no doubt, Trump and Pittsburgh. The two differ in their political orientations but both are fierce when it comes to Jews in danger. — Thursday, Dec. 5, 7-9 p.m., Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan, 334 Amsterdam Ave., jccmanhattan.org. $20 members, $25 public.
ALI’S COMEBACK: THE UNTOLD STORY
The Southern Jewish mayor is a fascinating quirk of American history. A generation after Emanuel “Mutt” Evans became the first Jewish mayor of Durham, N.C., in 1951 (his son Eli immortalized him in “The Provincials,” the classic work of Southern Jewry), Sam Massell was elected in Atlanta. It was 1970 and Muhammad Ali, banned from boxing for three years for his stance on Vietnam, was looking for a city that would host his comeback fight against Jerry Quarry. Fifty turned him down. Art Jones’ 2018 documentary tells the story of how a progressive Jewish mayor and other leading Atlantans helped The Champ float like a butterfly again. Part of the African Diaspora International Film Festival. — Friday, Nov. 29 (7 p.m.) and Wednesday, Nov. 4 (8:30 p.m.), Teachers College at Columbia, 525 W. 120th St., nyadiff.org.
When the Folksbiene revived Avrom Goldfaden’s operetta “The Sorceress” for the first time in 80 years in 2017, the Yiddish theater’s associate artistic director, Motl Didner, told us that the fairy tale-like play from the early 1880s goes into “some dark places.” It had Goldfaden reaching back to Romanian folklore and has the plot-propelling disappearance of a young girl. The inaugural presentation of the Folksbiene’s Global Restoration Initiative. — Previews begin Dec. 1 for a Dec. 8 opening (through Dec. 29), Museum of Jewish Heritage, 36 Battery Pl., nytf.org.
THE LAST TREE IN JERUSALEM/A PAGE OF TALMUD
Riven by internal strife, ecological disaster and interference from foreign powers, can society survive? Set nearly two millennia ago but still resonant today, acclaimed Israeli playwright Dani Horowitz’s interrelated plays “Last Tree in Jerusalem” (world premiere translation) and “A Page of Talmud” tell the seminal Talmudic stories “Kamtza and Bar Kamtza” and “The Oven of Achnai.” These timely Jewish stories examine the cost of humiliation and explore the notion of resistance. A production of 24/6: A Jewish Theater Company. — Opens Wednesday, Dec. 4, 7:30 p.m. (through Dec. 15), TheaterLab, 357 W. 36th St., 3rd floor, twentyfoursix.weebly.com.
ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN IN THE THEATER
With a grandfather who was a chazzan, perhaps it was inevitable that Maury Yeston was destined for a musical career. The Tony-winning composer-lyricist’s career led from Jersey City to Yale to Broadway. This new work, subtitled “The Musical World of Maury Yeston,” features a cast of singers and Yeston’s tunes from “Nine: The Musical,” “Grand Hotel,” “Titanic: A New Musical” and more. — Through Dec. 29, York Theatre Company at St. Peter’s, 619 Lexington Ave. (54th Street), (212) 935-5820, yorktheatre.org.
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.
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.
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. — Through Dec. 15, Pershing Square Signature Theater, 480 W. 42nd St., signaturetheatre.org.
“Fiddler on the Roof” (A Fidler Afn Dakh) in Yiddish. Directed by Joel Grey. Stage 42, 422 W. 42nd St., broadway.com. Closing Jan. 5.
THE GOOD NAZI
In 1943, as the Vilna Ghetto is about to be liquidated, Nazi officer Maj. Karl Plagge decides to risk his own life and save Vilna’s Jews. For decades, Plagge’s heroism was relatively unknown. But when Dr. Michael Good takes a trip to Vilna to see the place where his mother was saved, the story of the “Schindler of Lithuania” comes to light. — Tuesday, Dec. 3, 7 p.m., Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan, 334 Amsterdam Ave., jccmanhattan.org.
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.
JAZZ AT ELDRIDGE: A GREG WALL FESTIVAL
The jazz world has a Duke, a Count, a Prez and the Jazz Prophets. But there’s only one Rabbi. That would be Rabbi Greg Wall, a spiritual seeker of a tenor saxophonist who fuses jazz and Jewish music, often to incantatory effect. To mark his 60th birthday and Eldridge Street’s 25 years as a downtown jazz venue, Wall collaborates with members of Hasidic New Wave, Zion80 and his Ayn Sof Arkestra (a Jewish take on Sun Ra’s Arkestra). Let the wailing begin! — Sunday, Dec. 1, 3 p.m., Museum at Eldridge Street, 12 Eldridge St., eldridgestreet.org. $28-$42.
STATE OF THE JEWS
This semi-staged preview of a new opera in two acts about Theodore Herzl mixes the political (the establishment of a Jewish state) and the personal (his relationship with his wife). A LABA/2nd Stage production. — Thursday, Dec. 5-Saturday Dec. 7, 7:30 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 8, 1 p.m., 14th Street Y, 344 E. 14th St., 14streety.org. (See story on page 3.)
This monthly Wednesday-night gig by the virtuosic clarinetist/mandolinist is an only-in-New York cultural gem. Statman, one of the early neo-klezmer pioneers, fuses Jewish music and free jazz, and taps a deep vein of Americana with his bluegrass playing. And he’s always reaching for musical ecstasy. “Sweet Betsy From Chelm,” anyone? — Wednesday, Dec. 4, 8 p.m., Barbes, 376 Ninth St., Brooklyn, barbesbrooklyn.com. (Also, on Sunday, Dec. 8, Statman is scheduled to mark 20 years of performances at the Charles Street Synagogue in the Village. Check andystatman.org for details.)
Next up in the N.Y. Klezmer series is the T-Klez trio featuring Dena Ressler (clarinet), Psachya Septimus (accordion) and David Licht (drums). Look for Modzhitzer marches and more. — Thursday, Dec. 5, 8;30 p.m., Town & Village Synagogue, 334 E. 14th St., nyklezmer.com.
SIMPLY BARBRA: A CHRISTMAS SHOW
Steven Brinberg is back as Babs in a show that celebrates Christmas and Chanukah. It’s the homage of all homages to The Voice. — Wednesday, Dec. 11, The Green Room 42, 570 Tenth Ave. at 42nd Street (fourth floor of Yotel), 8 p.m., thegreenroom42.com.
RACHEL FEINSTEIN: MAIDEN, MOTHER, CRONE
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On view now, "#RachelFeinstein: Maiden, Mother, Crone" is first survey of New York-based artist Rachel Feinstein featuring three decades of sculpture, installation, painting, drawing, and video. Her subjects, drawn from religion and fairy tales, high European craft and low American kitsch, suggest that there is no fact without fiction, light without darkness, tranquility without chaos.
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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
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.
“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.” 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.
“Mark Twain and the Holy Land.” This show marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of the great humorist’s 1869 travelogue, “New Pilgrims’ Progress” (or “The Innocents Abroad”). Through Feb. 2, New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West (77th Street), nyhistory.org.
“J.D. Salinger.” Did the iconic writer’s own conflicted Jewish identity inspire the teenage angst behind “The Catcher in the Rye”? This show offers a rare glimpse into Salinger’s life and work. — Through Jan. 19, NYPL, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, nypl.org.
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