Archive for the 'Jewish culture' Category

05
Oct
11

Yeshiva University Museum – Part 1


Yesterday I visited the Yeshiva University Museum and was given a tour of the current exhibits by Assistant Curator Zachary Paul Levine. The Museum is housed at the Center for Jewish History (15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011).

Center for Jewish History Photo from Citysearch.com

CJH (an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution) is home to five institutions: American Jewish History Society, American Sephardi Federation, Leo Baeck Institute, Yeshiva University Museum and YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, all five present interesting exhibits and programs of interest to every Jew, all five boast impressive collections of historical, artistic and cultural items.

Three exhibits are, at present, running concurrently at the Yeshiva University Museum; these are: Jews on Vinyl (July 24, 2011 – January 8, 2012), Prophecy of Place: Quintan Ana Wikswo (August 14, 2011 – January 22, 2012) and Graphic Details: Confessional Comics by Jewish Women (September 25, 2011 – April 15, 2012).

Jews on Vinyl brought back many memories and some nice surprises as I listened to some of my long forgotten favorites of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s and was pleasantly surprised and touched by some non Jews singing Kol Nidre, Eli Eli or Mein Yiddische Mamme. Yes, folks, you can listen to some highlights of the LP collection, they will delight you, they will surprise you, they will touch you and even make you want to dance!

Powerful, haunting, dream like...

I was touched by this very different photo exhibit. As the press release says:

Wikswo uses damaged and salvaged antique military cameras and battlefield typewriters to explore the startling ecological beauty that obscures “traumatized” sites of crimes against humanity, and to uncover the intergenerational legacies surrounding them. These fiercely mysterious images and starkly graceful prose poems create a powerful encounter with violence and beauty revealed through a fractured, unsettling lens.

Created between 2008-2011 in Portugal, Spain, France, Germany, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Finland and Russia, Prophecy of Place presents kaleidoscopic portraits of the astonishing and often invisible histories hidden at the heart of communities where Jews encountered exile, shelter and trauma.

Traversing 10 centuries, eight countries and five languages, the exhibition is a deeply immersive engagement with the legacy of Jewish survival and the struggle with other cultures through luminous, prismatic, multi-part contemporary photographs of villages, cities, shtetls and camps – sites where Jews have faced devastating attacks or attempts at cultural annihilation.

Some images make it hard to imagine the horrors Jews in these places once experienced, yet the poetry, subtly, makes it clear. Without minimizing the evil, Quintan Ana Wikswo‘s words give hope while making us aware of the terror.  She gives a voice to all the nameless Jews tortured and murdered, whose cries can never be heard, whose names have long been forgotten. As I looked at these unsettling images, as I read some of her accompanying prose poems, every unheeded cry somehow pierced my heart, every tear seared it. But… you will not see any image depicting the pain, the brutality, the fear, the death…

Well worth a visit, gentle reader!

CS

RELATED POSTS

Yeshiva University Museum – Part 2

28
Sep
11

Some Thoughts for Rosh Hashana


Rosh Hashana starts this evening, and as I look at the news, as I tremble over my personal flaws, shortcomings and misdeeds of the past year I can only hope that my repentance will hold and shield me from repeating the same things, from having the same thoughts again, and that the world will change for the better starting with each one of us…

On September 29th, 2008, I posted the following on my political blog:

The world is embroiled in war, tyrants walk around arrogant and defiant, massacres in almost every continent are mostly ignored by the world community. The UN Human Rights Council, seems to concern itself with anything except the trampling of human rights around the globe. Women’s rights are of little concern to a world that prides itself of its extreme liberalness and unheard of freedoms, while rape is used as a political weapon in the Congo, in Sudan, etc… and women are merely chattel to husbands, fathers, sons and brothers in a major portion of this planet. To say the least, it is obvious that in spite of an enlightened 21st century we have never really evolved from the atrocities of the Barbarian Age even as our weapons and rhetoric are more sophisticated, more intellectual, ostensibly more enlightened in our attitudes

While the situation in Sudan has changed for the better, while the Arab Spring has brought about the downfall of various Arab despots, the aftermath has so far not seen any of the sought after freedoms but merely replaced old dictators with a new set… Yet, the UN Human Rights Council has not found the time to condemn repression, the denial of human rights, or to defend freedom of religion anywhere where it may be ignored in the world…

Frankly, the world – at this moment – with all its freedoms and all its horrors is far from ideal. Political ideologies, masquerading as religion, pose new threats to the free world as they aim to destroy all the hard fought for rights and freedoms of the Western world. Meanwhile the West seems to have lost its soul and wonders around like a drunkard in its search for meaning, coexistence and peace…

Tonight, gentle reader, Jews around the world begin the celebration of Rosh Hashana – the Jewish New Year. No, it is not a time filled with drunken parties and silly noise-making but rather a time when one searches in the most recondite crevices, the most hidden places of one’s existence and asks oneself why, how, when, what? Why did I fail to do all that I set out to do? How could I be so lazy, so complacent and not try harder… or at least just try? When will I rise from this lethargy and do my duty as a human, to my Lord, to my fellow humans, to myself? What will it take for me to wake up, while I still am capable of waking up?

The answers are often shameful, sometimes gut wrenching. Nevertheless they afford every Jew a chance to reach out of his/her comfortable shell and do that which he or she is capable of doing, of reaching one’s potential if the individual truly wants it. But sometimes, even if in our prayers we take firm resolve to make a difference, even when the tears of repentance stream from the deepest recesses of the heart, in a few days we settle back in the comfort of emptiness and inaction. More often than not, the answers are too hard, too strenuous on our pampered selves, for us to truly rise above the comfort of merely being discomforted by the world around us or take any action to change it.

In the Rosh Hashama prayers, there is one I must particularly single out as I pronounce it with heavy trepidation in my heart as the clarion call of the Shofar is sounded:

Attah ZocherYou remember – the deeds done in the Universe and You recall all the creatures fashioned since the earliest times. Before You all hidden things are revealed and the multitude of mysteries since the beginning of Creation, for there is no forgetfulness before Your Throne of Glory and nothing is hidden before Your eyes. You remember everything ever done and not a single creature is hidden from you. Everything is revealed and known before You, Lord our God, Who keeps watch and sees to the very end of all generations, when You bring about a decreed time of remembrance for every spirit and soul to be recalled, for abundant deeds and a multitude of creatures withoutt limit to be remembered….

[...] Regarding countries, it is said on this day which is destined for the sword and which for peace, which for hunger and which for abundance; and creatures are recalled on it to remember them for life or death. Who is not recalled on this day? For the remembrance of everything fashioned comes before You: everyone’s deed and mission, the accomplishments of man’s activity, man’s thoughts and schemes, and the motives behind man’s deeds.

May this coming year, 5769 in the Jewish calendar, bring about that very elusive, very prayed for, long hoped for, universally expected peace. May each one of us walking this earth, know no more strife, no more hunger, no more pain. KTIVAH VECHATIMA TOVAH – MAY [WE ALL] BE INSCRIBED AND SEALED FOR GOODNESS, may abundance and health break rampant, may universal peace bathe this earth and the realization of one’s fondest dreams bring sweetness and the total banishment of sorrow to every one on this lowly plane of existence.

Chicken Marinated with pomegranate molasses, honey and spices, stuffed with brown rice, on a bed of rice. Photo from: Los Angeles Times

The year is now 5772 and hardly anything of substance has changed, tramplers of human rights are afforded what once an honored pulpit at the United Nations, a place where they freely spew their lies, where they proudly show off the perversion of their minds, their utter disregard for any human values and yet are applauded for such. The United Nations, founded on the noble principles of safeguarding human rights and ensuring peace around the world, has degenerated into what Bibi Netanyahu just described as “theater of the absurd,” as it shows itself totally unwilling, totally unable to live up to its mandate.

Hakadosh baruch Hu is warning us, urging us to return to Him and yet in spite of the warnings, in spite of all the evidence in front of our eyes, we refuse to heed the call, as we’ve been seduced by a seemingly liberal world plunging head on into a global tyranny where lies are the new truth, where falsehoods replace true values… May it be His will, that we wake up this coming year and with renewed vigor we embark in an era filled with goodness and wholesome values, an era where evil will be defeated and war will disappear…

May we all be inscribed in the Sefer Hachaim – the Book of Life and may we only know health, prosperity and happiness and at peace within and without.

KTIVA VECHATIMA TOVA!!!!

CS

07
Sep
11

No Radio Show This Evening


Photo from: HowStuffWorks.com

I got back from Richmond, VA, this morning where I had some important family business to take care of. My guest for this evening had his own emergency. The show I pre-taped earlier needs some editing and there was no  time left before show time; we will have a 60 minute show tomorrow evening, instead, with three guests.

Our guests will be award winning documentary filmmaker and author Joseph Dorman, founder of Riverside Films he will talk to us about his current movie showing around the country: Sholom Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness. In the second half of the show we will host Aron Ritter, President of the Kosher Wine Society and Alex Haruni, owner of the Dalton Winery in Israel

Please listen to our show tomorrow evening, at 7:30pm (Eastern Time) on BlogTalkRadio. See you there!

CS




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