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In July 2014 in Jerusalem, sirens over the city at the beginning of the 50-day Gaza war forced the cancellation of the outdoor opening event of the Jerusalem International Film Festival. The festival went on despite several schedule changes and film celebrities who were last-minute no-shows, but the usual festive atmosphere was distinctly muted. This year, the July 9-19 festival was not without controversy, but bore none of last year’s tensions, with both the opening and closing events drawing large crowds at the Sultan’s Pool venue just below the walls of the Old City. This year’s most controversial film was “Beyond The Fear,” a documentary about the personal life of Yigal Amir, who is serving a life sentence in prison for the assassination of former Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.
When Shahar Dori left his Haifa home at age 17 and made a 6,500-mile trip to Montgomery, Ala., to attend a summer ballet program, he was pursuing a dream. But he had no idea where it would lead. Dori, now 23, is the first Israeli ballet dancer to join the Houston Ballet, where he is earning recognition as a rising talent in the fiercely competitive ballet world. His journey from one port city, Haifa, to another, Houston, is a story of hard work, sacrifice, and the generosity and closeness of the Jewish community.
The 89th installment of Harvey Rachlin's new comic strip, "The Menschkins." Click here for more JNS.org coverage on Jewish arts.
Through appreciation of both his comedy and humanitarian work, legendary Jewish entertainer Jerry Lewis is staying relevant at age 89. The only comic to ever be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, Lewis added another award to his trophy case in April, when he received the 2015 Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of Broadcasters. Best-known for his slapstick humor, Lewis has made arguably as significant of a mark in philanthropy. As former national chairman of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, he raised more than $2 billion and hosted a Labor Day l telethon for more than 40 years. “I think many people in later years associated [Lewis] much more with the telethon than with his comedy. This work makes a perfect companion to his work as a comedian and shows that laughs by themselves are not enough in life,” said Lawrence Epstein, author of “The Haunted Smile: The Story of Jewish Comedians in America.”
Eighty years young, Leonard Cohen fits many descriptions—singer, songwriter, poet, novelist, monk. From his Jewish upbringing in Canada to the present day, Cohen has always explored his spiritual side. This month, the singer-songwriter released the CD (May 12) and iTunes (May 8) formats of his latest album, “Can’t Forget: A Souvenir of the Grand Tour,” which features live recordings from his world tours in 2012 and 2013. Sharon Robinson, a background singer for decades with Cohen and author of the book “On Tour with Leonard Cohen,” calls Cohen “a thoughtful individual whose Jewish background is very much intact.”
When Irish artist Diana Muller first presented her works in progress—portrait paintings of some of her country’s few remaining Holocaust survivors—to the Irish Jewish Museum in Dublin City, museum vice chair Yvonne Altman O’Connor sensed a teachable moment in the making. “We consider it very important to teach about the Holocaust, especially as Irish people were somewhat removed from the experience. [Some even] refer to World War II as ‘the emergency,’” an obvious understatement, O’Connor tells JNS.org. Muller suggested that the museum host a temporary exhibit. Three years after beginning the project, her artwork was unveiled on April 12 at the Irish Jewish Museum as part of a Yom HaShoah event.