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One of Tel Aviv’s most iconic squares is in the midst of a significant makeover. The Norman Tel Aviv, a luxurious boutique establishment, has restored two buildings on Nachmani Street, at the heart of the Tel Aviv UNESCO heritage site for historic Bauhaus architecture. The newly renovated hotel’s management is also a dedicated patron of the arts, seeking to support contemporary artistic expression in Israel. When complete, the complex will be a travel destination that houses and showcases many avant-garde cultural treasures.
On Thursday, audiences around the country can feel what it is like to be William Shatner, the Jewish actor best known for his portrayal of Captain James T. Kirk on “Star Trek.” The one-man show on Shatner’s life and career “Shatner’s World”—which was on Broadway and toured Canada, Australia, and the United States—will be presented in nearly 700 movie theaters nationwide for one night only on April 24. “Being Jewish is a part of what I am,” Shatner told JNS.org. “What I am is what I bring to the world as an artist. In a way it’s one facet of who I am. As in many cases of people I know, where their religion is everything to them and is very imperative, for me being Jewish is not, but being spiritual is.”
Carl Sagan fans old and new have been gazing at their televisions in awe as host Dr. Neil Degrasse Tyson’s resurrection of the science epic “Cosmos” takes them on a journey from the Big Bang, to microscopic one-celled organisms, to the ascent of man, to beyond the stars and planets. The return of “Cosmos”—which launched in March and runs for 13 episodes on the Fox network, ending June 2—provides an opportune time to remember Sagan, the show’s Jewish creator.
“This is how I want to be—without fear. Independent. I want to be like a bird. I want to spread my wings.” So reads part of the description beneath one of the 30 paintings on display until the end of May at the ZOA House in Tel Aviv. The collection, dubbed “Tears of Color,” represents the first-ever art exhibit of its kind: an exhibit created entirely by Israelis in treatment for eating disorders.
Rachel Ament noticed that she and her friends often shared humorous anecdotes that were typically variations on a theme: overprotective, worrying Jewish moms who smothered them with love. A social media writer for Capital One, Ament decided about three years ago that it would be fun to invite Jewish women writers she admires to contribute stories about their mothers for an anthology. The resulting collection of 27 essays—dubbed “The Jewish Daughter Diaries: True Stories of Being Loved Too Much by Our Moms”—is set for a May 6 release, in time for Mother’s Day (May 11).
For all its beauty and subtext, director Darren Aronofsky’s recently released “Noah” is bloated, as the film is perhaps too drawn out for its own good. Whatever good intentions Aronofsky originally had are lost in the flood, and overshadowed by audience discussions about the production’s biblical accuracy. The director veers from the defining tenets of his previous films, only to get bogged down by biblical storytelling conventions and the nature of sin, writes reviewer Jason Stack.
Many young Jewish artists struggle to define who they are personally, artistically, and religiously. Against the backdrop of that struggle, the recent Asylum Arts International Jewish Artists Retreat provided a space for some 70 young Jewish artists to explore Jewish ideas, to build community and a culture of reciprocity, and to learn skills to assist their career development.
The recently deceased Sid Caesar made America laugh, and in so doing, revolutionized television comedy. The youngest of three sons born to Jewish immigrants living in Yonkers, NY, Caesar’s father Max emigrated from Poland, and with his wife Ida, who had come from Russia, operated a luncheonette. Young Sid developed his foreign-sounding double talk by listening closely to the luncheonette’s multinational clientele. “Sid was part of the Jewish tradition of storytelling,” said Eddy Friedfeld, co-author with Caesar on the comedian’s biography. “The difference was his was not joke telling, it was comedy based on character. His sketches were stories with beginnings, middles, and ends. That was not coincidentally a function of the Jewish influence.”
While Pink Floyd's Roger Waters in recent years has served as a de facto frontman for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, Shuki Weiss Promotion and Production Ltd. for more than three decades has brought the biggest names in entertainment to perform live in Israel. Musical guests attracted by the company have included Metallica, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Radiohead, Madonna, David Bowie, and Eric Clapton. This summer will be no different, with Neil Young, Soundgarden, and the Pixies signed by Weiss to perform at a rock and roll festival in Tel Aviv, while The Rolling Stones are tentatively scheduled but still unconfirmed. “I’m not getting the message from the artists that they are feeling the pressure [from the BDS movement]. While that might have been true in the past, that’s not the case, today,” says Oren Arnon, the head promoter for Weiss's company.
“American Hustle”—which received 10 Oscar nominations for the upcoming March 2 Academy Awards, tied with “Gravity” for the most nominations this year—conjures up the true story of Melvin Weinberg, an infamous Jewish con artist portrayed by Christian Bale as Irving Rosenfeld in the film. “One of the brilliant things about Weinberg, at first meeting him, is this—you would not take him to be such a wily con man,” says Leslie Maitland, the journalist who broke the Abscam story, which “American Hustle” is based on, in the 1970s and 1980s. “He looked like an overweight Jewish guy who lived on Long Island and smoked cigars. He did have a comb-over, but he was gray and considerably older than Christian Bale portrays him in the movie.”