Leah Hochbaum

Excessive Pride

When I was in the fourth grade, my Brooklyn yeshiva held a Torah fair. My partner — a girl whom I fancied a close friend but who was to move to California two years later, never to be heard from again — and I quickly decided on a parsha that had fascinated us since we’d learned about it earlier that year. We went to Manhattan Beach to gather sand, crafted petite people out of pipe cleaners and fashioned an angry God from cotton balls (stained red with a waxy Crayola crayon) purchased at a local drugstore. We then took a cardboard box, cut a large groove into the bottom, poured in the sand and glued our pipe cleaner people to the sides of the indentation so that they looked like they were falling into the cavernous space.

Growing Pains: Lit for Tweens

When Stacy Friedman and her best friend, Lydia, return from camp to find that their formerly tubby other best bud, Kelly, has morphed into a cool, thin, beautiful blonde over summer break, they couldn’t be happier for her — that is, until Kelly cozies up to the popular clique and gets invited to the bar mitzvah event of the fall while they’re left out in the cold. In the preteen-geared “We Are SO Crashing Your Bar Mitzvah!” Fiona Rosenbloom’s brand-new sequel to her 2005 “You Are SO Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah!” the author weaves a tale of preadolescent humiliation so palpable that readers will feel like they themselves have been unjustly left off the guest list.

Three Strangers, But Not for Long

There’s no set, no props and no intermission, yet “Rearviewmirror,” the newest offering from playwright Eric Winick, keeps audiences captivated from the moment it begins. In fact, the Reverie Productions show, playing at the 59E59 Theaters on New York City’s Upper East Side, is almost barren in its simplicity. It features just three characters — Penn, Agatha and Inez — who though at first seem too different to have anything to do with one another, gradually tell an interweaving tale so strangely mesmerizing that 90 minutes are up before you even realize it.

A Theater Stages New Show – and Controversy

Even before the first performance of “Last Jew in Europe,” the Jewish Theater of New York’s play penned by Tuvia Tenenbom, the show already had people up in arms. Citing the tragicomedy’s use of photographs of antisemitic graffiti purportedly shot on the streets of Lodz, the Polish Embassy said the pictures could turn American Jews against Poles. The embassy even suggested that the wall-art was actually created by theater staffers.

’Do It Yourself

Daniele Sullivan has made a career out of creating wigs, but even she confesses that up close she can’t tell a lace front creation from a real head of hair.

Window Shopping

Finding the right synagogue can be a tiresome task for even the most devout of Jews. Every synagogue — be it Orthodox, Conservative, Reform or Reconstructionist — has a style, a tone and a rabbi all its own. Paying personal visits to each establishment to determine where you fit could take months or even years. But a new Web tool aims to simplify things, making the process of picking a house of worship as easy as clicking a mouse.

Dating Dilemmas

Seth Weiss, 26, a consultant from Chicago, once got set up with two cousins within a two-week span.

Message in The Music

Even scientists need to get their groove on sometimes. So, after presenting a lecture titled “Fearful Brains in an Anxious World,” renowned neuroscientist and New York University professor Joseph LeDoux doffed his scholarly persona and strapped on a guitar. It was time for some Brain Rock.

‘Shuckle Rock’ Puts the Pray

On a recent evening, Daniel Seliger leaned against the rickety steps of a graffiti-covered loft building in the Dumbo section of Brooklyn, his left hand wrapped around a crumpled paper bag from which the mangled pop-top of a once-frosty Heineken peeked out. Like anyone who has been in the music industry for more than a decade, the 33-year-old has that jaded, been-there-done-that look down to an indifferent science. But Seliger is not like anyone else who’s been in the music industry for so long. An Orthodox Jew since birth, he dons a yarmulke and tzitzit in a business that mocks religion and its values, and is awfully sure that the next big thing will be a little-known phenomenon he calls “shuckle music.”

The Click of a Mouse

From MySpace to YouTube to eBay, it seems everyone is tuned into the Internet these days. So it’s surprising that it took quite so long for profit-minded members of the tribe to recognize the shortage of online spots to shop for that perfect Hanukkah gift. But in recent years, a slew of Web sites have sprung up that will help people find just what they want to buy their loved ones (while avoiding the mad rush at the mall) for each of those eight crazy nights.