Matthew Oshinsky

The Songs of a Wandering People

When the joint Catholic monarchs of Spain, Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon, ordered the expulsion of Jews from Spain on March 31, 1492, they probably wouldn’t have cared to know that they were helping to create one of the most remarkable musical traditions the world has ever known. Of course, the Jews being forced from their homes after centuries of peaceful coexistence and artistic collaboration with the Muslims of Spain wouldn’t have found much comfort in this development, either. But more than 500 years later, we can celebrate the incredible cultural diversity and influence that has become a vital attribute of a continually persecuted wandering people.

NEXT STOP, OSCAR: Ari Folman, the filmmaker behind the animated documentary ?Waltz With Bashir? with his Golden Globe award.

Animated Catharsis

Ari Folman, the Israeli filmmaker behind the Oscar-nominated “Waltz With Bashir,” spoke with the Forward about Academy Awards, war and why animation was the only way to tell his story.

FROM RUSSIA WITH LUCK: The Moscow State Yiddish Theater and the Soviet government walked hand in hand for a few short years. Solomon Mikhoels in ?Jewish Luck? above, and ?Return of Nathan Becker? below.

The Wisdom of Solomon

‘The tragedy,” American author Joshua Rubenstein once noted, “is that so many great Soviet Jewish figures have been forgotten and eclipsed. They are remembered only for their deaths.”

SILVER SCREEN: ?The Fire Within: Jews in the Amazonian Rainforest? (above) and ?Being Jewish in France? (below) are among the features being screened at this year?s New York Jewish Film Festival.

Reeling in New York

For New York moviegoers shrinking at the prospect of Tom Cruise goose-stepping through a Nazi-era spy thriller, the 18th annual New York Jewish Film Festival arrives this month with an eclectic roster of Jewish-oriented films. This year’s edition includes 32 features and shorts — 28 of which are making their world, American or New York premieres — hailing from 17 different countries.

CELEBRATORY: The quintet Ansambl Mastika performed at Hanukkah concert, held December 23 at New York?s Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue.

Merengue, Flamenco, and a Side of Latkes

A Hanukkah concert — part of New York’s Sephardic Music Festival — offered a tuneful lesson in the long and varied tradition of the music that originated on the Iberian Peninsula and traveled across the globe with Spanish Jews as they fled the Inquisition in 1492.