Just after Sidney Lumet passed away, I received numerous e-mails from film students who fondly recalled his visits with them at Columbia University. A few remembered the emotional wallop of seeing “The Pawnbroker” for the first time, in my American film history course. Others praised Lumet’s humility and candor after a preview of “Night Falls on Manhattan” in our campus screening room. Lumet was unaffected, from his perennial sweater-over-shirt to his no-nonsense explanation of making movies. He was a breathlessly busy and prolific director, but he found the time to encourage aspiring filmmakers. The students’ e-mails that arrived after he died April 9 of lymphoma at age 86 were a testament to the smarts and the sympathy that rendered him less an auteur than a mensch.
It’s a constant worry to most environmentalists. A plastic bottle discarded today is likely to be intact in a landfill hundreds of years from now. But for Haifa-based industrial designer Hadas Itzcovitch, the durability of those bottles has a silver lining.
As we make plans to celebrate Earth Day 2011, we worry about radiation from a crippled nuclear plant in Japan. We face air pollution, species extinction, climate change. Major fish stocks are down 90%. And, more parochially, the Jewish community faces extraordinary stress and uncertainty. The federation system and many of our synagogues have lost members, revenues and staff. The issue of Israel in American Jewish life has become more complex than ever. Our day schools confront a deeply challenging business model.
Facing tensions that have erupted over community funded artistic expression relating to Israel, the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington is carving out a middle road that it hopes will please all sides. Despite being urged by some community members to stop funding plays critical of Israel in the local Jewish Community Center, the federation’s board of directors decided instead to draw its red line at programs that promote boycott, divestment or sanctions against Israel (BDS.) The board decided against issuing formal guidelines for community funded programming, as was done by the Jewish federation in San Francisco last year.
It is a classic good news-bad news story. The Palestinian economy is booming and for the first time is being acknowledged as strong enough to support an independent state. That is the good part.4
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