“This is the first major event I have ever produced,” said Ram Ozeri about the Jerusalem Biennale, taking place in Israel’s capital until October 31. “Well, the first major event other than my wedding,” he quipped.
All joking aside, it was no easy task to put together six simultaneous exhibitions of contemporary Jewish art in the Holy City. Having decided three years ago to study art at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, after completing an MA in economics, the 33-year-old Ozeri was looking for a way to bring together his two major interests. Then, he got the idea for a Jerusalem biennale when he visited the Berlin Biennale in 2010.
“I kept the idea on a low fire, and then I started working seriously on it beginning last November. The past few months, the work became very intensive,” Ozeri explained in a phone interview with The Arty Semite.
Ozeri put together a team of curators from various disciplines including design, photography, installation art, fine arts, dance, and music. The goal was to represent all of these, but to also make certain that different Jewish streams, backgrounds and approaches would be included.
Rather than issuing an open call, the curators reached out to their circles and invited artists to participate. More than 50 artists, mainly from Israel but also some from other countries, are participating in the six exhibitions being held at five different locations around Jerusalem.
Former United States poet laureate Philip Levine has been awarded the Academy of American Poets’ Wallace Stevens Award for lifetime achievement. The award, which comes with a $100,000 prize, is given annually for “outstanding and proven mastery of the art of poetry.”
Levine was 83 when he was named poet laureate in 2011. Although he now lives in Fresno California and lived for some time in New York, he is most closely associated with the working class experience of his native Detroit. Levine began writing poetry during breaks between shifts as an autoworker, and his first collection, “On The Edge,” was published in 1963. “From the beginning of his career he has considered the assumptions of the American ruling class — especially those they have successfully transmitted to the rest of the country — with a degree of skepticism,” wrote Dan Friedman about him in the Forward.
Levine is known for his poetry collections, including, “What Work Is,” which won the 1991 National Book Award and “The Simple Truth,” which won the 1995 Pulitzer Prize. His “News of the World” was published in 2009.
“I believed even then that if I could transform my experience into poetry I would give it the value and dignity it did not begin to possess on its own,” Levine wrote about his motivation for becoming a poet. “I thought too that if I could write about it I could come to understand it; I believed that if I could understand my life—or at least the part my work played in it—I could embrace it with some degree of joy, an element conspicuously missing from my life.”
If you saw Richard Parks’ 2011 documentary short, “Music Man Murray,” then you’ll know that Murray Gershenz was looking for a long time to sell his famous used record business (also called Music Man Murray) and its collection of more than 300,000 records.
Gershenz, who opened his landmark store on Los Angeles’ Santa Monica Boulevard in 1962, did finally manage to find a buyer. This past June, four tractor-trailers showed up and hauled away the records to New York, where Gershenz was born in 1922.
Believing that his beloved collection was in good hands and would be kept together, Gershenz passed away just a couple of months later. The New York Times reported that he died at the age of 91 on August 28, leaving behind two sons, a daughter, two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren — and, of course, countless customers who appreciated his vast knowledge and extreme love of music of all genres. His wife Bobette Cohen Gershenz, who encouraged him to open the store and worked in it alongside her husband, died in 1999.
Those who did not turn to Gershenz in search of some rare vinyl might have instead seen him on television or in a movie. In addition to being a music maven, Gershenz was also a sought-after character actor. His credits included “Will & Grace,” “Parks and Recreation,” “The Sarah Silverman Show” and “The Hangover.”
Apparently, acting came as naturally to him as his lifelong love of music. “He was just saying the lines as if it was him. Murray was the character. He didn’t have to act,” said Corey Allen Kotler, his manager.
Just watch “Music Man Murray” to see for yourself:
The Pittsburgh Jewish Newspaper Project is making it easier for genealogists and historians to do their research. Begun in 2004 and completed last year, the digital archive stores and makes accessible every edition of four different local Jewish publications dating from 1895 to 2010.
Anyone with an Internet connection can access the archive, which contains 8,700 issues and more than 230,000 images from the Jewish Criterion (1895-1962), the American Jewish Outlook (1934-1962), the Jewish Chronicle (1962-present), and the Y-JCC series (1926-1975).
The Jewish newspaper archive is a project of the Carnegie Mellon University Libraries. “Carnegie Mellon has been a leader in digitization of library and archival materials,” said Gabrielle Michalek, head of the libraries’ archives and digital library initiatives. “We were on the vanguard of all of this, building the first and largest digital archives, beginning back in 1995 with the Senator H. John Heinz Archives.”
Carnegie Mellon tracked down all the back issues of the Criterion in Pittsburgh’s Rodef Shalom Congregation’s archive, those of the Outlook and Y-JCC at the Rauh Jewish Archives at the Heinz History Center, and those of the Chronicle at that paper’s offices.
Footage from a never-released Jerry Lewis Holocaust film buried since the early 1970s was unearthed on YouTube on Saturday. The now-87-year-old Jewish comedic actor had promised that no one would ever see what he admitted was the “bad, bad, bad” film titled, “The Day the Clown Cried.”
Seven minutes of footage from a 1972 Flemish documentary about the making of the film were uploaded to YouTube. The drama centers on a non-Jewish German circus clown, played by Lewis, who ends up in a Nazi concentration camp for making fun of Adolf Hitler in a bar. In the camp, he performs for enthusiastic Jewish children. The SS guards use the clown to help load the children onto a train to Auschwitz, but he accidentally ends up on the train. The clown is assigned to lead the children to the gas chambers, and he decides to join them in the chamber to entertain them as they are killed.
According to The Times of Israel, Lewis visited Auschwitz and lost 40 lbs. before beginning work on the movie. The behind-the-scenes and interview footage in the Flemish documentary indicate how dedicated to his craft Lewis was, and how seriously he took the making of the film.
After several disastrous test screenings, Lewis spiked the film, vowing never to let it be shown again.
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