SNL’s Election Special, Art Spiegelman In Chicago, And 5 Other Things To Read, Watch And Do This Weekend
This week we start sharing events outside of New York as part of our normal roster; festivals of arts and ideas in Chicago and Washington, D.C. are up first. There’s a slew of new books to tempt you, regardless of what you’re craving – history, science fiction, some hearty Yiddish humor – and a few nights of comedy to help ward off the pre-election blues.
1) Keep an eye out for Larry David in the Saturday Night Live Election Special
Whether you think of next Tuesday’s presidential election as potentially apocalyptical or simply annoying, something on which most of us agree is that it will be more fun if preceded by a hearty dose of Larry David’s spot-on Bernie Sanders impression. Luckily, the folks behind SNL agree. They’ll air an election special Monday, November 7th revisiting their best political sketches from this most surreal of seasons. Kate McKinnon’s Hillary Clinton and Alec Baldwin’s Donald Trump will surely be center-stage, but we’re hoping to see a good deal of David as well.
2) Read up on Yiddish fiction from the Forward, newly translated into English
We’re biased, but we think the new anthology “Have I Got a Story For You: More Than a Century of Fiction From the Forward” edited by Forward critic-at-large Ezra Glinter is a stunner. Over its 120 years in print, the Forward has published Yiddish writers lauded and unknown; in “Have I Got a Story For You” a set of their stories receive their first English translations, giving readers new access to the experiences that shaped the lives of American Jews. Glinter has arranged the works according to five themes – immigration, the Old Country, and war foremost among them – and introduced them with short biographies of their authors. With pieces by writers including Isaac Bashevis Singer and Sholem Asch, the collection is a treat. (Also, the cover goes awfully well with pumpkin spice tea and candy corn. What could be nicer than that?)
3) Have a comedy snack with Rachel Dratch
TruTV’s “Rachel Dratch’s Late Night Snack,” a Dratch-curated collection of short-form comedy from different comedians, returns on Wednesday, November 2nd. Last season the show featured Alec Baldwin, Jim Gaffigan, Ellie Kemper and more; this season should feature similarly well-regarded comedians letting loose and getting wacky. Watch a sample sketch below.
4) Check out Philip Glass and Art Spiegelman at the Chicago Humanities Festival
The Chicago Humanities Festival is a yearly source of intellectual candy for Windy City residents, and Glass and Spiegelman are this year’s Jewish highlights. Glass appears Wednesday, November 2nd in discussion with Chicago Tribune arts critic Howard Reich; he’ll also give a brief solo performance. Spiegelman’s November 3rd appearance will focus on his new edition of “The Parade,” a little-known work of Jewish artist Si Lewen with the Festival’s Emeritus Artistic Director Lawrence Weschler.
5) Head to the Washington DCJCC’s Israel Arts DC festival
November 6-14th the DCJCC plays host to a sampling of Israeli arts and culture, with events ranging from a workshop in the Israeli dance form Gaga to a book talk by author Meir Shalev. Highlights will include Sunday’s “Israel Story Live,” during which the hosts of the popular Israeli podcast will present a show focused on diverse, surprising stories of Israeli women, and Monday’s “Man-O-Manischewitz: How a Kosher Wine Became Big With the American Public,” in which Roger Horowitz will discuss the brand’s everlasting, somewhat incomprehensible appeal.
6) Sit in on talks on Jews in sports and comics at the Museum of Jewish Heritage
This week the Museum of Jewish Heritage hosts discussions of Jews engaged in two quintessentially American pursuits: sports and comics. Wednesday, November 2nd Olympic synchronized swimmer Jane Katz joins former New York Times sports contributors Robert Lipsyte and Gerald Eskenazi for “It Wasn’t Only Sandy Koufax: The Jewish-American Experience in Sports,” a discussion of the history of Jewish American athletes and their cultural impact. Thursday, November 3rd the Museum partners with the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect and the Jewish Book Council for “Ink Bleeds History: Reclaiming and Redrawing the Jewish Image in Comics,” which features a panel including graphic novelists and comic artists Amy Kurzweil, Miriam Libicki, and the creators of the online series “Radzyn.” Learn, laugh, and come away with some creative inspiration.
7) Speaking of Miriam Libicki, check out the rest of this week’s hot reads
Libicki’s first collection of graphic essays, “Toward a Hot Jew,” was released November 1st; it covers everything from dating in the Israeli military to the complicated intersections of black and Jewish identity. Libicki, creator of the long-running series of autobiographical comics, “jobnik!,” is an accomplished storyteller, and her first book is already attracting attention. Along with her book and Glinter’s, fill out your shelf David Cesarani’s posthumously published “The Final Solution: The Fate of the Jews 1933-1949,” a monumental, minutely researched tome on the decades that decimated European Jewry, and Nava Semel’s newly translated “Isra Isle,” a multi-part imagination about what might have happened if Jews had followed the intention of nineteenth-century visionary Mordecia Manuel Noah and settled New York’s Grand Island.
Talya Zax is the Forward’s culture fellow. Contact her at email@example.com or on Twitter, @TalyaZax
Jews aren’t exactly famous for their athletic prowess — the punch line of many a joke, including this classic from “Airplane!”
But in honor of Hanukkah, Sports Illustrated is generously celebrating “prominent Jewish athletes,” compiling an online compendium of top Jewish sports stars from over the past 70 years.
A list rather than a ranking, the collection focuses primarily on professional athletes, ranging from baseball players Hank Greenberg and Sandy Koufax to NFL great Sid Luckman. There’s also hockey goalie Marty Turco, billed as the “smartest goalie in the NHL,” and tattooed, Ukrainian-born NFL player Igor Olshansky. Several Olympic champions are also in the mix, including swimmer Dara Torres and two Jewish gold medalists once featured on the SI cover: swimmer Mark Spitz and ice skater Sarah Hughes.
In celebration of Jewish Book Month, The Arty Semite is partnering with the Jewish Education Service of North America (JESNA) and the Jewish Book Council to present “30 Days, 30 Texts,” a series of reflections by community leaders on the books that influenced their Jewish journeys. Today, Will Schneider writes about “Sandy Koufax: A Lefty’s Legacy” by Jane Leavy.
One of the seminal moments in the formation of my Jewish identity was when the Dodgers’ ace pitcher Sandy Koufax elected to skip the first game of the 1965 World Series because it fell on Yom Kippur. Since I wouldn’t be born for another 16 years, I owe a debt of gratitude to Jane Leavy’s biography of Koufax, “A Lefty’s Legacy,” which I read when I was in my early 20s at the height of an identity crisis.
I had been struggling alone with my Judaism, trying to balance what I thought were the conflicting realities of self-identifying as Jewish while steering clear of anything that felt observant. Leavy makes it clear that the non-observant Koufax, who didn’t go to services that day, didn’t intend to make one of the most influential statements of the 20th century about Judaism in secular society. Still, his skipping game one resonated with me 40 years later. I later learned that I was not alone, and realized that there are more options than being traditionally observant or nothing at all.
In the tradition of Hank Greenberg and Sandy Koufax, Nathan Diament, the director of the Orthodox Union’s Institute for Public Affairs, will be sitting out an important event due to religious observance. Only this time, it’s not a baseball game, it’s a Ramadan feast — at the White House.
Last year, Diament joined Israeli ambassador Michael Oren, Religious Action Center director David Saperstein and a long list of diplomats and politicians at President Obama’s interfaith dinner celebrating Ramadan.
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