On The Go


Olympics 2012; Conversation With Director Avi Nesher

By Masha Leon

The next best thing to being at the Olympic Games in London turned out to be an introduction to Blue Badge Guide Rachel Kolsky. I’d written to Sir Martin Gilbert, official biographer of Winston Churchill and author of some 85 other books, to ask about the involvement of the Jewish community in the 2012 Olympics. When his wife, Esther Gilbert, told me that he was ill, she suggested I instead speak with Kolsky, who leads tours of the Olympic Village and other sites. Esther Gilbert, who under her maiden name of Goldberg compiled three volumes of the Holocaust Memoir Digest, also mentioned that her Volyn, Poland-born mother had been an avid reader of the newspaper Der Tog (The Day). After the newspaper’s demise, her mother became a loyal Forward reader.Read More


Bel Kaufman Is Too Busy To Grow Old; 'The Lion of Judah'

By Masha Leon

“I have stepped into the future,” 101-year old Bel Kaufman told me July 31, over lunch at Demarchelier, on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Taking off her “80-year old Puccis” — oversized multicolored sunglasses by Italian designer Emilio Pucci — Kaufman mentioned that her two novels, “Up the Down Staircase” (HarperCollins, 1964) and “Love, Etc.” (Prentice Hall, 1979), are being digitized to be sold as e-books. A collection of 15 previously published short stories is also in the pipeline, under the working title “This and That.”Read More


Carl Bernstein, Jeffrey Toobin, Susan Blumenthal Headline The Common Good Health Care Discussion

By Masha Leon

“Welcome to my building,” joked Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Carl Bernstein, who moderated a discussion about the U.S. Supreme Court and health care on July 19 at the Manhattan headquarters of AllianceBernstein. Sponsored by The Common Good, the event’s featured panelists included Susan Blumenthal, rear admiral and former U.S. assistant surgeon general, and Jeffrey Toobin, senior legal analyst for CNN.Read More


Kosher Jewgrass, Country and Folk Performed by Mare Winningham and Friends

By Masha Leon

“We welcomed her with open arms. She came to shul regularly,” David Gaffney, rabbi at the Conservative Synagogue of Fifth Avenue, said of actress and singer-songwriter Mare Winningham, who had visited the synagogue in years past. We (the rabbi, his wife, my daughter and I) had just seen Winningham perform on July 16 in a country-Jewish-folk, or Jewgrass, concert at Barrow Street Theatre, in Greenwich Village. “She is a haimish, sincere person with noble qualities,” Gaffney told me. “The way she conveyed the liturgy — songs for God and in celebration of Judaism — was [a kind of] kiddush hashem,” a sanctification of the name of God.Read More


Stanley Meltzoff, Painter of Jewfish, Sharks, Marlins and More, Showcased at Society of Illustrators

By Masha Leon

In all my years of watching Jacques Cousteau’s undersea documentaries, I do not recall any reference to an ocean denizen known as a “Jewfish.” The species, however, is featured prominently in “Oceans and Other Worlds,” a fascinating exhibition of works by Brooklyn-born artist Stanley Meltzoff. The exhibit can be seen at the Society of Illustrators building, on 63rd Street on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. One of several startling blue canvases captioned “Jewfish” bears the explanatory note: “As an observant Jew, the artist whimsically expressed his affinity for Jewfish and painted them often.”Read More


Celebrating the 4th With the N.Y. Philharmonic, West Point Band and Hellcats

By Masha Leon

“What is someone with my accent doing here?” asked British-born conductor Bramwell Tovey from the stage at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall on July 5, where he led an Independence Day concert of classic American music and military marches. Tovey is music director of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and has led the New York Philharmonic’s Summertime Classics series since it began in 2004. With a twinkle in his eye, the conductor, dressed in a white suit, quipped: “I’m here to apologize for 1776.” He also made a joke about Shirley MacLaine, the American actress who portrays a Jewish mother-in-law on the popular British television series “Downton Abbey.”Read More


Jack and Susan Rudin Honored at the New York Academy of Medicine Gala

By Masha Leon

The New York Academy of Medicine’s 18th Annual Gala honored builder and Rudin Management chairman Jack Rudin and his wife, Susan Rudin, with an Urban Health Champion Award for “their many contributions toward making New York City a healthy and safe place for its residents.” Describing the Rudin family’s extensive civic accomplishments, NYAM’s president, Jo Ivey Boufford, told the 280 guests at The Pierre: “Here at NYAM, we have been privileged to host the annual Lewis and Jack Rudin New York Prize for Medicine and Health.” The prize was established in 2003 in memory of Lewis Rudin, the honoree’s brother and co-chairman of Rudin Management, one of the city’s largest real estate builders. He died in September 2001 at 74 and shared in the family’s tradition of philanthropy and public service, initiated more than 60 years ago by their parents, May and Samuel Rudin. Boufford praised “the Rudins’ pioneering support for NYAM’s programs to stimulate the field of urban health research and for their recent support for the age-friendly NYC initiative.”Read More


Neil Sedaka And Yiddish Cultural Treasure Chana Mlotek Honored At National Yiddish Theatre —Folksbiene Gala.

By Masha Leon

The Eighteenth Aleph Society Dinner, held on June 11 at the Morgan Library and Museum, celebrated Rabbi Adin Even-Yisrael Steinsaltz’s 75th birthday and the launch of his English translation of the Koren Talmud Bavli.Read More


John Legend Headlines UJA Benefit

By Masha Leon

“I’m Lori Stokes!… I don’t have to yell!” the WABC-TV ‘Eyewitness News’ reporter shouted on June 6 while in the cavernous Capitale. Five hundred guests in the fields of real estate, finance, fashion and entertainment had gathered for a UJA-Federation of New York benefit, and Stokes fought to be heard above the echoing din. She told the crowd, “This morning, on ‘Eyewitness News’ at our 6 o’clock hour, I spoke about UJA-Federation… and it is not exclusive to the Jewish community, because where there is a need, UJA-Federation is able and willing to give.” She introduced event chair Lisa Silverstein, who is a newly appointed UJA-Federation board member and a senior vice president of Silverstein Properties. Silverstein announced that the chic crowd had contributed $500,000 to the $137 million that the UJA-Federation raised in its annual campaign. “I don’t care what world you live in, that’s a number!” she exclaimed.Read More


Sex, Wine And Wisdom: “Dr.” Ruth Westheimer Sounds Off at A Not-So-Kosher Conversation

By Masha Leon

“In Judaism, sex is not a sin, but a mitzvah,” Ruth Westheimer declared in a lecture sponsored by American Friends of Reuth, held on May 31 at Congregation Edmond J. Safra. “A rabbi has to have sex every day, a salesman every seven days. The frequency of sex depends on the profession,” Westheimer said. Westheimer recalled that when her husband was asked by Diane Sawyer about his sex life, he said, “It’s like the shoemaker’s children who have no shoes.” She chuckled.Read More





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  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
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  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
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