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Daily distraction: A book talk, klezmer concert and exhibit of Soviet-Jewish art

Welcome to your daily distraction, our recommendations for ways to stay engaged and entertained while we socially distance ourselves to combat the novel coronavirus outbreak. You can find our past recommendations here; many of the opportunities we’ve highlighted are ongoing.

We’ve spoken often, in this column, about the value of taking breaks when work life and home life threaten to become nearly indistinguishable. But I’ve also found that one routine change makes working from home easier for me: Listening to music. It takes up some of the mental space that would otherwise be devoted to yearning for conversation with my colleagues, and it helps time feel like it’s moving forward. If your work-from-home setup allows you to make music a regular part of your routine, try being deliberate about incorporating it in your day. (Right now I’m listening to Philip Glass’s opera “Akhnaten,” which is the perfect mix of repetitive and interesting; I highly recommend it.) And when you need a proper break, here are three options for connecting with the outside world today.

1) Catch a book talk

If you miss being able to go to your neighborhood bookstore as much as I do, tune into a virtual book talk this evening. At 7pm EST, the Brooklyn bookstore Books are Magic will host a Zoom conversation between Rebecca Dinerstein Knight, author of the forthcoming novel “Hex,” and Alexandra Schwartz, a staff writer at The New Yorker. Join in for a sense of much needed community.

2) Get your spirits up with some klezmer clarinet

As part of the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene’s ongoing program “Folksbiene! LIVE,” a series of online lectures, concerts and more, clarinetist Zisl Slepovitch will be giving a solo klezmer concert at 5 pm EST. Slepovitch is a Folksbiene mainstay, having worked on productions from the company’s 2015-2016 hit “The Golden Bride” to its sensational Yiddish-language “Fiddler on the Roof.”

3) See an exhibit of Soviet-Jewish art

The Israeli-Ukrainian painter Zoya Cherkassky is an incisive chronicler of Jewish life in the last stages of the Soviet Union. The gallery Fort Gansevoort has put her exhibit “Soviet Childhood,” which had been on display in its Los Angeles gallery prior to the gallery’s closure for the coronavirus pandemic, online in its entirety. Spend some time looking through Cherkassky’s gorgeously saturated paintings, and remember how much greater the world can be the present moment.




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