METROPOLITAN NEW YORK
Lectures and Discussions
Stars of the Screen: “Stars of David,” part of the Brooklyn Public Library’s series on Jews and the media, is a slide lecture by Professor Lester Friedman that leads a tour through the history of Jewish film, focusing on ways that specifically Jewish issues have been handled on the big screen and the influence Jews have had on American life. Brooklyn Public Library, Central Library, Grand Army Plaza; May 25, 2 p.m.; free. (718-230-2100 or www.brooklynpubliclibrary.org)
A Southern Symposium: “First Person Singular” brings together several Southern Jewish writers for a symposium moderated by Joyce Antler, the Samuel Lane professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis University. Among those in the Yeshiva University Museum lineup are Alfred Uhry (“Driving Miss Daisy”), Tova Mirvis (“The Ladies Auxiliary”) and Harlan Greene (“Mr. Skylark: John Bennet and the Charleston Renaissance”). The discussion is held in conjunction with the museum’s exhibit “A Portion of the People: 300 Years of Southern Jewish Life.” Center for Jewish History, Forchheimer Auditorium, 15 W. 16th St.; May 28, 6:30 p.m.; free with museum admission, $6, $4 students and seniors, free members and children 5 and under. (212-294-8330 or www.cjh.org)
Talking to a Young Activist: Todd Gitlin, author of the “Letters to a Young Activist” and professor of culture, journalism and sociology at Columbia University — as well as the former president of Students for a Democratic Society — joins MoveOn.org founder Eli Pariser (at 22, a young activist himself) for a conversation about the changing nature of activism and its goals, tactics and philosophy. Makor-Steinhardt Center, 35 W. 67th St.; May 28, 7:30 p.m.; $15, $12 advance. (212-601-1000 or www.makor.org)
What Is It Good For? In these turbulent times, war — be it in Iraq, the Middle East or Congo — is at the forefront of most people’s thoughts. Just what does Judaism have to say on the subject? Rabbis Saul Berman and J. David Bleich join Michael Walzer for a panel discussion on “The Ethics of Warfare: A Jewish Perspective.” Walzer is a social-science professor at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University and the author, most recently, of “Thread of Politics: Democracy, Social Criticism and World Government”; Berman, the director of Edah, is an adjunct at Columbia University School of Law known for his advocacy on behalf of civil rights and Soviet Jews. Bleich is the Herbert and Florence Tenzer professor of Jewish law and ethics at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and writes extensively on Jewish ethics. Center for Jewish History, 15 W. 16th St., Florsheimer Auditorium; June 4, 6:30 p.m.; $10, reservations required. (917-606-8200 or www.cjh.org)
Last (Curtain) Call: Director-choreographer Guido Tuveri’s “1945: Sa Coia” (“A Sardinian Tale”) is a dance theater piece set during World War II in the Sardinian town of Guspini, Italy. Focusing on the life of a young woman raped by a fascist, her fiance and their two families, the story follows the naive couple and the web of lies, deception and denial that overtake their town, also the birth place of Tuveri. Performed by the Sanza Nemo Collective, the work is based on documents uncovered in Guspini. Taped interviews with World War II survivors are interspersed throughout the evening-length piece. Joyce Soho, 155 Mercer St.; through May 25, 8 p.m.; $20, $15 students, reservations recommended. (212-334-7479 or www.sanzanemo.com)
Nature or Nurture? At age 38, Ken Fried has tracked down his birth mother and plans to re-enter her life, unbeknownst to her. David Harris’s new play, “Lost and Found,” tells the story of their meeting — Ken, raised by practicing Jews, and his birth mother, now an agnostic college professor whose husband does not know that his wife gave up a child before they met. Harris tackles one of humanity’s biggest debates: nature versus nurture. Phil Bosakowski Theater, 354 W. 45th St.; Thu.-Fri. 8 p.m., Sat. 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Sun. 3 p.m., through May 25; $15. (212-352-0255)
A Forward Favorite: Based on Nobel Prize-winning Yiddish writer I.B. Singer’s novel “Meshugah,” serialized in the Yiddish Forward during the 1950s, Emily Mann’s new play of the same name explores the ins and outs of a love triangle that takes place in New York City immediately following World War II. The triangle’s three points are all refugees: a Yiddish newspaper columnist, his young and beautiful mistress whose own Holocaust secrets come to light and an aging stockbroker whom he knew before the war. Kirk Theatre, 410 W. 42nd St.; through May 31, Tue.-Fri. 8 p.m., Sat. 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.; Sun. 7 p.m.; $35, $20 students. (212-279-4200)
God on Earth: God comes to earth to try to silence the “incessant droning” of humans at prayer in Marv Siegel’s comedy “The Autobiography of God as Told to Mel Schneider,” which opened this week and is produced by the nonprofit Slice of Life Theatre Company. The protagonist, God, hires a TV hack named Mel Schneider to create a show on which God tries to spread his anti-prayer message. In this comedy, however, He is met with insistent, outspoken objections, particularly from a young woman named Lulu. Ontological Theatre, 131 E. 10th St.; through June 1, Thu.-Fri. 7 p.m. and 10 p.m., Sun. 3 p.m. and 9 p.m.; $15, reservations recommended. (212-206-1515, www.smarttix.com or www.slice-of-life.org)
A Songsmith Goes Solo: Guitarist-vocalist Howard Fishman of the eponymous Brooklyn-based quartet steps out solo for the first time. Joe’s Pub, 425 Lafayette St.; May 31, 9:30 p.m.; $15. (212-539-8778 or www.joespub.com)
Klezmer Brunch: Why not start June with an afternoon of klezmer when violinist Alicia Svigals joins Pete Rushefsky on the tsimbl, a dulcimer drum. Svigals is the founder of the Klezmatics and Mikveh. Tonic, 107 Norfolk St.; June 1, 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m., $10, $15 both sets. (212-358-7501 or www.tonicnyc.com)
A Seat for the Sabbath: Elie Kaunfer, founder of the Upper West Side’s traditional egalitarian Kehilat Hadar, discusses “Radical Revelation” at a Sabbath dinner hosted by Rabbi David Gedzelman, part of a Makor Sabbath series that brings outside speakers and rabbis to the table. Makor-Steinhardt Center, 35 W. 67th St.; May 30, 8 p.m.; $30, reservations required. (212-601-1000)
Mah-Jongg meets Egg Cream: On what it hopes to be a sunny Sunday in June, the Eldridge Street Project — which stands at the juncture of Chinatown and the Lower East Side — throws an “Egg Rolls and Egg Creams Block Party.” Edible treats and opportunities for klezmer dancing and playing mah-jongg are presented by artisans demonstrating their talents at making prayer shawls and paper lanterns. A Yiddish storyteller and a Torah scribe are complemented by a Chinese folk-music ensemble and an opera singer. Eldridge Street between Canal and Division Street; June 1, noon-4 p.m.; free. (212-966-0903 or www.eldridgestreet.org)
Benefit for a Better World: This Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring’s annual “Besere Velt” (Better World) event includes a survey of yidishkayt including Ron Coden singing labor and social-justice songs, Ali and Ellen Sandweiss Hodges performing Yiddish music and a tribute — by Stan Ovshinsky — to the late Norma Shifrin, Yiddishist and Workmen’s Circle leader. A dessert reception follows the songs and speech. Proceeds will go the Workmen’s Circle. Jewish Community Center, JPM Building, 15110 West Ten-Mile Road, Oak Park; June 1, 2 p.m.; $25, $10. (248-545-0985)
Follow Your Feet to the Past: The role played by the Lower East Side in Jewish immigrant history is widely known, but many have yet to see the sights of their forebears for themselves. That’s when the knowledgeable guides at Big Onion Walking Tours come into play with the “Jewish Lower East Side” walking tour, which makes stops at the Eldridge Street Synagogue, the old Forward building and the birth places of both B’nai B’rith and the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. Meet on the southeast corner of Essex and Delancey St. in front of the Olympic Restaurant; June 1, 1 p.m.; $12, $10 students and seniors. (212-439-1090 or www.bigonion.com)
The Gullible Gimpel: David Schiff has transformed the I.B. Singer favorite “Gimpel the Fool” into an opera, performed for the first time since 1985 by the Third Angle New Music Ensemble and starring Metropolitan Opera baritone Richard Zeller and mezzo-soprano D’Anna Fortunato. Reed College, Kaul Auditorium, S.E. 28th and Woodstock, Portland; May 31, 8 p.m., June 1, 3 p.m.; $28 door, $25 advance; students and seniors $19 door, $17 advance. (803-224-8499 or www.ticketswest.com)
Klezmer Duo: Deborah Strauss and Jeff Warschauer, both members of the Klezmer Conservatory Band, bring their contemporary take on klezmer to Massachusetts for the annual Sarah Rose Lazarus Concert, with upbeat songs and soothing melodies sounding out from the accordion, violin, guitar and mandolin. National Yiddish Book Center, Hampshire College campus, 1021 West St., Amherst; June 1, 2 p.m.; $8, $4 children, reservations recommended. (413-256-4900 or www.yiddishbookcenter.org)
To Dance, To Life: Comedy meets dance and Old World meets New in Yehuda Hyman’s “The Mad Dancers,” a chasidic tale about a disillusioned young computer geek and the search for the rebbe’s successor. The vibrant piece, directed by Nick Olcott and Liz Lerman, bills itself as “a mystical comedy with ecstatic dance.” Theater J, District of Columbia Jewish Community Center, 1529 16th St., N.W.; through June 1, Wed.-Thu. 7:30 p.m., Sat. 8 p.m. and Sun. 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; $21-$34, reservations recommended. (800-494-TIXS, www.boxofficetickets.com or www.dcjcc.org)
Press releases should be mailed to the Forward, 45 E. 33rd St., New York, NY, 10016, faxed to 212-447-6406 or e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. They should be received two and a half weeks before the event date. Due to the volume of submissions, not all events will be included.
VOICES OF THE PEOPLE, IN CHORUS
Born on the Lower East Side in 1923, the Jewish People’s Philharmonic Chorus — ne Freiheirt’s Gezang Farein — is the world’s oldest continuously running Jewish chorus, now with Binyumen Schaechter at the helm, a position once filled by Max Helfman, Lazar Weiner and Peter Schlosser, among others.
On June 1, the chorus celebrates its 80th anniversary with a concert of works the People’s Philharmonic has sung over the course of its eight-decade-long history, as well as contemporary works by Itshe Goldberg, Beyle Gottesman, the Yiddish Forward’s Rukhl Schaechter, Wolf Younin and Mark Zuckerman. Josh Waletzky’s “Eyn Velt” makes its world premiere, and the Pripetshik Singers, a children’s chorus, also stands center stage.
The chorus has graced the stages of Town Hall, Alice Tully Hall and Ground Zero, as well as senior and community centers and schools as part of its effort to spread the joys of Yiddish song outside the boundaries of the Jewish community. For those new to Yiddish, English translations are provided.
Alliance Française, Florence Gould Hall, 55 E. 59th St.; June 1, 2 p.m.; $15, $10 students and seniors, $5 children 5 and under. (212-355-6160)
READY FOR SHAVUOT?
Albert Hoffman’s 42-inch-tall wood relief “Ten Commandments” (1971, oak), pictured here, is among the sculptures and paintings that reflect upon Jewish themes in “Remembrance and Ritual: Jewish Folk Artists of Our Time,” which also features works by Aaron Birnbaum, Paul Edlin, Etta Ehrlich, Bernard Goodman, Paul Graubard, Albert Hoffman, Rudy Rotter and Malcah Zeldis.
Andrew Edlin Gallery, 529 W. 20th St., sixth floor; through June 7, Tue.-Sun., please call for times. ( 212-206-9723 or www.edlingallery.com)