I went to make a shiva call recently and I was asked, as always, if I attended the Hebrew Academy. No, I explain, while my children are all graduates, I did not go there. And when I tell them that I went to Rabbi Anemer’s school, I am usually met with a puzzled stare, because the school, like so many facets of the early days, remains generally forgotten. To understand, let me take you back to the beginning:
“Tevye and Friends,” an immersive and highly amusing visit to the world of Yiddish author and playwright Sholom Aleichem’s characters, had a special one-night showing at the Bender JCC in Rockville, Maryland, after Shabbat on March 18. The show featured performers of screen and stage Allen Lewis Rickman, Yelena Shmulenson, and Shane Baker, who were kind enough to speak with Kol HaBirah before heading back out to enjoy the reception and mingle with their fans.
Suppose you had “made it” in your chosen career. The struggles of earlier years were far behind you and you were comfortable and happy. And then, for the love of your family, you gave it all up and went right back to where you had started; and you would be seen for all time as a second-rate replacement for your baby brother, now deathly ill and unable to work and support himself. Even your very name, by which millions of fans would know you, would be an accident.
One of the world’s leading chazanim (cantors) lived right here in Washington and davened at the shul known for decades for its world-class chazanim and choirs, Beth Sholom. I had the good fortune to know Cantor Sholom Katz and his family. Now, on his 35th yahrzeit, let’s look at the career of a chazan the New York Times called “a master at a master’s art.”
Katz’s voice was one of great brilliance. He was capable of shifting from heart-wrenching softness and pathos to strong and declarative power. His voice mirrored his life, a life filled with great triumph and deep sorrow.
Many people like to take selfies and snap impromptu portraits of their sons and their daughters. They snap away at arm’s length, compiling galleries on their smartphones.
Maybe you’ve been the lucky person sitting next the photographer at the bus stop or in line at the grocery store. “Do you want to see a great picture of me? My baby?? My dog???” And it’s never just one.
Perhaps it’s time to revisit the art of the portrait.
ROCKVILLE (Md.) –– The Congress for Jewish Culture is bringing their three-person show “Tevye’ and Friends” from NYC to the DMV. Drawing on the writings of famed Yiddish playwright Sholem Aleichem, the performance will take place on Saturday March 18 at 8 P.M. at the Bender JCC’s Kreeger Auditorium in Rockville, Maryland.
In the production, Sholem Aleichem’s funny and yet poignant stories depicting the everyday trials of his fellow countrymen are laid out with acerbic wit and stirring sentiment. Among the stories are “Strange Jews on a Train,” where the prohibition against gossip is thrown out the sidecar window as a stranger inquires a fellow passenger about their destination. In a “Stepmother’s Trash Talk,” curses are served up as the main course in a meal where insults are doled out with sharp tongued wit. In “Tevye the Dairyman,” the trio grapples with the story familiar to any fan of “Fiddler on the Roof”: the tale of Chava and her non-Jewish Ukrainian love, emblematic of the the cultural shifts facing the European Jewish immigrant in America.
History records, but few remember, the endorsement by Theodore Roosevelt of a Jewish homeland in Zion. In a list of goals for the peace settlement at the conclusion of World War I — anticipating the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire — former President Theodore Roosevelt included: “Palestine made a Jewish State.” Roosevelt wrote in 1918, a few months before his death, “It seems to me that it is entirely proper to start a Zionist State around Jerusalem.” As a teenager, he had accompanied his parents in their travels across the Ottoman Empire in 1872-73. They visited the Western Wall, as is noted in his boyhood diary.
Gesher with a TWIST, Gesher Jewish Day School’s robust event series, hosted a fun event on fashion and style for its parent body, alumni families, and community of friends and supporters On Sunday evening March 5.
The event, co-chaired by Gesher parents Barbara Kaplan and Francine Rossen, was held at Lord & Taylor in Tysons Corner, in McLean, Virginia. There was a wine bar as well as a variety of high-end, scrumptious delicacies catered by Michael Medina of Medina Cuisine, including Israeli bourekas (potato, mushroom, and spinach), Moroccan pastilla (with chicken, phyllo dough, cinnamon, almonds, and powdered sugar), seared ahi tuna in Japanese spoons, chocolate truffles, and chocolate mousse in shot glasses. This was followed by a comprehensive presentation of the history of Israeli fashion by Israeli fashion mogul, Liraz Cohen, and, finally, a fashion show featuring Gesher faculty and staff expertly (and amusingly) modeling an assortment of fashionable clothes and accessories by Jewish designers whose merchandise is currently on sale at Lord & Taylor.
This serene oasis of nature and outdoor fun on 2,000 acres in northwest Montgomery County, Maryland, beckons with the change of seasons. The first official day of spring is next week, and it is followed the following week by Rosh Chodesh Nisan, the first day of Chodesh Ha’Aviv. Our thoughts turn to the beauties of the world around us that awaken with the passing of winter.
At the Visitor Center, which proudly welcomes 35,000 nature lovers annually, pick up a map of the park and its trails and the location of the various amenities.
Before you enter the structure, look for the “open classroom.” To your left, check out the children’s garden, bee garden, bird feeding area and sandbox. Learn how to play the pebble harp. There is even a log garden (inspiration, perhaps, for those who hate mowing their front lawns). To your right, observe the activity in the pond. In the spring, tadpoles and frogs make this their home. Note the shimmering goldfish. They represent the mazal (astrological sign) of Chodesh Adar, dagim (fish). In residence in Little Seneca Lake on the park grounds are largemouth bass and bluegill sunfish. Fish are considered special and beloved by G-d as they did not perish in the flood but survived that cataclysm even though they were outside the confines of the Ark.
Silence. Nine hundred pairs of eyes trained on a troupe of college students clad in shades of blue, white, and black. The beating hearts of those onstage pound with adrenaline and nerves.
And then: deep bass notes penetrate the silence, as Northwestern University’s Shireinu opens Kol HaOlam, the 7th Annual National Collegiate Jewish A Cappella Championship Competition.
Set in the beautiful Charles E. Smith Sanctuary of Adas Israel Congregation, hundreds of individuals from near and far gathered for a night of musical melody and inspiration.
The National Collegiate Jewish A Cappella Championship Competition brought together Jewish collegiate performance groups from around the country. The event also included a special performance from Kol Haolam VI winner Tizmoret and guest Marak Hayom.
The night “represents young people’s opportunity to find joy in Jewish identity,” said Julia Gordon, who co-chaired this year’s Kol HaOlam competition with her husband Geoffrey Berman. “It can be difficult to be Jewish on some campuses these days, and not everyone finds their community in prayer service. [These groups] provide another opportunity for Jewish kids to be Jewish and celebrate their culture.”
“How’s Your Faith? An Unlikely Spiritual Journey” by David Gregory, Simon & Schuster, New York, 2015
David Gregory’s chronicle of his now decades-long “spiritual journey” will inspire many, trouble others, and puzzle more than a few. Whatever the reaction, the author, a former NBC news anchor, sheds light on a significant segment of American Jewry whose destiny will largely determine the nature of Jewish survival in the Land of the Free.
Gregory is the son of a Jewish father and a Christian mother. Raised in the familiar tradition of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur worship, a seder, and a bar mitzvah, he concedes that his adolescence, college years, and early career as a journalist were almost totally devoted to his goal of becoming a TV network news anchor. The product of a broken home, he describes (with her permission) his mother’s ultimately successful long struggle with alcoholism. It was a family trauma which clearly played a part in his growing realization that there were important things in life besides TV news.
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- To My Mother, Roslyn Shor, on Her 16th Yahrzeit
- U.S. Capitol
- Country Band from Nashville Teaches us a Lesson on Social Action
- Power to the Queen, Art Honoring Queen Esther
- Exit: Leah Adler
- Keep Still and Carry On
- George Washington’s Mount Vernon
- Come for the Arts, Stay for Torah at ATARA
- The Story of “Cousin Kirk”