In our March 16 issue, Kol HaBirah reported on the successful launch of Kemp Mill duo Elisha Simkovich and Avi Litwack’s creation, “The Zombie Hagaddah,” available online at zombiehaggadah.com. In honor of the holiday, here is an excerpt from the original interview with the writer and illustrator. Beware: undead spoilers ahead.
Francis Scott Key penned the words to the Star-Spangled Banner during the War of 1812. He was inspired after seeing the flag flying in the dawn over Fort McHenry, proof that the Americans had held their ground. Key was on a ship in the harbor during a night of prolonged and intense British bombardment of the fort. That much is common knowledge.
What is hardly remembered is that among the defenders of Fort McHenry on that historic night were several observant Jewish militiamen. They were scions of Baltimore’s elite Jewish families, among them Mendes Cohen, his brother, Philip Cohen, and Samuel Etting.
“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.
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:
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.”
- Bender JCC and Yiddish of Greater Washington Present: Tevye’ and Friends
- A Very American Spiritual Odessey
- A Painter’s View: Jerusalem, London and Tuscany
- 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