Lizz Billinson, 30, originally from Virginia and a longtime D.C. resident, added an extra “z” in her name as a child because she wanted to be different. She currently works in human resources at a law firm but continues to embrace her individuality in a her side business, The Twitchy Pixie. The name is a playful nod to her experience of Tourette’s Syndrome at the age of eight. Her parents, the Jewish community, and her teachers at Gesher offered their support and helped shape her positive attitude toward her diagnosis. Since then, she has come to accept Tourette’s Syndrome as an important part of her identity and inspires her clients and customers to “be as weird as they want to be.”
The Washington Jewish Film Festival (WJFF) announced the program for its 27th annual event. The Festival will run from May 17-28 in venues throughout the D.C. area, offering 63 feature-length and 18 short films from 25 countries. In addition to the film program, the Festival will host talkbacks and panel discussions with dozens of filmmakers from the U.S. and abroad.
A few months ago, there was a big tzimmes brewing about whether or not former president Barack Obama was going to be accepted for membership at the prestigious Woodmont Country Club. I had to laugh because it got me thinking of the country club that my family belonged to, Indian Spring. Not only would Indian Spring have gladly accepted President Obama and anyone else he wanted to bring along, they probably would have sent a car to pick him up!
One gray, misty morning in downtown Washington, D.C., a line formed around the circular courtyard of the Hirshhorn Museum. The occasion for the high volume of visitors was the arrival of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s “Infinity Mirrors” exhibit, which will remain in DC until May 14. Having experienced her “Firefly Room” at the Phoenix Art Museum, Kusama quickly became one of my favorite contemporary artists, so I made plans to see her art. And I wasn’t alone.
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.
Spending time exploring new vistas, breathing clean mountain air, contemplating the splendor of a cascading waterfall — what could be healthier? If you are one of those people who finds a long drive to be a great way to clear your head, I have the perfect destination for a terrific daytrip: Blackwater Falls State Park in Davis, West Virginia. The park has earned a “gem” rating from the AAA TourBook, its highest accolade for a tourist site.
As the child of Holocaust survivors, Steven Glucksberg learned nothing if not resilience — but it took a heart attack to change his artistic vision. His latest exhibit at Marin-Price Galleries in Chevy Chase was created with visions he had during his heart attack. This exhibit is monumental in size and demanding in style. Truly heart-felt!
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.
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.
- In Praise of Shemp
- Gesher with a Twist: ‘From Kibbutz to the City’ With Liraz Cohen
- A Master at a Master’s Art: Remembering Cantor Sholom Katz
- Free to See: Black Hill Regional Park
- Not Your Average Selfie
- Kol HaOlam: A Night of Music, Inspiration, and Unity
- 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