Crossposted from Haaretz
The Jerusalem Book Fair may be the only place where you can get from Russia to India via Angola. With a maze of stands representing publishers both local and foreign (this is Angola’s first showing at the biennial convention) you’ll need a GPS to find your way around, or at least a map, which is the one thing easily found — right when you first walk in.
In a day and a half of wandering around Binyanei Ha’uma, I still haven’t made it beyond the Israeli publishers to the international stands. After passing back and forth a few times before a small stand in the Israel pavilion advertising a book called “Obama’s Secrets,” curiosity won out over the unpleasant expectation that the work would offer proof of the U.S. president’s non-American birth, or his links to the Illuminati, and I stopped to talk with Gil Peretz, the book’s co-author.
Last August, during President Obama’s visit to Martha’s Vineyard, a protest erupted over a T-shirt being sold at the SunStations shop in Oak Bluffs that portrayed Obama as Moe, Vice President Joe Biden as Larry, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as Curly. The caption read: “The REAL Stooges.”
The storeowner said no malice was intended, and pointed to other shirts in the shop that praise the President. For us, however, there was no need to explain, as we see the comparison as complimentary. After all, the Three Stooges, who are being honored on December 13 at the Three Stooges Film Festival in Albany, as well as in a forthcoming Three Stooges Movie, were pioneering geniuses of comedy.
Chicago’s first minyan gathered for Yom Kippur in 1845; before then, the 12-year-old city hadn’t been able to muster a prayer quorum of even 10 men. Yet it was only two years later that Chicago welcomed its first rabbi, the Reverend Ignatz Kunreuther, and its first synagogue.
This history lesson is displayed in the first chapter of “Uncovered and Rediscovered: Stories of Jewish Chicago,” an informative and well-curated new exhibit at the Windy City’s Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies. “Uncovered and Rediscovered” catalogs the foundation and flourishing of Chicago’s Jewish population from the 1830s to the present, using the Institute’s collection to illustrate the story of Chicago Jewry, which at one time was the world’s third-largest Jewish population.
When Nice Jewish Girls Gone Bad first hit the road seven years ago, Susannah Perlman and her troop of comediennes shocked audiences, some into laughter and others into walking out of the theater. The burlesque-inspired show came complete with Star of David pasties, bat mitzvah gags, and the age old question: “What’s in the gefilte fish?” Today, NJGGB is still going strong with new tour dates on the West Coast and fresh new numbers that include a Lady Gaga song and break dancing.
Perlman, the show’s mastermind Jewess, received coverage during the 2008 Presidential election when she hosted shows supporting Barack Obama, who Perlman believed was “earnest with dreams of grandeur.” While some in the Jewish community have lost faith in Obama, Perlman still supports the man she said is trying to make everyone happy. “I had a joke that I went to the inauguration on January 20, I wanted to be out of Iraq on the 21, and have health care on the 22,” Perlman said.
Perlman’s latest endeavor, Bar Mitzvah Jones, premiering in New York City on September 1, is a variety mash-up together with with Royce Peterson from The Heavy Metal Bees Gees Tribute Band. After the show’s premier there will be a short tour on the East Coast.
As their name suggests, Pitom comes on suddenly. On Wednesday night, while pedestrians clustered outside a grungy Lower East Side dive bar ogling President Obama’s motorcade on its way to and from Anna Wintour’s hush-hush fundraiser, the raucous four-piece band took the stage inside and delivered a far more exciting show.
Following the always-delightful Xylopholks, guitarist Yoshie Fruchter and his musicians-in-arms took the stage at The Local 269 and played an intense single set that left the audience stunned. Along with Fruchter, whose sinewy guitar work forms the visual as well as sonic center of the band, Pitom is comprised of violinist Jeremy Brown, bassist Shanir Blumenkranz and drummer Kevin Zubek, phenomenal musicians all.
While more staid listeners might find Pitom’s deeply immersive instrumental music abrasive, its roughness is invigorating rather than jarring. They hardly hold back on the volume, yet each instrument comes across clear, even on a rudimentary barroom sound system.