Posts filed under Arts

Hassidic funk band Zusha on a mission to transcend labels

There’s no one label for the deep, spiritual, funky, fun, and eclectic tunes of one of the hottest new Hassidic funk bands, Zusha. “What are we? What are you?” asks band member and guitarist Zachary Goldschmiedt, 24, over coffee in Jerusalem. Yes, they’re Jewish and Orthodox, with long beards and soulful eyes, but that’s where the labels stop. Zusha’s music is tough to define. Some call it hipster, others dub it Hassidic soul. It’s probably a combination of both of those genres. The band is in the midst of an international tour, celebrating its latest and second album, “Kavana,” which means intention in Hebrew. 

Posted on January 15, 2016 and filed under Arts, Features.

What’s that huge white bridal dress floating over the Tower of David?

“What’s that huge white bridal dress floating over the Tower of David?” That’s what visitors to Jerusalem’s Old City asked last week. The wedding gown, created by leading Israeli artist Motti Mizrachi, is part of the 2nd Jerusalem Biennale for Contemporary Jewish Art, an event that blew into town as the Sukkot holiday got underway. Mizrachi, who lives and works in Tel Aviv, created the dress that floats majestically over the Tower of David, the main exhibition site of the Jerusalem Biennale, as part of an installation called “Betrothal.” With exhibits taking over seven of the city’s most interesting public spaces, the Biennale adds a fresh dimension of culture and innovation to the city’s more traditional Sukkot activities.

Posted on September 30, 2015 and filed under Arts, Features, Israel.

Holocaust to Hebrew: cantor’s album bridges generations, genres, families

These are Israeli folk songs as you’ve never heard them before. And that’s exactly the point: Los Angeles-based cantor Elisa Waltzman’s debut album seeks to bridge a gap between traditional Hebrew music sung by her grandfather, a Holocaust survivor, and the musical sensibilities of her kids growing up in the United States. Set to a jazz ensemble, it combines verses remembered by children of the Holocaust with a modern sound familiar to Jews in the English-speaking world. But besides spanning generations, “Reinvented: Hebrew Songs for Families” is a family affair.

Posted on September 24, 2015 and filed under Arts, Features, U.S..

At Jerusalem Film Festival, new year brings new kind of drama

In July 2014 in Jerusalem, sirens over the city at the beginning of the 50-day Gaza war forced the cancellation of the outdoor opening event of the Jerusalem International Film Festival. The festival went on despite several schedule changes and film celebrities who were last-minute no-shows, but the usual festive atmosphere was distinctly muted. This year, the July 9-19 festival was not without controversy, but bore none of last year’s tensions, with both the opening and closing events drawing large crowds at the Sultan’s Pool venue just below the walls of the Old City. This year’s most controversial film was “Beyond The Fear,” a documentary about the personal life of Yigal Amir, who is serving a life sentence in prison for the assassination of former Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. 

Posted on July 22, 2015 and filed under Arts, Features, Israel.

From Haifa to Houston: Israeli ballet dancer makes unlikely dream come true

When Shahar Dori left his Haifa home at age 17 and made a 6,500-mile trip to Montgomery, Ala., to attend a summer ballet program, he was pursuing a dream. But he had no idea where it would lead. Dori, now 23, is the first Israeli ballet dancer to join the Houston Ballet, where he is earning recognition as a rising talent in the fiercely competitive ballet world. His journey from one port city, Haifa, to another, Houston, is a story of hard work, sacrifice, and the generosity and closeness of the Jewish community.

Posted on July 8, 2015 and filed under Features, Israel, U.S., Arts.

Jerry Lewis, legendary Jewish comic and humanitarian, stays relevant at 89

Through appreciation of both his comedy and humanitarian work, legendary Jewish entertainer Jerry Lewis is staying relevant at age 89. The only comic to ever be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, Lewis added another award to his trophy case in April, when he received the 2015 Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of Broadcasters. Best-known for his slapstick humor, Lewis has made arguably as significant of a mark in philanthropy. As former national chairman of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, he raised more than $2 billion and hosted a Labor Day l telethon for more than 40 years. “I think many people in later years associated [Lewis] much more with the telethon than with his comedy. This work makes a perfect companion to his work as a comedian and shows that laughs by themselves are not enough in life,” said Lawrence Epstein, author of “The Haunted Smile: The Story of Jewish Comedians in America.”

Posted on June 24, 2015 and filed under Features, Arts, U.S..