Arts and Culture

How ‘Transparent’ is reshaping views of transgender Jews

Jeffrey Tambor, right, with Judith Light in the second season of "Transparent." (Courtesy of Amazon Studios)Jeffrey Tambor, right, with Judith Light in the second season of "Transparent." (Courtesy of Amazon Studios)

LOS ANGELES (JTA) — The prevalence of transgender issues in pop culture seems to have reached a pinnacle this year. Caitlyn – nee Bruce – Jenner appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair. The movie “Tangerine,” which stars transgender actors, took film critics by storm. Director Tom Hooper’s “The… Read more »

Inspiring Jews we lost in 2015

Actor Theodore Bikel arrives at the 55th Annual Drama Desk Awards in New York City, May 23, 2010. (Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)Actor Theodore Bikel arrives at the 55th Annual Drama Desk Awards in New York City, May 23, 2010. (Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

(JTA) — As 2015 winds to a close, we’d like to take a moment to honor the memories of those who we lost over the past 12 months. From remembering lives cut short by senseless, dark tragedies to tributes to revered icons who lived life to the fullest, here are some Jews… Read more »

In ‘Blind Love’ doc, Israelis learn to be witnesses to Nazi cruelty

Participants in the March of the Living walking with their guide dogs. (Yossi Zeilger)Participants in the March of the Living walking with their guide dogs. (Yossi Zeilger)

TORONTO (JTA) — Fingers flit over a tombstone in Warsaw’s Jewish cemetery, caressing its faded Hebrew letters. Feet stumble on pathways at a Nazi death camp, crooked and strewn with stones. Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead, punctures the sound of rustling leaves and hard rain in rural… Read more »

From HBO to Arthur Miller, what a ‘tough guy’ actor learned from his Jewish grandma

Michael Zegen, center, works those biceps in a scene from "A View from the Bridge." (Jan Versweyveld)Michael Zegen, center, works those biceps in a scene from "A View from the Bridge." (Jan Versweyveld)

NEW YORK (JTA) — On a trip to London last year, actor Michael Zegen caught a revival performance of Arthur Miller’s 1955 drama, “A View from the Bridge,” about a Brooklyn longshoreman whose protective impulses toward his niece tilt toward lust. “I had a terrible seat,” he told JTA.… Read more »

The real-life Jewish debauchery behind ‘The Night Before’ Christmas movie

From left, Seth Rogen, Anthony Mackie and Joseph Gordon-Levitt star in Jonathan Levine's "The Night Before." (Courtesy of Columbia Pictures)From left, Seth Rogen, Anthony Mackie and Joseph Gordon-Levitt star in Jonathan Levine's "The Night Before." (Courtesy of Columbia Pictures)

(JTA) — Director and writer Jonathan Levine (“The Wackness,” “50/50”) may have grown up in Jew-centric Manhattan, yet he recalls feeling somewhat like an alien every Christmas. “I don’t think it was malicious,” Levine, 39, says in a telephone interview with JTA. “But, in a way, I felt like an… Read more »

S’mores Brownies

S'mores Brownies (Shannon Sarna)S'mores Brownies (Shannon Sarna)

(The Nosher via JTA) — It’s no great secret that I hate pareve desserts. Or perhaps I should more accurately say I hate bad pareve desserts. Some might even say I have made it my mission in life to dream up pareve desserts that don’t suck. And this brownie recipe… Read more »

The young Jewish chef who made vegan food tasty — long before Beyonce made it cool

Chloe Coscarelli, a winner of "Cupcake Wars," has opened a hip vegan eatery in Manhattan. (Mikey Pozarik/Paperwhite Studio)Chloe Coscarelli, a winner of "Cupcake Wars," has opened a hip vegan eatery in Manhattan. (Mikey Pozarik/Paperwhite Studio)

NEW YORK (JTA) — There’s a buzzy new eatery on the corner of Bleecker and MacDougal streets in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. The restaurant, by CHLOE, is garnering consistently good reviews and attracting slews of young, hip diners. Recently it even hosted the launch of a lingerie-line collaboration between two “it” girls.… Read more »

At 25, Tucson International Jewish Film Festival going strong

The 25th annual Tucson Jewish International Film Festival is dedicated to the memory of Bob Polinsky, a longtime volunteer.The 25th annual Tucson Jewish International Film Festival is dedicated to the memory of Bob Polinsky, a longtime volunteer.

Every time I go to a movie, it’s magic, no matter what the movie’s about. —Steven Spielberg The Tucson International Jewish Film Festival uses that “magic” to promote the preservation of Jewish culture and celebrate cultural diversity. For 10 days, Jan. 14 - 23, the 25th annual festival… Read more »

Body Scripting, ‘Faun’ choreographer’s unique technique, to be Tucson J workshop

Gregg Mozgala (left)  and choreographer Tamar Rogoff in a scene from ‘Enter the Faun,’ which will be screened as part of the 25th Tucson International Jewish Film Festival.Gregg Mozgala (left) and choreographer Tamar Rogoff in a scene from ‘Enter the Faun,’ which will be screened as part of the 25th Tucson International Jewish Film Festival.

When New York choreographer Tamar Rogoff invited Gregg Mozgala, an actor with cerebral palsy, to dance the role of the faun in an original production, they had no idea that their collaboration would lead to a profound and unexpected physical transformation. At the time they met in 2008, Mozgala… Read more »

Itzhak Perlman named winner of 2016 Genesis Prize

Itzhak Perlman at the White House, where he received the Presidential
Medal of Freedom, Nov. 24, 2015. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)Itzhak Perlman at the White House, where he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Nov. 24, 2015. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

(JTA) — Itzhak Perlman, the Israeli-born violin virtuoso, was named the third winner of the Genesis Prize. Perlman was named the winner on Monday of the annual $1 million prize that has been dubbed the “Jewish Nobel.” He joins former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the actor-director… Read more »

3 centuries after excommunication, is it time to lift ban on Spinoza?

Circa 1660, Dutch philosopher Benedicto De Spinoza (1632 - 1677). (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)Circa 1660, Dutch philosopher Benedicto De Spinoza (1632 - 1677). (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

AMSTERDAM (JTA) – More than 350 years after this city’s Portuguese Jewish community excommunicated Baruch Spinoza and banned his writings for eternity, the philosopher’s books are for sale at the souvenir shop of the community’s synagogue. Spinoza, a Dutch-born Jewish philosopher who laid the intellectual foundations of the Enlightenment… Read more »

Gentrification — via gardening — slowly comes to derelict South Tel Aviv

The Onya Collective is behind the new garden in South Tel Aviv. (Gabi Berger)The Onya Collective is behind the new garden in South Tel Aviv. (Gabi Berger)

TEL AVIV (JTA) — The teeming blocks around this city’s New Central Bus Station are anything but scenic. Packed with humanity at every hour of the day, they are dizzying monuments to urban blight: equal parts graffiti, chaotic traffic and bustling, black-market commerce. So on a sunny Friday last… Read more »

Boy Scouts of America seeking more Jewish troops

A Boy Scout saluting the American flag at Camp Maple Dell outside Payson, Utah, July 31, 2015. (George Frey/Getty Images)A Boy Scout saluting the American flag at Camp Maple Dell outside Payson, Utah, July 31, 2015. (George Frey/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (Washington Jewish Week via JTA) — With the Boy Scouts of America’s ban on gay employees lifted this summer, it’s a good time to be pitching scouting to the liberal American Jewish streams. So says Bruce Chudacoff, the chair of the National Jewish Committee on Scouting. A representative… Read more »

‘Fiddler on the Roof’ — and behind the scenes

Choreographer Hofesh Shechter, left, with "Fiddler" cast members at New West 42nd Street Studios. (Lindsay Hoffman/Jeffrey Richards Associates)Choreographer Hofesh Shechter, left, with "Fiddler" cast members at New West 42nd Street Studios. (Lindsay Hoffman/Jeffrey Richards Associates)

NEW YORK (JTA) — Ever since Zero Mostel imagined himself as a rich man in the original 1964 Broadway production, “Fiddler on the Roof” has been a cultural landmark on Broadway and in the Jewish sphere. It’s one of those musicals that always seems to be in rotation. Over… Read more »

How a Jewish trans father inspired a hit series

Jill Soloway, writer and director of "Transparent," filming the second season of the show on set. (Courtesy of Amazon Studios)Jill Soloway, writer and director of "Transparent," filming the second season of the show on set. (Courtesy of Amazon Studios)

(JTA) — Writer and director Jill Soloway grew up in what she calls a “somewhat normalish, upper middle class Jewish household” in Chicago. Her mom was a public relations consultant (she worked for Mayor Jane Byrne) and her dad a psychiatrist. But she always sensed that “something was a… Read more »