Arts and Culture

Michael Douglas: I ‘never felt accepted’ as a Jew

Michael Douglas speaking at the announcement of the Genesis Generation Challenge winners at the Bloomberg Philanthropies headquarters in New York City, April 28, 2015. (Flickr)Michael Douglas speaking at the announcement of the Genesis Generation Challenge winners at the Bloomberg Philanthropies headquarters in New York City, April 28, 2015. (Flickr)

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Michael Douglas hadn’t heard of the Genesis Prize when he found out that he’d won it. In fact, the Oscar-winning actor was surprised to discover he was even in the running for an award designed for those who inspire fellow Jews. His father, actor Kirk Douglas,… Read more »

The Holocaust film that is upending the genre – and other Jewish notes from Cannes

“Son of Saul,” which recreates a harrowing Holocaust experience, garnered nearly universal acclaim at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. (Twitter)“Son of Saul,” which recreates a harrowing Holocaust experience, garnered nearly universal acclaim at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. (Twitter)

(JTA) — Given the long and storied history of the Holocaust film genre, it’s unusual for a new movie on the subject to be lauded as innovative. But the new film “Son of Saul,” the first by Hungarian director Laszlo Nemes, is being called just that. It also was one… Read more »

70 years on, Hitchcock Holocaust doc finds an audience

A still from "German Concentration Camps Factual Survey" showing children smiling through barbed wire as Allied troops approach, April 1945. (Imperial War Museum)A still from "German Concentration Camps Factual Survey" showing children smiling through barbed wire as Allied troops approach, April 1945. (Imperial War Museum)

NEW YORK (JTA) — “This was a woman,” the narrator explains, as the camera pans over a figure so emaciated and burnt that it’s barely recognizable as human. It’s one of the more arresting scenes in “German Concentration Camps Factual Survey,” a highly unusual Holocaust documentary shot and scripted 70 years ago,… Read more »

Israeli Air Force, particularly its scrappy beginnings, inspires 3 films

Al Schwimmer, who guided the vast operation to build Israel's air force, with Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. (Courtesy of Boaz Dvir)Al Schwimmer, who guided the vast operation to build Israel's air force, with Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. (Courtesy of Boaz Dvir)

LOS ANGELES (JTA) — The Israeli Air Force is getting its moment in the spotlight, with two documentaries airing on television stations and at film festivals, while a feature movie waits in the, ahem, wings. The focus of the films is not on today’s highly professional IAF or its astonishing… Read more »

Natalie Portman raps Bibi, hearts Alan Dershowitz

Natalie Portman and her husband, Benjamin Millipied, attend the premiere of 'Thor: The Dark World' on Oct. 23 in Paris. (Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)Natalie Portman and her husband, Benjamin Millipied, attend the premiere of 'Thor: The Dark World' on Oct. 23 in Paris. (Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

(JTA) —Hollywood Reporter’s new cover story interview with actress Natalie Portman may be one of the most heavily Jewish-themed articles the magazine has ever published. In it, the Israel-born Portman, who’s preparing for the May 18 debut of her film adaptation of Israeli author Amos Oz’s “A Tale of Love and… Read more »

In time for Mother’s Day, ‘Heather Has Two Mommies’ author celebrates book’s 25th birthday

The book jacket of the new edition of"Heather Has Two Mommies," which features new color illustrations by Laura Cornell. (Courtesy of Candlewick Press)The book jacket of the new edition of"Heather Has Two Mommies," which features new color illustrations by Laura Cornell. (Courtesy of Candlewick Press)

(JTA) — Leslea Newman’s iconic picture book “Heather Has Two Mommies” had a simple beginning. A woman approached Newman on the street in Northampton, Massachusetts, where she lived at the time, and said her family needed a book to which her daughter could relate. Meaning that she wanted to… Read more »

Met museum’s new president likens role to managing Yanks

HAVERFORD, Pa. (JTA) — Visiting the Memorial de Caen museum in Normandy, France, in 1996, Daniel Weiss was captivated by eight photographs showing the public hanging of three partisans in Minsk, Belarus, on Oct. 26, 1941. The two male victims’ identities were known, but the female was anonymous, and… Read more »

With fewer survivors around, Holocaust education is in transition

BOSTON (JTA) – On a recent morning, a group of seventh-graders in Natick, Massachusetts, was absorbed in a video of Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel’s acceptance speech of the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize. “Why did he win?” asked their teacher, Tracy Sockalosky. She guided the discussion to the importance of remembrance, a… Read more »

Meet the new ‘Jewish Oprah’

Naomi Firestone-Teeter (Courtesy Jewish Book Council)Naomi Firestone-Teeter (Courtesy Jewish Book Council)

(JTA) — On April 1, Naomi Firestone-Teeter became executive director of the Jewish Book Council, which promotes the reading, writing, publishing and distribution of English-language Jewish books. Firestone-Teeter, whose predecessor Carolyn Hessel has been called “the Jewish Oprah” for her success at promoting books, has been working her way up in the organization since graduating from… Read more »

Tucson Festival of Books wows readers for 7th year

Eugene YelchinEugene Yelchin

Who knew seven years ago that the Tucson Festival of Books would rank as one of the top celebrations of authors and reading in the United States? Kudos to its founders, Bill and Brenda Viner, members of the Tucson Jewish community, and Bruce Beach, Frank Farias and John Humenik.… Read more »

Some of Lincoln’s best friends were Jews

The cover of "Lincoln and the Jews: A History," by Jonathan Sarna and Benjamin Shapell. (Courtesy of Thomas Dunne Books)The cover of "Lincoln and the Jews: A History," by Jonathan Sarna and Benjamin Shapell. (Courtesy of Thomas Dunne Books)

(JTA) – A whopping 16,000 books have been written about President Abraham Lincoln. But a new book and an exhibit at the New York Historical Society tell a previously untold story about Lincoln: his relationships with Jews. Benjamin Shapell has been collecting documents relating to Lincoln and the Jews… Read more »

Jewish understudy hopes to enliven Tony Award-winning play

Zander MeisnerZander Meisner

Zander Meisner knows the Tony Award-winning musical “Once” inside and out. In fact, given his unusual position as an understudy for four of the eight male roles in the play, it’s possible that Meisner is more intimately familiar with the show than anyone else, period. Now that the current… Read more »

Passover children’s books: choo-choos, baa-baas and back to Sinai

Twins return to the Egyptian desert in Kimmel's time travel adventure "Scarlet and Sam." (Courtesy of Kar-Ben Publishing)Twins return to the Egyptian desert in Kimmel's time travel adventure "Scarlet and Sam." (Courtesy of Kar-Ben Publishing)

BOSTON (JTA) — When Deborah Bodin Cohen immersed herself in rabbinical school in the early 1990s, she expected to spend a year in Israel as part of her studies with Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. What she didn’t know was that a decade later, the experience of living… Read more »

Woodwind virtuoso Anat Cohen to bring jazz quartet to JCC

Anat CohenAnat Cohen

Israeli-born clarinetist and saxophonist Anat Cohen will bring her quartet to the Tucson Jewish Community Center sculpture garden on March 22 for an evening of jazz under the stars. The concert, hosted by UA Presents, starts at 7 p.m. and will showcase her new CD “Luminosa,” with its Brazilian… Read more »