Arts and Culture

Shining Stars: Russell Wiener

(Courtesy Russell Wiener)

Musician, performer, producer, engineer, director, band member, recording artist … Russell Wiener wears a lot of hats, on stage and behind the scenes, but he seems to like it that way. With 20 years in the Los Angeles music industry under his belt, he’s got a lot to show… Read more »

Shining Stars: Rhonda Karson

Rhonda Karson ended up in Hollywood because she thought she wanted to work in film. But she always had a calling for the stage, and that’s where she has found her muse. Born and raised in Tucson, Karson, the 27-year-old daughter of Cathy and Mitch Karson, got her first… Read more »

Shining Stars: Suki-Rose Simakis

(Courtesy Suki-Rose Simakis)

A winding road led Suki-Rose Simakis to the place she is meant to be and it is literally a world of horror — cinematic horror, that is. She says she has always been a film person, spending lots of time at The Loft Cinema and Catalina Theatre growing up in… Read more »

Shining Stars: Alex Caine

Directly out of college, Alex Caine had a great public relations job that he wound up hating. “I realized I missed performing,” he says. He took a risk, quit that job and headed to Los Angeles three years ago to make a name for himself in comedy. While most… Read more »

Shining Stars: Rachel Saul

(Roy Nuesca)

Some of violinist Rachel Saul’s best memories are of playing classical music at Tucson’s 4th Avenue Street Fair when she was in high school or home visiting from college, with her younger sister, Rebecca, accompanying her on viola. “What a great time that was, just performing together on the… Read more »

Shining Stars: Michael Cooper

(Courtesy Michael Cooper)

Michael Cooper describes Nogales, Arizona, as a small, multicultural melting pot. Nevertheless, he felt like an outsider growing up there. He carries that with him every day as he approaches life in the world’s largest melting pot, New York City. He says the border town lessons about inclusion vs.… Read more »

IT to start season with ‘Absolute Brightness’

David Alexander Johnston in a scene from Invisible Theatre’s production of ‘The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey.’ (Creatista Films, Video and Photography)

David Alexander Johnston plays nine characters in “The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey” by LGBT activist and Academy Award-winning author, James Lecesne, playing at the Invisible Theatre Sept. 4-16. “Absolute Brightness” tells the story of the effect a gay teen’s disappearance has on his community. These are the voices… Read more »

On summer travels in Israel, Tucsonans delight in people, places, studies

(L-R): Garrett Fenton, Matt Landau, Sophia Yatsenko, Monica Montes, and Linnea Dawson in the Old City of Jerusalem at the Western Wall

This summer season marked the 18th anniversary of Birthright Israel, the program that brings Diaspora Jews, ages 18-26, on a free trip to Israel. From May 24-June 4, Bus #1545 carried University of Arizona students along with participants from the University of Southern California, Arizona State University, and San… Read more »

Torah scroll makes its way from Iowa to Paraguay, telling story about modern Judaism

Most of Paraguay’s 1,000 Jews live in Asuncion, where B’nai Jacob’s Torah has found a new home. (Erin Jones-Avni)

One family after another hurried through Erin Jones-Avni’s front door, anxious to get their first glimpse of the new arrival — to admire its ornate silver breastplate and touch its satiny mantle. “People just kept coming, and they’d make a beeline for the Torah,” she told JTA from her… Read more »

‘Crossing Delancey,’ now 30 years old, was the ultimate Jewish rom-com

Peter Riegert and Amy Irving starred in "Crossing Delancey." Riegert played a pickle shop owner on the Lower East Side. (Warner Brothers/Getty Images)

The movies, at least in contemporary times, don’t have enough great stories of outwardly Jewish love. That’s one of the many reasons why “Crossing Delancey,” the classic 1988 romantic comedy that arrived in theaters 30 years ago this week, remains a cinematic treat worth revisiting.… Read more »

Unique museum tells story of Polish family murdered for hiding Jews during Holocaust

The six Ulma children, seen here with their mother during their last summer alive, were killed in 1944 after watching their parents' execution for harboring Jews. (Courtesy of the Ulma Museum)

MARKOWA, Poland — Memorial plaques bearing the names of Poles killed for rescuing Jews line the pathway leading to a small, austere structure built into a hillside in this rural village in southeastern Poland. In the center courtyard, a large slab is inscribed to the memory of Jewish victims… Read more »

Ben Kingsley carried a photo of Elie Wiesel with him while filming ‘Operation Finale’

Ben Kingsley stars as Adolf Eichmann in "Operation Finale." (Valeria Florini / Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures)

LOS ANGELES (JTA) — Ask Ben Kingsley about why he was keen to portray Nazi criminal Adolf Eichmann in the new film “Operation Finale” and he describes the traumatic childhood incident in which he first learned about the Holocaust. The 74-year-old British actor was then in grammar school and… Read more »

This Seattle singer wrote an entire folk rock album on the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Ben Fisher lived for three years across from Jerusalem's Old City, or what he calls the "seam" between Arab eastern Jerusalem and Jewish western Jerusalem. (Kendall Rock)

(JTA) — In 2014, early on in a three-year stint spent living in Israel, songwriter Ben Fisher took a vacation to Japan. Sitting in a hotel room in Tokyo, he spontaneously wrote a song about the founding of Tel Aviv — in about 15 minutes. The story goes that… Read more »