Arts and Culture

Danish Jewish film director behind Oscar documentary winner

Susanne Bier, director of "In a Better World" [Sony Picture Classics]

LOS ANGELES (JTA) — Film director Susanne Bier, whose Danish movie, “In a Better World,” won the Oscar on Feb. 27 for best documentary, is an anomaly. She is a woman director in an overwhelmingly male profession, and she is emphatically Jewish in a country and industry in which… Read more »

Festival of Books bonanza of Jewish authors

In just two years the Tucson Festival of Books has been astonishingly successful: It ranks fourth among book festivals around the United States, with 80,000 book lovers attending last year. The 2011 festival will take place March 12 and 13 on the University of Arizona campus. “What’s unique is… Read more »

Tony winner to lead ATC’s ‘Lost in Yonkers’

Maxx Carlisle-King, Judy Kaye and Ryan DeLuca in Arizona Theatre Company's Lost in Yonkers. (Photo:Tim Fuller/Arizona Theatre Company)

Arizona Theatre Company will bring the Kurnitz family to life in Neil Simon’s Pulitzer and Tony-winning “Lost in Yonkers” Feb. 26 through March 19. Called “the best play Simon ever wrote” by the New York Post, “Lost in Yonkers” chronicles the Kurnitz family’s efforts to stay together during World… Read more »

End of the line for Holocaust-themed films?

LOS ANGELES (JTA) — Is the Holocaust passe for Hollywood and the world’s filmmakers? This is the first year in at least half a century that not a single Oscar or Golden Globe entry has focused on the horrors of the Shoah. Equally ignored, with one peripheral exception, are… Read more »

Tucson Symphony quartet to play music from Terezin as prelude to film

In a scene from the film "Inside Hana's Suitcase," Hana arrives at Auschwitz in October 1944.

Hallonot, Hebrew for windows, is an annual Coalition for Jewish Education program providing windows into different aspects of the Jewish world. CJE has partnered with the Tucson International Jewish Film Festival and the Tucson Symphony Orchestra to present this year’s Hallonot, “Voices and Views on the Holocaust,” which will… Read more »

For Justin Bieber, ‘Scooter’ and the Shema play a major presence

Producer "Scooter" Braun, left, and Justin Bieber in "Never Say Never," a film the recounts the meteroric rise of the young singer. (Courtesy of Paramount Pictures)

LOS ANGELES (JTA) — Is “Never Say Never,” the biographical documentary and concert film that recounts the rise of Justin Bieber, also a message film of “Hear O Israel?” The film, which opens Feb. 11 in wide release, has a genuine Jewish backstory due to the onscreen presence and… Read more »

‘Columbo’ creator to lead off Brandeis mystery/history fest

William Link

The Tucson chapter of the Brandeis National Committee will hold two Book and Author events next month, an evening soiree on Feb. 9 and a lunch program on Feb. 10. Featured authors ­— all with a mystery or history bent — are William Link, Douglas Starr, Rhys Bowen and… Read more »

Jewish moms taking offense to “Tiger Mother”

Amy Chua has drawn a firestorm of criticism over her book "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" and its synopsis in The Wall Street Journal. (Penguin Press HC)

NEW YORK (JTA) — With her take-no-prisoners approach in “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” author Amy Chua has drawn the ire of mothers across America who take exception to the draconian measures she recommends to ensure successful, prodigious offspring. So it’s little surprise that prominent among her critics… Read more »

Gangsta rapper Shyne, now an Orthodox Jew, plans comeback

The rapper Shyne, shown leaning against a pillar in the Old City of Jerusalem, says the tenets of Judaism help him become closer to the kind of person he strives to be. (Dena Wimptheimer)

JERUSALEM (JTA) – It was early on during his difficult, isolated years in prison that the former gangsta rapper known as Shyne decided to formally take on the laws of Judaism as his own. Shyne, who legally changed his name in prison from Jamaal Barrows to Moses Levi —… Read more »

Debating Debbie Friedman’s personal life

NEW YORK (JTA) — A debate among bloggers following Debbie Friedman’s death is raising questions about the obligation of gay and lesbian celebrities to be out front in discussing their sexual orientation. The discussion began with a Jan. 10 post to Jewschool by David Levy lamenting what he described… Read more »

Debbie Friedman, inspired by the last words of Daniel Pearl

(JTA) — Debbie Friedman, the popular singer and songwriter who died Jan. 9, wrote the following for “I Am Jewish: Personal Reflections Inspired by the Last Words of Daniel Pearl,” a collection of writings following the 2002 murder of Wall Street reporter Daniel Pearl. Dear Daniel, This is the… Read more »

OBITUARY: Singer-songwriter Debbie Friedman, inspiration to thousands, dies at 59

Debbie Friedman, Jewish songwriter and performer, dies.

SAN FRANCISCO (JTA) — Over the weekend, as singer-songwriter Debbie Friedman lay dying in a hospital bed in Southern California, the call went out to Jewish congregations around the world to pray for the popular musician. But early Sunday morning Friedman, who composed “Mi Shebeirach,” a popular version of… Read more »

Shabbat in Liverpool: New CD adapts Beatles’ tunes for services

The album cover of Shlock Rock's "Shabbat in Liverpool," which features Beatles' songs set to Sabbath prayers and replicates the Fab Four's famed "Abbey Road" album, was released in December 2010. (Shlock Road)

STAMFORD, Conn. (JTA) — When is it kosher to listen to the Beatles on the Sabbath? When your chazan adapts the Kabbalat Shabbat Friday night service to the melodies of John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Lenny Solomon, the founder of the song-parody group Shlock Rock, employed “nusach Liverpool” for… Read more »

International flair hallmark of 2011 Jewish film festival

The 20th Annual Tucson International Jewish Film Festival, which will run Jan. 20-30, will open with “Who Do You Love,” a behind-the-scenes look at the brothers who started the legendary Chess Records, launching the careers of Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, Etta James, Churck Berry and others. It will be… Read more »

Hit comedy draws on Italian-Jewish Brooklyn heritage

Steve Solomon

Sometimes being Jewish is not enough. Sometimes, you have to be Italian too, to really send you over the edge. To find out more, the AJP interviewed playwright Steve Solomon, author and star of the award-winning show “My Mother’s Italian, My Father’s Jewish, and I’m in Therapy.” The show… Read more »

Pozez lecturer to include Sephardic songs

Susan Gaeta

The Shaol Pozez Memorial Lectureship Series will present a unique event on Monday, Jan. 10 at 7 p.m. at the Tucson Jewish Community Center. Susan Gaeta will meld a talk and performance in “A Sephardic Musical Journey.” Gaeta’s first solo CD, “From Her Nona’s Drawer” (2009), features traditional Sephardic… Read more »

Kevin Spacey portrays disgraced super-lobbyist Abramoff in “Casino Jack”

Kevin Spacey as Jack Abramoff in "Casino Jack" (Photo courtesy of ATO Pictures)

Two-time Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey lifts his fork from his plate of lox and eggs and jabs it in the air. Tucked away in a back booth at Art’s Deli in Studio City, he recounts his monologue from the opening scene of the black comedy “Casino Jack,” which… Read more »

Cirque Dreams, brainchild of a New York yeshiva boy, soars into Tucson

Cirque Dreams founder Neil Goldberg

How did a nice Jewish boy — and Orthodox at that — create a theatrical circus? “Cirque Dreams: Illumination,” featuring swirling acrobatics, dazzling costumes and choreography, will run at UApresents for five shows at Centennial Hall Dec. 10-12. It all started on Broadway for Cirque Dreams creator and director… Read more »