Arts and Culture

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 »

Honoring co-founder Karla Ember, Kol Shirah choir lifts voices in song

Cantor Janece Cohen leads members of the Kol Shirah choir at the Tucson Jewish Food Festival on Nov. 7, 2010. (Photo courtesey of Linda Levine)

Cantor Janece Cohen of Congregation Or Chadash, started a new adult Jewish choir in August with her friend Karla Ember, cantorial soloist at Congregation Chaverim. A month later Ember was brutally murdered. Recently, Cohen was considering a name for the new choir. “I thought of Kol Shirah, which means… Read more »

Inspired by mountains, composer/folksinger scores liturgical triumphs

Lori Sumberg

When Lori Sumberg sings her original composition of “Esa Eynai” at the Fourth International Jewish Music Festival on Dec. 5 in New York City, she will take a bit of Tucson with her. Out of more than 350 pieces submitted by composers around the world, Sumberg’s piece was one… Read more »

20 Jewish cantors walk into a church — it’s no joke

Cantor Lauren Bandman of Temple Beth Am in Los Altos, Calif., introduces the first piece in the cantorial concert in Rome -- "Shalom Aleichem," by William Sharlin, Nov. 16, 2010. (Ruth Ellen Gruber)

ROME (JTA) — Can Jewish sacred music sung in a Roman Catholic basilica help relations between Christians and Jews? For the Reform movement’s American Conference of Cantors, the answer is a resounding yes. Twenty Reform cantors from across the United States traveled to Rome this month for just that… Read more »

Beck under fire over Soros comments

Some Jewish groups are saying that Glenn beck, above, went too far with his criticism of George Soros. (Gage Skidmore)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Fox News provocateur Glenn Beck spent several days taking aim at billionaire businessman and philanthropist George Soros, but so far — at least within Jewish circles — the barrage appears to be backfiring. On his radio and TV shows earlier this month, Beck portrayed Soros as… Read more »

Is reform movement going kosher?

SAN FRANCISCO (JTA) — Kosher — it’s the first word in the book. And tackling the “k” word head-on is part of what makes the first Reform guide to Jewish dietary practice so significant. “The Sacred Table: Creating a Jewish Food Ethic,” to be published next month by the… Read more »

Philly museum opens with stars, speeches and plenty of American nostalgia

Barbra Streisand, left, Jerry Seinfeld and Bette Midler were among the stars who gathered for a gala celebrating the new National Museum of American Jewish hisotry, Nov. 13, 2010. (Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

PHILADELPHIA (Jewish Exponent) — Her granddaughter at her elbow, 89-year-old Ruth Sarner-Libros walked slowly through the fourth floor of the National Museum of American Jewish History, drinking in every display. Flashing a broad smile, Sarner-Libros said it was beyond anything she had imagined when she hosted the museum’s first… Read more »

At Thanksgiving, a cornucopia of Jewish sides

NEW YORK (JTA) — The best thing about Thanksgiving is that it invites Americans of all religions and ethnic backgrounds. On the same autumn Thursday, most American families eat turkey and a cornucopia of side dishes. No country has been more welcoming to the Jews than the United States.… Read more »

Crossword puzzle clue to romance in Invisible Theatre’s “2 Across”

Janet (Maedell Dixon) and Josh (David Alexander Johnston) prove opposites do attract in “2 Across.”

In the romantic comedy “2 Across,” now playing at the Invisible Theatre, two strangers meet on a San Francisco BART train. They’re opposites: she’s a pragmatist, he’s a dreamer. She’s Catholic, he’s Jewish. And she does the New York Times crossword in pen, while he does it in pencil… Read more »

UApresents to pair world-class clarinetist, pianist

Menahem Pressler

Clarinetist Richard Stoltzman, a two-time Grammy Award winner, rejoices in the power of music written by the world’s greatest composers, “taking my turn to take those notes and turn them into life.” Stoltzman intends do just that when he performs with pianist Menahem Pressler and the New York Chamber… Read more »

Sue Fishkoff explains: How America came to think ‘K’ is OK

Sue Fishkoff

NEW YORK (Forward) — How did kosher certification grow so popular so fast? With Jews making up less than 2 percent of the country’s population, it seems certain that the answer is rooted in something other than increased religious observance. In her new book “Kosher Nation: Why More and… Read more »

Despite pressure, Pete Seeger won’t cancel participation in Israeli-organized rally

Folk singer Pete Seeger, in green, records a song at his home in Beacon, N.Y., in May 2010 for an Israeli-organized peace rally. He is accompanied by Walker Rumpf on guitar and Rava Institute for Environmental alumni Zack Korenstein and Sarah Schuldenfrei. (Michael Hardgrove)

SAN FRANCISCO (JTA) — No one tells Pete Seeger what to do. At 91, the iconic folk singer has penned hundreds of protest songs, railing against everything from the Vietnam War to global warming. He was blacklisted in the 1950s, he slept under the stars with striking farmers and… Read more »