Monday Media: Telegraph Avenue

Attention Michael Chabon Fans!!

Check out NPR’s exlusive First Read of Michael Chabon’s Telegraph Avenue.  You can read or listen to an excerpt of Michael’s magnificent new novel (yes, I’ve read it, and no, I’m not exaggerating) here. Below is a sneak peek:

“Hello?” Gwen called, letting herself in the front door. A small black Buddha greeted her from a low table by the front door, where it kept company with a photograph of Lydia Frankenthaler, the producer of an Oscar­-winning documentary film about the neglected plight of lesbians in Nazi Germany; Lydia’s partner, Garth; and Lydia’s daughter from her first marriage, a child whose father was black and whose name Gwen had forgotten. It was a Chinese Buddha, the kind that was supposed to pull in money and luck, jolly, baby­faced, and potbellied, reminding Gwen of her darling husband apart from the signal difference that you could rub the continental expanse of Archy Stallings’s abdomen for a very long time without attracting any flow of money in your direction. “Somebody having a baby around here?” continued on npr.org…

Michael opens the DCJCC’s Hyman S. & Freda Bernstein Jewish Literary Festival on October 14. Tickets go on sale September 1–don’t get closed out!

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Shabbat Surfing: History

This year marks the bicentennial of the start of the War of 1812 and today marks the 198th anniversary of the Battle of Bladensburg. After defeating the Americans, British troops marched to Washington and set fire to many public buildings (most notably the Capitol and the White House).

Tom Freeman’s painting of the August 24, 1814 burning of the White House by British troops during the War of 1812.

Though there were perhaps fewer than 10,000 Jews living in the United States at the time of the war that inspired our national anthem, Jewish soldiers and volunteers contributed their strength and helped to defend against the British.

Today also marks the centennial of Alaska’s granting of territorial status.  Jews first arrived in sizable numbers during the Gold Rush and set up stores and mining operations. Today’s Alaskan Jews only number about 6,000 but they still have made a their mark on The Last Frontier.

Speaking of frozen… it’s still summer and the season for frozen treats. Did you know that Jews helped launch the craze over premium ice cream? Yum.

Shabbat Shalom!

Why Women’s Voices?

WHY ARE WOMEN’S VOICES IMPORTANT IN ART?

In connection with our production of Annie Baker’s BODY AWARENESS, Theater J is asking women to submit a portrait along with a brief sentence answering the above question.

We would love to hear from ALL woman – artist or not, affiliated with Theater J or not. Men and women alike please share this to the women whose voices you value

About the portrait: This can be whatever encapsulates YOU. Is it the picture where you feel at your best? An image of your cat? Your headshot? A photo of your family? You decide.

Email your name, photo and answer to theaterj99@gmail.com with the subject MY PORTRAIT.

 

Check out some of the fabulous portraits we’ve received thus far!

Book Trailer: One Last Thing Before I Go

Jonathan Tropper’s latest novel, One Last Thing Before I Go, tells the story of Drew Silver, a middle-age divorcee whose life has eroded to such a degree that when he learns that he needs emergency, lifesaving surgery, he makes the radical decision to refuse the operation. He chooses instead to use what little time he has left to repair his relationship with his family, become a better man, and live in the moment, even if that moment isn’t destined to last very long.

Read the book and then come hear Jonathan speak at the 2012 Hyman S. & Freda Bernstein Jewish Literary Festival at the Washington DCJCC on October 21 at 7 pm. He’ll be on a panel entitled Funny Because It’s True: A Panel on Humor and Fiction, along with novelist Lisa Zeidner and Devan Sipher. More information on the festival can be found here. Tickets go on sale September 1.

A Day at the White House, Part 2

By Xani Pollakoff

While tomato seeds dripped down the faces of our two year-old students, Bill Yosses, The White House Executive Pastry Chef, squatted down to show them the inside of a blossoming green pepper. Our curious kids, more engaged than ever, experienced a private tour of a lifetime, one that many families only dream of.

Standing on the narrow path between yellow squash and baby watermelons, the kids, parents and teachers of the Etzim class touched and smelled the herbs, vegetables and fruits growing in the White House Garden. They spent the morning learning about how pumpkin seeds are made, why tomatoes have green leaves at the top, and that much of the fruit and vegetables grown in the garden are from seeds descended from President Jefferson’s garden. Guarded by the quiet presence of three secret service agents, we listened as Bill enlightened us with details about making honey, composting, and how he transforms the plants in the garden into his famous White House pies. The children chimed in with stories of their own growing experiences, including how they carefully watered our own parsley garden inside of the Etzim classroom at the DCJCC over the Passover holiday season.

Our classroom name, Etzim, means trees in Hebrew. Our walls, stories and explorations during this past year have expanded the theme of growing. During the year we sang Tu B’shevat tree songs, used measuring sticks to create an Etzim height chart on our wall, and created a huge classroom tree out of recycled artwork. Our students explored growing when we planted seeds, took care of our very own plants, and observed changes as the plants grew over weeks and months. This most unique and memorable experience gave us a sweet end to a year full of learning.

We used all our senses during our once-in-a-lifetime trip. We tasted the most amazing tomatoes, smelled (and nibbled) lemon verbena leaves, and rubbed our tiny fingers along the flowers of a lavender bush. Our pictures are just small reminders of the huge memories of the most amazing day we spent learning and bonding at the White House!

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Shabbat Surfing: The Ties That Bind

As the Olympic Games are winding down, moments of awe come hand-in-hand with moments of human solidarity. The Jewish community has rallied behind golden girl Aly Raisman not only for her gymnastics prowess, but also for her widespread appeal (not just to Jewish mothers) and maturity that has accompanied her elevation to stardom.

Raisman’s floor routine set to “Hava Nagila” was not the only nod to Jewish heritage to capture the attention of the Jewish community: interest in French swimmer Fabien Gilot’s Hebrew tattoo helped to soften the blow of American defeat in the 4×100 relay. Gilot’s tattoo translates to “I am nothing without them,” and is a tribute to Gilot’s grandfather figure, a Holocaust survivor.

While athleticism serves as a common thread amongst the Olympic athletes in London, the Washington Post reported on a special meeting bound by a very different common thread.  This past weekend Holocaust survivor and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum volunteer Margit Meissner gave a very special tour to Freddy Mutanguha, Rwandan Genocide survivor and director of the Kigali Genocide Memorial. The two first met when 90-year-old Meissner was visiting Rwanda and share an interest in survivor testimony and educating others about preventing genocide.

Tragedy unfortunately brings us together and reaffirms our shared values. Following Sunday’s shooting at a Sikh temple, Milwaukee’s Jewish community has shown great and respectful support to the Sikh community by commemorating the lives lost and reaching out in solidarity.

NASA’s Curiosity rover  successfully made it to Mars and now begins its new phase of discovering the Red Planet. As a “world asset” Curiosity is already sending back incredible photos to satisfy Earthlings’ curiosity.  Despite the fact that the mission is a NASA project, Israeli software played an important part in its success. Software company Siemens develops all of its Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software in Israel and Siemens PLM Israel helped to develop the system “needed to figure out how to ensure that Curiosity could stand up to the harsh conditions on Mars.”

Inside the Actors’ Rehearsal Room

Adi Stein

Adi Stein, currently playing the role of Jared onstage and the role of Theater J apprentice offstage, joins us today with a peek into the rehearsal room for Theater J’s upcoming production of Body Awareness, opening August 25!  Adi says:

Well, rehearsals for Body Awareness are in full swing.  We just finished staging the entire show (which is no small feat considering the fact that a full meal is made on stage in more than one scene) and we are now on to working out and perfecting each moment.

The Rehearsal Room

(the Israel flags aren’t actually part of the play. Those plays come later in the season)

Working on this show is a blast. The cast, director, and stage managers are just hysterical and terrific people who clearly love what they do. It’s one of those super rare situations where all the pieces are just clicking. In the coming weeks I’m excited to start working with the actual set and incorporating our costumes. I can’t wait for people to see what we’ve been creating!

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