New Podcast: Mark Cohen

Overweight Sensation-CohenMark Cohen, author of Overweight Sensation: The Life and Comedy of Allan Sherman, shares stories and clips from Sherman’s exciting yet brief career.

Hear long-lost parodies of Broadway favorites! Fifty years ago Allan Sherman released his megahit song “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh,” and a comedy legend was born. Sherman changed American comedy and popular culture, bringing ethnicity into the mainstream. Mark Cohen, the leading expert on Sherman, was given exclusive access to Sherman’s papers, recordings and interviews to write this first biography of the groundbreaking song parodist.

Mark Cohen is a writer, editor, and journalist specializing in American Jewish culture. His previous books include Missing a Beat: The Rants and Regrets of Seymour Krim, and Last Century of a Sephardic Community. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

“Allan Sherman was the original. . . . Before Forbidden Broadway, before Weird Al Yankovic, there was Allan Sherman—brilliant wit, satirist beyond compare, and stand-up comic with a melody.”—Jason Alexander, actor

Click to listen (podcast will begin automatically). To download as an MP3, right click and select “Save Link As.”

Mark Cohen Podcast

New Podcast: Walter Mosley

Little Green-MosleyBestselling author Walter Mosley burst onto the literary scene in 1990 with his first Easy Rawlins mystery, Devil in a Blue Dress. His latest, Little Green, the 12th book in the Easy Rawlins series, is an engrossing and atmospheric mystery. Mosley brings his signature grit and panache to this tough-minded exploration of good and evil and the power of guilt and redemption.

Walter Mosley has written over forty books. He is the recipient of the Anisfield Wolf Award, NAACP Image Award, the “Risktaker Award” given by Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute and a Grammy. Mosley presently serves on the boards of The Nation and TransAfrica. Born and raised in Los Angeles, he now lives in New York City.

“Mosley returns here to doing what he does best: setting the pain and pleasure of individual lives, lived mostly in L.A.’s black community, within an instantly recognizable historical moment and allowing the two to feed off one another…. [A] major event for crime-fiction fans.” —Bill Ott, Booklist

Click to listen (podcast will begin automatically). To download as an MP3, right click and select “Save Link As.”

Walter Mosley Podcast

New Podcast: Sayed Kashua

Israeli Arab author and screenwriter Sayed Kashua answers audience questions about his TV show Arab Labor and his satirical newspaper column.

Israeli Arab writer Sayed Kashua is the creator of the hit Israeli TV show Arab Labor. His weekly satirical column in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz addresses the problems faced by Arabs in Israel. We’ll watch an episode from the newly released Season 3 ofArab Labor and talk to Sayed Kashua about the challenges—and opportunities—of being caught between two worlds.

Sayed Kashua is the author of three novels: Dancing Arabs, Let it Be Morning, and Second Person Singular, winner of the Berstein Prize. In 2004 Kashua was awarded the Prime Minister’s Prize in Literature. He is also the subject of the documentary “Forever Scared.”

Click to listen (podcast will begin automatically). To download as an MP3, right click and select “Save Link As.”

Sayed Kashua Podcast

Where Is A Jew?

One reason I love my emails of headlines from the Times of Israel is that every once in a while there’s something so ridiculously cool I don’t quite know what to do with myself.

Of course, I generally feel like I’m the only one who thinks it’s so cool, but I try not to let that small factor affect my overall enjoyment learning about something new. One of my favorite topics to read about is what can be dubbed “Jews from Unexpected Places,” i.e. not places we often associate with Jewish communities, such as the US, Israel, or Europe, which appears every so often at the bottom of the headlines.

Congregation Kahal Kadosh Shaare Shalom is Jamaica's only remaining synagogue. (Courtesy of Congregation Kahal Kadosh Shaare Shalom via JTA)

Today I was clicking my way through the ToI website and found an article about the Jewish community of  Jamaica. I consider myself fairly knowledgeable about Jewish history, including the Jewish migrations to the Western Hemisphere, but I had no clue there was ever a Jewish community in Jamaica, let alone one that is active today in Congregation Kahal Kadosh Shaare Shalom, the island’s only remaining synagogue. Given the long history of Judaism and roles Jews have played as merchants over the centuries, Jewish communities in other places shouldn’t be, well, surprising.

So much of American-Jewish culture (which often means Ashkenazic culture) is focused on Europe and Israel that I think we often forget how much of a global reach Judaism has had. Most of the Jewish-American traditions I know best come from Eastern Europe and New York; and like a lot of American Jews, those are my personal family traditions.

But our knowledge of Judaism should be wider. Last year while in Israel I met a Jew from Kenya, a place I had no idea has a Jewish community at all, let alone a strong one. I read an article in September about the Jewish community of Uruguay. A few months ago I had dinner with a woman who works with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and with a Jewish Community Center in India. A Jewish man from Uganda is studying at the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem this year, and every time I go to the Israel Museum I find at least one object I never would have dreamed of, especially in the Costumes and Jewelry exhibit. And the Washington Jewish Film Festival will be screening a documentary about the Jews of Nigeria. These places have their own traditions, histories, and, of course, food, all made unique by the combination of Judaism and other local customs.

There’s a whole world of Judaism out there to explore, Jewish communities in all parts of the world, and we can honor those communities when we remember:

1)      that Jews are found in cultures all over the world, and speak be’chol lashon – in every tongue!
2)      that Jews come in every color!
3)      not to ask Jews of color if they have converted, or other exclusionary questions.

Though Jews have been living on Jamaica since 1577, maybe even since Columbus’ first trip in 1492, the community is getting smaller; it’s down to about 200 people. But it is a strong, diverse group of Jews by birth and Jews by choice, many of whom have converted back to their family’s Jewish roots. They are maintaining what is possibly the oldest Jewish community in the Western Hemisphere, and a wonderful reminder of the beauty that is the multi-faceted Jewish culture.

Something Beautiful

Grace here.  I wanted to share something beautiful today, so here is this picture from the newspaper.

Jojopic

It’s a picture of Johanna, the director of Apples from the Desert, from today’s Washington Post article about the upcoming Middle East Festival.

I love the picture because it captures so much of the play’s themes of hope, healing, and reconciliation. With all the terrible things that have happened in the news today, I needed to see something that reminded me of all the promise and beauty that exists in the world. I understand that different people find beauty in different things, but here are some more things that I find beautiful, and I hope you do too.

cute-old-cuoples-6

blackfathers12

Gay+Marriages+Begin+California+CBea0_rJdq7l1

uganda-people04

animals,ocean,peace,whales,nature,water-75bf1e946864908dbf7c8478ea02779d_h

Filmmaker Yariv Mozer and the Long Road to Tel Aviv

By Juliet Burch, Washington Jewish Film Festival Coordinator

Most of the time in the WJFF film office we work really hard, producing furrowed brows and beads of sweat with every film program we put on. There are phone calls and emails and negotiations and usually one more phone call. But sometimes we don’t do anything at all and something great falls in our lap. Enter The Embassy of Israel and Yariv Mozer.

The phone rang a week ago and The Embassy asked if we’d like to host filmmaker Yariv Mozer and his new film, The Invisible Men for free. The answer to this question was: YES. Within four hours everything was arranged and, with the immense support and cosponsorship of GLOE , we were scheduled to host an amazing FREE program.

The Invisible Men is about three gay Palestinians who make their way to Tel Aviv to escape persecution and danger, but life in Tel Aviv has its own challenges. To wet your appetite and my own, I found two interesting interviews with Yariv. Here is an excerpt from an interview by Scott Krane published last June in The Times of Israel:

“My interest in people like Louie (one of the film’s three protagonists) began long before I met him. I had always been intrigued by the lives of gay Palestinian men who live kilometers from Tel Aviv, isolated by security fences, checkpoints, and their deeply religious society. However, the political reality of the Occupation never allowed me to meet such men… In 2008, I read ‘Nowhere to Run: Gay Palestinian Asylum-Seekers in Israel,’ a report published by two lawyers from the Tel Aviv University Human Rights Clinic. Their research includes the testimonies of gay Palestinians who had escaped to Tel Aviv… I cried as I read the report again and again. For the first time I learned that there were gay men in Tel Aviv.”

If you’d like to read the complete interview, here is the link:
http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/the-invisible-men-a-documentary-by-yariv-mozer/

My old friend Stuart Hands from the Toronto Jewish Film Festival also interviewed Yariv in 2009 about his film, MY FIRST WAR (it won Best Film there that year). http://tjff09.blogspot.com/2009/05/interview-with-yariv-mozer-director-of.html

Simply put, Yariv’s films are fascinating and he speaks about his subjects with great insight. I’m right: sometimes something great just falls in your lap. Many thanks to the Embassy. I hope you can join us in welcoming Yariv Mozer Sunday October 14, 4pm. For information about the program and how to be a part of it click here.

From Inside the Rehearsal Room- Joshua Morgan

Joshua Morgan

I asked Joshua Morgan – who you might remember from THE CHOSEN (at Arena Stage) – how were rehearsals for OUR CLASS were going.   Joshua will be appearing as Wladek in OUR CLASS.

Enjoy!    ~Becky, Director of Community Outreach & New Media

From Joshua: 

Our Class
Oct 10-Nov 4

“Week two comes to an end!

I’m exhausted! We’ve been reading, singing, dancing and staging like mad and are two days away from our design run. Every day I realize more and more how mammoth this play is and how incredibly lucky we are to be at the hands of Derek Goldman. He cares so deeply about this story and is allowing each of us to bring our ideas, passion and talent to each of these complex people. He has this amazing way of speaking fairly ephemerally about a moment or a character and yet being SO clear. I know exactly what he wants each time he gives me a piece of wisdom about any moment in the play. I trust him and I think that’s allowing me to allow myself to take risks.

This play reads differently on the page than what I’m experiencing. It’s so visceral and full of so much danger, heart, humor and the list goes on. Speaking of humor! We spend a good 40% of rehearsal laughing as an ensemble which is so refreshing and so needed working on this play in particular.

I can’t wait to share it with DC.”

Below are images of dance rehearsal for OUR CLASS:

Dance Rehearsals for Our Class
Dance Rehearsals for Our Class
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