holidays


 

tel_aviv

 

A couple of months ago I attended in the day care center where my mother-in-law spends her mornings at the party given for her birthday together with the celebrations for other colleagues of her born in February. All of them were aged between 80 and 90 years. The animator of the celebration said some festive words dedicated to the anniversary year of the country, welcoming the generations of celebrated, people who participated (those who were in this country) in the founding of the state and its building during the pioneering years. He asked ‘would those in the generation of the founders 70 years ago believe that our country will get where it arrived?’ and of course he was thinking of the positive aspects. And he was right. Who would have imagined 70 years ago that the scattered and persecuted nation of which one third were murdered in the Holocaust would gather their strength to found again a country in the place from where our ancestors had gone into exile 2,000 years ago? That this country will resist and defeat its enemies in seven successive wars? That it will become a technological and scientific power, a center of culture and education, a place where a large number of citizens feel good enough to position it in statistics as the happiest country in the world?

 

jerusalem

 

He was right, but he had said only half of the truth. I do not blame him, it was a festive moment. But the coin has two faces, and other questions can also be asked. Would the founders of the State of Israel imagine that, after 70 years of existence, we have not yet been able to turn the cease-fires into peace and that we can not even promise to their children or grandchildren that they will no longer have to serve in the military? That a president of the State of Israel will be sent to prison for rape, and a prime minister for embezzlement, that much of a generation of politicians are investigated under suspicions of bribery and corruption? That the democratic values ​​of the state are under attack by the very people who were sworn to serve in order to promote and defend them? That one part of the population will try to impose upon the others their vision on a way of life that the previous generations kept firmly, but also with compassion and tolerance? That the descendants of the nation who has been persecuted, exiled and marginalized in 2000 years of history will close their eyes and borders to the sufferings of others, and condemn them to exile instead of sheltering them?

 

haifa

 

70th anniversary is a festive moment. But the celebrations must last only a day or two, and they can not be limited to songs, dances and parades. Zionism is a way of life, it means tradition and values ​​to be lived. The reality – and perhaps this would also amaze the founders – is that although the country of the Jews is 70 years old and although the gates are now open to most of them, more than half of the world’s Jews chose not to live here, and even some of its inhabitants, even some born here decided to go to other places. Maybe it’s normal, maybe it’s a good sign. Perhaps we are condemned to eternal Zionism, and perhaps this is not such a bad thing in the open and dangerous world we live in. Anyway, I think those who live here have to resist the nationalist and messianic instincts, the myths of superiority, the tendency to dictate to neighbors how to live their lives. A tolerant and democratic Israel, where different people can feel at home, where all Jews can live their own Jewish way, where all citizens can be what they are and first of all equally likely to be happy – this is the model that the generation of founders had in mind.

 

nord

 

tel_aviv

 

Cu două luni în urmă am participat la căminul de zi unde își petrece soacra mea diminețile la sărbătorirea zilei ei de naștere, împreună cu alți colegi născuți în luna februarie. Toți sunt ca vârstă între 80 și 90 de ani. Animatorul serbării a ținut să spună câteva cuvinte festive dedicate anului aniversar al țării, salutând generațiile sărbătoriților, oameni care au participat (cei care se aflau în țară) la întemeierea statului și construcția sa în anii de pionierat. Spunea animatorul ‘ar fi crezut cei din generația de acum 70 de ani că țara noastră va ajunge unde a ajuns?’ și se gândea desigur la aspectele pozitive. Și avea dreptate. Cine și-ar fi imaginat acum 70 de ani, că poporul risipit și prigonit din care o treime pierise în cenușa Holocaustului își va aduna forțele pentru a dobândi o țară în locul de unde plecaseră în exil strămoșii noștri acum 2000 de ani? Că această țară va rezista și va învinge în șapte războaie succesive? Că va deveni o putere tehnologică și științifică, un centru de cultură și educație, un loc în care o mare parte din cetățeni se simt destul de bine pentru a-l poziționa în statistici ca fiind cel mai fericit din lume?

 

jerusalem

 

Avea dreptate, dar nu spusese decât jumătate din adevăr. Nu îl acuz, era un moment festiv. Dar moneda are două fețe, și pot fi puse și altfel de întrebări. Și-ar fi închipuit întemeietorii statului Israel, că după 70 de ani de existența, încă nu am reușit să transformăm armistițiile în pace și că nu le mai putem promite nici copiilor și nici nepoților că nu vor mai trebui să presteze serviciu militar? Că un președinte al satului va sta la închisoare pentru viol, și un prim ministru pentru delapidare, că o mare parte dintr-o generație întreagă de politicieni se află în anchete pentru corupție? Că valorile democratice ale statului se află sub atac și în eroziune tocmai din cauza celor care ar trebui să le promoveze și să le apere? Că o parte a populației va încerca să impună celorlalți modul lor de viață pe care generațiile precedente l-a păstrat cu fermitate, dar și cu compasiune și toleranță? Că poporul care a fost prigonit, exilat și marginalizat în 2000 de ani de istorie va închide ochii și granițele la suferințele altora și îi va condamna la exil în loc să le ofere adăpost?

 

haifa

 

A 70-a aniversare este un moment festiv. Dar festivitățile trebuie să dureze doar o zi sau două, și ele nu se pot limita doar la cântece, dansuri și parade. Sionismul este un mod de viață, înseamnă tradiție și valori care trebuie trăite. Realitatea – și poate nici asta nu ar crede întemeietorii – este că deși țara evreilor există de 70 de ani și deși porțile sunt astăzi deschise pentru majoritatea dintre ei, mai mult de jumătate din evreii lumii au ales să nu trăiască aici, și chiar și o parte dintre cei ajunși sau chiar născuți aici decid să plece în alte locuri. Poate că este firesc, poate că este un semn bun. Poate că suntem condamnați la un sionism etern, și poate că acesta nu este un lucru așa de rău în lumea deschisă și periculoasă în care trăim. Oricum, cred că cei care trăim aici trebuie să rezistăm instinctelor nationaliste și mesianice, miturilor de superioritate, tendinței de a dicta vecinilor cum să-și trăiască viața. Un Israel tolerant și democratic, în care cei diferiți se pot simți acasă, în care toți evreii își pot trăi evreitatea cum doresc, în care toți cetățenii pot fi ceea ce sunt cu șanse egale de a fi fericiți – acesta cred că este modelul pe care l-au avut în minte cei din generația intemeietorilor.

 

nord

This is the week of the Independence day or in other words of the birthday of Israel according to the Jewish calendar. I decided to offer each day this week on my Facebook wall and in a few Facebook groups a short presentation and some music played by Israeli jazz musicians. While researching on youTube for this purpose I found a few variations on the theme of the national anthem ‘HaTikhvah’ (‘The Hope’). I dedicated an article a few years back to this topic, now I am adding some new versions added on youTube in the last few years and one classic that I discovered. I must confess that I am some kind of a fan of this niche genre. This started more than 45 years ago when I listened to Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Star Spangled Banner’ played live at Woodstock. I deeply believe that anthems are not dead songs, they are precious to many people, and they should not be played only by military bands.

 

(video source OliveJazz31)

 

The first interpretation belongs to pianist Yaron Herman, whom I presented yesterday on Facebook. Yaron lives in Paris and his ‘HaTikhvah here was played together with saxophonist and composer Emile Parisien at the Maison de la Radio in Paris on September 25, 2012 and broadcasted on France Musique Radio the same day.

 

(video source Zamir Daniel)

 

The next one belongs to saxophonist Daniel Zamir and mixes hip-hop and jazz.

 

(video source illanIRISH)

 

US-born Lazer Lloyd is a fine guitarist. He now lives in Israel and plays great music – mostly blues. Here is his version of the anthem.

 

(video source jaywilton)

 

Eugene Marlow’s The Heritage Ensemble is a contemporary world music quintet that records and performs mostly Eugene Marlow’s original compositions and arrangements of Hebraic melodies in various  jazz, Afro-Caribbean, Brazilian, and classical styles. This beautiful jazz interpretation of ‘Hatikva’ is taken from the album ”Making the Music Our Own’(2006) with Eugene Marlow(p), Darmon Meader (alto and soprano sax), Norm Lotz(b), Gary Schwartzman(g), Barry Altshul(d)

 

(video source LES GLASSMAN)

 

Here is how HaTikhvah sounds on the streets of Jerusalem played by organist Isaac Kissel.

 

(video source AntinousIsGod1)

 

Here the ‘classic’. You may remember the name Al Jolson  for his leading role in the first (full length) talking movie ever made, ‘The Jazz Singer’, released in 1927. He is considered the “first openly Jewish man to become an entertainment star in America”. His career lasted from 1911 until his death in 1950, during which time he was commonly dubbed “the world’s greatest entertainer”. According to the St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, “Jolson was to jazz, blues, and ragtime what Elvis Presley was to rock ‘n’ roll”. Here is his rendition of HaTikhvah sang with a beautiful Ashkenazi intonation.

 

 

source https://www.1stdibs.com/art/prints-works-on-paper/salvador-dali-hatikvah/id-a_113778/

source https://www.1stdibs.com/art/prints-works-on-paper/salvador-dali-hatikvah/id-a_113778/

 

I am adding to this collection of musical pieces the lithography that Salvador Dali dedicated to HaTikhvah – plate 16 of his series “ALIYAH, THE REBIRTH OF ISRAEL”. The series were commissioned by Samuel Shore, the head of Shorewood Publishers in 1968, for the 20th anniversary of the Independence Day. They were presented in the comprehensive exhibition of Dali’s works which was exposed in Haifa a few years ago.

 

Happy Birthday, Israel!

 

It’s holidays season again. I was on the road until the eve of Rosh HaShannah, so I am a little late with my festive post for the beginning of 5776. Not too late I hope, as there is a full year minus a couple of days to go. For this start of the year I chose to present you with a list of seven beautiful synagogues all built in the last 60 years in Europe, North America and Israel, with pictures and information that show that synagogues building is a living art combining tradition and modernity, faith and engineering, part of the living landscape of contemporary Judaism. Seven synagogues like the seven days of the Creation.

 

(sursa fotografiei: http://www.interiordesign.net/projects/detail/1683-contemporary-worship-ulm-synagogue/)

sursa fotografiei: http://www.interiordesign.net/projects/detail/1683-contemporary-worship-ulm-synagogue/

 

The Ulm Synagogue is built in a German city with an ancient tradition of Jewish life. The presence of Jews is documented in Ulm since the middle ages, with ups and downs as in many other places in Europe. Jews in Ulm are mentioned as paying taxes since the times of Louis the Bavarian (14th century) and this is also one of the first places where traditional antisemitic libels (‘the poisoning of wells’) showed up. In modern times the history of the community included achievements and expulsions, segregation and the birth as famous figures like Albert Einstein. The synagogue in Ulm combines religious and social functions in a cuboid structure designed by Susanne Gross. It stands close to the place of the older synagogue destroyed by the Nazis during the Kristallnacht.

 

sursa fotografiei: http://eja.pri.ee/Religion/Uus%20synag2_en.html

sursa fotografiei: http://eja.pri.ee/Religion/Uus%20synag2_en.html

 

The New Synagogue in Tallin was initiated in the 1990s when Estonia opened to the world, including Jewish tourism in one of the locations where Jewish life flourished in Europe before the Holocaust. The construction company “Kolle” executed the work of the building which includes other institutions relevant to Jewish religious life like a kosher restaurant and ritual bath.

 

sursa fotografiei: http://urbipedia.com/index.php?title=Sinagoga_Beth_Sholom

sursa fotografiei: http://urbipedia.com/index.php?title=Sinagoga_Beth_Sholom

 

Crossing the ocean to the United States we find in Chicago one of the most remarkable designs of its kind – Frank Lloyd’s Wright Beth Sholom (Beit Shalom). The pyramidal structure was designed between 1954 and 1958 , its structure with wire glass on the outside and translucent plastic panels inside attracts and captures the light and integrates the geometrical forms with the world outside. The form reminds the structure of the wooden synagogues in the 17th century in Eastern Europe, while the interior with its central ‘bimah’ (podium) was the result of many debates between the the famous architect and rabbi Mortimer Cohen who led the Conservative congregation that built the structure in the 1950s.

 

sursa fotografiei: http://fineartamerica.com/featured/civic-center-synagogue-now-the-synagogue-for-the-arts-steven-spak.html

sursa fotografiei: http://fineartamerica.com/featured/civic-center-synagogue-now-the-synagogue-for-the-arts-steven-spak.html

 

The synagogue in Tribeca, New York, was designed by William N. Berger, completed in 1967 and is also called The Synagogue of Arts. Its undulating facade and curved structure integrates in an elegant manner in a district that is populated with artists and liberal professionals, many of them non-religious and non-affiliated Jews. The programs combine the religious, cultural and social activities trying to be inclusive and open as the environment the community lives in.

 

sursa fotografiei: http://www.cubanhebrew.com/

sursa fotografiei: http://www.cubanhebrew.com/

 

A special history also characterizes the Cuban Hebrew Congregation of Miami and its synagogue, the Temple Beth Shmuel completed by Oskar Sklar in 1982. Many of the Jews in Miami are at the origin or descending from the refugees from Cuba who arrived in Florida in the early 1960s. It’s the social, cultural and philanthropic center of Jewish life in the Southern part of the city.

 

sursa imaginii: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cymbalista_Synagogue_and_Jewish_Heritage_Center

sursa imaginii: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cymbalista_Synagogue_and_Jewish_Heritage_Center

 

The campus of the Tel Aviv University is one of the most original centers of modern architecture in Tel Aviv.  The double scroll structure designed by architect Michael Botta built in 1997-1998 is one of the most striking achievements with its external walls of apparent brick that seem to bring to life atemporal shapes and structures.  Located in the same area as the Diaspora Museum the building hosts the Cymbalista Synagogue and the Jewish Heritage Center.


sursa imaginii: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3605459,00.html

sursa imaginii: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3605459,00.html

 

The Megillat Or Synagogue is located in Caesarea, an ancient city which was at the peak of its glory during King Herod’s time and is developed today in a community of the riches of Israel. The scroll theme is present here as well in the design of architect Knaffo Klimor, as well as the integration with the Mediterranean landscape – the blue skies, the white sands and the green lawn around with their strong colors accommodating well the white walls and the elegant and surely sketched curved lines.

 

Rosh HaShannah – The Jewish New Year – is a universal holiday. We actually celebrate the birthday of the Universe. To all my friends – Shana Tova, A Good New Year!

 

Jewish artists played an important role in the development of the Romanian art, and artists from Romania played an important role in the history of Israeli art. For the Israeli Independence Day I chose to present a short selection of Israeli artists (painters and sculptors) who were born in my native Romania. Some have brought an important contribution to the development of the Israeli artistic movement and acquired fame both in Israel and world-wide. A few are still active today, and of course, I must have missed many.

I chose one work from each of the eight artists in this list. This is certainly only a specific section of the complex universe of the Israeli art, a proof of its diversity, and a testimony of the path artists born in Romania melded the education and traditions of their native country into the melting pot of the Israeli art.  This is an invitation for entering the worlds of each of these artists and for adding more names to the list.

Happy Independence Day! Hag Atzmaut Sameakh!

The list cannot begin with another name than …

 

source http://jancodada.co.il/pages.asp?id=175&lan=100

source http://jancodada.co.il/pages.asp?id=175&lan=100

 

Marcel Janco

(or Marcel Iancu) as the Romanians spell his name. By the time when he reached the shores of Palestine under British Mandate in 1941, Janco was a well-known artist who has contributed to the birth of the European avant-garde and specifically of the Dadaist movement, and a famous architect with tens of buildings designed in Romania (some of them can still be visited in specialized tours in Bucharest). He also was a Jew running for his life from the continent that had fallen under fascism which did not spare Romania, at that time under the rule of the Iron Guard and of nationalist and antisemitic dictator Ion Antonescu. He re-created himself in Palestine and then Israel, started to paint in a new palette and vision, and founded the artists community in the village of Ein Hod, which continues until today.

 

source http://www.israelartguide.co.il/activities/tel.shtml

source http://www.israelartguide.co.il/activities/tel.shtml

 

Reuven Rubin

Born in Galati in a religious family, Rubin came for the first time to Palestine (still under Ottoman rule) in 1912 and was a student at the Bezalel Academy founded by Boris Schatz. He was not very happy with the academic approach of his teachers, and continued his studies in Paris, returned to Romania during the First World War, then came for good to Israel in 1923. His portraits and landscapes are exquisite, as witnessed by the beautiful ‘Safed’ dated 1938. He became part of the Tel Aviv intellectual and art circles, and after the foundation of Israel in 1948 was the first official Israeli diplomatic envoy (minister) to Romania.

 

source http://www.mutualart.com/Artwork/SELF-PORTRAIT/EA86709D73DF83D7

source http://www.mutualart.com/Artwork/SELF-PORTRAIT/EA86709D73DF83D7

 

Avigdor Arikha

I first encountered a large selection of Arikha’s works at the British Museum to whom he had donated about 100 of his works for an exhibition. A few years later a big retrospective was organized at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art bringing back into the center of the attention an Israeli artist who was living abroad for about half a century. Born in Radauti, he was deported during the war to Transnistria, where his father died. His drawings as a teen who had seen death and horror attracted the attention of the Red Cross that saved his life and brought him to Palestine in 1944. As Rubin (but many years later) he first studied at Bezalel, and then in Paris. His career can be divided into two: a first abstract period and a second figurative in which he painted mostly portraits and especially self-portraits like the one here.

 

DSC05559

Tuvia Juster

In a few days there will be ten years since Tuvia Juster passed away. Born in 1931 in Braila, Juster studied in Bucharest and was influenced by the works of Constantin Brancusi, one of the greatest artists of the 20th century. His work is in danger to be forgotten here in Israel. Only one exhibition was organized at Ein Hod, the artists village founded by Janco, where Tuvia Juster also had his home. A larger retrospective would put his works and contributions to the Israeli art at their right place. I hope that this will happen rather sooner than later.

 

source https://iamachild.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/portrait-of-a-smiling-boy.jpg

source https://iamachild.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/portrait-of-a-smiling-boy.jpg

 

Sandu Liberman

A few decades ago the name of Sandu Liberman was quite well known. Born in Iasi in 1923, he studied in Romania and was well known especially as portraitist, until 1962 when he came to Israel. He continued his activity here, painting portraits and scenes from the traditional Jewish life. His best works as this ‘Portrait of a Smiling Boy’ show empathy and skill in rendering the feelings of his subjects, and continuity with the portraits tradition in the Romanian art he grew in as an artist.

 

source http://www.judaica-mall.com/shlomo-alter.htm

source http://www.judaica-mall.com/shlomo-alter.htm

 

Shlomo Alter 

Shlomo Alter’s parents owned a restaurant in Romania and his first drawings described the atmosphere of that place. He came in Israel in 1948 at the age of 12, and oscillated between art (student of Aaron Avni and of Janco) and engineering, to dedicate himself completely to painting after 1975. His works are beautifully colored in the tradition of the fauvism, while representing the local landscape in a pseudo-naive manner.

 

 source http://www.midnighteast.com/mag/?p=6347

source http://www.midnighteast.com/mag/?p=6347

Philip Rantzer

Born in 1956 (in some sources I found 1958 as his year of birth) Philip Rantzer came to Israel as a small child, so all his education and formation as an artist happened here. He had tens of exhibitions in Israel and all over the world, represented Israel at the Venice Biennale in 1999, and exposed amng many other places in Bucharest, at the Musuem of Contemporary Art in 2003. I picked to show here his ‘Big Cart’ work because he is combining in it the theme of the Wandering Jew with a landscape which is maybe Jaffo, or maybe a more generic shtetl.

 

 

source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belu-Simion_Fainaru

source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belu-Simion_Fainaru

 

 

Belu-Simion Fainaru

Born in Bucharest in 1959, Belu-Simion Fainaru came to Israel in 1973. He studied at Haifa and continued with studies in art in Italy and Belgium. He lives and works in Belgium and Israel. His earlier work ‘Sham’ (‘There’) from 1966 represents one stage in the evolution from monumental sculpture to the mixed media objects. He exposed in Israel, Romania, other countries in Europe. In 2015 he founded AMOCA – the Arab Museum Of Contemporary Art in Sakhnin (an Arab town in Israel) the first of its kind here, promoting co-existence between Arab and Jewish communities, opening gates for art that is inclusive and collaborative.

Purim is the first spring festival in the Jewish tradition. It celebrates a victory of the Jews and their survival against an evil enemy about 2500 years back, and has borrowed in time elements from the spring festivals and carnivals of many other people among which Jews lived during history, including carnivals with masks and costumes. My festive posting for Purim this year is about Jews and Masks.

 

source http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/oldest-known-masks-in-the-world-on-display-in-israel/2014/03/13/

source http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/oldest-known-masks-in-the-world-on-display-in-israel/2014/03/13/

 

The tradition is ancient in this area of the world. An exhibition at the Israel Museum last year presented some of the oldest masks in the world from the Neolithic period made of limestone, which were found in the Judean Desert.

 

source https://www.pinterest.com/janmccraw/masks/

source https://www.pinterest.com/janmccraw/masks/

 

The tradition of using masks and wearing costumes on Purim probably dates from the 15th century and was inspired by carnivals like the one in Venice, Yet, Jewish creativity left its trace and led to the creation of many masks remarkable in beauty and adapted to the Jewish themes.

 

source http://www.artmitoo.com/2014/12/13/israeli-natural-haven-in-ein-hod-established-by-jewish-artist-marcel-janco-nurtures-artists/

source http://www.artmitoo.com/2014/12/13/israeli-natural-haven-in-ein-hod-established-by-jewish-artist-marcel-janco-nurtures-artists/

 

Romania-born Marcel Janco was one of the founders of the Dadaist movement and of the European 20th century avant-garde. He came to Israel as a refugee after the breaking of WWII, and became one of the important painters of Israel and founder of the artists colony at Ein Hod. A beautiful mask created by Janco can be admired today in the Janco-Dada Museum in Ein Hod.

 

source http://jewishmuseum.net/ninth-annual-purim-mask-invitational/

source http://jewishmuseum.net/ninth-annual-purim-mask-invitational/

 

The Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art in Tulsa, Oklahoma organizes each year a festival around Purim inviting works from pupils in schools in the area. Here is the poster of this year’s event

 

source http://artodyssey1.blogspot.co.il/2009/11/alex-levin-alex-levin-comes-from-kiev.html

source http://artodyssey1.blogspot.co.il/2009/11/alex-levin-alex-levin-comes-from-kiev.html

 

To end here is a beautiful work by Alex Levin – an Israeli artist born in Kiev, Ukraine.

Hag Purim Sameakh! 

A Happy Purim!

The holiday of Sukkot arrived, with it the first (kind of) rain over the Land of Israel, and here is my traditional holidays posting.

Jews are considered, right or wrong, quite a musical people. I have dealt in past postings with different aspects of Jewish music and musicians, from the traditional instruments and traditional music played at the Jewish holidays to the contemporary Israeli music. Let me introduce you today to another subject, which is ‘Jewish rockers’ or ….

 

    source http://urbanmilwaukeedial.com/2014/05/12/arts-roundup-jews-who-rock-and-role-model/

source http://urbanmilwaukeedial.com/2014/05/12/arts-roundup-jews-who-rock-and-role-model/

 

… in the words of the Jewish Museum in Milwaukee ‘Jews Who Rock’ which was the name of an exhibition organized at the museum this year. Jews are (they say, as they do not know me) talented musicians. They also tend to rebel and join and some even lead protest or even revolutionary movements. So it is only natural to find Jews among the rockers. We all know the big names, Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Barbra Streisand, solo singers who are Jewish, or were born Jewish, or are of Jewish descent. Now I will deal with Jewish musicians who were or are playing of rock bands. You may know some of them, and you may discover some.

 

 

 

(video source Sammy04)

Gene Simmons  is one of the several Jewish musicians in Kiss, the American hard rock band formed in 1973 and still active. He was born in 1949 in Haifa, Israel as Chaim Witz, the son of Holocaust survivors. Here he is in a memorable bass solo.

 

Original rhythm guitarist and vocalist for Kiss, Paul Stanley was born Stanley Harvey Eisen in 1952. He told Tom Snyder in 1979 that when growing up, he was the only Jewish kid in an all Irish neighborhood. ‘Tonight You Belong To Me’ is one of their well known musical pieces.

 

(video source DreamyLadyify)

 

T-Rex lead singer and guitarist Marc Bolan was born Mark Feld, son of a Polish Jew who settled in England. The group was extremely popular at the end of the 60s and the beginning of the 70s, but their popularity decreased by the mid-70s, and the group split after Bolan died in a car accident in 1977.

Dire Straits was formed the year Bolan died and T-Rex disbanded by Mark Knopfler and his brother David. They were raised in Scotland and their father Erwin Knopfler was a Hungarian Jew who flew the Nazis in 1939. Here you can see Dire Straits performing ‘Tunnel of Love’ at Wembley in 1985.

(video source blonde442)
Vocalist Debbie Harry is the image and and guitarist Chris Stein is the sound of Blondie . Stein was born in Brooklyn, to Jewish parents. The piece above is called ‘No Exit’ in a live acoustic version.

(video source cheffuch)
Born in California in a Jewish family Susanna Hoffs was a guitarist in the all-female band The Bangles, one of the successfull bands in the 80s. Here is one of the great hits of the band – ‘Walk Like An Egyptian’
I hope that you enjoyed this review of Jews who Rock. There are, of course, many more. I did not include – on purpose – the Israeli rock bands. I have written and maybe I will write about them in other postings.
Hag Sukkot Sameakh! A Happy Sukkot!

The traditional Rosh Hashanah posting on The Catcher in the Sand is dedicated this year to the shofar. Jews are (among other things) a nation of musicians and they have been so since the oldest times. King David is said to have introduced music in the religious rituals and some of the oldest musical instruments have their origin in the land of Israel or around. None of them however is that much related to the Jewish holidays and specifically to the New Year and Yom Kippur as the shofar.

 

sursa imaginii http://www.jewlicious.com/2011/08/shofar-its-that-time-of-the-year/

sursa imaginii http://www.jewlicious.com/2011/08/shofar-its-that-time-of-the-year/

 

The shofar is a traditionally made of the ram’s horn. The sound is modulated using the blower’s lips. I have no personal experience, but it looks like it takes both strength and skills to create meaningful sounds. It is mentioned many times in the Bible, the first time in the Book of Exodus, around Mount Sinai.

 

(video source G-dcast – Meaningful Jewish Screentime)

 

Let us first remember the significance of Rosh HaShana, the Jewish New Year and the role of the shofar. Today it announces the start of the High Holidays in the synagogue services.

 

(video source James Barbarossa)

 

There are four traditional Jewish shofar calls or blasts. Here they are explained by Jim Barbarossa, whose trip in Israel in 1996 triggered the passion for the instrument, which now he masters to the point he is surnamed The Shofar Man.

 

(video source partytown2)

 

Here is how actually the shofar sounds during the Rosh HaShannah service in a synagogue.

 

(video source Meira Warshauer)

 

The usage of the shofar is not limited however to the Jewish religious services. Musicians took the instrument, experimented, and created in different musical genres. Here is an excerpt (#2) from Tekeeyah (a call), Concerto for Shofar, Trombone, and Orchestra by Meira Warshauer. (Copyright Meira Warshauer 2009)

 

(video source rodneynewton1)

 

Lighter genres did not avoid the shofar either. Here is Phil Driscol playing the shofar in a trumpet style.

 

(video source George Payne)

 

Closing the cycle here is Randy Spencer playing the instrument in a spiritual, world music genre.

 

(video source Thewhatsupband)

 

To end with here is a Rosh Hashanah parody song ‘Blow Shofar’ by The Shlomones. There is little shofar sound here, but a lot of talk about it.

 

Shana Tova! A Good Year, with good health and sweetness in your lives!

The traditional Passover posting on The Catcher is this time about the Passover movies. There are not too many movies dedicated to the Passover history or even to Passover nowadays, and I am wondering why. The Exodus is one of the fundamental myths of mankind and of the culture some call Judeo-Christian  (I am not crazy about this syntagma, but this is a different subject) – it is about national and religious identity, about slavery and freedom, and the story includes several fascinating characters. I am of course referring to Moses and Ramses, but also to those who gather around the Passover Seder table each year. Yes, that aunt too :-) So, not too many films but a few memorable ones, and at least one in the making which will be added to the list sometime later this year.

 

source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ten_Commandments_%281923_film%29

source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ten_Commandments_%281923_film%29

 

One of the first notable productions belongs to the era of the silent movies and was produced and directed by Cecil B. DeMille in 1923. His first The Ten Commandments included a prologue with the Biblical story and a ‘modern’ story inspired by it. Some of the scenes in the prologue where filmed in Technicolor, one of the first big screen attempts of using this technology.

 

(video source MoviesHistory)

 

It is however the second, 1956 version of The Ten Commandments directed by  Cecil B. DeMille that became famous. Its cast included Charlton Heston (Moses), Yul Brynner (Rameses), Anne Baxter (Nefretiri), Edward G. Robinson (Dathan). It was filmed on location in the Sinai Desert, and was nominated to seven Academy Awards, eventually receiving only one. It made it however for perpetual TV programming in the holidays season.

 

(video source skinnyalley)

 

You will find a somehow different perspective of the story in Mel Brooks’ History of the World, Part I made in 1981, where Moses is the first of the five characters imagined and played by Brooks in his comical alternate version of the history of mankind.

 

(video source JB91283)

 

Passover is not only history but also a yearly reality for Jews who spend that one night of the year remembering (or not) the Bible, reading (or mostly not) the Hagadah, meeting (happily or not) with the family, and eating (yes, this for sure). ‘Crimes and Misdemeanors’, one of Woody Allen’s films I love most includes a wonderful Seder scene with the character played by David Landau being in the situation of repenting for some very bad deeds.

 

(video source Liz Bradley)

 

Still in the US, still in SederLand, here is an example of TV comedy dealing with the topic: In a segment from the very popular (in the 80s) Anything But Love, Jamie Lee Curtis learns a few things about the Seder traditions.

 

(video source Paramount Movies)

 

An animated version of the story was realized in 1998 by Spielberg’s Dreamworks company and released as Prince of Egypt. Ralph Fiennes, Michele Pfeiffer and Steve Martin are among the actors who borrowed their voices to the characters, while Ofra Haza sang the song that won the Academy Award for the Best Original Song. At the Oscar ceremony the song was sung by Whitney Houston and Maria Carey.

 

(video source Trailer Maker)

 

The story goes on, and the number of films dedicated to the subject slowly increases. As Bible-inspired movies seem to have been identified by Hollywood as a lucrative business we will have a few of these in 2014, among which a version of Exodus directed by Ridley Scott with Christian Bale as Moses. No trailers with moving images are yet available, but in the meantime you can listen to the music and see a first poster in the clip above.

I hope that you enjoyed this review, and that you will see some good movies (related or not to Passover) during the coming vacation, and also that you will bravely face the Seder and happily survive the week of the matzot. To all:

Hag Sameakh! Happy Passover! Un Pesah Fericit!

The pattern of Jewish holidays goes like this. We first say (or watch others saying) a prayer. Then we tell or read a story about how other very very very bad people tried to discriminate, kill, destroy us the very very very good people. Then we say ‘Oh vey!’ And then we eat. Unless we feast.

Purim is no exception. It is actually an especially cruel holiday. Since the moment our kids are born we need to buy each year costumes, they must be different each year, they never pass from brother to brother or from sister to sister (neither other combinations), and this lasts until the teenager says – ‘I am a grown-up, I do not need that stupid costume for Purim this year’.

 

source www.tabletmag.com

source www.tabletmag.com

 

Even more cruel is the name of the traditional cakes we eat on Purim – it is actually ‘Haman’s ears’ – so we eat each year the ears of the bad bad bad guy who tried to inflict suffering on us thousands of years ago. At least they taste better than the ‘matzah’ we will eat one month from now.

So what is left to confront all this cruelty? Humor, of course – the famous Jewish humor, the self-laughing and the smiles mixed with tears that allowed us to survive everything, from Pharaohs to the Jewish holidays. This is why my Purim article this year is dedicated to the Jewish humor, and specifically Jewish humor in movies.

There are plenty of examples. Here are a few. You are welcome to write me and add more.

 

(video source guru006)

 

Jews talk with God. In every prayer, in some curses (yes, we also have some and if not we borrow from non-Jewish neighbors) and in the day-to-day lives. Here is one of the more famous such dialogs the one called ‘If I Were a Rich Man’ from ‘Fiddler on the Roof’, the musical inspired by the – maybe – greatest Jewish humorist of all times – Scholem Aleichem.

 

(video source MingoBlue)

 

Woody Allen could not be absent from such a review. Here he is followed by some Jewish Robot Tailors

 

(video source  zicrobe)

 

Non-Jew actors make for some of the best rabbis. As a proof here is the dance of Rabbi Jacob in Les Aventures de Rabbi Jacob with my preferred French comedian of all times – Louis de Funes

 

(video source Filmfood Janneke)

 

Neither could Seinfeld be absent. Here he is fighting the Jewish food curse, and preparing for the unique Jewish singles night.

 

(video source Mark Edmonds)

Way for some more controversial stuff. Borat a.k.a. Sacha Baron Cohen is joined by his audience in singing Throw the Jew Down the Well!! in a satiric reality show approach to antisemitism.

(video source GonzoBlonde)

 

Is humor permissible in treating such serious themes as the Holocaust? Why not? Most of us now Roberto Begnini’s ‘La Vitta e Bella’ but before it there was Radu Mihaileanu’s ‘Train de vie’. Here is an unforgettable scene describing the encounter between the Jews and the Roma, the two minorities targeted by extermination by the Nazis. Great music too!

 

(video source Amma1968)

 

Last but not least – here is a scene good chances you all know. Is this Jewish Humor? No doubt for me. There is nothing more Jewish but laughing in face of adversity, of tragedy.

 

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life!

Hag Purim Sameah! A Happy Purim!

 

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