March 19, 2024

Time to Do or Die

Jewish Journal of Los Angeles

Five months ago, Hamas deliberately broke a ceasefire with Israel, resuming a war that began nearly the moment Israel abandoned the enclave back in 2005. A familiar reprise took shape over five wars: Hamas instigated hostilities; Israel retaliated, resulting in many Palestinian casualties of war; Hamas claimed victory in the battle for public opinion.

 

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March 13, 2024

Simply Friendless

Jewish Journal of Los Angeles

“The Ally,” a new play by Itmar Moses, is running Off-Broadway at The Public Theater through March 24. It is an excellent piece of dramatic storytelling that commands one’s full attention. A cast of seven actors is tasked with two-and-a-half hours of engrossing dialogue and impassioned, wordy speechmaking, which is rare in theater — even in a straight play.

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January 15, 2024

Catch the Holocaust Before It Disappears

Jewish Journal of Los Angeles

If you’re a Jew looking for sympathy in these sucker-punch days of hyper-antisemitism, find a way to transport yourself back to the early 1990s, a time when Holocaust memory—“Schindler’s List”; the opening of the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.; and observances of Yom HaShoah across America—was afforded largely universal respect.

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November 13, 2023

Art and Belligerency Off-Broadway

Jewish Journal of Los Angeles

Desperate times call for degenerate measures. For American Jews, this would be a good time to call upon Phillip Roth.

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August 6, 2023

“Oppenheimer,” and the Lesson of Brainy Jews

Jewish Journal of Los Angeles

Finally, a movie about two Jews facing off in a war of ambitions, petty rivalries and contrasting moral absolutes—with actual wars in the background! (“Schindler’s List,” after all, is a film about two Nazis.)

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May 31, 2023

Leo Frank and the Parade of Horribles

Jewish Journal of Los Angeles

In the languid Deep South in the year 1913, an energetically nervous, former Brooklyn Jew, Leo Frank, skipped out on the Confederate Memorial Day Parade and went to work at the pencil factory he managed, instead. Among Atlantans, a mere 50 years after the War of Northern Aggression, even relocated Yankees were expected to mark the solemn day with respect.

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March 5, 2023

Purging the Jews of “Babylon”

Jewish Journal of Los Angeles

The Academy Awards is soon upon us. One film that will not be walking away with a large Oscar haul is Damien Chazelle’s “Babylon.” (It is nominated for three awards, none in major categories.) That came as a surprise, given the box office and critical success of his last film, “La La Land,” the size of “Babylon’s” budget, and the attractiveness and appeal of its cast, which included Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie.

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March 30, 2022

Tom Stoppard Reveals His Jewish Self in “Leopoldstadt”

Jewish Journal of Los Angeles

There is no small amount of irony in Tom Stoppard’s latest play, “Leopoldstadt,” dazzling audiences on Broadway at the same time when America’s streets are convulsing in antisemitic mayhem.

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February 14, 2022

Jewish Westerns and Peddler Power

Jewish Journal of Los Angeles

America has never quite known how to differentiate Jews from the other “huddled masses” who found refuge in the United States. And there has been so much mixed-messaging.

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July 25, 2021

In Memory of Jackie Mason, Fearless Borscht Belt Comic

Jewish Journal of Los Angeles

Long before “political correctness” had any meaning, legendary comedian Jackie Mason turned ethnic and racial humor into art—without the culture threatening him with cancellation.

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August 13, 2020

Jewish Series’ Successes Stave off Complete Jew-Hatred

Jewish Journal of Los Angeles

If you’re searching for a consistent rhyme or reason behind anti-Semitism in the year 2020 — good luck. The breadth of violent incidents has been notably conspicuous. At the same time, Jews in popular culture have, arguably, never been this widely appreciated.

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April 27, 2020

Binge-watching Jewish TV as an Indoor Sport

Jewish News Syndicate

Netflix was surely not around during the making of the Covenant—the contract between God, Abraham and Jewish People. But more so than perhaps any other media company, Netflix is, apparently, determined to discover the destiny of the Chosen People

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March 30, 2020

National Anxieties and Doomsday Scenarios in HBO’s “Plot”

Jewish News Syndicate

Improbable as it may seem during a global pandemic, but HBO is airing a miniseries that could very well take your mind off of the coronavirus. And while it’s not a news program but a multipart movie, and has nothing to do with COVID-19, it does involve infections, national anxieties and doomsday scenarios.

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February 24, 2020

A Bridge Over Troubled Waters

Jewish News Syndicate

The British rocker Roger Waters’s insufferable crusade to con musical acts of the first order to boycott Israel and cancel their scheduled Tel Aviv tour stops has held little interest for me over the years. To my mind, the British Invasion could have left him behind. Musically, his concept albums never resonated with me. And then late in his career he espoused an odious politics even more jarring than his music.

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May 23, 2019

In His New Play, Jesse Eisenberg Gives Susan Sarandon Something To Be Happy About

Mediaite

Jesse Eisenberg is a five-tool player on the American cultural ball field, with memorable movie roles — from his Oscar-nominated Mark Zuckerberg to his evil-genius, Superman-nemesis Lex Luthor — to poignant moments on stage, humor pieces for the New Yorker, assorted essays, and a novel. Yet, he is also an accomplished playwright, often starring in his own work, such as The Revisionist, which premiered Off-Broadway in 2013 and co-starred Vanessa Redgrave, and The Spoils, directed by Scott Elliott for The New Group in 2016, which went on to have a successful run in London’s West End, as well.

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August 29, 2018

“‘Operation Finale’ And Israel’s Improbable Transformation”

CNN.com

One advantage to living in polarized times is that it makes spy movies easier to accept on their typically black-and-white terms. Good versus evil is allowed only one natural outcome. The action on the screen is important, for sure — but moral clarity is important, too.

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June 15, 2018

The Jewish Campaign To Establish Global Human Rights After The Holocaust

Washington Post

People seek, or claim to possess, a variety of rights: constitutional, civil, political, economic and cultural. Human rights, which many people believe are guaranteed, are arguably the best known and the least understood.

The notion of human rights began to take shape after the Holocaust, so it is not surprising that Jews played an important role in their emergence. In his enlightening new book, “Rooted Cosmopolitans: Jews and Human Rights in the Twentieth Century,” James Loeffler, a historian at the University of Virginia, explores how a small group of Jewish lawyers and activists from around the world inspired the human rights movement and the creation of entities such as the United Nations that, sadly, have failed to fulfill the promises of their ideals.

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March 29, 2018

New Yiddish Rep Brings Hanaoch Levin To Off-broadway

Algemeiner

In what was avant-garde Off-Broadway theater at its finest, the New Yiddish Rep just wrapped up several weekends of repertory performances of The Labor of Life and The Whore from Ohio, two short plays by Hanoch Levin, one of Israel’s most celebrated and controversial playwrights, in both the original Hebrew and in Yiddish, with English supertitles at the Theater at 224 Waverly.

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November 17, 2017

“The Story Of The Jews”: A Tale Of Triumph Amid Persecution

Washington Post

In this multicultural age, when the politics of identity celebrates difference — melting pot be damned — Jews, bizarrely, have ended up less an ethnic group than a subcategory of white privilege. Israel is perceived as a colonial power, and Jews are regarded as blue-blooded patricians with no claim to historical oppression.

This comes as a surprise to Israelis who are the offspring of biblical Jews and who survived many wars initiated by Arabs. And Jews with memories of the Holocaust can recall at least two millennia when Jewish blood was decidedly red and discussed only in the context of blood libels — the surreal accusation that Jews slaughtered Christians to make Passover matzo. (Anyone who has ever eaten the bread of affliction, however, knows that it tastes bad enough without plasma.)

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November 5, 2017

Larry David Goes One Cringe Too Far

Jewish Journal of Los Angeles

With his appearance on Saturday Night Live this past weekend, Larry David, the undisputed king of cringe-comedy, may have finally crossed a line. It is a symbolic line, admittedly, one that artists draw for themselves both morally and aesthetically.  But it is a line nonetheless.

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