“Various Illuminations (of a Crazy World)”
Maira Kalman is best known for her post 9/11 New Yorker cover portraying the neighborhoods of New York City as “stans.” This show contains sketches, illustrations, photographs, paintings and more — from 30 years of Kalman’s work. Dozens of inspirational objects from the home and studio of this Israeli-born New Yorker are here too: language books, antique buckets, shoes, buttons, chairs, ladders, tea cups, jackets, rags stained with paint. A discarded sofa on a sidewalk prompted the artist to paint a series of sofa still lifes, while a girlfriends’ road trip inspired Kalman to take up needlepoint. “A psychic concluded my reading by saying, ‘Don’t cry over spilt milk,’ and I said, ‘That’s all you’ve got?’” Kalman recalls. “So I started embroidering clichés.” Anything Jewish about her work? “Maybe there’s a kind of sadness, and a sense of humor that maybe seems particularly New York, or particularly Jewish.” This exhibition, created by Ingrid Schaffner for the Institute for Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, is at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco (thecjm.org) through Oct. 26; then you can catch it at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, skirball.org.
Shalom Bayit: Justice for Domestic Workers
Restoring dignity and improving conditions for domestic workers — nannies, eldercare givers, housekeepers, and others — Jews for Racial and Economic Justice and Domestic Workers United celebrated a major legislative victory in July. The New York State Assembly and Senate passed the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, which includes provisions for overtime pay, one day of rest per week, three paid days off after one year of work and addresses the issue of sexual harassment. For more information: jfrej.org.
Fighting Cancer with Song Downloads?
Musical artists like Pharoah’s Daughter, Emily Bindiger, Neshama Carlebach, Tovah Feldshuh, Abbi Rose, and Karen Rosen interpret folksongs from the days of Israel’s founding as part of an ambitious plan to revive pioneering songs of many nations. The project’s parallel purpose is to raise money for organizations fighting cancer. For more about this effort “to cultivate and present genuinely innovative — even subversive — arts projects that promote the trans-denominational, universal values of social justice, kindness and charity” listen in at PioneersForACure.org.
“Economica: Women and the Global Economy”
and “Imagining Ourselves, Women, Power and Politics” are two exhibits you can view and contribute to at an innovative online social-change museum amplifying the voices of women worldwide. With its unique focus on cultural change, the International Museum of Women advances the human right to gender equity worldwide. imow.org
was a worker in Amsterdam’s Jewish Council, and a Rilke-inspired writer who, in 1943, joined her fellow Jews on the three-day eastward journey that ended at Auschwitz. Using only the words of Hillesum’s own diaries and letters, Susan Stein created and performs this one-woman play in schools and other venues. Ettytheplay.org
Memory of a Time I Did Not Know
Artist and poet Miriam Mörsel Nathan draws the viewer into her quest to connect to the many members of her family lost in the Holocaust. For example, says Nathan, “In making monotypes of my aunt Greta, I suddenly realized I didn’t know what color her dress was in the photograph on which I was basing my work. In fact, I didn’t know what colors she liked — a detail that points to a much larger issue, which is that I don’t know much about my aunt at all. The series of screen prints is of the same dress but in many different colors, as if to say to my Aunt Greta — which of these do you like? There is little that I know about my aunt. What I do know, however, is that my aunt Greta Mörsel Braun was deported on April 29, 1942. These walls of many dresses remind me of what I don’t know.” At the Ann Loeb Bronfman Gallery at the Washington DC JCC Sept 15 – Dec 17. www.flickr.com/photos/51647528@N02
The Bowls Project
Composer, vocalist and lay cantor Jewlia Eisenberg founded the music ensemble Charming Hostess in 1998, with its mission “to make lovely noise about complex ideas.” Based on inscriptions from Babylonian Jewish amulets known as demon bowls, the Bowls Project sings of sex, ritual and secrets of the home, giving voice especially to our Babylonian female forebears: their relationships, desires and dreams. Charminghostess.us
Singer and composer Galeet Dardashti is the first woman in her family to continue the family’s tradition of distinguished Persian and Jewish musicianship. The leader of the edgy all-female Mizrahi band Divahn, Dardashti has a new solo project that sings of why the brilliant Queen of Sheba shaved her legs, how the stunning Vashti laid down the line for her drunken husband, and how a mysterious witch spoke King Saul’s doom and then served him a nice dinner. Then she uses words from the prayer said upon wrapping phyllacteries to tell about the biblical Michal and about her own great-aunt Tovah. galeetdardashti.com
Women and Jewish Poetry
In this rich Spring 2010 volume of the academic journal Nashim (Hebrew for women) editor Kathryn Hellerstein interleaves poems with an array scholarly articles, beginning with Ann Lapidus Lerner on the roles of Eve and the Garden of Eden in poems by Americans Linda Pastan and Kim Chernin and Israeli poets Techiyah Bat-Oren and Ruhama Weiss. Then: Wendy Zierler explores “Race and Gender in Modern Hebrew Poems about Numbers 12,” where Miriam responds to Moses’s “taking” a Cushite woman; Niza Kann discusses images from the Zohar in the poetry of Zelda; Naomi Brenner offers “Slippery Selves: Rachel Bluvstein and Anna Margolin in Poetry and in Public.” There’s more: Montreal’s Yiddish women poets, an article on translations of Else Lasker-Schuler, Muriel Rukeyser’s ethics of identity; orphanhood in the work of Dahlia Ravikovitch, and the politics of appropriation in poetry by women kabbalah scholars. firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s a new online journal devoted exclusively to — no surprise — fiction on Jewish themes, the brainchild of Toronto-based writer Nora Gold. It launches with a fall 2010 issue and aims to showcase contemporary Jewish writing — either written in, or translated into, English — and create a virtual home for writers and readers around the world. Submissions are invited. jewishfiction.net
The YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe
online edition has launched, women included. In his preface to the 2008 print edition of the encyclopedia, editor in chief Gershon Hundert wrote, “From the beginning of the project the editors have been most conscious of the necessity to redress the imbalance in the attention devoted to the depiction of women who are often ignored in studies of the region.” Many interesting items have been added to the online version, including audio, video and a wonderful essay on gender by Paula Hyman. yivoencyclopedia.org
American Jewish World Service, partnering with Equal Exchange, enables congregations, organizations, and individuals to buy top-quality coffee beans and chocolate while supporting the efforts of small growers and co-operatives in the developing world. To stay in business and feed their families, small- and medium-scale farmers must receive fair prices for their crops and have access to affordable credit. Equal Exchange creates a global market for these farmers. And now a portion of every pound of coffee or chocolate purchased through Better Beans will go to support AJWS’s Fighting Hunger from the Ground Up campaign. www.equalexchange.coop/ajws
is an organization started by Anna Olswanger to bring together Jewish women and men past the usual childbearing age who are childless not by choice and believe they may never have children biologically or by adoption. Yerusha (Hebrew for inheritance) offers individuals an unusual opportunity to explore with others, online and in the real world, the meaning and experience of being a childless Jewish adult, to help each other discover ways to create a legacy for future generations. Yerusha.com