By Joanne Sydney Lessner for Hadassah Magazine
In the musical You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, Lucy sings a song called “Little Known Facts” in which she posits, among other things, that fir trees are so named because they provide “fur for coats.” When Ilana Levine, who played Lucy in the 1999 Broadway revival, began a podcast interviewing colleagues who inspire her, she named it for her character’s signature tune. The title seems inevitable now, but she only settled on it after recording an interview with fellow Charlie Brown cast members Anthony Rapp, B.D. Wong and Kristin Chenoweth before the official launch of the podcast in May 2016.
By Jenna Belhumeur and Madison Margolin for Tablet Magazine
Psytrance music bridges the divide between secular and religious Jews in Israel
Shahar Zirkin had been driving in circles on a dark, wooded road outside Haifa, until finally, he spotted a piece of toilet paper strung delicately among the branches of a tree. He turned left, driving slowly, looking for more toilet paper “signs” until he could hear thick, subbass frequencies, punctuated with synthesized audio effects in the distance. To the untrained ear, it might have sounded like the soundtrack to an intergalactic space journey; to Zirkin, a DJ-cum-biochemist and founder of Israel’s annual Doof music festival, it was the familiar sound of psytrance—a subgenre of electronic music. As he approached, the beats reverberated through the woods from the underground, neon-lit party, reminiscent of festivals in the Negev desert or in forests up north, or even on the Indian beaches of Goa.
By HANNAH BROWN for Commentary
The unlikely rise of a pop-culture leader
You don’t often see perfectly chilled martinis served at conferences in Israel, but the TLV Formats Conference was an event that was out of the ordinary. It was held for the second time in September 2017, and hundreds of buyers from television networks around the world came to Tel Aviv to snatch up new Israeli shows—scrambling to get ahead of the huge international TV convention called MIPCOM the following month in Cannes. Over the past decade, Israel has become one of the world’s most prolific exporters of “formats”—industry jargon for concepts and programs.
From American Sephardi Federation
Members of the Israeli World Music sensation, Yemen Blues, including Yemenite-Israeli vocalist Ravid Kahlani, visited an Arab coffee house in Jerusalem’s Old City to perform “Jat Mahibathi” (“My Love is Coming”) a song from their first album, Yemen Blues.
Aryeh Tepper for Mosaic
A letter from the “development town” of Ofakim, where Jews from North Africa are helping to forge a new Israeli culture.
Ofakim is a working-class city of 30,000 people in southern Israel, twenty minutes west of Be’er Sheva, the regional capital, and thirty minutes from Gaza’s Mediterranean coast. Conventionally referred to as a “development town,” Ofakim was established in 1955 with the aim of drawing newly arriving immigrants away from Israel’s central coastal region and strengthening the country’s hold on the sparsely populated Negev desert.
By Rabbi Meir Soloveichik for Mosaic
How Rembrandt Understood the Destruction of Jerusalem (and Poussin Didn't)
A tale of two paintings and one city.
This is a tale of two paintings by two 17th-century masters. Both depict the same historical event. In every other respect, they present a complete contrast.
The first painting has a fascinating back story. During World War II, an eccentric Englishman by the name of Ernest Onians made a fortune with his invention of Tottenham Pudding, a form of pigswill produced from waste food. Having amassed his millions, Onians became an art collector, purchasing canvases at country fairs and garage sales and accumulating some 500 works in all.
By Grace Kessler Overbeke for The Forward
I am a doctoral candidate at Northwestern University, where I am currently working on a monograph about the very first Jewish female comedian, Jean Carroll — which is an academic way of saying that I am very, very invested in the actual Jewish, female pioneer of stand-up. I wasn’t sure that “Mrs. Maisel” would do her justice. And though it’s a great show, it doesn’t.
From the Milken Archive of Jewish Music
The question, "what do a rabbi, Jesus and Darius Milhaud have in common?" may sound like the setup to a joke. The punchline, in this case is both fascinating and revealing: they were Dave Brubeck's three most influential teachers. They were also Jewish, which may at least partially explain why the non-Jewish jazz icon was comfortable working with Jewish ideas and themes in his music.
Newly available on our website today is the complete oral history the Milken Archive conducted with Dave and Iola Brubeck in 2003 (an excerpt was available previously). Divided into three sections, the Brubecks discuss how they saw and used music, jazz in particular, as a way to unite people from all walks of life, all religions and all parts of the world.
By Matthew Wolfson for Tablet Magazine
A Bravo series starring Israeli actress Inbar Lavi is a con game masking something real
I first came across Imposters, the Bravo series that’s playing five nights out of seven on Israeli television, scrolling through Netflix this past March. The picture showed a woman on a bed, the label said dark comedy, the slug described a con artist marrying men and stealing their money. Sex, cruelty, the suggestion of the absurd: It looked designed—overdesigned—to allure. But after a minute I thought, “Why Not?” and tried the first episode.