Years ago, when I was working on my undergraduate thesis on Yiddish film, I attempted conversation about the subject at cocktail parties (well, at that point they weren’t yet cocktail parties, but there were definitely M&Ms) –
“Yiddish? Film? What? Like Yentl?”
No. Not like Yentl. They’re in Yiddish! And most of them were originally Yiddish theater productions. Molly Picon? ... No?... Nobody?... Nevermind. Is it hot in here? Pass the M&Ms.
This past weekend I saw a documentary film called Who Does She Think She Is?. The film profiles five female artists who are also mothers, as well as several commentators including Tiffany Shlain, creator of The Tribe, and Courtney Martin author of Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters and contributor to Feministing.com.
Yesterday I attended a workshop on themes of social justice in Jewish music. I was given a music packet that included songs by Bob Dylan, Peter Yarrow (of Peter, Paul, and Mary), Pete Seeger, Jeff Klepper, the stud-of-a-Jewish-Rockstar Rick Recht, and E18hteen (the modern Jewish rock band founded by Dan Nichols). "E18hteen" sings that catchy song "Kehilah, Kedoshah" which is all the rage in Reform Jewish camps (I'm not going to lie -- I dig this song despite its cheesiness).
Those of you whose lives don't involve a weekly update on what new comics have come out this Wednesday might not be familiar with Y The Last Man, a 60-issue comic book (10 volume graphic novel), whose much anticipated final issue just came out last month. The premise of Y The Last Man is that a mystery plague instantaneously wipes out every man and male mammal on planet Earth except for Yorick Brown, a 22 year old magician/slacker, and his capuchin monkey, Ampersand.
"And you shall write them on the doorposts of your ... spaceship?" Jewish artist, Laura Cowan, has been making space-travel themed mezuzot for years. She was taken by surprise, however, when she received a call from American Jewish astronaut, Greg Chamitoff, asking if he could bring two of her rocket-inspired ritual objects into outer space.
I spent the last week of December encamped in a Catskills hotel with about 425 klezmorim, dancers, artists, students, and lovers of Yiddish from around the world. We had gathered for the 23rd annual KlezKamp, a music and culture extravaganza organized by Living Traditions, a nonprofit dedicated to Yiddish cultural continuity and community. During the day, we took classes on everything from Hasidic dance to world Jewish foodways; at night, we danced to the newest and oldest in Ashkenazi music in the hotel ballroom with its famous gold lamè curtains.