Naomi Danis

Read Today What You Should Do Tomorrow

About That Dinner Party

A new museum exhibition is the first to examine the development of Judy Chicago’s germinal feminist artwork “The Dinner Party” (1974 –79) — her most influential work. “Roots of ‘The Dinner Party’: History in the Making” presents never-before-seen objects that illuminate the installation as a triumph of collaborative art-making and a testament to the power of revising Western history to include women. Chicago says: “Because we are denied knowledge of our history, we are deprived of standing upon each other’s shoulders and building upon each other’s hard-earned accomplishments. Instead we are condemned to repeat what others have done before us, and thus we continually reinvent the wheel. The goal of ‘The Dinner Party’ is to break this cycle.” Acquired by Elizabeth A. Sackler, who gifted it to the Brooklyn Museum in 2002, “The Dinner Party” is the centerpiece of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the museum, which is also hosting the new exhibition, on view October 20, 2017 through March 4, 2018.

Lurking in the Museum

During a three-year residency, artist Ilit Azoulay immersed herself in researching and collecting stories behind the Israel Museum’s encyclopedic collection, interviewing current and former staff and uncovering personal narratives behind rarely seen objects. Her large-scale digital collages on exhibit combine macrophotographs embellished with paper, wood, glass, and gold leaf to encapsulate the breadth of civilization reflected in the museum’s holdings. “No Thing Dies,” through October 28, 2017 in Jerusalem.

 Hey, Millennials!

A sassy invitation to interact comes from Molly Tolsky, founding editor of Alma, a new website “for [young] women to talk about working, dating, TV-binging, yummy eating, bat mitzvah reminiscing, quasi-adulting, and the world around us. Because yes, it’s hard to be an adult. A real adult—one with a career and friends and relationships and at least one houseplant for good measure. Alma won’t always have the answers (though sometimes we’ll have kickass advice!) but we will be there when you need to get over your whirlwind Birthright fling, when a loved one dies, when you lose your job or need help finding a new one, and when you just need a hearty laugh/ cry.”

Jewish Folktales Retold: Artist as Maggid

Concepts such as transformation, metamorphosis, power, degrees of good and evil, ethics and moral education, plus illusions and metaphors, appear in commissioned works by artists, including Julia Goodman, Dina Goldstein, Andy Diaz Hope and Laurel Roth Hope, Vera Iliatova, Mads Lynnerup, Elisabeth Higgins O’Connor, Tracey Snelling, Chris Sollars, M. Louise Stanley, Inez Storer, and Youngsuk Suh. Catch the exhibition, “Jewish Folktales Retold: Artist as Maggid,” from September 28, 2017 to January 28, 2018 at San Francisco’s Contemporary Jewish Museum.

Finding Your Jewish Queer Match

This new dating app riffs on the name of the popular Saw You at Sinai site. Saw You at Stonewall is named for the Greenwich Village landmark where protests in 1969 launched the modern gay-rights movement. It is a one-at-a-time matchmaking service for LGBTQ Jewish people looking for long term relationships. Fill out a form and volunteer matchmakers set you up. At press time this site is in beta, but you can register to learn when it launches.

 Early Children’s Books in Hebrew and Yiddish

Illustrated books for children in Hebrew and Yiddish arrived in a burst of color and style on the wings of the Russian Revolution, catching the tail end of Art Nouveau and the excitement and energy of the Russian Avant-Garde. Ann Brener, librarian of the Hebraic Section and curator of a unique and beautiful collection at the Library of Congress, has created a 72-page Finding Aid  to showcase some of the brightest gems from the L.O.C. collections and also, she hopes, to pique interest in further research into a much-neglected field.

 Liturgy Challenging a Patriarchal Tradition

“Not all poems are prayers but, I think, all (written) prayers should be some type of poem. In prayer, the words inked on the page are a voice that guides the heart. The places empty of words  are the silence in which the heart alone may speak.” Marcia Falk has written a new preface for the reissue of her 1996 classic, with new afterwords by Rabbis David Ellenson, Sue Levi Elwell, Naamah Kelman and Dalia Marx in a 20th anniversary edition of Falk’s (bilingual!) The Book of Blessings: New Jewish Prayers for Daily Life, the Sabbath and the New Moon Festival.

 Anita Brenner’s Mexico

She was close to the leading intellectuals and artists active in Mexico, including Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Prolific Mexican-born American Jewish writer Anita Brenner (1905–1974) was an integral part of this circle of Mexican modernists in the 1920s and played an important role in promoting and translating Mexican art, culture, and history for audiences in the United States. The exhibition “Another Promised Land: Anita Brenner’s Mexico” offers a new perspective on the art and visual culture of Mexico and its relationship to the United States. It’s at the Skirball Cultural Center in L. A. until February 25, 2018.

Wisdom of the Mothers

How can you prioritize your time when “the day is short [and] the task is great”? What is the blessing of your home? How do you continue to learn even after you’re no longer school-aged? These are some of the questions posed by Rabbi Eve Posen and Lois Sussman Shenker in their hevruta (paired learning) study of the classic Jewish text Pirke Avot (Wisdom of the Fathers). They’ve turned their learning into a book, Wisdom of the Mothers, this time from the point of view of women. There’s an introduction by Ruth Messinger.

 Velvet Revolution

Zaina Erhaim was exiled to Turkey for reporting on the war in Aleppo. “You can’t be a Syrian, a woman and a journalist at the same time,” she was told at a checkpoint. This 57-minute collaborative documentary, “Velvet Revolution,” from the International Association of Women in Radio and Television, profiles female journalists reporting out of conflict zones, their hard but necessary work of making underreported facts public, their accomplishments, and the personal sacrifices they have made. Directed by Nupur Basu with contributions by journalists in Bangladesh, Cameroon, India, the Phillppines and the USA. www.iawrt/org

Rescues and Relief

Founded in New York City in 1914 in response to the plight of destitute Jews in Palestine and Eastern Europe whose support was interrupted by World War I, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (“The Joint” or JDC) is the overseas rescue, relief and rehabilitation arm of the American Jewish community continuing to impact the lives of Jews and non-Jews in over 90 countries. Its archives, virtual as well as physical (in New York and Jerusalem), house one of the world’s most significant collections for the study of modern Jewish history. It documents the work of little known heroines such as Laura Jarblum Margolis, a social worker whose career with JDC spanned decades and continents. In 1939 she worked with European Jewish refugees in Cuba seeking asylum in the U.S., and she later directed the relief program in Shanghai for some 20,000 refugees from Nazi-occupied Europe.

 — compiled by Naomi Danis

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