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Jewish People

It was a rare and unique reunion of celebrities and guests who came, recently, to the Players Club in Manhattan. They celebrated the excellent accomplishments of the project, Who Killed the Federal Theater? A 90 minute documentary about the Federal Theater (1935-1939), the 'New Deal,' the 'Great Depression' and other WPA (Harry Hopkins), other performing arts: dance, circus, music and children's' theater as well.

It was produced by The Educational Film Center (Mr. Rabin), Bonnie Nelson Schwartz, and Ira Klugerman.

In New York, Ch. 13 aired this documentary on Nov. 25th. Other PBS stations in many cities have aired or will air this film which is a unique contribution to the studying of American history and culture. The Federal Theater existed only from 1935-1939 but its legacy is a national asset! Among the people who contributed to the success of this production. First, the dynamo Bonmien Schwartz. Second, Alexander Klugerman, Arthur Miller, John Hausman, Jules Dassin, Studs Terkel, Howard DeSilva, Norman Lyod, and, of course, the great film's narrator, Judd Hirsch. The film is a dramatic story of the only American national theater. It base performance segments on films from the 'Great Depression' and the 'New Deal' era, history of Harry Hopkins, WPA as well as oral history. Only a few participants of these WPA projects are still among us such as writer Stud Terkel.

The film is illuminating art that also discusses the works of Orson Welles and John Hausman inside the African-American community of the 1930's (Orson Welles' production of Voodo Macbeth). This project dismantles the crime of segregation at that period.

At the Player's Club party there was a chance to meet, in person, the legendary dancer and choreographer, Katherine Dunham, who is only 94 years old and her mind and memory are crystal clear! She is the mother of the Black Folk Dance in America.

The heroine of this film is the great Hallie Flanagan, the project's director. 25 million people enjoyed her work which came true (1935-1939) in 12,000 productions. The film also discussed 'landmarks' such as the play It Can't Happen Here (Sinclair Lewis) or The Cradle Will Rock (Marc Blitzstein) and Revolt of the Beavers, A Children's Play.

In one sentence, The American Congress killed the Federal Theater project. Why? It blamed the project for communist or leftist propaganda. F.D.R. agreed and the project was killed in 1939. The film used various scholarly advisors, among them Prof. Edna Nahshon, a theater historian and expert on Jewish performing art and Yiddish theater.


Haim Hassin, president of Yarden Inc. and Victor Schoenfeld, Head Winemaker, Golan Heights Winery, hosted a special lunch at Box Tree in Manhattan, in order to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Golan Heights Winery. It is a mitzvah to enjoy these unique great wines, to support the crusade of buying Israeli kosher products as well.

The Golan Heights was annexed to Israel. We should support its export, its economy, forever. From its first Yarden vintage in 1983, Israel's Golan Heights Winery has been literally taking home the gold, year after year, in world wine competitions. The winery enjoys the extraordinary distinction of winning the Grand Prix d'Honneur at Bordeaux's bi-annual Vinexpo in three consecutive years, and four times in total.

During the past 14 years, the winery's super-premium Yarden label has won three trophies and 14 gold medals at London's International Wine & Spirit Competition, including the 2003 trophy for "Best Bottle-Fermented Sparkling Wine." And at Vinexpo 2003, Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 received the prestigious Citadelle Trophy. Critical reception in the United States has been impressive as well. Frank Prial of The New York Times commented, "Once, recommendations of Israeli wine were mostly of a sentimental nature. With Yarden, that is no longer necessary."

Yarden received the Wine Spectator Critics' Award in 1999 and 2001 along with an invitation to the coveted 2001 New York Wine Experience, where the 1997 Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon will be celebrated as one of the world's top wines.

With Yarden's unprecedented "gold rush-and many other accolades-the Golan Heights Winery has effectively transformed the wine industry in Israel and thrust itself and the nation into the top ranks of the international wine arena. "Our wines have firmly established Israel as a major player in the wine world," said Shalom Blayer, the winery's chief executive officer and managing director. "And this is only the beginning."


Ben-Gurion Against the Knesset (Frank Cass Publishers, London, 2003) is a new book by Gioria Goldberg, an Israeli scholar.

Ben-Gurion Against the Knesset charts the dramatic clash and tumultuous relationship between a new Parliament and a powerful Prime Minister considered to the founder of the new Israeli state. It is argued that Ben-Gurion perceived the Knesset as seeking to undermine his work and the foundation of Israel. The Knesset was seen to be merely a tool for achieving his aims and he resented any resistance. Politically, he regarded the Knesset as a rival that needed to be weakened, while seeing himself as nurturing a new state, he felt that the needs of the country were not being met by a strong parliament with many powers, rather it would be safer in his own hands. He denied the Knesset the right to take part in the policy making process and consequently encouraged partisanship.

This insightful book carefully examines the roles of both Ben-Gurion and the Knesset, how they interacted and why they clashed. It will be of interest to experts and students of political science, Middle East studies and parliamentary politics.

The Author:
Giora Goldberg is an Associate Professor at the Department of Political Studies, Bar-Ilan University. He specializes in comparative politics, parliamentary politics, Israeli politics, voting behavior and political parties and has published widely on these topics. His new publications include: The New Right (1987, Hebrew), Political Parties in Israel (1992, Hebrew) and The Israeli Voter: 1992 (1994).


Israeli and US researchers have designed a watermelon-picking robot endowed with artificial vision to do the job of harvesting, GLOBES reported. The robot is the result of a partnership of three Israeli Institutes of higher learning including Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, the Weizmann Institute of Science, the Agricultural Research Organization and U.S. collaborator Purdue University.

The machine consists of a mobile platform on which are mounted an image-processing system, air blowers and a mechanical arm with a gripper attached. Tractor power pulls the platform through the field while cameras take pictures that the system analyzes. The air blowers ruffle the foliage to expose the fruit. When the harvester sights a melon bigger than a certain size - and therefore presumed to be ripe - it extends the gripper to grab the fruit and lift it off the ground. Onboard software evaluates the image's shape, brightness, and texture to locate the melons. Knives connected to the gripper slash the stalk, and the gripper places the melon on a conveyor belt. The harvester, named VIP ROMPER, guides itself down rows of maturing melon plants with only occasional human steering corrections.

In field tests, VIP ROMPER correctly identified melons ripe for picking 85% of the time. Prof. Yael Edan of Ben-Gurion University said that she estimates a two-armed version could attain a picking rate of one and a half seconds per melon. Watermelon is grown in 90 countries with worldwide production exceeding 50 billion pounds per year.


Reckless DC Music is proud to announce its seventh release, The Days of Awe: Meditations for Selichot, Rosh Hashanah, and Yom Kippur. This is the first solo album by bassist and composer, David Chevan. The recording is a collection of instrumental interpretations of traditional music for the Jewish Holy Days of Selichot, Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. The centerpiece of the album consists of six original arrangements of transcriptions from the recorded High Holy Day cantorial repertoire of the legendary Yoselle Rosenblatt. This album is a groundbreaking work because it is the first time that a jazz musician (or any instrumental musician) has ever made a recording solely devoted to the music of the Jewish High Holy Days.

Accompanying Chevan on much of the album is his group, The Afro-Semitic Experience including Alvin Benjamin Carter, Jr. on drum set and hand drums, Baba David Coleman on hand drums, Mixashawn.com on tenor sax, Will Bartlett on tenor sax and clarinet, Stacy Phillips on lap steel guitar, acoustic resonator guitar and violin, and Chevan's long time partner and collaborator Warren Byrd on piano. On the remainder of the album Chevan has put together a trio featuring himself along with trumpeter Frank London, a founding member of the legendary Klezmatics, and Stacy Phillips, Afro-Semitic member and Grammy award winning dobro master.

For those unfamiliar with Jewish religious practice, the Days of Awe is the period of time beginning with Selichot (about a week before Rosh HaShanah) when Jews traditionally spend time reflecting on their actions of the past year, repent for their sins, and seeking forgiveness from those whom they have wronged. This period culminates with the holy day of Yom Kippur, a day of repentance during which one spends the entire day in prayer, self-abnegation and fasting.


An NBC documentary on the trauma unit at Hadassah University Hospital in Em Kerem was awarded an Emmy at the News & Documentary Awards Ceremony in New York last week, ISRAEL21C reported. The documentary, entitled Jerusalem ER, focused on Prof. Avi Rivkind, the director of the hospital's Surgery and Trauma Unit.

The prize, awarded for outstanding coverage of a continuing news story in a regularly scheduled newscast, was accepted on behalf of NBC's Israeli bureau by reporter Martin Fletcher. The documentary was broadcast on the CNBC network, on the Brian Williams news program. Fletcher and his colleagues discovered Prof. Rivkind during their coverage of terror attacks in Jerusalem, when Fletcher spotted Rivkind at the entrance to the hospital as victims were being brought to the hospital for treatment.


The Jewish Theological Seminary honored Gerald Rosenfeld, Chief Executive Officer of Rothschild North Inc., with the distinguished Louis Marshall Award on Tuesday, November 4, 2003. The annual event was chaired by Phyllis and Raymond W. Smith and Joan and Sanford I. Weill. Regarded as one of the premier Investment Bankers in the world, Mr. Rosenfeld currently serves as Chief Executive Officer of Rothschild North America Inc., specializing in mergers and acquisitions, corporate restructurings, private placements, structured finance and securitizations, and project finance. Prior to joining Rothschild North America Inc. in 2000, he was President of G Rosenfeld & Co LLC, an investment banking firm which he founded in 1998.

Mr. Rosenfeld joined Lazard Freres & Co LLC in 1992, rising to become Head of Investment Banking and a member of the Management Committee. Between 1976 and 1992, he held various prominent positions at Bankers Trust. Salomon Inc., its Salomon Brothers subsidiary, and McKinsey & Company. With interests in the industrial and technology sectors, Mr. Rosenfeld has represented notable companies including General Motors, Chrysler. United Technologies, ITT Corporation, Tenneco, Lucas Varity PLC and Case Corporation. He has also worked extensively with many airlines including United, TWA, US Airways and Northwest.


New York, NY - Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) applauded the decision made by the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv to grant Victor Goldberg a student visa that will allow him to study at the Manhattan School of Music. Goldberg, who is a 25-year-old piano prodigy from Israel, saw his plans to attend the school put on hold when the American Embassy denied him a student visa. Thanks to the efforts of Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Goldberg will be able to fill the spot waiting for him at the Manhattan School of Music.

Nadler, who spoke to the American Ambassador to Israel on behalf of Goldberg, stated, "This was welcome news to those of us who felt that the bureaucratic decision to deny a student visa to Victor Goldberg was not only unfair, but set a precedent for all other Israeli students who want to study in the United States. It made absolutely no sense to deny a visa to a student who previously studied in the United States and has strong family ties in Israel. The reversal of this decision is not only a victory for Victor Goldberg, but for U.S.-Israeli relations."


The Folksbiene Yiddish Theatre presents a one-night only staged reading of The Sacrifice of Isaac, Abraham Goldfaden's (1840-1 908) 1897 biblical operetta. Goldfaden, the "Father" of Yiddish theater, was purported to have written over 400 plays and operettas, of those less than twenty have survived.

In the book of Genesis, the sacrifice of Isaac story takes merely 14 verses to unfold but has inspired endless interpretation in art, theology, philosophy and literature. In an already emotionally complex situation, where a father is commanded to kill his only beloved son, the complexity grows exponentially when it is a supposedly benevolent God who commands it.

Playing the patriarch Abraham and the matriarch Sarah, Isaac's parents, are two of the greatest living Yiddish actors: David Rogow and Mina Bern. They are supported by a strong cast of young actors and the singing of guest soloist Arianne Slack and The New Yiddish Chorale conducted by Zalmen Mlotek, the theater's Executive Director. Mark Altman, the theater's Director of Special Programming, will direct. Performed in Yiddish with English Supertitles.

Now in its 89th season, the Folksbiene Yiddish Theatre is America's sole surviving professional Yiddish theatre and the longest continuously producing Yiddish theatre company in the world. The Sacrifice of Isaac is the first reading this season of the Folksbiene's acclaimed staged reading series Hidden Treasures.

The Sacrifice of Isaac performs at the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan, 334 Amsterdam Avenue (at 76th Street). Tickets, which are available through the Folksbiene administrative office (212) 213-2120 or at the JCC the evening of the performance, are $18 each. Groups call the administrative office or visit the website at www.folksbiene.org.

The Folksbiene Yiddish Theatre kicks off A Glezele Tey (a cup of tea), a series of intimate and entertaining evenings of Yiddish culture, with a reading, from and discussion of Di Kats Der Payats the newly released Yiddish translation of the Dr. Seuss classic, The Cat in the Hat, with translator Sholem Berger and publisher Celeste Sollod. Dr. Seuss has now been translated into 21 languages.

A Glezele Tey is free and open to the public Saturday nights at 7pm 11/8 thru 1/3 at the Circa Cafe in the JCC in Manhattan at 76th and Amsterdam. Refreshments will be served.

Now in its 89th season, the Folksbiene Yiddish Theatre is America's sole surviving professional Yiddish theatre and the longest continuously producing Yiddish theatre company in the world. The Glezele Tey series is presented at the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan, 334 Amsterdam Avenue (at 76th Street). These events are free and open to the public. For more information contact the Folksbiene administrative office (212) 213-2120 or visit the website at www.folksbiene.org.


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