THE WHORE FROM OHIO
It’s hard to look for too much direct political relevancy in the absurdist work of the acclaimed Israeli playwright Hanoch Levin. But with the 2020 election arguably to be decided in the Rust Belt precincts of Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania (it wasn’t by accident that Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer gave the Democratic response to the State of the Union), it’s instructive to remember what director Michael Leibenluf told us two years ago when the New Yiddish Rep mounted “The Whore of Ohio.” In the father-son-hooker play, he said he was trying to conjure up life on the outskirts of a down-on-its-luck Midwestern city, where the characters exist in a “state of yearning, both on an individual and diasporic level. It is less about sex, per se, than about the father trying to eke out the most vital sense of life, and pass it on to his son.” Given the state of our national debate, Levin’s comedy — decidedly black — may be the perfect match, and the perfect escape for 90 minutes. With David Mandelbaum, Eli Rosen and Malky Goldman. Directed by Gera Sandler. — Wednesday, Feb. 19-Sunday, Feb. 23, Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave., newyiddishrep.org. $25.
There’s Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble (“St. James Infirmary” as a klez/bluegrassy dirge with an Asian flute) and then there’s Shoko Nagai’s “Omatsuri Mambo.” The regular accordionist with the klezmer revival group Isle of Klezbos, Nagai is an avant-gardist who moves between the worlds of jazz and Jewish music. Her Tokala band, according to her site, “explores the ancient connection between Japan and the Middle East via The Silk Road, where cultural exchange happened and left an imprint which became an integral part of Japanese culture.” Fittingly, “Omatsuri Mambo” is cross-cultural music on steroids; there’s a klezmer feel that merges with a snake-charmer Middle Eastern vibe that becomes a slow blues — with a Cuban beat holding it together and Nagai’s Japanese singing riding on top. A world music whirlwind. — Sunday, Feb. 16, 7 p.m., Barbés, 376 Ninth St. (corner of Sixth Avenue, Park Slope), barbesbrooklyn.com. $10.
Manhattan Theatre Club presents the world premiere of Tony-winner Richard Greenberg’s (“Take Me Out”) biting and witty new play whose title carries a whiff of Maimonides. Two families, the Resnicks and the Stahls, whose lives have been tumultuously intertwined for decades, gather in the massive library of a Fifth Avenue apartment to celebrate the nuptials of their children. — In previews. Opens March 3, New York City Center, Stage 1, 131 W. 55th St., nycitycenter.org. $99-$109.
THE SABBATH GIRL
The new romantic comedy by Cary Gitter, a Jewish Plays Project finalist, features goyishe hipster Angie and her Upper West Side neighbor Seth, an Orthodox Jew with a knish store on the Lower East Side. — Through March 8 at 59E59 Theaters, 59 E. 59th St., 59e59.org. $38.50. (Full review here.)
BRECHT: CALL AND RESPOND
Bertolt Brecht’s iconic 1938 one-act play “The Jewish Wife,” about the way in which the politics of hate seeps into the everyday lives of ordinary people, is the inspiration behind two world-premiere one-acts on the same bill. Arlene Hutton’s “Sunset Point” explores the effect of the past on a young couple’s life, and Kristin Idaszak’s “Self Help in the Anthropocene” examines the holes in our lives that we try to fill through consumption. A production of New Light Theater Project. — Through Feb. 15, Paradise Factory, 64 E. Fourth St., newlighttheaterproject.com. $25-$35.
MISS AMERICA’S UGLY DAUGHTER
Barra Grant stars in her two-character, one-woman autobiographical show about growing up as the un-pageant-ready daughter of Bess Meyerson, the first and so far only Jewish Miss America, and then having a daughter of her own. The Los Angeles Times calls the play “harrowing, heartbreaking, hilarious comic gold.” — Through March 1, Margorie Dean Little Theater, 10 W. 64th St., missamericasuglydaughter.com. $49-$89.
The 2020 Academy Award-winner (Best Adapted Screenplay) “has defied all odds to become one of the year’s most beloved films,” says The Hollywood Reporter. It’s a comedy about a very young, very nationalistic Hitler Youth recruit whose imaginary friend is none other than Adolph Hitler. With Scarlett Johansson, Rebel Wilson and Jewish director Taika Waititi as the imaginary Hitler. — In wide release.
WAITING FOR GIRAFFES & WILD
With help from the Israeli zoo in Jerusalem, the only zoo in the Palestinian territories is trying to replace giraffes that died during the last intifada. The documentary “Waiting for Giraffes” exposes the difference in standards between the two institutions as well as the politics that permeate the collaboration of their passionate veterinarians. “Wild” visits an Israeli wildlife hospital where injured owls, snakes (one with a “shoulder wound”), hyenas and leopards are given medical care so they can be released back into the wild. — Through Tuesday, Feb. 18, Film Forum, 209 W. Houston St., filmforum.org. (See story on Film Forum’s 50th anniversary here.)
VIRAL: ANTISEMITISM IN FOUR MUTATIONS
Filmmaker Andrew Goldberg explores anti-Semitism’s infectious behavior as he travels through four countries to speak with victims, witnesses and anti-Semites as well as Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Fareed Zakaria, George Will and Deborah Lipstadt. The film spotlights the American far-right, the English far-left, the Hungarian prime minister’s campaign against Jewish philanthropist George Soros and violence against Jews in France. — Screening Tuesday, Feb. 18 at Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan, 334 Amsterdam Ave. (at 76th Street), jccmanhattan.org, $15. Opening Friday, Feb. 21 at Village East Cinema, 181-189 Second Ave. (at 12th Street), citycinemas.com.
Ashley Blaker, England’s leading cultural export when it comes to observant comics, doesn’t work blue. He works … black. The Orthodox Blaker is back in New York with an Off-Broadway set, “Goy Friendly,” that might be dubbed “coexistence comedy.” Turns out that Blaker’s friendship with the Kenyan-born British comic Imran Yusuf, who is Muslim, has had a deep effect on him. So much so that he’s crafted a new Ten Commandments for the 21st century. — Through Feb. 23, Soho Playhouse, 15 Vandam St., sohoplayhouse.com/ashley-blaker-goy-friendly. $50.
TAKING ON WHITE NATIONALIST VIOLENCE
A landmark lawsuit against the organizers of the deadly 2017 Charlottesville march is taking on a broad range of neo-Nazis, white supremacists and affiliated hate groups — and exposing the individuals and organizations that are driving them. Join Roberta Kaplan (co-lead counsel), who successfully argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Windsor, which helped pave the way for same-sex marriage; Karen Dunn (co-lead counsel); Amy Spitalnick (executive director, Integrity First for America); and Elizabeth Sines (plaintiff) for a discussion about the lawsuit and its potential to turn back the tide of hate. — Wednesday, Feb. 19, 6:30-8 p.m., Temple Emanu-El Streicker Center, 1 E. 65th St., emanuelskirballnyc.com. Free
CITY/GAME: BASKETBALL IN NEW YORK
Like bagels and yellow cabs, basketball is woven tightly into the city’s fabric. This show traces the game’s impact on the city — from the early days (when the “city game” was Jewish) to Kareem and Clyde Frazier and beyond. — Opens, Friday, Feb. 14 (through Jan. 3, 2021), Museum of the City of New York, Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street, mcny.org.
ABOUT AN ARABESQUE
The first New York solo exhibition by visual artist and choreographer Jonah Bokaer, whose acclaimed 2014 multimedia exhibit “October 7, 1944” took on an inmate rebellion at Auschwitz. Here, Bokaer’s work explores individuals, particularly men in the Middle East, who are often depicted as ruthless, tough and belligerent. — Feb. 13-March 8, Wednesdays through Saturdays, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Signs and Symbols, 102 Forsyth St., signsandsymbols.art.
BILL GRAHAM AND THE ROCK & ROLL REVOLUTION
Beginning with the “The Joshua Light Show,” the trailblazing liquid light show that served as a psychedelic backdrop to Graham’s infamous concert productions in New York, this retrospective exhibit showcasing more than 300 artifacts explores the life and career of one of the most influential concert promoters of all time. From his beginnings as a Jewish child in 1930s Berlin and then as an orphaned foster child in the Bronx, a graduate of DeWitt Clinton High and City College, a Korean War vet and Catskill resort waiter, Graham grew up to promote much of the rock & roll that became our country’s lens on the 20th century’s cultural transformations. He also became an important activist for Holocaust remembrance and Jewish pride. The exhibit provides a musical tour with songs by rock superstars Blondie, David Bowie, Cream, the Doors, Janis Joplin, Tom Petty and Neil Young, among others. — Opens Feb. 14 (through Aug. 23), New-York Historical Society Museum & Library, 170 Central Park West at 77th St., nyhistory.org.
Dora Kallmus (1881-1963), better known as Madame d’Ora, was one of the leading photographic portraitists of the early 20th century. Her subjects included cultural figures like Colette, Josephine Baker, Gustav Klimt, Tamara de Lempicka and Pablo Picasso as well as German and Viennese aristocrats, the Rothschild family, prominent politicians and post-War displaced persons. The largest U.S. museum retrospective of her work to date will present the different periods of d’Ora’s life, from her upbringing as the daughter of Jewish intellectuals in Vienna, to her days as a premier society photographer, her survival during the Holocaust and her work in newly-liberated Europe. — Opens Thursday, Feb. 20 (through June 8), Neue Galerie New York, 1048 Fifth Ave. at 86th St., neuegalerie.org.
IMPRESSIONS OF EASTERN EUROPE
Subtitled “Prints from the Permanent Collection,” this show features lithographs, etchings, engravings and woodcuts by 16 artists working in the early to mid-20th century. It includes the work of Isidor Kaufmann, Max Weber, Rahel Szalit-Marcus and Ilya Schor. — Opens Feb. 23 (through May 10), Derfner Judaica Museum + Art Collection at the Hebrew Home in Riverdale, 5901 Palisades Ave., Riverdale, email@example.com, RiverSpringHealth.org/art.
RACHEL FEINSTEIN: MAIDEN, MOTHER, CRONE
The sculptor, who grew up in Miami, creates fantastical and often highly sexualized pieces that probe notions of “the feminine” in pop culture. This show marks the first survey of her work in the U.S. — Through March 1, The Jewish Museum, Fifth Avenue and 92nd Street, thejewishmuseum.org.
“Auschwitz. Not Long Ago. Not Far Away.” The large-scale show explores the history of the death camp and its role in the Holocaust. Extended through Aug. 30, Museum of Jewish Heritage, 36 Battery Place, mjhnyc.org.
“Relative Relations.” Seventy artists explore human connections shaped by genetics, proximity, interests and shared destiny. Through June 30, Dr. Bernard Heller Museum at HUC-JIR, 1 W. Fourth St., huc.edu.
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