Macy’s Parade Balloon Inflation 2010


On the Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving, the streets surrounding the American Museum of Natural History are closed to traffic and are filled instead with giant character balloons which will fly down the avenue in the Thanksgiving Parade on Thursday.

The balloons are held down by ropes and sandbags while they are inflated. Thousands of people of all ages come to watch them be inflated, hawkers selling small balloons and snacks come too,  and it is a holiday street event to start the lovely, long Thanksgiving weekend.

If you are coming with young children, try to come early when it is less crowded, from 3pm to about 5pm.

By 5pm many balloons have their final shape. Young children get lots of pleasure from this, even if they see only a few balloons.

The viewing is from 3pm to about 10pm, on West 77-81st Street, Columbus Avenue and Central Park West .

If you are coming into town by car, do not try to drive around and see the balloons, it is not possible, not enjoyable, it would be just a frustrating traffic jam with sad children in the car. Park somewhere else, perhaps in a garage, and walk or take a cab to as close as you can get.

Or better yet, come earlier in the day and go to the American Museum of Natural History and enjoy the new fabulous exhibit about the Human Brain, or visit the New York Historical Society, then walk out of the museum and enjoy watching the balloons being inflated.

That would be really smart of you!

Here are a few family friendly restaurants nearby: Fred’s (83 and Amsterdam), Jackson Hole (85 and Columbus), Uno’s (81 and Columbus), Ray’s Pizza (82 and Columbus), Famous Original Ray’s Pizza (don’t even ask) (82 and Amsterdam, Shake Shack (Columbus and 77)…..there are many more just a few blocks away from the crowds.

Happy Thanksgiving

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First Book About Sexual Violence Against Jewish Women During the Shoa is finally in Print

Literary event, Uncategorized

Remember the Women Institute Invites You to a Book Launch for

Sexual Violence against Jewish Women During the Holocaust

Meet co-editors Sonja M. Hedgepeth and Rochelle G. Saidel, who will discuss the book, the work of some of the chapter authors, and why they decided to edit a book on this subject.

At a time when rape is routinely used to accompany genocide in Africa, it may seem surprising that it took sixty-five years for a book to appear about Sexual Violence against Jewish Women during the Holocaust.

The groundbreaking volume, with this title, challenges claims that Jewish women were not sexually violated during the Holocaust.

Using testimonies, Nazi documents, memoirs, and literary and film interpretations, this anthology offers readers broader and deeper comprehension of Jewish women’s experiences of rape and other forms of sexual violence during the Holocaust.

The book, published by Brandeis University Press/University Press of New England, is featured in the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute’s Series on Jewish Women. Written with the support of Remember the Women Institute, the anthology has sixteen chapters by a prestigious interdisciplinary and international group of scholars.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

5:45 – 7:45 pm

Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion

1 West Fourth Street

(Greenwich Village, between Broadway and Mercer Street)

New York, NY

A book signing and reception will follow.

Please RSVP to and please bring a photo ID.

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Houdini:Art and Magic at the Jewish Museum and a New Musical Drama about Raoul Wallenberg by NYCGuy

Events, Theater, Uncategorized, exhibit

Friday I went to the Jewish Museum to check out the just opened Houdini exhibit, Houdini:Art and Magic. It has all the same kind of oddities, paraphernalia & interesting factoids that made the museum’s earlier Sarah Bernhardt such a smash. Houdini contains video clips, including silent films made by the Budapest-born magician, who like Bernhardt was an early star of the medium.

There’s even a photo of the two together.

A scene from eponymous 1953 movie features a young Tony Curtis in what ironically was the breakout film that launched his career.

The Bronx born actor, the child of Hungarian Jewish immigrants, apparently spoke only Magyar until he was 5 or 6. His 2nd wife, whom he met while filming Taras Bulba, was the German actress Christine Kaufmann, mirroring Houdini’s marriage to German American Bess.

Both the former Erik Weisz & the former Bernard Schwartz who played him escaped poverty. Ironically, the exhibit’s opening was bracketed by Curtis’  death on September 29 and the 74th anniversary of Houdini’s death on Halloween.

Like the Sarah Bernhardt show, this one displays the impresario’s magical hold on our imagination. Late in life, it appears the actor experienced a renewed interest in his Hungarian Jewish roots, establishing a foundation in his father’s name that has among other things, helped restore Europe’s largest synagogue, on Dohany Street in Budapest. (The foundation is based in Queens where Houdini’s buried.) Which leads me to the next unsolicited endorsement, a new musical drama I was invited to see the following evening…..

I would never have pictured a musical being made based on the experience of Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg who managed to outwit the Nazis & safeguard an estimated 100,000 Jews in Budapest.

This is no Springtime for Hitler. Saturday evening’s world premier is part of a relaunch of the White Plains Performing Arts Center as a venue for new works. Can a theater in a downtown mall challenge New Haven’s role as try-out stage for Broadway? Maybe. It’s an hour closer to Grand Central. The theater is very comfortable but non-descript.

The new artistic director Annette Jolles has two Emmys, six nominations, experience directing,choreographing & producing at major venues in Manhattan & London & a musical theater teaching gig at Yale. Oddly, the 1st thing that made me think this was serious was the set, which frames the stage, with “stones.” When the curtains open there’s a vista of the Hungarian capital. Having seen the real thing from the station platform at 6:00AM on a August morning, while traveling from Prague to Belgrade, it felt like I was again in Budapest.

With artful props, the space becomes various exteriors & interiors with views of the city & its river. But it takes more than architectural tricks & magic of lighting. It seems the librettists, Laurence Holtzman & Felicia Needleman spent several years researching everything they could get a hold of re the Wallenberg story & those rescued, including a scene from drownings in the Danube that brought to mind those of Operation Condor. This pair has done musical theater & cabaret, the latter of which can be very personal & very grand. Add a symphony orchestra & stir. It’s happened at Lincoln Center. Still, a musical about the Holocaust & a hero whose fate was Stalin’s gulag, seems incongruous. Yet, here’s the opening number,: .

The composer, Benjamin Rosenbluth, trained with such masters as Pulitzer Prize winners Milton Babbitt & John Corigliano. Is there an Ernő Rubik to solve the puzzle of bringing this sung story of real life New York sister city Budapest 30 minutes south to a Broadway stage?

Meanwhile, you have through November 21 to escape to this unexpected gem in Westchester.

This post is by guest author NYCGuy

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The 34th Margaret Mead Film & Video Festival NOVEMBER 11–14, 2010

Film, Lily's notes

The 34th Annual Margaret Mead Film & Video Festival, held at the AMNH, will screen films chosen from more than 1,000 submissions. The selected films feature exceptional story-telling. The Mead Festival strives to  evolve beyond ethnographic filmmaking and screens innovative films that they hope represent the best in documentary, animation, experimental nonfiction, and archival footage.

The festival is a unique showcase for films that illuminate the complexity and diversity of peoples and cultures around the world, and features  post-screening discussions that include visiting filmmakers and experts.

Films that will have U.S. premieres at the Mead Festival and feature the filmmakers in person following the screenings include

  • Roscoe Holcomb. John Cohen uses intimate footage as well as interviews with family and community members to trace the life of this seminal banjo player’s early years. Roscoe was featured in Cohen’s first film The High Lonesome Sound, which will also be shown during the festival. (world premiere). Cohen will also play live music with his band the Dust Busters at the after-screening discussion.

  • Eisenwurzen: Das Musical (A Mountain Musical). Filmmaker Eva Eckert tells the humorous and fascinating story of how the Austrian tradition of yodeling is carried on in the warbling of an aging population.
  • The Electric Mind. Nadav Harel’s film is an intimate portrait of an octogenarian widow, a middle-aged artist, and a pre-teen girl looking for relief from their brain disorders through cutting edge technologies and “awake” brain surgeries.
  • My Beautiful Dacia. On a road trip from communism to capitalism, filmmakers Stefan Constantinescu and Julio Soto follow different generations of Romanians with one common love: the Dacia car.

  • Nel Giardino dei Suoni (In the Garden of Sounds). Nicola Bellucci tells the extraordinary story of Wolfgang Fasser, a blind musician and therapist who uses sound to initiate dialogues with severely handicapped children, helping them uncover ways to express themselves and find a place in a world not designed for them.
  • Tankograd. Directed by Boris Bertram, the film tells the story of Chelyabinsk, Russia. Once the site of a top-secret Cold War atomic bomb factory, the town is now the most radioactively polluted city in the world. But it’s also the unlikely hometown of a unique cultural institution: the vibrant, inspiring Chelyabinsk Contemporary Dance Theatre.

Special Presentation

The festival will feature a special presentation of the Museum’s collection of original glass lantern slides, some of which were recently rediscovered in the home of a former Museum library archivist. In the 19th century, these unique slides formed the foundation of a popular series of lectures conducted by Albert Bickmore, the Museum’s founder. With over 40,000 original glass lantern slides in the Museum Library’s collection, the breadth of subjects includes landscapes, scientific specimens, and expedition photography. Many were painstakingly hand-painted, and each is a stunning work of art.

  • American Museum of Natural History, on Central Park West,  77th ST -81 St
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UWS Halloween 2010 Party for Children


Each year the Park West 90th Street Park Association organizes a lovely, welcoming event for children and adults who would love to enjoy seeing the kids have a great time.

West 90th Street between CentralPark West and Columbus Avenue will be filled with spooky decorations, glowing carved pumpkins on brownstone stoops, lighted displays, and a welcome table in front of #35. The residents of the block , many in costume, give out candy in front of the buildings. A few lobbies welcome trick or treat visitors inside as well.

This  has the wonderful, old-fashioned spirit of a child’s Halloween party and attracts many, many neighborhood families. It is  also a lovely display of the variety of families who live on the Upper West Side.

Many of the doggies on the block turn out in costume as well. Please remember: do not let the dogs eat chocolate. These are the same dogs who take part in the West 90th Street Dog Parade during the clean-up/planting party each Spring.

The street will be closed to traffic at 4 pm. Residents will decorate the block from that time on and  from 5:30 to 7pm the goblins etc are welcome.

West 69th Street between Broadway and Columbus Avenue has a similar child-oriented party each Halloween.

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Surveying Judy Chicago:1970-2010 at the ACA Gallery

Art, Lily's notes, exhibit

Judy Chicago at the ACA Gallery by Jeff French Segall

Judy Chicago at the ACA Gallery by Jeff French Segall

Surveying Judy Chicago: 1970-2010 at the ACA Gallery is a small exhibit with excellent examples of Ms Chicago’s creative, extensive and very personal works in several media. It is very clear why she has been an important influence in the art world, and for women especially. Her humanist and feminist portrayal of women and their physical essence  stands out as a beacon of light against the usual art world’s women as either pretty (or sometimes “mysterious”) sex objects, or still life dolls.

Ms Chicago delicately explained to the opening attendees, that the lithograph called “The Crowning” referred to the moment that a baby’s head first appears during birth, those us us who have had children needed no explanation, it is probably the kind of piece that makes some uncomfortable, really unfortunately, since it is strong and powerful visual statement.

It is so important to have a woman depict women and their experience of the world.

Judy Chicago has had the outstanding courage to deal with topics such as sexual abuse during the Shoa. For more on this ignored topic, please see Remember The Women Institute and the new, impotant book edited by Sonja M Hedgepeth and Rochelle G Saidel titled SEXUAL VIOLENCE AGAINST JEWISH WOMEN DURING THE HOLOCAUST.

Judy Chicago’s most moving work in this exhibit is her acrylic and oil on canvas called “The Fall”, which depicts a summation of history from prehistoric times through the evil of the Shoa.

I also love her newer work in glass and included in the exhibit is a set of lithographs which are a mini-survey in themselves. There is an example of her “life-saver” paintings, as well.

Ms Chicago commented at the opening, that her art teachers didn’t like her subject matter which at the time was feminine “butterflies” and that they did not like her color choices: they wanted her to become an abstract expressionist. It is a great example of how art schools can have a tremendous damper to creativity…something really new is often not appreciated…But Judy Chicago survived that experience and clearly many more challenges.

She may be best known for her The Dinner Party, which is on permanent display at the Brooklyn Museum, and this current exhibit has many fine works you should get to know and enjoy by this unique artist and person. Ms Chicago is an author of over 12 books, and her latest book is Frida Kahlo: Face to Face, written with Frances Borzello.

ACA Gallery, October 14, 2010 – November 27, 2010, 529 West 20th Street, 5th floor.

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Events, Film, Uncategorized
The JEWISH WOMEN’S FILM FESTIVAL is a presentation of
films submitted in competition and never before exhibited
commercially in the New York metropolitan area. The films
focus on experiences, aspirations, and accomplishments of
Jewish women through the ages and throughout the world.
The festival is organized by the ELEANOR LEFF JEWISH
and was rededicated and named in honor of Eleanor Leff in
2000. JWRC explores, documents, and celebrates the full
range of Jewish women’s experiences – religious, secular,
public and private. Its goals are achieved through ongoing
programs, special events, conferences, publications, book
discussions, lectures, seminars, workshops, and readings.
The National Council of Jewish Women is a grassroots
organization of volunteers and advocates who turn
progressive ideals into action. Inspired by Jewish values,
NCJW strives for social justice by improving the quality of
life for women, children and families and by safeguarding
individual rights and freedoms.

The JEWISH WOMEN’S FILM FESTIVAL is a presentation of films submitted in competition and never before exhibited commercially in the New York metropolitan area. The films focus on experiences, aspirations, and accomplishments of Jewish women through the ages and throughout the world. The National Council of Jewish Women is a grassroots organization of volunteers and advocates who turn progressive ideals into action. Inspired by Jewish values, NCJW strives for social justice by improving the quality of  for women, children and families and by safeguarding individual rights and freedoms.

There are 2 sessions

THE JEWISH WOMEN’S FILM FESTIVAL    Sunday, November 14, 2010

Baruch Performing Arts Center at Baruch College E. 25th Street between Lexington & 3rd Avenues 55 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10010

SESSION 1 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM


Director: Gay Block. (47 Minutes) – Women who were together at Camp Pinecliffe in 1981 reminisce about their camp experience – happy, sad, funny, sentimental, life-changing – more than 25 years later. With whom

do you identify?


Director: Ruth Fertig. (22 Minutes) – Creatively using live-action and animation, the filmmaker, via her grand-mother’s memoirs, takes us on a journey recreating the experiences of the family during the Holocaust. It is a

story of resilience, survival, and hope.


(Directors: Ron Ofer and Yohai Hakak. (50 Minutes-subtitles) – Through determination, ingenuity, resource-fulness and their own personal magnetism, two Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) women, Adina Bar-Shalom and Rachel

Chalkowski (Bambi), effect major social change among the women in their community.


Director: Y. Enav. (24 Minutes-subtitles) – A seemingly generous and compassionate dentist confronts repressed memories of the Holocaust, resulting in an unexpected assault on one of her patients that leads

to her arrest. Be a spectator to the unraveling mystery and its surprising denouement.


2:30 PM – 5:30 PM


Director: Yael Kipper. (61 Minutes-subtitles) – Nine years after being critically wounded and losing her younger brother in a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv, Maytal embarks on her biggest challenge – her decision to undergo fertility treatments to have a child as a single mother.


Director: Susan Schwarzwald. (26 Minutes) – On the 11th birthday of her own child, Lily – daughter of a refugee from Hitler’s Germany – reminisces about a childhood trip her family took back to her father’s native city of

Vienna. Through the lens of memory, she re-visits the pain of remembering, tinged with the fear of forgetting, that silently haunts her father, herself, and her young daughter. (Director’s comment).


Directors: Noam Demsky, Mordi Kershner. (48 Minutes-subitles) – Who is a Jew? How about Incas from Peru? View this fascinating commentary about the Valderama family and their struggle to convert to Judaism, and, finally, their arrival in Israel.


Director: Y. Enav. (5 Minutes) – The briefest of come-

dies depicting a worldwide problem with which all

women can identify and have often experienced!


The Eleanor Leff Jewish Women’s Resource Center will present its Ellie Award

to the Director of the Best Film as selected by an independent panel of judges.


Film Sessions:

NCJW Members: $12.00 per session

(If Purchased in Advance)


$15.00 per session

Reception (Advance Purchase Required):

Dietary Laws Observed

NCJW Members: $75.00 (Includes session 1 or 2)

Nonmembers: $90.00 (Includes session 1 or 2)

Friends of NCJW:

Patron: $125.00

(Includes reception, sessions 1 and 2, and name

in program)

$60.00 tax deductible

Benefactor: $150.00

(Includes reception, sessions 1 and 2,

and name in program) $85.00 tax deductible


In Person: Purchase tickets at NCJW NY offices

Monday – Thursday: 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Friday: 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM

By Phone: (212) 687-5030, ext. 14

Monday – Thursday: 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Friday: 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM

At the Door: $18.00 per session


The JEWISH WOMEN’S RESOURCE CENTER began in 1977 and was rededicated and named in honor of Eleanor Leff in 2000. JWRC explores, documents, and celebrates the full range of Jewish women’s experiences – religious, secular, public and private. Its goals are achieved through ongoing programs, special events, conferences, publications, book discussions, lectures, seminars, workshops, and readings.

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Shanah Tovah- Happy New Year


Shanah Tovah- Happy New Year. There will be new posts after the holiday. I wish you all a sweet, healthy, happy and creative new year.

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The New York Finger Lakes- It’s Lakes, Gorges, and Wine

Lily's notes, Uncategorized

We drove from New York city north and west through NY state,  passing through some of the lower Hudson valley, through the Catskills and further up to Ithaca,  about 4 1/2 hours. We  Gothamites forget that most of our state is made up of small towns, mountains, lakes and rivers. We went so far from the city that no one was discussing the proposed Islamic Center…amazing…and a relief.

The Finger Lakes were created by the receding glaciers of about 20,000 years ago. The glacial movement carved out the 11 Finger Lakes from older river banks, and simultaneously created absolutely astounding gorges complete with many many waterfalls.

Watkins Glen State Park by Jeff French Segall

Watkins Glen State Park by Jeff French Segall

Today, the gorges are long narrow state parks which you can walk through either at rim level and/ or nearly at ground level. They are 40 stories of deep, jagged, slashes into the earth, with sides made of layers of slate with trees hanging on to the ledges, and waterfalls, waterfalls and waterfalls, all along their routes. The gorges are cool, breezy and astonishing.

Here is a waterfall map of NY State..pretty amazing.

The water runs NORTH through the gorges, which is a bit disorienting for a Gothamite, until they run into the Finger Lakes which eventually, slowly feed into Lake Ontario.

The Lakes are lovely, with vineyards, farms, and state parks along their shores.

In 5 days we:

explored Cornell campus in Ithaca on Lake Cayuga, a city unto itself with a gorge running right through campus, visited the Cornell Ornithology Lab and walked Sapsucker Woods, enjoyed the Ithaca downtown “mall” filled with restaurants shops and very young students, visited Buttermilk Falls State Park, and Tremon State Marine Park,  Taughannock Falls, visited 2 vineyards, searched for the White White-Tailed Deer of Cayuga ( fat chance to actually see one- the former army base is closed, new housing is there, only a prison is fenced in and it is not recommended to try to search for the white deer there! If you want to know, this is the story: the army fenced in a large area between Lake Cayuga and Lake Seneca, the deer population was trapped, over time white coated deer emerged, about 200 out of a population of 800, here’s link to photos of the white deer, but the info on this site is dated ), and we visited other parks along the Cayuga lake shores.

We drove up to Seneca Falls, through real  farm land, past Amish in horse drawn wagons, tractors on

Lake Seneca Marina by Jeff French Segall

Lake Seneca Marina by Jeff French Segall

the road, cows and sheep and horses, about 40 minutes, and visited the birthplace of the women’s suffragist movement and the very fine Women’s Rights National Park Museum, which tells the story of  how 5 women changed the world. Very special, do not miss this.

We drove to Watkins Glen, about 30 minutes, and visited Watkins Glen State Park,  which is right  in town with a truly awesome, waterfall filled gorge,  visited 3 more wineries and purchased white wine,walked around the marina and watched the sun set on Lake Seneca……

Lake Seneca from Chateau Lafayette Reneau Winery by Jeff French Segall

Lake Seneca from Chateau Lafayette Reneau Winery by Jeff French Segall

We drove south for about 30 minutes to Corning New York and spent a day in the Corning Museum of Glass. If you go to the Finger Lakes region, do not miss this museum. It has a world class collection of  historic glass and the most spectacular collection of modern American and some European Art glass. There are glass blowing demos and a large shop and cafe. My friend who was born upstate in Glens Falls, says that it is not nice to say that this museum should be in New York City.

We returned happy and tired. This is what we could have done more of: fishing, we went to a few wineries but some of you would do more of this, more hanging around the lakes and swimming, and boating.

It is a worthwhile trip. If it were somewhere far away, you would be amazed and tell all of your friends..also, people were friendly, and  took their time to speak with us.

it’s not that far so go and visit….

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Fall Bird Walks in Central Park

Lily's notes, Uncategorized

This hot  summer has slipped away and it is time to enjoy the glorious Fall in in New York City.

Walks Led by Experts from the American Museum of Natural History

Observe more than 50 different species of birds—including resident and migrant birds, water birds, song birds, and birds of prey— during this eight-week bird-watching adventure in Central Park. Join naturalists Stephen C. Quinn (Tuesdays and Fridays), Joseph DiCostanzo (Wednesdays and Thursdays, 7 am), and Harold Feinberg (Thursdays, 9 am) on tours through the park, one of the premier places locally to watch birds during spring and fall migrations. Participants will learn how to use field marks, habitat, behavior, and song as aids in identification. Interested birders, from beginners to the advanced, are invite

Eight Tuesdays: September 7–October 26, 7–9 am

Eight Wednesdays: September 8–October 27, 7–9 am

Eight Thursdays: September 9–October 28, 7–9 am
Eight Thursdays: September 9–October 28, 9–11 am
Eight Fridays: September 10–October 29, 7–9 am

$85 for eight walks.

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Scribblers on the Roof, 11th Season

Events, Literary event, Uncategorized

The pleasant open air roof top of Congregation Ansche Chesed as been the site of Scribblers on the Roof.

Invited authors read from their published work or works in progress, and take  questions from the audience.  These evenings are well attended, and the roof top views of the West Side and the night sky are lovely. Mondays at 8 pm.  251 W 100th st between Broadway and West End Avenue. The dates are June 21, June 28, July 12, and July 26.

June 21   Andre Aciman Eight White   Nights   Out of Egypt  Call Me by Your Name

Pearl Abraham America Taliban   The Romance Reader    The Seventh Beggar21

June 28   Daniel Menaker A Good Talk   The Treatment   Old Left

Jonathan Rosen The Life of the Skies  The Talmud and the Internet  Joy Comes in the Morning

July 12   Joan Leegant Wherever You Go   An Hour in Paradise

Tova Mirvis The Outside World  The Ladies Auxiliary

July26    Howard Altmann In This House   Who Collects the Days

Trudy Balch Gaby Brimmer: An Autobiography in Three Voices (translator)

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Concert, Uncategorized


Here are 3 concerts planned for Thursday nights this summer at the Jewish Museum. They all look good to me!


July 1, 7:30 pm

This ensemble combines Appalachian and southern fiddle tunes with Eastern European klezmer melodies to create a soulful sound and a foot-stomping good time. Virtuoso clarinetist Margot Leverett adds depth and complexity to the raw and spirited energy of The Klezmer Mountain Boys.

The Klezmer Mountain Boys – bandleader and clarinetist Margot Leverett, bassist Marty Confurius, guitarist Joe Selly, fiddler Kenny Kosek, and mandolinist Barry Mitterhoff - create a danceable and beautiful blend that draws and delights audiences of all ages. Founded by Margot Leverett (an original member of the Klezmatics) and Barry Mitterhoff (Hot Tuna), the band has been featured at the Chicago World Music Festival and the Louisville Performing Arts Center.


July 8, 7:30 pm

With song styles ranging from the clarinet miroloi of northern Greece and the chocheci of the Serbian and Macedonian Roma (gypsies) to Turkish chalgi ensembles and Bulgarian wedding bands, Ansambl Mastika’s music draws from the myriad styles of Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean basin and the Middle East.  Ansambl Mastika has enthralled audiences on the dance floor, in the concert hall, and at the festival stage.  The band blends spontaneity with a global sensibility, resulting in a joyous Balkan extravaganza.

Ansambl Mastika features bandleader composer and woodwind player Greg Squared, composer and trumpeter Ben Syversen, accordionist Matthew Fass, harmonica player Joey Weisenberg, bassist Reuben Radding, and percussionist Matt Moran.


July 15, 7:30 pm

Percussionist and composer Roberto Rodriguez leads talented Cuban-American and Israeli musicians in the creation of an unique sound that echoes Cuban roots dance music and traditional klezmer.

Roberto Rodriguez was born in Cuba, the son of veteran horn player Roberto Luis Rodriguez. The younger Rodriguez studied violin, piano, and trumpet and drums in Havana, and left Cuba for Miami with his family when he was nine. Rodriguez immersed himself in the culture of Miami’s large Jewish population, sensing historic similarities between Cuban expatriates and the Jewish diaspora. Moving to New York, he quickly established himself as a drummer of note, working with the likes of T-Bone Burnett, Phoebe Snow, Rubén Blades, Paul Simon and Joe Jackson, and became the drummer for Marc Ribot’s Los Cubanos Postizos band.  John Zorn approached Rodriguez about recording an album of Jewish music, resulting in El Danzon de Moises in 2002.  Later albums of Cuban-Jewish music include Baila! Gitano Baila! (2004), Oy Vey! Ole! (2006), and The First Basket and Timba Talmud (2009).

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Race to the End of the Earth at the AMNH

Uncategorized, exhibit

Race to the End of the Earth documents the story of the British and Norwegian teams of arctic explorers as they each tried to be the first team of  to arrive at the South Pole, nearly 100 years ago, during 1911-1912.

This is  an emotional story of human capabilities, endurance and limitations.

The  limitations of equipment, communication, and the consequences of decisions made by the team leaders lead to the tragedy of the loss of one team and triumph of the other.  Both teams set out  from the Ross Ice Shelf  for the 1,800 mile trip to the Pole and back and tried to overcome Antarctica’s extreme conditions. Their equipment, which was the fine technology of it’s time, seems so wholly inadequate and impossible, that is is utterly astounding that even one team accomplished their goal. I don’t think that I could take a  winter week in the Catskills or Adirondacks with what they used to get to the pole.

The nicely installed exhibit details the preparations of  Norwegian Roald Amundsen and Britain’s Royal Navy Captain Robert Falcon Scott, and displays their equipment, instruments, photos, film, letters, personal effects etc. It brings us up-to-date to today’s exploration  of the South Pole,  and what scientists are learning about Antarctica’s landscape under the ice, and how people manage to live year-round in this forbidding and fascinating place.

This is an exhibit with real depth that is best for adults and older children, 10 and above. There are lovely depictions of penguins, but this would not be enough to keep young children interested while the adults are drawn into this fascinating story.

Race the End of the Earth at the,  AMNH, 79th Street and Central Park West, in New York,  opens on Saturday , May 29, 2010  and will be open through January 2, 2011. Get tickets in advance.

(Photos will be added today)

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Writopia Lab Award-Winning Writers and Rising Stars Read Their Newest Pieces

ImageA wonderful group of Writopia Lab writers will read excerpts from their newest prose at Barnes & Noble at Lincoln Center on Friday February, 26th at 5pm. This remarkable group of young people have revised and polished stunning pieces of fiction and memoir, and they are thrilled to share their work with you.

See the Pretty Flier

Barnes & Noble
1972 Broadway
New York, NY‎

Buy Books and B & N Will Make a Donation to Writopia LabAlso, please hold off on any book purchases you’re about to make–when you buy books the night of the reading (at that location), 10% of the purchase price will be donated to Writopia! Just make sure to tell the cashier you’re buying books as part of the Writopia Lab book fair.

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Israeli Comedy and a Moving Personal Portrait

Film, Lily's notes

A Matter of Size, is a fun Israeli comedy, about the revolt of overweight people who find their new positive self-image and self confidence as Sumo wrestlers, yes, Sumo wrestlers in Israel. Sumo is a sport where fat people are honored.

This comedy is so perfectly over the top that we frequently squirmed as we laughed: the scene at a Weight Watchers type meeting led by an hysterical raving critical monster of a group leader was any one’s nightmare! And funny! Sumo wrestlers walking barefoot in their Sumo “diapers” followed by the pe0ple of the small town taking photos with their cells was hilarious.

This film could travel and be enjoyed by audiences here in the US, we  just need  Americans to agree to read sub-titles; it is a well-made comedy.

In contrast, Fiestaremos, is an intimate, moving portrait of  the musician and musicologist, Judith Frankel. This is an American film. Judith Frankel painstakingly researched Sephardic songs sung in Ladino,  by meeting with families and learning their songs, pronunciation and building long-term friendships.

This personal collecting in the field is a  very specialized form of musicology, and Frankel was a fine singer and guitarist, who was able to collect and play these songs beautifully. It was a complete pleasure to be  embraced by this warm and lovely film. The American Sephardi Federation/Sephardic House had her excellent CDs on sale and we have been enjoying listening to them.

Fiestaremos and A Matter of Size were both screened at The Sephardic Film Festival of 2010, and illustrate well the spectrum of films which were shown.

This is a small, but fine festival which I would recommend you put on your list for next year.

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First Tuesday’s at the Hayden Planetarium

Events, Guest Author: Jeff French Segall

It seems that twice a month, on the first and last Tuesday of each month,  the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History presents a new show especially targeted toward a very special audience – one that truly loves astronomy and appreciates learning about new discoveries in the field. Lily and I really had a wonderful time at the Hayden Planetarium last week.

The one hour show,  The Farthest Reaches of the Cosmic Ocean with Jason Kendall, which began at 6:30, focused on bigness.  Jason Kendall is “an ambassador of NASA”  and he was expertly knowledgeable and a charming narrator. In the Planetarium’s first show after it’s renovation, Tom Hanks show narrated the wonder of the super small morphing into the small, morphing into the visible, morphing into big, then super big and then utterly colossally big, all in one program.

This show, however, by intention and design, completely ignored the micro, and guided us into the universe of the macro.  We started out examining our own planet and moon, then quickly zoomed out to the inner planets, then further out to the outer planets, then further out till the sun shrank to the size of the other points of light we call stars, then further zoomed out to constellations, then further out to the limits of our galaxy, the Milky Way, then further out to nearby galaxies, then to farther galaxies, then to a universe of galaxies, to the horizon of our vision and knowledge.

Jason Kendall skillfully narrated and projected the astronomical images, speeding us through space, light-years and time, all the way back to 13-½ billion years ago, to the point of the Big Bang.  Throughout the presentation, the stars on the dome zoomed further and further away from us, some stars speeding as fast as a racing locomotive, others passing by more slowly.

The effect was that of 3-D without the need for Red/Green glasses.  It was an astounding production. It was visually glorious.

The audience, consisted of people of all ages – even children, and seemed especially sophisticated. In the Q and A period, they asked keen and challenging questions. One such challenge was: “If the Big Bang occurred 13 ½ billion years ago, then what was there 14 billion years ago? Could it not have been a previous universe imploding upon itself, crushing all its matter into a single point which then exploded into the current universe, with this expansion and contraction having been happening for all of time?”  The answers were similarly challenging: “There was no 14 billion years ago.  All space and all time started 13 ½ billion years ago.” The narrator suggested that the questioner google “Chaotic Inflation” for a deeper analysis of that proposition.

In its former incarnation, the old Hayden Planetarium building was like a second home for me when I was a member of its Junior Astronomers Club.  I remember the awe of their shows in which we took imaginary voyages to the planets. In the Voyage to Mars, the red planet loomed larger and larger inside the dome, giving the effect of we in the audience falling faster and faster toward the surface of the fourth planet of our solar system.  Likewise, other shows featured similar trips to Jupiter and Saturn.

In short, the new Hayden Planetarium takes us even further, indeed, fulfilling my hopeful vision for it – that of exciting the imagination and opening up a world of possibilities and ideas. We are all the richer for it.

Jeff French Segall

Guest Author

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WritopiaLab’s Award-Winning Teen Writers Read at B&N

Events, Literary event, Uncategorized

Come hear award-winning teen writers read their newest pieces;

The award-winning teen writers and rising stars of Writopia Lab will read excerpts from their newest prose at Barnes & Noble at 82nd Street and Broadway on Thursday February, 4th at 5pm.

This remarkable group of young people have revised and polished stunning pieces of fiction and memoir, and they are thrilled to share their work with you.

Buy Books and B & N Will Make a Donation to Writopia Lab

Also, please hold off on any book purchases you’re about to make–when you buy books the night of the reading (at that location), 10% of the purchase price will be donated to Writopia!

Just make sure to tell the cashier you’re buying books as part of the Writopia Lab book fair.

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ReelAbilities: NY Disabilities Film Festival, “Mary and Max”

Film, Lily's notes

ReelAbilities film festival is a completely unique festival and describes itself as “devoted to promoting awareness and appreciation of the lives, stories and artistic expressions of people with different disabilities.

They will screen award winning films in various locations throughout the NYC metropolitan area. Discussions and programs are also planned.

GothamGirl attended the screening of one of the films in this festival which was included in the  recent Jewish Film Festival at the Walter Reade Theater, and if this film  is any indication of the quality of the films in this festival, then select a few to see.

We saw MARY & MAX, a claymated, award-winning,  feature film by Adam Elliot. Claymation is a demanding form of stop-motion animation and this film is a absolutely terrific example of the technique.

New York City, Australia the characters etc, etc are all formed of “clay” and the result is it’s own unique universe of action. If you go to the film’s site, there is a section which shows their behind-the-scenes technique.

It is based on a story of pen-pal  friendship between two very different people; Mary Dinkle, a  lonely, eight year old girl living in the suburbs of Melbourne, and Max Horovitz, a 44 year old, lonely Jewish man with Aspergers Syndrome, living on his own, coping as best as he can with his situation,  in New York City. We see NYC through his eyes. He is “voiced” by Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Mary and Max’s friendship endures for 20 years, and the story explores the nature of friendship, autism, and communication. It also mentions: taxidermy, psychiatry, alcoholism, where babies come from, kleptomania, sexual difference, depression, trust, agoraphobia and more.

Try not to miss this one but please remember that this is a film for adults.

This is a sad film and it is not for children.

Please see the ReelAbilities site for tickets, showtimes, programs and venue.

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Cosmic Ocean Trip at the Hayden Planetarium Space Theater

Events, Film, Lily's notes, exhibit

Travel through the  the COSMIC OCEAN at the Hayden Planetarium Space Theater at the AMNH with their program: Virtual Universe: The Farthest Reaches of the Cosmic Ocean with Jason Kendall.

The museum says that this is the  world’s largest cosmic atlas, and that we can cruise through intergalactic space, and explore the immense distances between galaxies,  learning about the universe and how it has changed with time. We New Yorkers will just have to accept that the program begins and ends in the Himalayas and not in Manhattan.

Virtual Universe, travels through our solar system and beyond in live, interactive programs that include question-and-answer on the first Tuesday of each month.

A preview is available on YouTube.  Some of the viewers comments on YouTube following the Virtual Universe video are so inane and weird that they seem to map the inner  infinity of the universe of human strangeness, you may enjoy those too.

Tuesday, February 2, 6:30 pm, $15 Adults $13.50 Members, students, seniors

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Live at Martha Stewart Blog Show

Events, Lily's notes

The bloggers who came to be in the audience do not seem to be a political or edgy bunch but are very domestic: mom’s who write about motherhood, grandmothers about their grandchildren, and urban gardening. Many say they hope to promote their blogs, and others hope to receive gifts.

I heard no politicos or discussion about what a blog is, or the effect of blogs on news and society…not in the audience nor on stage.

We were welcomed and treated very cordially, as guests, and it was really fun to attend this show.

The atmosphere  is a very special and refined small slice of mild living. A welcome one hour vacation  from the current reality of terrible world news and problems.

Martha carefully crafted with focus: gluing “left-over” yarn onto decorations…but there is nothing left-over about the show. It is fascinating to watch this relaxed, successful, pleasant woman promote her enterprises.

After the show, and off-camera, Martha took several questions from the audience. Very nice.

A perfectly frosted and sliced piece of cake has been served!

And we all enjoyed it.

Thank you, Martha. You are a perfect host.

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Susan Eley Art Fine Art Exhibit and WritopiaLab Young Writers’ Reading


The Susan Eley Fine Art Gallery, which is our favorite West Side art gallery, is featured on the cover of Gallery Guide for their new exhibit called A Semblance: Paintings by Rachelle Krieger & Anne Sherwood Pundyk. Please click on the gallery site for further show details and be sure not to miss this.


And we received this from WritopiaLab.

These young writers are always a great pleasure and surprise.

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Martha Stewart Blog Show

Events, Lily's notes, Uncategorized

GothamGirl  is fortunate to receive many invitations, most are to film festivals, concerts, art openings, museum shows and restaurants. Recently we were surprised by an invitation from The Martha Stewart show asking us to join the audience  on January 14 in New York City.

The topic is bloggers and blogging, and they have requested that all of the invited bloggers come ready to blog live during the broadcast. This sounded like just too much fun to pass up and I will be there on Thursday all ready to blog live.

Rebecca-Wallace Segall, the founder and director of WritopiaLab will be there as well. The WritopiaLab’s blog is excellent: it is the spectacular work of the young writers of WritopiaLab. Rebecca is the  Scholastic Golden Apple National Award winner (2008 and 2009).

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14th Sephardic Film Festival

Events, Film, Lily's notes

It seems to be film festival season. Don’t mix this festival up with the NY Jewish Film Festival (see previous posts),  the Sephardic festival is the only  annual film festival in America devoted solely to the rich and colorful stories, customs and culture of Sephardic Jewry. Thirteen films, including three American and seven New York premieres will be shown. Also, there are talk backs with directors scheduled.

We always enjoy this festival, especial the variety of countries encountered, the music in the films, Sephardim in the audience greeting each other with warm smiles, and the variety of languages, this year: English, Hebrew, Ladino, Amharic, French, Japanese, Bulgarian, Moraccan, Spanish, etc …Yiddish….. ok, ok,  probably not Yiddish. But some of us are “Ashke-Phardic ” and enjoy all of the possibilities.

Please see The Sephardic Film for screening details and tickets.

Sponsored by the  American Sephardi Federation/Sephardic House (ASF) and Yeshiva University Museum. Supported by the Consulate General of Israel in New York. Here is their schedule at a glance.

Opening Night
Feb. 4th @ 7:30pm COCO
Followed by Opening Night Reception
Saturday Feb. 6th @ 7:30pm A MATTER OF SIZE
Feb. 6th @ 9:30pm HONOR
Sunday Feb. 7th @1:00pm LÉON- A NEW ENCOUNTER
Feb. 7th @ 3:30pm MASHALA
Feb. 7th @ 3:30pm FIESTAREMOS!
Feb. 7th @ 5:30pm REVIVRE – PART 1
Feb. 7th @9:00pm REVIVRE – PART 2
Monday Feb. 8th @ 2:00pm COCO
Feb. 8th @ 6:30pm ACROSS THE RIVER
Tuesday Feb. 9th @ 6:30pm REVIVRE – PART 2
Feb. 9th @ 9:30pm PILLAR OF SALT
Wednesday Feb. 10th @ 2:00pm SALVADOR
Feb. 10th @ 6:30pm AZI AYIMA
Feb. 10th @ 7:30pm HONOR / AT THE JCC – MANHATTAN
Feb. 10th @ 8:30pm QUEEN KHANTARISHA
Closing Night
Feb. 11th @ 7:00pm CHILDREN OF THE BIBLE
Followed by Closing Night Reception
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Protektor and Leap of Faith

Film, Lily's notes

Protektor, a film by Marek Najbrt, is a sophisticated, artful and  intelligent film which takes place in Prague during the Nazi occupation. It is an unusually nuanced film which feels truer to what it must have felt like to live through that time period…it is heads and shoulders above the many films produced in a “heroic”, or even worse , the new “vengeful mode” .

The cross currents of the love story intertwined with the severe time period, the ambivalence of some of the characters, and the aspect of chance in life is completely absorbing. Also, this film has a film-within-a-film,  which evokes the films of the 40’s perfectly. The film visually makes reference to art of the 40’s, and is in Czech.

I would put Protektor on my must-see list.


Leap of Faith, a documentary About Converting to Orthodox Judaism in America, follows four diverse families, who live in the United States, as they consider conversion to Orthodox Judaism.

Since Judaism does not seeks converts,  those of us who were born Jewish are frequently fascinated by converts to Judaism and want to know a great deal about their attraction, decision, experiences and the reaction of their families. This film will satisfy a some of that interest, without having to be tempted to be rude and actually ask a convert you may know any overly personal questions.   The film examines only a very specific part of the story: converts to Orthodox Judaism in the  US. This particular scope is quite understandable considering that the film-makers themselves are Orthodox Jews married to women who have converted to Judaism.

We meet  a lovely Trinidadian woman raised in a warm religious Christian home.  Her loving family, her story of attraction to Judaism, her personal struggle,  and the reactions and kindness of her supportive family are a lovely example of the best of family values. There is a single mother and her son, an elderly couple, and a once devout Christian family with teenage children who all convert.

All of the families are fascinating to watch. In one family, we meet a woman so upset by the conversation of a relative, that she asks the interviewer “What do you call your religion” and she says that even the name “sounds ugly” to her. Makes you squirm, we really do not expect such a blatant anti-Semitic remark.

The most revealing question of all is never verbally answered: the interviewer asks one of the Hasidic Rabbis involved in the conversions if he would like a child of his to marry a convert.

I left with the feeling that although this is a fascinating and worthwhile film, I had seen only an extremely limited picture of people who convert to Judaism in the US.

These films are included in the current 19th Annual New York Jewish Film Festival at the Reade Theater in Lincoln Center. More details are on the festival site.

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Klez for Kids on December 25, 2009 at 11am

Concert, Events

This sounds like much more fun than the usual movies and Chinese food for Christmas! The Museum at Eldridge Street, 12 Eldridge Street (in the Eldridge Street Synagogue), Between Canal & Division Streets is having this fun family concert. This is also a good opportunity to visit this restored, historic building, it is truly stunning.

Live Concert

Sing, dance, learn Yiddish and “get married” at our annual family concert. Clarinetist Greg Wall and his band Klezmerfest lead the audience on a musical tour of Eastern European Jewish culture. The program ends with an audience-enacted shtetle wedding with children taking on the roles of bride, groom and wedding guests.

$12 adults; $8 students and seniors

RSVP to: hgriff(at) or call 212.219.0888 x 205

The Museum at Eldridge Street presents the culture, history and traditions of the great wave of Jewish immigrants to the Lower East Side drawing parallels with the diverse cultural communities that have settled in America. The Museum at Eldridge Street is located within the Eldridge Street Synagogue, which opened its doors in 1887

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