Browsing the archives for the Uncategorized category.

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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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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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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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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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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UWS Snow on Sunday Morning


The snow has stopped: we seem to have  gotten about a foot of snow from the storm last night. The side streets seem not to have plowed, some traffic is moving slowly on the avenues, and my NY Times was  delivered this morning as usual. I do not see any side street car traffic,  people are walking in the streets, shoveling the sidewalks and running in Central Park. The skies are quiet, I assume that the airports are still closed.

Must be time to listen to the hysteria-filled weather reports on the TV, and enjoy fresh coffee with an omelet.

It is a lovely, quiet morning. All will be back to normal very soon.

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Latest Update on 535 West End Avenue


There is quite a lot of interest in 535 West End Avenue if we judge by the traffic GothamGirl receives on the previous posts regarding this new construction. So here it is, the latest according to a very reliable source. The owners claim that the building is 65% sold, our source says that this is no way near the truth. This building, like so many others is having trouble with sales in this still poor economy. This is not surprising and it does not mean that this building is any worse off than any other, just that their claimed percentage of sales is not so accurate. Construction continues.

The same source says that they will consider bids which are much, much lower than the offering prices we have originally heard of in the past.  I do not think this is so surprising but either, but thought that you might like to know.

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Reinventing Ritual at the Jewish Museum


Reinventing Ritual at the Jewish Museum is a compelling, multi-media exhibit of artists from around the world, exploring Judaism and its symbols as a comtemporary vital force.

I will add details and photos to this post after Rosh ha Shanah ends on Sunday evening. 

The Jewish New Year 5770 starts at sunset today. How is this the year 5770? Don’t ask…I have to continue holiday preparations. Hopefully, by Passover I’ll have some time to answer.

I wish you a New Year of peace, health,  happiness and creativity to all.

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Procrastination: Thoughts For Rosh haShanah

Guest Author: Natasha Hirschhorn, Lily's notes

The Jewish month of Elul, which preceeds Rosh haShanah and Yom Kippur, is a time of reflection, self-evaluation and  and return.  I want to share with you this wonderful piece written by Hazzan (cantor) Natasha Hirschhorn of Congregation Ansche Chesed in Manhattan:

There is a story about Satan, known as an “accuser” in Jewish tradition, who gathered his assistants together one day to talk about the most effective method of destroying the meaning of people’s lives.

One said, “Tell them there is no God.” Another suggested, “Tell them there is no judgment for sin and they need not worry.” A third proposed, “Tell them their sins are so great they will never be forgiven.”

“No,” Satan replied, “none of these things will matter to them. I think we should simply tell them,There is plenty of time.’”(Chasidic)

When I first read this story, I felt the proverbial finger pointing straight at me – an accomplished procrastinator…  But while I’ve always experienced a fair amount of guilt accompanying my shifting deadlines and to-do lists that never see their items crossed off, I felt the Satan’s judgment was too harsh… Can my delays in action truly be affecting the very meaning of my life?

This year as I was doing physical therapy for my back, I discovered an unpleasant truth.  It turned out that the very exercises I found the most difficult and painful were the ones my body needed the most in order to heal and get stronger.  According to Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, our souls going through Teshuvah, repentance, must operate on a similar principle – “To give money, for instance, is for some of us a molehill, whereas to apologize for having offended someone is a mountain. Now beware if you offer a sacrifice to God, make sure that you offer what really costs you dear, for God would not appreciate a fool’s deal”.

We may feel the need for a personal Teshuvah all year long, but our tradition really makes us face the challenge in the 40 day stretch from the beginning of Elul until Neilah* . This time period seems to highlight both a search for the meaning of it all, and a sense of urgency – the Book will be sealed, the Gates will be closed… In other words, our process of introspection must be honest and thorough, but it has a deadline!

The understanding that the task of true Teshuvah can’t be easy by definition, combined with the finite amount of time to accomplish it, can feel simply overwhelming.  The one Gate that is the most difficult for me to enter, may be the only one leading me to my higher self… Even with 40 days to go, how can I hope to find a way in before the Gates close?  

Perhaps, given the not uncommon propensity for procrastination, the very existence of a deadline ensures that we begin the process at all… The circular nature of the calendar reminds us that having made it at the last Neilah doesn’t guarantee us the coveted insider’s spot in the coming year.  Each time we must begin anew; to enter the last month of the year ready to challenge our souls and to seek the Gate – ever elusive and yet, ultimately, within our reach.  Each Elul, we must begin the spiritual labor with both a sense of urgency and a feeling of hope.  And, through this difficult journey, we pray, to rediscover the meaning of our lives.

Hazzan Natasha Hirschhorn

Congregation Ansche Chesed of New York

* Neila is part of the end of the service on Yom Kippur

Shanah Tovah

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Central Park’s Trees Damaged by Tuesday’s Extreme Storm- A Microburst


It is terrible to see the amount of destruction that was done to so many trees in Central Park on August 18, 2009, Tuesday evening by the unusaul and wicked storm that roared through. Meteorologists called the storm a “microburst” which seems to mean that strong winds hit the ground (from cloud level?) and travelled straight, unlike the spinning winds of a tornado. These winds reached 60 to 100 miles per hour in Manhattan!

We witnessed this extreme wind at street level in a restaurant and no one present had ever seen anything like it before in NYC.  More of the New Weird Weather.
Remains of a Central Park tree knocked down by Microburst windstorm On August 18 2009

Remains of a Central Park tree knocked down by Microburst windstorm On August 18 2009

The West Side of Manhattan and Central Park were badly hit. There were trees and large branches down ont he streets blocking all traffic. Much of this has been cleared up but there is a great deal more to be done by the Park’s people who take care of the trees. Up at Central Park West and 105th, where there is a large outcropping of bedrock, trees were leaning and dangling over the traffic. Many old, lovely trees have been lost.

Here are a few photos of the damage by Jeff French Segall.

Clearing the Storm Damage in Central Park

Clearing the Storm Damage in Central ParkRemains of a Central Park tree knocked down by Microburst windstorm On August 18 2009Street Tree Branches Gathered for RemovalStreet Tree Branches Awaiting Removal

Street Tree Branches Awaiting Removal

Street Tree Branches Awaiting Removal

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Oceans of Comments!!


GothamGirl has been inundated with many thousands of comments over just a few days.

An ocean of comments. An avalanche of comments.

I think that this is now resolved but I will not re-open the site to readers comments until I am sure this flood is over.

Hmmm….maybe it was writing about the Golem that did it…..

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535 West End Avenue Quality Issues


GothamGirl received a comment from someone claiming that he worked on construction of 535 West End Ave which is attached to the to the previous post.

The author of the post, NYCGuy, absolutely stands by his observations about the (lack of) quality of the building construction of 535 West End Avenue and the truth of his article.

GothamGirl invites the builders and or or developers to comment on this question of quality of construction. We would like to hear from an official spokesperson and we will print your reply. We make every attempt to always print factual articles and comments and we would sincerely appreciate your response.
Construction quality of a condo or coop should be of extreme interest to any buyer.
Furthermore, NYCGuy says:  

 I just returned from walking around the Ariels & then observing 535 West End Avenue.

 I have no qualms with the ceramic louvres used for the Ariels. Actually, I could describe what’s good in both buildings. The west one is a sad failure. It could have been a great   modern building. It needed to carry the glass around all four sides. The warehouse base on B’way, sucks. The tower, from the right angles looks like something one might see  in Rotterdam. (see Aaron Betsky’s False Flat: Why Dutch Architecture is so Good).   The ugly east one …. The 7-story base on B’way is actually good. It’s nicely articulated. Oddly, on the back side of the tower, the part that overlooks St Michael’s
 (which engaged in an out-of-view zoning lot merger that enabled the too tall tower), the flower pot terra cotta ceramic banding is switched to charcoal grey or grey flannel – something
  like that & is at every floor. It softens the look but doesn’t make it great. A twin with the west tower would have been better, but that’s relative.   
There is a section of the 5th floor “brickwork” of 535, along W 86, where the seam stands out. There’s no attempt at the alternating way bricks are laid. It is possible to remove sections
  of the brick veneer to create a continuity. This has been done over the W 76th St entrance to The Harrison. I think this is important because people are paying way more & more
  & the quality is not even held. The remark about the use of granite ledges reminds me of all the UWS brownstones with the stairs ripped out wherein instead of creating a proper   ”English flat” – matching the doorway & creating a contextual window where there once was a door, one owner framed everything in marble, installed modern glass & aluminum doors (is this a pharmacy? a hardware store?) & added the coup de grace – cheap plastic exterior lighting. Some “monument” works was busy cutting the marble for those fancy  entrances. Of course, most of them then got bad tile entryways. It is possible to use good materials poorly.”
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The Broadway-96th Street Station Remake, and 535 West End Avenue Construction Update

Guest Author: NYCGUY, Uncategorized

The Broadway-96th Street station, which was sloppily extended after WWII, is undergoing reconstruction.

The Broadway thoroughfare is being reconfigured to accommodate a station house in the expanded mall between 95th & 96th streets. This follows upon on the creation of a new station house between 72nd & 73rd streets, in the expanded Verdi Square. The structure there is a riff on the restored, landmark, 1904 entryway, that dramatically improved circulation, created a much used street level public space & somehow managed to visually anchor the Alexandria, David Child’s 1991 cartoon version of the beloved, eccentric Ansonia. Thank you Gruzen Samton.

The barrel vaulted structure envisioned for 96th Street seems to reference the suburban London Underground stations of the 1920s & 30s. Fingers crossed. There’s no stylistic context on the boulevard nor acknowledged pallet of colors or textures.

The interior tile work so far leaves everything to be desired. Whereas the past two decades of station modernizations have seen prefab tile panels hung over existing, deteriorated or missing stock or the older tiles scored before new are applied, neither format is being followed. Thin, low quality, rectangular  white tiles are being applied directly to the post-war tiles. There is no effort at evenness, a fact revealed by how light plays on the tiles + the grouting varies from dark to white. Some of the new tiles have been painted over. Most are filthy. On the west wall of the station, a section is already grease stained. This doesn’t bode well for a project of this scope & cost.

A section of the remaining 1904 Art Nouveau style terra cotta & tile banding was removed for storage & ostensible restoration before this section of old platform at the northeast corner of the station, was sealed forever. For the moment, an adjacent, perfectly intact section remains.

Given the haphazard installation of the white, evidently background tiles,  I was amazed this past week to first  notice new “96’s” & then a frieze pattern, actually two. That work is beautiful. Everything else is shit. …. There is a section of rebuilt staircase at 93rd St (w/s) where the tile changes from something really stolid to what looks like cheap, bathroom tile… It would seem no one is officially observing this. Where will the old tiles & terra cotta go? Why is the station being given a new, albeit necessary, entryway, for which the closest New York reference is what’s now Asphalt Green but with an interior that’s not IND ’30s, industrial modern nor does it speak to nearby Symphony Space’s De Stijl citation courtesy of James Polshek: Boogie Woogie Mondrian.

If you think it’s impossible somethings amiss, please take a walk or a ride up to the next station at 103rd, restored in 2004 & see the difference in craft & care for materials.

Nine blocks south& 1 block west, the so-called grand luxe 535 West End Avenue, has just applied, factory-made composite panels with 1″ inch thick, brick-like veneers to most of two floors.

Apparently, there will be only four narrow, vertical sections of raised pseudo-brick on the entire West End Avenue & West 86th Street facades. The color might be described as muddy brown. The pre-World War II West End Avenue from 70th to 107th streets is solid masonry. Not here. The brickwork on the adjacent buildings ranges in a pallet of beige, cream, tan andyellow. The more daring buildings are white – not the failed 1950s & 60s white or orange to red. Brown tends to be found on the side streets are much further north or south on West End.

All of those buildings have trim & ornamentation, even modest ones. A urbane building would reference that pallet & at least nod occasionally to vertical banding.

Not this one.

It towers legally above the surrounding streetwalls in a suburban manner, meaning it’s there by itself. Some commercial avenues in Midtown & Water Street Downtown are like this but this is one of the city’s great boulevards of apartments – broken here & there by preceding townhouse blocks. A really good International Style residential structure, like, yes, Morris Lapidus’ Presidential on West 70th Street might have interrupted things with flare.

Not here.

The developer – which has given the Upper West Side the unangelic Ariels  at Broadway between 99th & 100th streets (without the promised LEED certification for “greenness”) has made a big deal of their Chicago architect. That architect, it seems, is to the Windy City – a great architecture town – what Costa Kondylis & his late mentor Philip Birnbaum are to New York – a developer’s dream. Someone who can squeeze the last salable square inch out of the zoning envelope.

That’s very useful, but it doesn’t always yield great buildings. Developers will often pair that skill with an architectural firm known for stunning exteriors.

Humdrum would be a step up at this site.

Meanwhile, this building & threats to others, has yielded a grass roots movement to get the entire aforementioned stretch of West End Avenue covered by a New York City Historic District. Take that Extell& please take Mr Lagrange with you.

For those wondering about terra cotta, until 1960, a great New York City architectural medium, check out the books by Susan Tunick. For a look at the 96th Street station plans -albeit sans the tile work, visit In keeping with renderings for all too many public commissions hereabouts, the commuters & pedestrians drawn are all white. This is 96th Street?… Lastly, to learn more about & maybe join the efforts to landmark WEA, see

Editors Note: Please be sure to read the comments below. Lily

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Tea at the Mandarin Oriental Lobby Lounge=Poor Service

Restaurant review, Uncategorized

With so many wonderful places in New York City to have Tea with friends, I would recommend skipping the Mandarin Oriental Lobby Lounge in the Time-Warner building at Columbus Circle. We received dreadful service, they did not prepare correctly for our reservation, and the sandwiches were on the verge of being dried out. Go anywhere else.

New York has places with so much more warmth, character and lovely views than this disappointing spot.  The 35th floor view of Central Park does not make up for their poor service. Our host arranged well in advance for a table at the window for 9, when we arrived, it was set for 7 and could not be expanded. We stood and waited (at least a half hour, until we asked to sit while waiting) , while they put together a space for us. The manager and hostess were not in any way accommodating and the busy staff had no idea what to do. 

Instead of being welcomed guests we were “in the way”…

Considering that Tea service is $38 per person, this proves that they have no idea that their real business is hospitality. Just ridiculous.

We are adaptable New Yorkers so it takes much more than just stupid rudeness to stop us from having a good time–We had an excellent time in each other’s company,  enjoyed the lovely snow over the park,  and we will have an afternoon Tea together again,  though we will not be back to the Mandarin Oriental.

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Gimpel Tam (Gimpel the Fool) Folksbiene National Theatre

Theater, Uncategorized

Gimpel Tam (Gimpel the Fool) by Nobel Prize for Literature winner, Isaac Bashevis Singer is being performed by the Folksbiene Theatre through December 28, 2008 and you would be quite smart not to miss it. This is a new production written and directed by Moshe Yassur.

Do not pass up a chance to see the work of the very beloved writer I.B.Singer, which is produced so well, and in his native language, and performed on the Upper West Side where he lived and fed the pigeons on Broadway for so many years. Take along a few friends…talk over tea on Broadway afterwards. Perhaps you will attract a few of IB Singer´s more social dybbuks to join you.

Gimpel Tam asks us to question what is truth, what is reality, and to examine our ideas about good and evil.  This moving production is well staged, an entertaining and is a funny klezmer musical in Yiddish with English and Russian supertitles. Please go to the theatre´s site for many more details.

I saw this with five friends, including an UWS therapist who said that ¨Gimpel received love, but perhaps not enough from his mother, and that we see the story as through his eyes, that is, as if  everyone in town was against him¨ …oh, oh, oh…and just when you thought that you ¨got it¨.

I.B. Singer´s story of Gimpel Tam challenges the fool in all of us and in ordinary society.

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Saigon Grill Owners Arrested

Events, Lily's notes, Uncategorized

The story of Saigon Grill seems to have an ending which may include jail time for the owners for charges stemming from their treatment of their employees and for submitting falsified information to authorities. Today The NY Times reports on the arrest of the owners of Saigon Grill for a variety of criminal acts and explains this in detail.

A GothamGirl correspondent has spoken with Richard Nget, brother of the owners Simon and Michelle Nget, and manager of Saigon Grill on 90th Street and Amsterdam Avenue,  over years and again this past week days before the arrests.

He asked Mr. Nget years ago, before the action and dispute with their employees, “How have you kept your prices so low for years? ” and he replied: “I am afraid to change prices, because I am afraid that if I do it will bring bad luck”. Bad luck? Bad business, as in treating employees like dirt,  rightfully should  make severe consequences.

Well it is very clear that their many actions have brought them much more  than bad luck. They face fines of over $4 million dollars, and criminal charges, and perhaps jail time.

Months ago, Mr. Nget insisted that “everything is lie” and that his ex-workers were “evil” and when asked if he would rehire them, he said  ”never”. Wait staff standing near by nodded in agreement, perhaps afraid of losing their jobs.

Sunday, just a few days before the arrests, our correspondent asked him what are your plans now? He said: “maybe close everything”.

Maybe go to jail, too.

Now, I would like to know if any authorities are investigating the treatment of employees in nail salons. It seems to me that these places are ripe for exploitation of their immigrant women workers and they seem to  ”smell” of abuse.  Any thoughts?


NOTE: Received a reply from labor attorney Christopher Marlborough,  on these issues, please be sure read his note below! Especially you lovers of nail salons!

I am a labor attorney in NYC. I was not involved in the Saigon Grill case, but I am glad to see some employers being held accountable for their egregious crimes. Hopefully, a few criminal convictions can serve as a wake up call to employers everywhere. You had better start paying your workers what they deserve, or at least what you are required to pay them by law.

Regarding your questions about nail salons, a few years ago, the Brennan Center published a report about overtime violations in NYC and noted that nail salons are some of the worst offenders. The report, Unregulated Work In The Global City, is available online at this location:

There has been help for these exploited workers. The organizations Justice Will Be Served! (a coalition composed of the Chinese Staff and Workers’ Association, National Mobilization Against Sweatshops, and 318 Restaurant Workers Union have worked with nail salon employees in NYC to fight for their rights. In addition, The Asian American Legal Defense Fund has taken on several nail salons and gotten significant recoveries for exploited salon workers. See

I just finished reading a fantastic new book on the subject of employment exploitation called titled Wage Theft in America: Why Millions of Working Americans Are Not Getting Paid and What You Can Do About It by Kim Bobo. Kim is the Executive Director of Interfaith Worker Justice, Inc. a non-profit organization that works to improve working conditions in America on all levels. Her testimony before the U.S. Senate can be found here:

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