Cello goddess Maya Beiser wants classical music to rock like Janis Joplin

Posted on September 25th, 2017
By Gabe Friedman for JTA

There’s a small music room in the basement of cellist Maya Beiser’s large, kempt house in the leafy Riverdale section of the Bronx. It’s pretty spare — a few cellos, some basic recording equipment and posters from past concerts.

Against one wall, though, rests a cherry red Gibson SG guitar, the kind made famous by AC/DC guitarist Angus Young. Beiser — a tall, auburn-haired and beautiful Israeli-American — smiles when asked about it.

“I play around with it sometimes,” she said.

She also owns several foot pedals, which alter and distort the sound of her cellos, but those are housed in a different space upstate, she explains.

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Why the Internet Is Bad for the Jews

Posted on September 18th, 2017
By Liel Leibovitz for Tablet Magazine 

And what to do about it

Earlier this week, I was walking to work when I heard the loud beat of a drum. I looked up and saw dozens of men and women dressed in white, moving about solemnly. They were holding dinner plates, and their movements corresponded with the kettledrum’s syncopated thuds. A man playing the flute circled them somberly, injecting the occasion with a sharp sense of sadness. You hardly needed to consult the leaflets being passed around to realize that the performance, by the Buglisi Dance Theatre, was a memorial to September 11 and that it sought to provoke a sense of peace and remembrance.

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The Hollywood Reporter Names Jerusalem Film School As One of World’s Best

Posted on September 4th, 2017
By Liel Leibovitz for Tablet Magazine


Jews: Still really good at making movies!

What are the world’s greatest film schools? The Hollywood Reporter posed this Talmudic question to a gallery of correspondents, who, yesterday, published their definitive list. There’s Rome’s Centro Sperimentalde Di Cinematografia, which gave us Michelangelo Antonioni. There’s Prague’s Famu, to which we owe the great Milos Forman. There’s the film school in Lodz, responsible for both Roman Polanski and Andrzej Wajda. And there’s the Sam Spiegel Film & Television school in Jerusalem.

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What is Jewish Humor?

Posted on August 28th, 2017

First and foremost, Jewish humor snickers in the face of authority.

Defining humor of any kind is a bad business to be in. The minute you lay down a rule, you can be sure that some schmuck will tap you on the shoulder and say, “Ahem. What about Danny Kaye? Nachman of Breslov? How could you leave out Larry David? Are you joking?” Like a wannabe stand-up comic on his first open-mic night, all we can do is try.

What makes a joke, or story, or television episode qualify as Jewish humor is not — cannot be — just that it was created by a Jew. (If that were the case, some enormous percentage of all comedic American TV shows and movies would qualify.) There must be something inherently Jewish about Jewish humor. And so, while there is no single infallible determinant of the Jewishness of a joke, we can perhaps describe the tendencies, stylistics, even poetics of Jewish humor.

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This hilarious HBO executive picks her 5 favorite Jewish documentaries

Posted on August 21st, 2017
By Gabe Friedman for JTA

Sheila Nevins may not be a household name, but she is a legend in the documentary film world.

Since taking over HBO’s documentary division in 1979, the network’s documentaries have won 26 Academy Awards. In that same period, as a producer, she has won 32 Primetime Emmy Awards and 34 News and Documentary Emmy Awards.

Along the way, Nevins has worked on plenty of projects with Jewish themes, touching on subjects that range from Daniel Pearl to the Holocaust. Some of these, Nevins told JTA, influenced her beyond the professional realm, helping her connect with her Jewish identity in a way that her mostly secular upbringing did not.

“I feel Jewish and I feel proud of it, and I feel separated from it simultaneously,” said Nevins, who grew up in New York. “I wish that I could go back again and go to the Sunday school with all those cute boys my mother wouldn’t let me go to.”

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New Recordings to Practice With!

Listen to Cantor Randy chant parts of our services! Whether you're preparing for a B'nei Mitzvah, chanting Torah, or need a refresher on service prayers, listen here!