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Eternal Echoes: Songs and Dances for the Soul

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Itzhak Perlman and Cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot Play Barclays Legendary violinist Itzhak Perlman will bring his soulful sound to Brooklyn with a major performance at Cushman & Wakefield Theater at Barclays Center on Thursday, February 28 at 7:30 p.m. Perlman will be joined on stage by Brooklyn-based Cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot, a world-renowned tenor who has led the revival of Jewish liturgical music. Perlman and Helfgot recently collaborated on the… Read More »Eternal Echoes: Songs and Dances for the Soul

A Brooklyn-Based Prayer Leader Heralds a Revolution in Jewish Music

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Joey Weisenberg’s music workshops—blending a democratic approach with a range of traditions—aim to boost engagement

By Leonard Felson published in Tablet Magazine – june 4,2013
 
Joey Weisenberg, center, leads singing at a wedding on April 28, 2013.

Joey Weisenberg, center, leads singing at a wedding on April 28, 2013. (Marta Fodor)

On a recent Saturday evening, as Shabbat began to fade, two dozen men and women, most in their 20s and early 30s, were slowly belting out a long niggun, a wordless melody, sitting in a close circle in the chapel of a Brooklyn synagogue. When their eyes weren’t closed in this meditative chant, they were watching Joey Weisenberg. He was leading a discussion on effective prayer leadership skills, but for the moment, Weisenberg wanted them simply to feel the mystical power of singing together. One melody, over and over and over. “Instead of changing melodies,” he said, “let it change our selves.”

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Danny Kaye, A Mentsh for All Seasons

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Danny Kaye

by Joe Dorinson

“My father took me on his knee and said: ‘Kolya, my little gypsy. It is time you vent out into the verid and learen the facts of life.’ So, I packed my little karzink, wandered over hill and dale, small villages and pretty cities. Then I saw her–my first womansk. She was gorgeous and sassionately beautifuly. And her voice–was the voice of angel. SOFT AND MELLOW! Deenah! Is there anyone feener in the state of Caroleena? If there is and you know her, please show her to me! Kack de byerna sertzer”
Nestled in the hallways of our low-income housing project, my friends and I slid up and down the scat scale in emulation of our idol. Danny Kaye. We loved the slow build-up, oozing shmaltz, the mad riffs and the blast off into stratospheric heights. Kaye represented the triumph of energy over matter–the fantasy triumph of every spirited kid. It is hard to believe that this elemental comic force no longer graces our world. To be sure, Kaye aficionados have various films to sustain them–but these Hollywood vehicles do not convey Danny Kaye at his best.
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Larry David credits Brooklyn upbringing for influencing humor

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BY DAVID HINCKLEY / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS, FRIDAY, JULY 26, 2013, 4:39 PM

Larry David spoke at the ‘Clear History’ panel discussion during the HBO portion of the 2013 Summer Television Critics Association tour.

Larry DavidBEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Now we know exactly where Larry David’s humor comes from. Not just the borough or the neighborhood or the street, but the exact apartment.
David was on a panel for TV writers here to discuss his HBO movie “Clear History,” which premieres Aug. 10.
He did this film instead of starting another season of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” he said, though “Clear History” has David playing a character with pretty much all the same exasperations and neuroses.
Partway through the panel, a writer asked, “Where is the influence of Jewish humor in your sensibility? Where does that come from?”
Larry David is barely recognizable in “Clear History.”

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Ron Schweiger, new president of the Society of Old Brooklynites

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Posted: Wednesday, May 8, 2013 5:17 pm | Updated: 5:23 pm, Wed May 8, 2013. on Home Reporter News By Theodore W. General Brooklyn’s official historian Ronald Schweiger was just elected as the 48th president of the Society of Old Brooklynites, which dates back to when Brooklyn was an independent city and the third largest in the nation. Schweiger, who is also the president of the Brooklyn College Alumni Association, joins a long list of… Read More »Ron Schweiger, new president of the Society of Old Brooklynites

Brooklyn’s Jews have a Love Affair with Mah Jongg

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Mah jongg! That’s the call of a winning hand! Since the 1920s, the game of mah jongg has ignited the popular imagination with its beautiful tiles, mythical origins, and communal spirit. Come learn the history and meaning of the beloved game that became a Jewish-American tradition.

Mah jongg is much more than a game: it is a carrier of fantasy, identity, memory, and meaning. Three bam, two dot, flower, five crack, dragons, winds! The tiles, lined up against racks as four players sit around card tables concentrating heavily on making a viable hand and winning the game.

From early 20th century Shanghai, where Jewish men and women first began playing to Brooklyn, mah jongg is a popular game played in senior citizen centers, community centers and in private homes, mah jongg.  The game spread to the United States., becoming extremely popular among Jews from New York to California. The American version is slightly different than the Chinese. American sets have 152 tiles in four suits. In the early days, tiles were made of ivory, then bakelight and today different plastics and materials are used. The rules of the game are determined by the National Mah Jongg Association.

Jewish actors like Eddie Cantor and Woody Allen refer to their mothers playing mah jongg.

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Author of “The War of the Roses” reminisces his youth in Brooklyn

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By Warren Adler
For Brooklyn Daily Eagle – may 23, 2013

Warren Adler

Warren Adler

It is remarkable that Brooklyn has become synonymous with cultural ferment, artistic innovation and an unstoppable surge of gentrification that is attracting a growing horde of super achievers. Although these two strains of environment changers are often in conflict with one another, both are prospering, radically changing the reputation of the borough from what was once an object of both pride and ridicule to one of the most culturally dynamic places in America.

The fact that I no longer recognize it as ‘my Brooklyn’ does not in any way impugn its current significance, but looking at it from the vantage point of the Brooklyn of my childhood and youth, roughly within a sixteen year span from 1932 to 1948, I can only conclude that the present, despite its glorious trappings of culture and prosperity does not come close to the wonder, excitement and exultation that captured my adolescent soul and never let go of it.

I have recapitulated those old Brooklyn days in a number of my novels like Funny Boys, Banquet Before Dawn and the New York Echoes short story collections, which offer the most details of that halcyon experience, but allow me to open the spigot of memory with some brief images of that bygone moment of urban joy.

My life in Brooklyn was lived betwixt two neighborhoods, Brownsville and Crown Heights, both Jewish enclaves then.  Irish and Italian neighborhoods were contiguous. Of course, there were other Brooklyn neighborhoods for every ethnic group under the sun, racial, national and religious. There were also wide economic and class distinctions easily identified by house sizes and the usual trappings of wealth.

In my Brooklyn days these other places seemed to reside in another country, perhaps another planet. We were very aware of our boundaries by look, smell, dress, religion and customs and we knew that when we crossed those lines we had invaded a somewhat hostile foreign land.

Read More »Author of “The War of the Roses” reminisces his youth in Brooklyn
Mikvah is the first to open in brownstone nabe

Mikvah is the first to open in brownstone nabe

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By Natalie Musumeci
The Brooklyn Paper

The first mikvah ever in Park Slope finally opened after more than five years of construction.

The three-story William and Betty Katz Center for Jewish Life, on 15th Street between Sixth and Seventh avenues, was celebrated with a grand ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday, drawing dozens of observant Jews and shutting down the street to traffic for several hours. The project has been controversial with neighbors since its inception.

A mikvah, which literally translates as “pool,” is a Jewish ritual bathhouse and an integral part of the religion, said Rabbi Shimon Hecht, leader of Congregation B’nai Jacob on Ninth Street. He also heads the Chabad of Brownstone Brooklyn, which built the mikvah.

“It’s a dream come true,” he said, adding that building a mikvah even takes precedence over building a house of worship.

The pristine, spa-like, facility is designed for observant Jews to partake in a ritual process of purification and cleansing, in a solitary and ultra private manner, by immersing themselves in specially constructed pools. The new mikvah has baths for men on the first floor and separate baths for women on the lower level. It’s available only by appointment.

“It’s a major component of the Jewish community,” he said. “You need a mikvah because Jewish purity is dependent on a mikvah. You cannot build a family without a mikvah. And if you don’t have a family then you cannot build a community.”

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