Wednesday, September 30, 2009

November and December at the Museum

It is my pleasure indeed to present the November-December public programming schedule at the Museum. This is definitely going to be a fantastic season. In just two months, you will be able to see musicians, comedians, authors, and filmmakers; there really is something for everyone (to quote one of our performers) “from babies to bubbes.”

Tickets are available online now or, if you like good old-fashioned phone calls, you can always call the box office at 646.437.4202.

If you can’t wait until November, remember that tickets are still available for October programs or you can always revisit some of your favorite past programs on the Museum’s YouTube channel.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Hero I’ve Never Met

This really beautiful post is from Abby.

Stephen Siller, a firefighter with Squad 1 on Union Street in Brooklyn, had Sept. 11, 2001 off. He was going to play 18 holes of golf with his brothers. When he heard on his scanner what happened at the WTC, he grabbed his gear, got in his truck, and made his way to the Brooklyn side of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel. There was no way to get his truck through to the other side. With no other option, he put on his gear, weighing more than 70lbs, and took off running through the tunnel. He made it to the other side. He was last seen on Liberty and West Streets.

My husband and I spent Sunday morning with 24,998 strangers in the pouring rain awaiting the start of the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers 5K Run (and walk). We lined up Coffey Park in Red Hook and peered over the walls of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, watching the Wounded Warriors take off first in their ultra-light carbon bike frames. The Bridge and Tunnel Authority even wrote a little message to us in their illuminated display: Welcome Tunnel to Towers Runners. Roadway is slippery.

Stephen was married with five children, and he himself was one of 8 or 9 siblings. According to his brother, who was quoted in the Staten Island Advance, their mother died when Stephen was 8, and their father died soon after. These kids had only each other, and that is why the foundation created in his memory helps children in need including those who have been burned and those who have lost one or more parents. The run, the foundation, and a new New York Foundling facility are just some of the ways that Stephen’s family chose to honor his memory. They transformed tragedy into inspiration with the goal of helping total strangers; something Stephen dedicated his life to doing.

I can’t imagine how many volunteers are needed to produce this event. Between registration, logistics, what to do when the truck with t-shirts and registration materials catches fire (yep, that happened, too), and all the people needed to cheer runners on, it must be thousands.

Although I never had the honor of meeting Stephen Siller, I know he was a remarkable person. To inspire thousands of people, the majority of whom are strangers, to honor his memory, and the memory of his brother firefighters, is a true legacy.

For me, the most memorable part of the morning was ascending through the Manhattan end of the tunnel, with daylight streaming in, and I think some appropriate song by Queen blasting on the speakers installed just for the morning. On the left side we were greeted by hundreds of USMA cadets holding American flags. On the right side, we were greeted by hundreds of firefighters in their uniforms. Each held a banner with the photograph and name of a firefighter who died Sept. 11 (or in the case of Robert Beddia and Joseph Graffignino, who died at the Deutsch Bank fire) and cheered us on, applauding, yelling, and whooping. The rain mixed with my tears and I wasn’t sure if my heart was going to break from sadness or burst with pride.

Every member of Stephen’s family is part of the creation and organization of the day— his sisters, his brothers, his children, and his wife. On Sept. 27 we were all part of Stephen’s family, and that was the greatest feeling of all.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Why do the new neighbors speak in iambic pentameter?

Keeping in the vein of yesterday's post, it gives me great pleasure to pass on this great news: today, Poets House, a national poetry library and literary center, opens at its new location at 10 River Terrace in Battery Park City (about a ten minute walk north of the Museum). It is a home for all who read and write poetry. Its resources and literary events document the wealth and diversity of modern poetry, and stimulate public dialogue on issues of poetry in culture.

Today and tomorrow, they will hold an open house from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. featuring a housewarming, poetry readings, and music by Natalie Merchant. If you can’t make it, fear not! Regular hours for the Poets House Library & Reading Room will begin Tuesday, September 29. This magnificent new space will include a state-of-the-art Programming Hall dedicated to poetry-related performance; an expansive Reading Room with sweeping views of the Hudson River and the Statue of Liberty; a spacious, whimsical Children's Room with the capacity to vigorously expand Poets House's poetry programs for children, schools and families; an open-access multimedia archive; and a multidisciplinary Exhibition Space.

For more information, visit

For those of you who did not watch cartoons in the 1980s, the image above is of Poet Smurf.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Say It With Style

I’m happy to report that today is National Punctuation Day. The day is described as, “a celebration of the lowly comma, correctly used quotes, and other proper uses of periods, semicolons, and the ever-mysterious ellipsis.”

While you don’t have to go overboard by baking things in the shape of punctuation marks like this guy, we invite you to join the celebration today by using correct punctuation when writing e-mails, texts, tweets, and all other correspondences. If you happen to print menus or own a CD shop, please be on the lookout for wayward apostrophes. Your readers will thank you!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Idan Raichel Returns to the Museum

While our November/December public programs have not yet been officially announced (you’ll have to wait until the end of the week for that), there’s been one upcoming event in particularl that we couldn’t keep to ourselves. On Tuesday, November 10th and Wednesday, November 11th, acclaimed Israeli singer-songwriter Idan Raichel will appear at the Museum along with some incredible musicians from around the world.

Featuring songs from his new international release, Within My Walls, Raichel and friends create an eclectic blend of world music that celebrates unity and respect. The Times of London has raved, “This one-man Middle East peace accord makes music that is an ambitious celebration of multicultural diversity. The ethnic elements are cleverly rewired with modern grooves to create an ambient journey that thrillingly bridges the traditional and the modern.” We’ll co-sign that.

Raichel last appeared at the Museum back in October of 2007 when he performed three concerts. Betsy (who has all the luck) saw all three shows and declared each one fabulous. (And she’s not alone—Idan performed to a sold-out house every evening.) I saw none of them because, apparently, after you send out wedding invitations to all your loved ones, they expect you to show up. (What happened to it being “my day?”) But all shall be remedied this November—I can’t wait to get my tickets (which will go on sale next week or so—we’ll keep you posted) and I hope I’ll see you there.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Museum of Chinese in America Re-Opens in Lower Manhattan

Today, the Lower Manhattan museum community was enriched with the re-opening of the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) at its new location at 215 Centre Street (between Howard and Grand Streets one block north of Canal Street).

MOCA’s new core exhibition, With A Single Step, presents the diverse layers of the Chinese American experience while examining America’s journey as a nation of immigrants—including an overview of Chinese in the United States from the 19th century to the present, individual stories that reveal what it has meant to be Chinese in America over time, and the physical traces and images of the past. The exhibition is tied together by three main threads: the relationship between China and the United States and its impact on Chinese Americans; how Chinese Americans have perceived themselves in American society (and been perceived) over time; and the impact of Chinese Americans on politics, culture, and life in the United States.

The Museum will also have rotating special exhibitions, films, and programs.

Congratulations to our friends at MOCA
we can't wait to visit!

For more information, visit

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sho-far So Good

The Young Friends of the Museum — our crowd of 21-40 year olds who support us through social, educational, and philanthropic programming — are having a big New Year’s bash this week that you won’t want to miss. It’s taking place at Aspen, a very cool lounge that is decorated in modern ski-lounge d├ęcor. Appletinis anyone?

Thursday, September 24, 8 p.m.

Aspen, 30 W. 22nd Street

Join us to celebrate, dance, and toast the Jewish New Year with some apples and bubbly! Party like it's 5770 with our Sweet Year Drink Specials: $4 beer, $5 sangria, $7 well drinks, and special New Year's themed drinks

Win amazing raffle prizes including premium Yankees and Broadway show tickets; Philosophy and Clarins gift baskets; a 3-month Crunch membership; a Laura Merkin purse; and much more.

The Chainsmokers will be spinning all night.

Tickets are $40 Members, $45 non-Members, $90 ticket and Young Friends Membership

Click here to purchase tickets.

Proceeds from this event will support the Interfaith Living Museum program.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Nextbook’s Jewish Body Week

Our friends at Nextbook just announced their Jewish Body Week Festival, taking place October 18-25 in New York, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco. The festival will include music, art, dance, really interesting chats, and more. The festival’s theme is inspired by a book by Melvin Konner, a renowned doctor and anthropologist, that takes measure of the “Jewish body,” considering sex, circumcision, genes, nose jobs, and other topics.

Being busy bodies ourselves, we are happy to be participating.

On Wednesday, October 21, the Museum will present:

Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company in Tribe

This is a world-premiere performance that finds inspiration from Judaism and explores the human body as a source of reflection, strength, humor, and celebration. The performance features original music by Shawn Baltazor and Roxy Coss played live by a jazz quintet and violinist Sarah Geller. Following the performance is a Q&A and workshop with Gwirtzman and dance critic Elizabeth Zimmer.

To purchase tickets: click here.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Coming Up: Family Concerts at the Museum

If you had fun at this past Sunday’s American Girl: Meet Rebecca Rubin (or just wish you had) be sure to keep your calendars marked for upcoming family programming in the next couple months.

On November 22, get a jump start on the Festival of Lights with Chanukah Fever with The Mama Doni Band. This high-energy rock concert for kids and families is the debut of the band’s new album of the same title. The show is perfect for all ages—from babies to bubbies—and will feature new songs with such pun-tastic titles (“Mac A. Bee”) that would make Betsy, our own world play champion, proud. Mama Doni was most adorably and evocatively described by Kiwi magazine as “...part "Weird Al" Yankovic (for the hilarious and surprisingly insightful lyrics), part Sarah Silverman (but much cleaner and only the parts of Sarah’s show where she innocently sings her little heart out) and that adorable mom down the street who manages to wear bright red lipstick and a cute track suit to put out the recycling at 6 a.m. Mama Doni — you had me at mazel tov.”

On December 25… he’s back! Museum favorite Joshua Nelson returns for another spectacular set of shows including a new one-hour sing-along for children! This show will be held at 11 a.m. and will be different from his second set at 1 P.M. which, though family friendly, will be less geared toward kids. Nelson’s acclaimed fusion of Hebrew tunes and gospel style will delight audiences of all ages. These shows (which we call Challah-lujah, we’re pun fans if you can’t tell) regularly sell out, so be sure to reserve your spot well in advance.

Tickets for these fabulous shows aren’t on sale yet, but they will be at the end of the month. We’ll keep you posted. As usual, you can get tickets on our website or by calling the Museum box office at 646.437.4202.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Sesame Sweet New Year

Whether you are getting ready for the New Year by grocery shopping, cleaning, or cooking vats of chicken soup like my hardworking colleague, Lisa, you will want to take a minute to watch this festive You Tube video that combines two of my favorite things, Rosh Hashanah and the Muppets. Trust me, it is even better than a kitten playing the piano.

May you have a healthy, happy New Year full of small and large things that make you smile.

Shana Tova!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Holidays at the Museum

The new year (5770) is just around the corner (sundown on Friday to be precise). Rosh Hashanah begins a month full of holidays, which means some closings and modified hours. Please be sure to plan your visits accordingly and have a sweet and happy new year...

The Museum will be closed on…

September 20 (Rosh Hashanah)
September 28 (Yom Kippur)
October 4 (Sukkot)
October 11 (Simchat Torah)

The Museum will close at 3 p.m. on…

September 18 for Erev Rosh Hashanah
September 27 (Erev Yom Kippur)
October 2 (Erev Sukkot)
October 9 (Erev Shemini Atzeret)

The image above is of a card that was printed in Germany, circa 1915, for the Williamsburg Post Card Company, New York. These three bicyclists carry cards with new year wishes, and the text above reads: Awake, a new year is in sight/God unlocks treasures, joy, and might/Days of happiness you will be granted/A life blesses as a shining light.