Thursday, October 27, 2011

There’s a New Deputy in Town

Welcome Anita Kassof, our new Deputy Director, who began Tuesday at the Museum. She has kept busy for the past two days meeting staff, donors, and trustees; attending no fewer than 11 meetings, the opening of Emma Lazarus: Poet of Exiles, and dinner at the home of our trustee Ingeborg Rennert.

Anita joins us from the Jewish Museum of Maryland (JMM), where she worked for the past decade as associate director, sharing management responsibility for all Museum departments and activities as well as developing exhibitions. Here she will oversee the program areas of the Museum, specifically Collections and Exhibitions, Education, and Public Programs.

During her tenure in Baltimore, she served as co-curator of The Synagogue Speaks and Voices of Lombard Street: A Century of Change in East Baltimore, for which she also co-edited the exhibition catalog. She also curated Lives Lost, Lives Found: Baltimore’s German Jewish Refugees, 1933-1945, edited the accompanying catalog, and produced an award-winning exhibition DVD. She has authored several publications, including Lights & Shadows, a memoir of Holocaust refugee Arnold Fleischmann, and The Synagogue Speaks, a children’s book based on the exhibition of the same name. (It's available in the Pickman Museum Shop.)

Prior to her service at the JMM, Anita served as the associate curator at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) from 1988-2000, where she helped to develop the Museum’s collections policy and build the Museum’s permanent collection of Holocaust artifacts, documents, and photographs. At the USHMM, she was the associate curator of Assignment Rescue, the Story of Varian Fry and the Emergency Rescue Committee, the inaugural temporary exhibition, which subsequently traveled nationally, and co-authored Flight and Rescue, which chronicled the flight of Polish Jews to Japan and Shanghai.

We are delighted to welcome her to the Museum, and look forward to working with her, learning from her, and attending meetings galore with her in the years to come.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What do you get the girl who has everything for her 125th birthday?

Did you ever wish you could get up close and personal to the Statue of Liberty without waiting in line with the tourists, climbing lots of stairs, or leaving the comforts of your own home? In honor of the Lady of the Harbor’s 125th birthday, The National Park Service just installed 5 Torch cams, that allow you to do just that, and much more. According to the president of the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, it is the first time since 1916 that the public will be able to enjoy the views from the torch. The cameras will be on 24 hours a day for visitors around the world to view starting on Friday. Read the full Associated Press story.

Image by EarthCam.

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Bounty of Programs this Fall

This blog is by Gabriel Sanders, who would like to entice you to put down the hot cider or pumpkin latte and head to the Museum for some fantastic programming. Here is just a sampling of what's in store for the rest of the fall and for the early winter.

After the relative quiet of holiday-rich October, we begin November with back to back blockbusters.

On the 6th, in connection with our ongoing exhibition Deadly Medicine, we will host an afternoon with cultural historian Sander Gilman, an authority on the field of Nazi science, and medical ethicist Arthur Caplan. After their compelling talks, they’ll engage in a discussion moderated by Museum Director David G. Marwell, who has fascinating professional insight himself, having been very involved in the search for the notorious Nazi Josef Mengele.

The very next night, in collaboration with the Primo Levi Center, we will offer a staged reading starring John Turturro devoted to the great Italian author’s scientific works.

Next Wednesday, just in time for the Statue of Liberty’s 125th birthday, we’ll be opening the exhibition Emma Lazarus: Poet of Exiles. The poet is in many ways the guiding spirit of our programming for the rest of the year, as themes related to immigration and the Statue recur in program after program.

A November 30 discussion will encompass two very different stories of immigration. The Wall Street Journal’s Lucette Lagnado, author of the bestselling 2007 memoir The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit, will discuss her follow-up effort, The Arrogant Years: One Girl's Search for Her Lost Youth, from Cairo to Brooklyn, with fellow memoirist and master raconteur Malachy McCourt.

On December 11, June Feiss Hersh will discuss her bestselling cookbook Recipes Remembered: A Celebration of Survival with Gabriella Gershenson of Saveur magazine.

In 1876, Emma Lazarus, published a story based on the life the Book of Esther’s Vashti, Ahasuerus’ banished queen. Like Lazarus, the poet and songwriter Alicia Jo Rabins has drawn inspiration from some of the Bible’s more rowdy heroines. On December 21, Rabins’ band, Girls in Trouble, will celebrate both Hanukkah and Emma Lazarus, a rabble-rouser herself.

Yes, the Statue’s golden door may be closing for renovation later this month, but on December 25, she—or at least versions of her that have appeared in film—will be lifting a lamp for all to see. Join us for Hitchcock’s 1942 thriller Saboteur, the animated classic An American Tail, and, perhaps Lady Liberty’s biggest role ever, Ghostbusters II.

The mercury may be dropping, but inside Edmond J. Safra Hall the temperature is always pleasant.

Give us your huddled masses!

Image: An American Tail. Courtesy of Swank Motion Pictures.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Inspiring Fall Flowers

This blog comes from our gardening beat reporter and photographer, Keika.

Fall is here, and everyone has their own way of celebrating this season and the harvest festival of Sukkot. You can either seek a sukkah near you (see previous blog entry) or you can check out the Fall Flowers of Japan at the New York Botanical Gardens (on view through October 30). I went to see it this past weekend and was deeply inspired by the beautiful and intricate displays of Japanese chrysanthemums, or kiku. I was especially amazed by the ozukuri, a display of hundreds of flowers all grown from a single stem (seen in photo), which can take up to 11 months to create. The attention-to-detail and execution are unparalleled. The show also features the ogiku, a single or triple stem display, and the kengai, a display of cascading flowers. I was so moved by these exquisite flowers that I went back to see them a second and third time. If you are looking for some inspiration this season, or a place of tranquility, I highly recommend seeing this show.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Desperately Seeking Sukkahs

Although the temperature is balmy, and barely a leaf has turned, it really is time for the harvest festival of Sukkot. As a public service, Paul and his intern Lily have done some investigating of neighborhood sukkahs. Although we are closed Wednesday afternoon, Thursday, and Friday in observance of Sukkot, you may be nearby or when you return to work you, too, may be seeking a sukkah.

But first a word about the holiday. The word sukkot itself means “booths” and gives significance to the type of dwelling inhabited by the Jews wandering in the desert for 40 years. If you enjoyed sleeping in your backyard as a kid, think how nice it is to do it as an adult. While you can honor the holiday by eating meals in the sukkah, if you are so inclined and you are feeling spry, spend as much time as you can in it. The sukkah is decorated festively and has two halachic architectural demands: it must have at least 2.5 sides and a roof that provides more shade than sun in the day and a view of the stars at night. And just to make things really interesting, the roof must be constructed from materials that grew out of the ground, but are no longer attached to the ground. Last year, Reboot sponsored Sukkah City in Union Square Park, which called upon designers and architects to create sukkahs of drama and usability. Take a look.

Back to the present. Preliminary research indicates the following downtown possibilities:
1. Near the flagpole in Battery Park; historically the sukkah is set up by Chabad
2. On the roof of 160 Broadway, for the use of the Broadway Café customers
3. In front of Pita Express at 16 Ann Street (east of Broadway)
4. At the Wall Street Synagogue, 47 Beekman Place (near William Street)

Disclaimer: We list these sukkah sites as a public service, but we are not affiliated with any of them.

Chag Sameach

Photo: Sukkah at Foehrenwald DP camp, 1946. Gift of Evelyn Cohen.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Walk in Emma’s Footsteps

If you have a fancy phone and a comfy set of shoes, we have some really good news for you. The Museum has created a free mobile walking tour of Emma Lazarus’ New York, which will complement our upcoming exhibit about all things Emma. The tour of Gilded Age New York is narrated by Julianna Margulies (whom we wish a hearty Mazel Tov on her recent Emmy), and features a reading of Emma's famous poem“The New Colossus,” by Meryl Streep. The mobile tour features 19 former and current historic sites that shaped Emma’s experience and legacy including her homes and her literary and artistic haunts. For instance, see this photo of Union Square in 1853. Doesn't it look different without the dog run, skateboards, and farmers' market?

The application is a GPS-enabled tour and map that consists of annotated historic tour sites, a slide show, and audio commentary featuring experts in the field of Jewish history, art history, and the history of the Statue of Liberty. The downloadable tour is available for iPhone and Android.

Union Square, looking south in 1853. Courtesy the Picture Collection, New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Street Scene

This blog comes from Sarah Wolff, our Producer of Public Programs, who recently stepped outside of her role at the Museum to produce, The Love Letter You’ve Been Meaning to Write New York, a new-media street theater piece around the corner from here that has a lot of critics and neighbors talking.

Directed and conceived by Jonathan Solari, the play features a cast of more than 40 who perform right on Greenwich Street. The audience sits inside the theater and face out the floor-to-ceiling window overlooking the street. The play follows the story of a young man who has gone through hard times in the city and has decided to leave New York for good. However, strange encounters on Greenwich Street may influence him to stay. Part of the charm of the work and part of the danger is that we can’t block off the street, which enviably leads to the biggest variable in our piece, cars driving through and people walking by.

The cast is truly a composite of New York City, filled with dancers, actors, musicians and people from all walks of life. The show combines video, large scale dance numbers, puppetry, live music, and scripted performance. The event has become a part of the downtown community, so much so, that the local NYPD have nightly drive bys where they like to give the audience a thumbs-up or turn their lights and sirens on to give the cast a laugh!

As we enter our last two weeks of the run, I can now say that I have fallen in love with New York all over again. This play shows how a simple act can change someone’s life and I personally get excited to see what happens every night. I love to see who is going to walk by and choose to interact with us, or whether it will rain and the cast will join together and share umbrellas or simply choose dance in the rain together.

To see some of our cast talk about their favorite moments head to our Facebook page here!

The Love Letter You’ve Been Meaning To Write New York runs through Oct. 16 at 3LD Art and Technology Center, 80 Greenwich St. (at Rector St.), 212-352-3101; www.TheLoveLetterYou’