Friday, October 26, 2012

Giving Thanks for all Good Things in November (and December)

Director of Public Programs Gabriel Sanders shares with us what’s coming up this November and December in Edmond J. Safra Hall.

Recent years have seen enormous advances in the field of genetics with potentially far-reaching consequences for the treatment of disease and our understanding of the human race as a whole. These advances also have unique – and often dizzying – ramifications in understanding Jewishness. To help shed light on this fascinating field we kick off our November-December season with a symposium — this year’s Rosenblatt Forum — on Jewish Genes. A panel of leading genetics experts, including Harry Ostrer, author of the recently published Legacy: A Genetic History of the Jewish People, will discuss how advances in genetics can change and challenge our understanding of Jewish peoplehood and continuity.

The double helix that is our programming calendar includes both the weighty and the silly. On November 11, we nod to the latter, when we continue our celebration of the song Hava Nagila with “Lettuce Rejoice” – a play on “Let Us Rejoice,” for those keeping score at home – with the singer-puppeteers Yellow Sneaker.

The guitar strumming will continue the following Wednesday, November 14, when Israeli-born jazz phenom Gilad Hekselman takes the stage. We’re hoping the guitarist will be true to his nickname — Hex — and bewitch us with his artistry.

On November 16, we’ll be opening the exhibition Through Soviet Jewish Eyes: Photography, War, and the Holocaust. On the 18th, in connection with the new show, we’ll be screening the 1964 film Goodbye, Boys by the Soviet-Jewish filmmaker Mikhail Kalik. UMass Amherst film historian Olga Gershenson will be on hand to offer some context.

On November 28, just as we start thinking of frying up our latkes, we’ll have as our guests Noah and Rae Bernamoff, the duo behind the wildly popular Montreal-style Jewish deli Mile End. The two will be here to talk about their new Mile End Cookbook with Gabriella Gershenson of Saveur.

On December 4, Brandeis University historian Jonathan Sarna will come to talk about his latest book, When General Grant Expelled the Jews. The book centers on the notorious Civil War edict expelling the Jews from the territory under Grant’s command. Though quickly overturned by President Abraham Lincoln, the order, issued 150 years ago this December, became a key moment in American Jewish history.

On December 12, we’ll be right in the middle of Hanukkah and will probably have family on the mind – a good time then for a conversation between novelists Joshua Henkin (The World Without You) and Jami Attenberg (The Middlesteins), whose latest books are both about big, sprawling, quarrelsome Jewish families.

On the 19th, Hanukkah will have ended and the next big holiday on the horizon will be the one that Jews ignore or appreciate from afar: Christmas. Joshua Eli Plaut will be with us to discuss his new book, A Kosher Christmas: ‘Tis the Season To Be Jewish, which chronicles American Jewry’s longstanding love/hate relationship with Yuletide.
And on the 25th, there’ll be much here to love: a concert with Metropolitan Klezmer, crafts inspired by the checkerboard design of our Hava Nagila show, and, to top things off, a screening of the 2006 chair-hoisting bar mitzvah comedy Keeping Up With the Steins.

Let us rejoice!

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