March 25th, 2015

When revolution was in the air

Al Milgrom’s new film, The Dinkytown Uprising, looks at a 1970 social protest and its reverberations

By MORDECAI SPECKTOR

A playful trailer for Al Milgrom’s new film, The Dinkytown Uprising, begins with a dramatic trumpet fanfare from Mahler’s Symphony No. 6 in A minor (“Tragische”). The trailer proclaims: “TEN YEARS IN THE MAKING.”

However, the documentary film portrays the course of a tumultuous 1970 protest against a proposed fast-food burger joint. Led by U of M and University High students, and a colorful cast of hangers-on in the famed commercial hub adjacent to the University of Minnesota campus, protesters occupied four storefronts on the 1300 block of 4th Street S.E., over a span of several weeks.

The loose-limbed, entertaining documentary — which will have its premiere April 12, at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival (MSPIFF) — is actually 45 years in the making.

Al Milgrom: I’ve got some other things I want to get done. (Photo: Mordecai Specktor)

Al Milgrom: I’ve got some other things I want to get done. (Photo: Mordecai Specktor)

In 1970, Milgrom was a junior instructor in the university’s humanities program.

“I was teaching film history… I always wanted to get into film,” he explained during an interview last week at the Jewish World offices.

The original footage for The Dinkytown Uprising was shot on an Eclair 16mm movie camera.

“I had it sitting on my basement shelf, until about 1990, and I thought, ‘Well, gee, I better start doing something with this,’” said Milgrom, about the old Dinkytown footage, which features interviews with protest leaders and street-level scenes from the “uprising.”

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March 25th, 2015

Jon Adam Ross: ‘This brilliant light’

Theater artist Jon Adam Ross is creating a play inspired by Abraham using the stories of Twin Cities Jews

By ERIN ELLIOTT BRYAN / Community News Editor

On a Monday afternoon at the Shirley Chapman Sholom Home East in St. Paul, a group of eight seniors gathered around a table for a discussion with solo theater artist Jon Adam Ross. Ross asked the group to do some writing on two separate ideas: talk about a time when you’ve left anything behind, and talk about a time when you’ve tried something new later in life.

Those ideas were inspired by the life of Abraham, and Ross was looking for ways in which those themes are relevant to the lives of Jews in the Twin Cities.

“Are you going to talk about Abraham and women?” asked one resident, Leo.

“You can’t talk about Abraham and not talk about women,” Ross responded.

With supplementary school students at Sabes JCC, Jon Adam Ross leads a conversation and exercises exploring biblical themes. (Photo: David Katzenstein)

With supplementary school students at Sabes JCC, Jon Adam Ross leads a conversation and exercises exploring biblical themes. (Photo: David Katzenstein)

Ross recently kicked off “The In[heir]itance Project: The Genesis Plays,” in which he will create five plays in five cities over the course of three years. The project, which is funded by a grant from the Covenant Foundation, was announced on Jan. 15 and Ross was in the Twin Cities — joined by his director, Chantal Pavageaux — March 9-19.

Each play will focus on a different biblical patriarch or matriarch, beginning with Abraham in Minneapolis/St. Paul and ending with Sarah in Kansas City (the other cities chosen are Charleston, S.C., Seattle, Wash., and Austin, Texas).

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March 25th, 2015

Lincoln’s ‘valued friends’

Lincoln and the Jews: A History, by Jonathan D. Sarna and Benjamin Shapell, St. Martins, 272 pages, $40

Reviewed by NEAL GENDLER

Abraham Lincoln and the Jews? Who knew?

Jonathan Sarna and Benjamin Shapell enable us to know with a fascinating, beautifully illustrated account of how Lincoln befriended, helped and was helped by Jews — an outsider people, often despised, well into the late 19th century.

“Lincoln would never treat Jews as such, nor would he ever deride them in any of his writings,” the authors say. He “insisted on treating Jews on the same basis as everybody else.”

One Jew, attorney Abraham Jonas of Quincy, Ill., became a lifelong friend who promoted Lincoln at every opportunity and was a major force for his nomination. The authors say Jonas is “the only recorded person… Lincoln ever directly called ‘one of my most valued friends.’”

Lincoln-cover

One of the great virtues of Lincoln and the Jews is that it shows us the letter with those words, as it does scores of other documents, letters and notes in Lincoln’s own hand, as well as information about and photos of Jews involved in Lincoln’s life.

We see that Lincoln wrote unpretentiously, both in language and penmanship. Official documents were signed with both names, but most others show a simple “A.Lincoln.”

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March 25th, 2015

Investigating Nazi-looted art

Israeli art expert Yehudit Shendar returns to Minnesota in April to talk about her work on a task force investigating a billion-dollar cache of Nazi-looted artworks

By MORDECAI SPECKTOR

In March 2012, Bavarian tax authorities raided an apartment in the Schwabing neighborhood of Munich. More than 1,300 artworks — everything from old masters to works by Marc Chagall and Henri Matisse — were found in the possession of Cornelius Gurlitt.

News about the seized artworks, what is referred to as the Schwabing Art Trove, was first reported in November 2013. The artworks were suspected of being looted from Jewish collectors during World War II.

Gurlitt’s father, Hildebrand Gurlitt, was an art dealer appointed to work for the Führermuseum in Linz, Austria. He was ordered by the Third Reich’s Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, which was led by Joseph Goebbels, to trade in modern art during the war.

“It all started as a matter of tax evasion,” explained Yehudit Shendar, regarding Cornelius Gurlitt being caught on the German-Switzerland border carrying a large amount of cash. “Only later on did [the German authorities] realize who Mr. Gurlitt was, and who his father was; and they realized later on that it was connected to Nazi-era [art] looting.”

Yehudit Shendar (left) guides President Obama on a tour of the Museum of Holocaust Art at Yad Vashem, March 22, 2013. (Photo: Courtesy of Yehudit Shendar)

Yehudit Shendar (left) guides President Obama on a tour of the Museum of Holocaust Art at Yad Vashem, March 22, 2013. (Photo: Courtesy of Yehudit Shendar)

Shendar talked to the American Jewish World recently by phone from her home in Jaffa, Israel.

As she was about to retire from Yad Vashem, where she was the deputy director of the museums division and director of the art museum, Shendar was asked to become a member of the Schwabinger Kunstfund, the international task force dealing with the $1.4 billion art trove discovered in Munich.

Shendar returns to Minnesota next month to talk about her new appointment.

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March 25th, 2015

Anat Cohen’s post-Passover show

The Israeli clarinetist’s new album features both jazz and the captivating sounds of Brazilian choro

By MORDECAI SPECKTOR

After Jewish music lovers complete their fast from leaven, a reward is surely in order.

The Anat Cohen Quartet, which returns to the Dakota Jazz Club for two shows on April 12, fills the bill.

There’s beer and cocktails, too.

Cohen, a Tel Aviv native who’s risen to the top of the jazz scene on clarinet, is touring behind a scintillating new album, Luminosa (Anzic Records), which combines jazz and Brazilian music, the latter of which has captured the musician’s musical imagination over recent years.

Anat Cohen Quartet
April 12 at the
Dakota Jazz Club

Ace Brazilian guitarist Romero Lubambo — who has played the Dakota twice over the past year, with classical guitar virtuoso Sharon Isbin (a St. Louis Park native) — plays on four of the Luminosa tunes. And Cohen’s Brazilian group, Choro Aventuroso — Vitor Gonçalves, accordion; Cesar Garabini, guitar; and Sergio Krakowski, pandeiro (Brazilian tambourine) — play on two songs.

Anat Cohen: I always go back and forth between different things. (Photo: Augusta Sagnelli)

Anat Cohen: I always go back and forth between different things. (Photo: Augusta Sagnelli)

The ensemble heard on Luminosa played five nights in New York City in early March.

“I’m excited about presenting choro in an official way in one of my albums… Brazil has been a big part of my life, so we’re doing an official nod to Brazil,” Cohen told the Jewish World, during a recent phone conversation from her home in Brooklyn.

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March 25th, 2015

Editorial: Israel — limited hope, little change

In the aftermath of last week’s Knesset elections in Israel, renowned poet and singer Yonatan Geffen posted on Facebook that Netanyahu’s March 17 election victory was the “Nakba” of the Israeli peace movement,” according to the Israeli daily Haaretz.

Nakba, the Arabic word for “catastrophe,” is used by Arabs to describe Israel’s 1948 War of Independence, which led to the dispossession of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.

On Saturday night, Geffen was assaulted at his Moshav Beit Yitzhak home in central Israel, according to the Web site of i24 News, the Israeli TV channel.

“The unknown assailant started punching Geffen, a noted left-wing activist, and threw eggs at him and called him a traitor after he answered his door, he told police,” according to the news report.

“I very much hope that this was a one-off event and signifies nothing for the future. We do not know yet why Yonatan was attacked. We hope the police catch the attacker,” Geffen’s manager, Boaz Ben-Zion, told Ynet, the Web site of Yediot Achronot.

Geffen reportedly was not badly hurt, but the attack left him deeply traumatized.

And Israel’s famous singer Noa reported that she was verbally attacked at Ben-Gurion Airport, after arriving from Italy.

“Here’s Achinoam Nini [Noa’s full name]… enemy of Israel,” she quoted them as shouting. “We’ll deal with you like Geffen!”

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March 18th, 2015

‘Deli Man’ opens Friday at Edina Cinema

Deli Man, a documentary film produced and directed by Erik Greenberg Anjou — the third work in his trilogy about Jewish culture, following A Cantor’s Tale and The Klezmatics: On Holy Ground — will open Friday, March 20 at the Landmark Edina Cinema, 3911 W. 50th St.

In 1931, the City of New York’s Department of Public Markets listed 1,550 kosher delicatessen stores and 150 kosher dairy restaurants in the five boroughs; today there are approximately 21 kosher and non-kosher delis of repute.

Ziggy Gruber, at Kenny and Ziggy’s in Houston, Texas, displays the $55 Zellagabetsky, an eight-decker sandwich on rye with corned beef, pastrami, turkey, roast beef, salami, tongue and swiss cheese with cole slaw and Russian dressing. Finish the Zellagabetsky by yourself in one sitting, and you get a free slice of cheesecake, which is also quite large. (Photo: Paula Murphy)

Ziggy Gruber, at Kenny and Ziggy’s in Houston, Texas, displays the $55 Zellagabetsky, an eight-decker sandwich on rye with corned beef, pastrami, turkey, roast beef, salami, tongue and swiss cheese with cole slaw and Russian dressing. Finish the Zellagabetsky by yourself in one sitting, and you get a free slice of cheesecake, which is also quite large. (Photo: Paula Murphy)

And in Houston, Texas, Deli Man introduces the audience to Ziggy Gruber, a third-generation delicatessen man, owner and maven (as well as a Yiddish-speaking French-trained chef), who operates one of the country’s top delis, Kenny and Ziggy’s.

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