Blue Box

Wednesday, April 6th, 2016

Appelfeld writes for young readers

Aharon Appelfeld, one of Israel’s most acclaimed writers, escaped from a Nazi concentration camp in Transnistria, at the age of 10, and then wandered the forests for two years, until he was picked up by a Red Army unit, in 1944. Appelfeld, who reached Palestine in 1946, has set most of his novels in central […]

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

‘Imagine That’ sounds sublime

Drummer Daniel Freedman follows up his acclaimed 2012 album, Bamako by Bus, with Imagine That (Anzic Records), a vibrant collection of tunes that draws on musical modes from around the world. Freedman, 41, has played the Dakota Jazz Club as part of the Anat Cohen Quartet. The always inventive Jason Lindner, here on keyboards, is […]

Wednesday, March 9th, 2016

Israel’s great poet, Yehuda Amichai

Yehuda Amichai (1924-2000) is widely considered to be Israel’s greatest contemporary poet. The Poetry of Yehuda Amichai (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), edited by Robert Alter, is the largest English-language collection of the poet’s work. Israeli novelist Amos Oz says: “Yehuda Amichai’s language weaves together intimacy, casual conversation, hushed tones, and words exchanged in bed by […]

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

Chicago’s legendary black newspaper

In 1991, Jewish journalist Ethan Michaeli was hired by The Chicago Defender, the newspaper of the Windy City’s black community. Michaeli worked as an investigative reporter through 1996, and has now written a history of the influential weekly, The Defender: How the Legendary Black Newspaper Changed America (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). Michaeli’s hefty tome, written in […]

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

Germany’s silence after the Shoah

In Germany, more than a dozen years after the end of World War II, the citizenry remained ignorant of the details of the Holocaust. Labyrinth of Lies, a fictional narrative film directed by Giulio Ricciarelli, traces the events that led up to the 1963 Frankfurt Auschwitz trials, in which a German court finally put some […]

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

Sam Sadigursky takes up the ‘stick’

Sam Sadigursky’s father, a classically trained clarinetist and accordionist from the former Soviet Union, dreamed of someday playing jazz clarinet. As it turned out, the son, who started playing saxophone, shifted to clarinet (and bass clarinet) some years ago and found that many folks were calling for him to play the instrument — the “stick” […]

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

Zusha sings on Hasidic Soul tip

The first full-length album by Zusha, a group in the Hasidic Soul genre, is titled Kavana. As the group’s publicity states, “There’s a Jewish saying that prayer without kavana, or intention, is like a body without a soul.” Zusha — percussionist Elisha Mlotek, guitarist Zach Goldschmiedt and vocalist Shlomo Gaisin — sing nigunim, wordless melodies […]

Wednesday, December 30th, 2015

Poet Judith Viorst looks at marriage

Celebrated author Judith Viorst has published her 12th book of poetry, Wait for Me: The Irritations and Consolations of a Long Marriage (Simon and Schuster) — a humorous look at the “peeves and pleasures” of a lifetime partnership. Viorst, who has been married to her husband, Milton, for 55 years, reflects on why we stay […]

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

Precocious poet is teacher’s pet

Yoav (Avi Shnaidman), a five-year-old poet of elliptical romantic verses, entrances Nira (Sarit Larry), the titular character in The Kindergarten Teacher, which is available on DVD and Blu-ray from Kino Lorber. The quirky and engaging film, in Hebrew with English subtitles, by director Nadav Lapid (Policeman) follows the teacher’s increasingly obsessive relationship with her gifted […]

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

Shai Maestro’s eloquent ‘Stories’

At the age of 19, pianist Shai Maestro began touring and recording with Israeli jazz bass virtuoso Avishai Cohen. In the intervening years, he has refined his chops and the evidence of his extraordinarily beautiful approach to the piano is revealed in the eight original songs that make up Untold Stories (Motema Music). On the […]