In 1940, Varian Fry, a Harvard-educated American journalist, traveled to occupied France carrying a little money and a short list of imperiled artists and writers, many of whom were Jewish. Determined to save prominent refugees and their work, Fry spent 13 months procuring false documents, amassing emergency funds, and setting up escape routes for luminaries like Hannah Arendt, Max Ernst, and Marc Chagall. Inspired by Fry’s extraordinary story, bestselling author Julie Orringer (The Invisible Bridge) weaves together fact and fiction in her suspenseful new novel, The Flight Portfolio, and poses a difficult and enduring question: how do we weigh human lives? Orringer speaks with Jewish Week’s Sandee Brawarsky and Jonathan Wiesner of the International Rescue Committee.
Julie Orringer is the author of the novel The Invisible Bridge and the award-winning short story collection How to Breathe Underwater, which was a New York Times Notable Book. She is the winner of The Paris Review’s Plimpton Prize for Fiction and the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Stanford University, and the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. She lives in Brooklyn.
Sandee Brawarsky, an award-winning journalist and editor, is the culture editor of The Jewish Week and writes primarily about books, theatre, art and museums, television, special events, and personalities from all walks of life. She also curates and moderates literary events around New York City. The author of several books, most recently 212 Views of Central Park: Experiencing New York’s Jewel from Every Angle (with photographer Mick Hales), her essays and articles have appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Lancet, Hadassah, the Jerusalem Post, and other publications. She is the co-editor of Two Jews, Three Opinions: A Collection of Twentieth Century American Jewish Quotations (with Deborah Mark). For The New York Times, she has written about the neighborhoods of New York City, ethnic festivals and events, historic sites and walking in the city at all hours, and about weddings in the “Vows” column. She lives in Teaneck, New Jersey with her husband, Barry Lichtenberg and their three children.
Jonathan Weisner has served in a leadership capacity on several environmental and humanitarian NFP/NGO boards over the past 22 year and is currently Chair of the NY Advisory Board of the Trust for Public Land (TPL). He has been on the Board of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) since 1995 where he was Co-Chair of the Board and is now Chairman Emeritus. As a Board member, he has visited many of the programs and comments that he is in awe of the refugees that IRC serves because of their courage and optimism. “Despite being driven from their homes, refugees want nothing more than the chance to rebuild their lives.” As a CEO and owner of a privately held apparel company, he has created a "mission" to adopt sustainable practices and achieved B Corp certification.
SOLD OUT: Straight into the Lions' Den: The Left, Zionism, and Antisemitism
How do we distinguish between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism? How have thinkers on the Left wrestled with Zionism with and the actual State of Israel - sometimes championing it as a progressive cause, at other times seeing it as a racist or colonialist enterprise?
Join us as Bari Weiss, author of How to Fight Anti-Semitism, and Susie Linfield, author of The Lion's Den: Zionism and the Left from Hannah Arendt to Noam Chomsky, tackle these urgent questions, moderated by Nextbook's Jonathan Rosen. Natan named both books Fall 2019 Natan Notable Books, and this is the first time the authors will be in conversation.
International Ladino Day: A Celebration of Story and Song
Celebrate Ladino—Judeo-Spanish— with acclaimed scholars and musicians. Hear Prof. Gloria Ascher, who has taught courses in Ladino at Tufts University for 17 years; Prof. Dina Danon, whose Stanford University Press book brings Izmir’s Ottoman Jewish community to life; two scenes from a New York Ladino play; a panel of Generation Y and Z Ladino enthusiasts; and musicians dear to our hearts, The Elias Ladino Ensemble and Sarah Aroeste. Light refreshments will be served.
Ladino is a bridge to many cultures. It is a variety of Spanish that has absorbed words and expressions from many languages, most notably Hebrew, Turkish, Arabic, Greek, and French. The mother tongue of Jews in the Ottoman Empire for 500 years, Ladino became the home language of Sephardim worldwide. While the number of Ladino speakers has sharply declined, distinguished programs like this one celebrate and preserve a vibrant language and culture for future generations.
Since 2013, Ladino Day celebrations have been held around the world. January 12th marks Manhattan’s 3rd Annual Ladino Day created by CUNY Prof. Jane Mushabac for the American Sephardi Federation at The Center for Jewish History.
Jewish Life in Putin’s Russia
For centuries Ashkenazi Jews claimed the Russian Empire as their home. After a history of pogroms, state-imposed antisemitism in the Soviet Union, and large waves of emigration to the United States and Israel, the post-Soviet era with its democratization of politics brought many Jews who had emigrated in 1970s and 1980s back to Russia to start businesses. Quite a few were successful.
In 1996 a Russian Jewish Congress was launched as an umbrella organization for all Russian Jews, whether secular or religious. Hundreds of Torah scrolls were returned to the community from museums and storages across the country. Shuls were reopened, rebuilt, renovated. Today there are kosher stores in Moscow, and the Chabad Lubavitch rebbe Berel Lazar is a frequent guest of Putin's state dinners. And yet, in the last several years, since Putin's return to the Kremlin in 2012, Russia has been marked by increased Jewish immigration to Israel — some 45 percent more in 2018, than in the previous year.
What do Jews know that the rest of the world seems not to? Why are they leaving Russia en masse? Yevgenia M. Albats, a former member of the Presidium of the Russian Jewish Congress, a current member of its Public Council, a prominent Russian journalist and an academic, currently a distinguished fellow at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, will discuss Jewish life in today’s Russia.