By Gerald Blaise LaBita, Producing Director Theater LaB Houston
As a big fan of The Ann and Stephen Kaufman Jewish Book & Arts Fair at the Evelyn Rubenstein JCC for many years (decades) now, it has always been with great anticipation to see who the talented and esteemed writers that will present at the J each year. Rabbi Chaim Potok was a headliner of the Book Fair back in November 1982 and I had the good fortune to see, meet and hear Potok talk about his life, writings and literature. It was a special personal event because years earlier I had become a fan of Potok’s fiction work. I stood in a very long line that night armed with my first edition hardback books and was able to say hello and have him sign my copies of The Chosen and My Name is Asher Lev.
The very first ever Olympic swimming champion learned to swim because his father drowned. Alfred Hajos was a Jew from Hungary. He won the 100m Freestyle and the 1200m Freestyle at the 1896 Olympic Games in Athens. His races were held in the Mediterranean Sea where the water temperature was 55 degrees. He was able to swim the 100m Free is 1 minute and 22 seconds and the 1200m Free in 18 minutes and 22 seconds while swimming through 14 foot waves. The Athenian Journal Acropolis called him the “Hungarian Dolphin.” He was the youngest winner at the games at the age of 18 years old.
by John Dreyfus, Houston Jewish Film Festival Chair
After all the previewing and planning, it is hard to believe the 13th Annual Houston Jewish Film Festival is upon us. Doreen Joffe and Sharon Kagan gave birth to this project 13 years ago. Now our adolescent program celebrates a Bar Mitzvah. The celebration kicks off with a sneak preview of the drama Fever at Dawn on Monday February 27, and officially opens March 5 and runs through March 19.
The 27th Annual Children’s Scholarship Ball is coming up Saturday, March 4, 2017. There is nothing more important to us at the Evelyn Rubenstein JCC than making a lasting impact on the lives of children in our community. Each year, 300 children at the J benefit from scholarship assistance, but the need is great year round. This is why the Children’s Scholarship Ball benefitting the Irvin Kaplan Children’s Scholarship Fund was created to ensure that all children from six-week-old infants to teenagers, of all religious and ethnic backgrounds, and with different abilities, can participate in our early childhood programs, preschools, special needs programs, holiday events and J Camps.
We are bringing an outstanding show to Houston for one night only. Soul to Soul will perform at the J on Saturday, February 18 at 8:15 p.m. Soul to Soul was scheduled during the month of February, purposely. But timing is everything, who knew that in today’s America, bridging cultures, celebrating our similarities and our differences, would be so very important, urgent, actually.
In 1988, Dance Month at the Kaplan Theater presented little-known choreographer, Ohad Naharin. In 1990, Naharin was appointed artistic director of Batsheva Dance Company. Now Naharin is revolutionizing modern dance with the advent of his Gaga technique.
Rabbi Israel Salanter stated: “Any rabbi whose congregation never considered firing him [her] is no rabbi. Any rabbi whose congregation does fire him [her] is no mensch.”
This statement captures the essence of the debate – should rabbis become involved in politics? On one hand, if rabbis do not take a stand to lend a voice to contemporary issues, then are they really engaging in leadership? On the other hand, the rabbi’s role is to welcome members of the entire Jewish community, and how can one do that in a mench-like way if he or she isn’t able to address the needs of all of their constituents?
Evelyn Rubenstein JCC Season of Theatre Presents Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins
Who is Hershel? With the first nips of crisp Fall weather in the air, and piles of pumpkins lining the entrances to our grocery stores, we can be sure of one thing – the Holiday Season is just around the corner! And just in time to get folks in the mood for Hanukkah, this year the J is offering an exciting treat in the form of the new play, Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins.
This year’s Ann and Stephen Kaufman Jewish Book & Arts Fair offers a broad range of programs, topics, and events. There is something for everyone, or so I’ve been told!
It is rare that I single out a book by an author who will appear, but I believe Dov Waxman’s book, Trouble in the Tribe: The American Conflict Over Israel, is the most important Jewish book published this year. As someone who has devoted 40 years in service to our Jewish community, I have witnessed, and addressed, the many challenges we have faced. But today, I am both saddened and frightened by the disunity over Israel that we are experiencing to the likes I’ve never seen.
Families can’t have reasonable conversations about Israel—I personally experienced this last year. At shul...
One of the headliners of the 1986 Jewish Book & Arts Fair was Betty Friedan, author of The Feminine Mystique and influential leader of the Women’s Rights movement. JCC Patron Barbara Paull was her host that year. One afternoon, Betty complimented Barbara on her outfit which led to an afternoon of shopping. What happened next is the image that keeps this story alive thirty years later. When they walked into the J that evening, Betty was unrecognizable wearing a fabulous black dress, a silver necklace and lipstick, which she never wore.