Klezmer concert Wednesday Nov 5th


Yiddishist, ethnomusicologist, and Parisian Klezmer maven Eléonore Biezunski will be performing rarely-heard Klezmer folk tunes and Yiddish songs, in collaboration with the Cornell University Klezmer Ensemble.

Concern poster

There will also be a musical workshop Tuesday November 6th.

musical workshop


World Premiere tonight!

DIRECTOR: Rami Kimchi
Cornell Cinema (7:15 PM screening, free)

night of fools

Details from Cornell Cinema:

A docu-drama about a Jewish underground movement in Algeria during WW2 that, with only 400 men, succeeds in taking control of the city of Algiers, in which there are 25,000 French pro-Nazi soldiers. They keep control for one night, handing the city over to the Americans, who land on the city’s shores the next morning.

Rami Kimchi is an Israeli culture critic and filmmaker. His previous films include Galia’s Wedding (1986), Travels with My Brother (1997), Cinema Egypt (2001), and Father Language (2006). His main research interests are Israeli cinema, modern Hebrew literature, Yiddish literature, Palestinian cinema, and Near Eastern cinema. He has published a book, The Israeli Shtetls – Bourekas Films and Yiddish Literature (2012), and articles in Shofar, Reeh, Balshanoot Ivrit, Dapim, Moreshet Israel and Hakivoon Mizrach.

Making a difference

We are incredibly fortunate to have Professor William Jacobson here in Ithaca.

Professor Jacobson is an inspiring speaker, educator and all-round mensch.  I have previously written about his talk on “Standing up for Israel”, and his ability to engage young people here.

On campuses around the country, the anti-Israel narrative on campus is fueled by professors who dishonestly and divisively promote a biased agenda. Sadly, it is possible to spend all day every day fisking such fraudulent academics. But simple demonstration of facts are not sufficient if the academic and his/her audience refuse to acknowledge and correct the errors. One general characteristic of such academics is a refusal to engage in discussion. An example of this is Prof. Jacobson’s recent talk at Vassar. NOT A SINGLE ONE of the 39 Vassar professors who had signed a letter containing egregious slurs against Israel agreed to meet Professor Jacobson in debate.

So it is great to see an opinion piece in the local newspaper, the Ithaca Journal, that is an excellent rebuttal to one such nebulous academic. Here is the article (click on picture for larger version):

guest viewpoint

For additional background on Cornell campus and around Ithaca, see these links:

Cornell Student Assembly rejects BDS motion

The case for Israel and academic freedom – watch the video of Prof. Jacobson’s talk

Kudos to the fantastic work of Prof. Jacobson and his efforts to expose and rebut BDS. I think that these assaults on truth, freedom and justice are matters that should concern us all, across the political spectrum.

And again, as has been pointed out by Prof. Jacobson and others, happiness is the best response to the haters.

Right here, right now

Cornell Israeli flag

Dear Friends,

I wrote about “Academia and Israel” a few months ago and also about anti-Jewish boycotts in this post on the anniversary of Kristallnacht.

Now we are dealing with this right here in Ithaca on the Cornell campus. Legal Insurrection reported that Cornell Students for Justice in Palestine proposed a Divestment resolution to be voted on over Pesach, a time during which many Jewish students will be away. The resolution was announced at the last possible minute with no notice, an obvious tactic to neutralize possible opposition and debate on the issue.

Pro-Israel students have started a Facebook page (Invest in Peace) and a petition against the resolution.

Please sign this petition. Anybody can sign whether you are a member of the Cornell community or not. Help support students and counter anti-Semitism in the 21st century.

More information and discussion on what’s happening at Cornell at Legal InsurrectionCommentary magazine and the Tower.

For more general background, I highly recommend this wonderful article coauthored by noted historian Simon Schama and lawyer Anthony Julius “The call for a cultural boycott of Israel is banal, gestural and morally compromised“. Other excellent resources dealing with the BDS debate can be accessed here

Divest from hate

Clifford Orwin talk today

Clifford Orwin

Professor of Political Science, Classics and Jewish Studies, University of Toronto

“Will not the judge of all the earth deal justly?” Abraham’s confrontation with God over the fate of Sodom (Genesis 18:19)

Monday November 11th 5.30PM

103 Rockefeller Hall, Cornell University

Cosponsored by Freedom and Free Societies, History and Jewish Studies

This event is free and open to the public

Lot and his daughters, painting by Lucas van Leyden 1520. The background shows the destruction of Sodom and Gomorroh.

Lot and his daughters, painting by Lucas van Leyden 1520. The background shows the destruction of Sodom and Gomorroh.

Movie Monday Oct 21st

Monday October 21st FOOTNOTE (2011, Israel)

footnote poster

7:15PM Willard Straight Theatre, Cornell University

Admission: $8 general/$6 seniors/$5.50 students/$5 CU grad students

Synopsis: Rival professors in the field of Talmudic Studies, a father and son face off when a prestigious award is bestowed upon the elder scholar.

Official website with trailer

Interview with director Joseph Cedar

This movie has fantastic reviews. I would love, love to go but, when you are a working mum with a lot of things you’re already committed to be spending time on, it is not so straightforward.

How one organizes and prioritizes one’s time at different phases of one’s life is a huge topic of its own. I don’t want to get into that here, rather I would like to point out something I’ll call the “hidden value of the no-shows”.

Anybody organizing an event, wants people to show up. That’s obviously the best possible outcome. And yet, even for people who can’t make it, the mere fact that this event is being organized has an impact. I had never heard about this movie until I received a notice about the Cornell showing. And now I know about the movie and can add it to my list of movies I’d like to see. If I had merely read about this in a news feed, I would definitely be interested given the synopsis and reviews. But it is the double whammy of the event being organized locally in addition to the more abstract information that elevates wanting to see the movie, tipping it into something I really don’t want to miss (and fortunately, this movie is accessible and can even be acquired through iTunes so one doesn’t have to miss out completely!).

This has two sources of value. First, as an individual, I have been informed and educated about something I had no idea about. Learning about something potentially stimulating and enriching is always enjoyable and I appreciate that opportunity. Second, events of this type provide a conversation point for community discussion. I will inevitably run into friends who attended the movie, and we can discuss issues raised by the movie, what we learned from it, additional Israeli cultural events etc..

Yes, it is not as good as participating and actually being physically present, but it is still a spin-off benefit with impact.

Like many others, I have wrestled with different levels of attendance at community events, both as an organizer and a participant. This issue is keenly felt in Ithaca given our demographics and location.

We definitely need to both increase the participation rate and also to grow our community. However, we should not forget the upside to this challenge. If fewer people turn up than we hoped or expected, we get to have a more intimate, perhaps deeper exchange with a more profound impact (I have a great example of this from my own experience which is too much of a digression to post here but please feel free to have an offline conversation with me about it).

The opportunity for a more intimate exchange can be immensely valuable and can strengthen commitment and participation of those present.

And for those who can’t be at the event we should remember that they may well have really really wanted to participate. Simply learning about an event communicates valuable information. This information can educate, stimulate future interest and have other beneficial impacts. As an organizer I might take personal disappointment at the no-shows, but as a community member, I need to think about the bigger picture and the “hidden value of the no-shows”.