Posted Dana Addadi
The Queen of almost' is a solo drug show written by Hadas Bashan for Talula Bonet.
Talula Bonet is a drug queen created by the young actor Tal Kallai 12 years ago, and up to now was mainly assigned with the biggest gay party lines in Tel Aviv
This is the first time Kallai has given Talula a stage to reveal her wishes, and personal voice. Talula tells her story, how she almost became the ultra-star of Tel-Aviv's great cultural life. Moving from the Kibbutz to the big city, she was sure she'll fast become famous and admirable for her talent.
Sounds like you have a lot of empathy to the character, even though it seems like it is the type of a person most of us will despise
We hear a lot of people getting out of the show, saying they found themselves in Talula's story: single ladies, gay guys, and obviously most of the people living in Tel Aviv, who are all familiar with "the almost" syndrome we talk about in the show. Apparently, we recognized a fundamental element; most people can identify with and share.
You have been going on with Talula's drag shows for over 12 years.
How much of Talula you have created is in Bashan's play?
Before this play, Talula mostly served as a side-kick in different TV shows and big entertaining gay events in order to add glam and color to them. She had never had the chance to "tell her story" right, so no one really knew who she really was, including me. Bashan sawed the pieces of her past together into a full picture, and Dudu Yzhaki's musical management contributes greatly to the way we wanted to tell it.
You were brought up in Jerusalem, where you also took your studies in the prestigious acting studio of Nissan Nativ's.
How would you compare what Tel-Aviv has to offer to the gay community with what Jerusalem is offering?
People may not know this, but even though it seems that everything happens in Tel Aviv, including the most significant gay party lines and events, Talula was actually born in a gay bar in Jerusalem, alongside with my fellows to the process where the group of drag queens "The holly Wigs" set their place. I'm proud to say that this is where Talula started, and all of us in "Holly Wigs" still keep a special place in our heart for to the first gay bar to accept us there.
I keep a new tradition now to perform every Monday in MIKVE- the new gay bar in the holly city with my weekly solo show: GEVALD
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February 25, 2013 | 12:19 am
Posted Pavel Pustelnik
Never again – this is probably the best name for a museum that was created to commemorate Holocaust.
Outside the building is cold and rough. The walls are not welcoming, even if touched by dazzling February sun. The very end of Mall, not far away from waterfront, in the immediate vicinity of the Washington Monument - the US Holocaust Memorial Museum is located somehow aside, just not to spoil the merry atmosphere of the National Air and Space Museum or the National Museum of American History Police around, “Taste your water, Sir” at the security, which is not unusual in the US, but still uncommon when entering a museum.
The main bright hall does not announce the traumatic content of the museum. There is a lot of space, it seems that the building is breathing and enjoying the sun as if it was alive. In order to enter the exhibition, guests are asked to enter a large elevator. It is not obvious if it was an intention of the constructors, but being crowded on a small space starts to bring some associations. First floor, second, third. The elevator does not hurry.
The three floors of the Holocaust Memorial Museum are incredibly packed and as you walk the rooms, artifacts, life stories and pictures weave the perplexing history of genocide that happened in Europe. The authors of the permanent exhibition decided to offer most of the information in the first rooms so that the visitors understand what they are going to see later. Large print boards, movies and pictures that set the scene for the next rooms. At the beginning you feel the urge to take notes, to remember, to know, to have the number at hand, but after some time it becomes fastidious, impossible, pointless.
The Museum unfolds the story chronologically. Paradoxically, the more you know the more you believe that there will be a happy end. Perhaps the whole death-fuelled machine will break at some point. It will just stop digesting the atrocities. This is obviously not the case. Next room. The broadcast is becoming more and more brutal. Some of the screens are protected in a way that children cannot see the content. The machine works and is well oiled. A room filled with shoes brought from Auschwitz, the foul smell that is so omnipresent at the original site, people starting to break down in tears.
The US site is not too interactive as it should not be. It is painfully explicit and educating in all three parts it offers: “Nazi Assault,” “Final Solution,” and “Last Chapter”. Each visitor experiences different range of emotions. Without a shadow of a doubt, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum leaves you with many questions, the most basic being “How was this possible?” The answers given by the Museum’s narrative are straightforward but still, you just want to question the nature of a human being, if Holocaust was possible.
More than 34.1 million people visited the Museum since it opened in April 1993. There are more than 16,385 objects gathered, with an average of six to seven new items acquired each week. The US Holocaust Memorial employs 400 people.
(more pics here)
February 25, 2013 | 12:11 am
Posted Ian Shulman
How should a Holocaust art look like? Are there any functions which it needs to execute? Should it follow any cautious guidelines; inspire any actions or thoughts; inform, remind or alarm? Adolf Frankl’s permanent exhibition in Vienna, called ‘Art against oblivion’ (‘Kunst gegen das Vergessen’), seems to have its own mission too. Yet his paintings approach Holocaust from a very personal and, therefore, a very unobvious viewpoint.
Adolf Frankl was born in 1903 in Bratislava and studied art with renown Slovak artists of his time. During his studies he also worked as a cartoonist and a painter. Being Jewish, In 1944 Frankl and his family were captured and transported to Sered’ concentration camp. Having spent a bit more than a month there, the painter was deported to Auschwitz. Later Frankl was moved to a typhus barrack in Althammer (Stara Kuznia), a neighbouring camp of Auschwitz. In 1945, he was saved by the Red Army. Right after his rescue, the artist moved back to Bratislava and started to work on his most prominent creation, inspired by what he has seen during the Holocaust - the cycle ‘Visions from Inferno’. In 1949 the communist regime has forced Frankl to leave Bratislava again, his ‘beloved native town’ as he called it in the names of his paintings. This time the artist has left his town forever. Frankl lived in Vienna, New York and Germany and died in Vienna in 1983.
Frankl has devoted more than 50 years of his life to art. Learning painting in the interwar Central Europe, the artist couldn’t remain unaffected by the major tendencies, which have drastically changed the fine arts. His works were to a certain extent inspired by Chagall, Picasso as well as by lesser known artists.
Holocaust is not the only topic of Frankl’s countless paintings - but among his cartoons or scenes of the pre-war life in Bratislava or Vienna, it obviously plays the central role. The artists takes a very individual touch to the representation of this topic. According to the memories of Thomas Frankl, the artist’s son who runs the exhibition in Vienna, Adolf has hardly spoken about his Holocaust memories. Instead, these memories were voiced through his art.
But apart from artist’s war memories and sketches, Frankl’s works feature many reflections, full of hidden and apparent comparisons, symbols and metaphors. Thus, Frankl constructs Adolf Eichmann’s face from the bodies of suffering victims (‘Adolf Eichmann - anthropomorphic description’); while countless faces, figures and Bratislava city patterns can be found on a mosaic-like ‘Remembrance of the Bratislava rabbis’. Being an important element of Frankl’s inspiration, Bratislava is beautifully portrayed on ‘The approaching doom’, where mysterious faces and images, symbolizing the nearing disaster, have filled the sky over a picturesque city skyline.
The dynamism, inherent to Frankl’s paintings, is aimed to depict the transformations, which happen to human nature in times of disorder. These transformations are, again, approached from a metaphorical, maybe even slightly ‘naive’ viewpoint (which is rather mentioned in the context of ‘naive art’ than literally). ‘The tornado’ portraits ‘the eruption of evil and the animalistic inhumanity are portrayed in the numerous figures’, and ‘The persecutors’ intends to ‘describe the hatred of human creatures becoming animals. It is the wild animals with their bloodthirsty mouths chasing the weak and defenceless ones’.
Apart from the permanent exhibition in Vienna, opened in 2006 at Judenplatz, the historic center of Viennese Jewish life, Frankl’s paintings have been presented at various shows during the past forty years in Austria, Germany, Israel, Poland, the USA, Italy, and, finally, in Slovakia.
Slovakia has an especially significant meaning in this list. Thomas Frankl recalls accompanying his father in his trips to the Austrian borderline, where only a border fence separated him from his beloved city of Bratislava. Frankl could clearly see the Bratislava castle and the city skyline on the other bank of the Danube, on the other side of the Iron Curtain, with no hope to ever come back to the city of his birth. Years after the artist’s death in his ‘Viennese exile’, his paintings have eventually passed the already fallen border.
Frankl’s art offers an offbeat approach to the hard and constrained topic of Shoa. Being very personal by default, these paintings do not aim to win the masses. Yet, their ability to fascinate and puzzle does not need to be proven.
February 15, 2013 | 2:16 am
Posted Dana Addadi
My 'Tu B'Shvat' celebration started when I came across an ad calling for volunteers to come and give a hand in establishing an urban farm in the middle of 'Shchoona Gimel' (3rd district) Be'er Sheva. The invitation was signed by the organization, Shvuat Ha Adama (Earth's Promise) , which was founded by a young couple, and sponsored by Issac Hamez and World KKL in partnership with the municipality of Be'er Sheva and Kalisher Absorption Center, which accommodates newcomers from the 'Palashmura' clan of Ethiopia.
Adam Joshua Ganson and Moran Slakmon started the project 4 years ago with a vision: To use the most fundemental element in bringing people of a community together: the land.
The 3rd district of Be'er Sheva is strongly assocoated with low economical class, less fortunate population and societal tension.
This is where the couple chose to base their headquarters from which they supervise the development of at least two more southern urban farms of the same model as they grow. The intention of the two is to supply the foundations for realizing the concept, while the execution itself is left to the locals, who gladly take upon the oppurtunity handed to them. They launch the starting point, considering all conditions necessary for the miracle to happen in the target community, knowing the community could easily take off from there.
What are the conditions required for an ideal farm in the city, so it could be sustainable and benefficial for all?
We are now on the second phase of our work here: putting the citrus orchard for the enjoyment of all members of the neighborhood. We check first options of the topography; in Kalisher Garden, for example, there's a clear slope coming down the hill, which could be naturally used in this climate. This area is prone to many floods followed by dry days. Digging channels in the soil to accumulate extra water is an old Nabatic system aimed to keep the water in the ground. It's ecological and economical.
But what you can see allready in use to the right is the garden. That was initally dedicated solely to the residents of the absorption center. We got many seeds of original plants from Ethiopia, the 'Palashmura' are used to working with, like "Gomen" (a kind of lettuce), and we encourge them to try out local mediterianan seeds like eggplants, though it's not an ingredient of the traditional Ethiopian menu.
The 50 familes living in the absorption center at the front are working here for their own food. Each family to its own flowerbed.
The final stage will be the farm behind. For this we went to the local businesses in town asking them what would they like us to grow, to ensure that they will buy the farm’s products. This way we also use a naturally deserted place; and naturally making the city more beautiful and, of course, green. We supply a new pool of local organic food, without using any gas or diesel to deliver it, or a big network of supermarkets to sell it. Most important of all: this kind of system is not only about going green and healthy, it is also important to strengthen the local coin: Money stays in, and so does labor and time—those don't run out of the borders of the neighberhood.
To top it all, there's a crucial social effect to what we are doing: not only the newcomers are meeting the old residents at their back yard, but all people of the neighberhood are invited to take part in a real co-operative: whoever gives time of work in the farm. Local businesses and other community services are giving back time and products by the hour. Our favourite Falafel vendor has just joined the operation; dancing lessons and Hebrew teaching and all kind of barters are being swapped with the working hands like good old classic trading.
This is it, I pulled my sleves up, ready to plant my first tree this year with the Palashmura for their first Tu B'Shvat in Israel. I look at Moran and Adam and with their co-ordinator Ateret I started following their skilled smooth movements as they deal with the dirt. Trying to adapt to myself a true serious look of a farmer, even if just for one day.
Join Shvuat Adama on Facebook.
February 15, 2013 | 2:10 am
Posted Dana Addadi
One Israeli medical student and one documentary cinema photographer join together to run the "POSOTIVE" project. A unique 40-minute documentary film chronicling the story of the rock music scene as seen in the live house concerts performed monthly at the student's house in the Capital of the Negev—Be'er Sheva.
No, that's not quite accurate. Strike it down and let me start over; this the private story of Ronel Keren, 6th year student of the medical University Semmelweiss in Budapest, Hungary, landing straight from cold Europe into his professional internship in 'Sorroka' hospital in Be'er Sheva. Originally from Kfar Sabba, Keren didn't know anyone in town. Let alone, he didn't go to 'Ben-Gurion' University either, as most medical students living there do; and so he sensed a strong lack of a community for himself.
Having played in a band for as long he can remember, one night Keren went to sneak a taste of the local rock music scene at a popular venue in town, and fell in love with the raw authentic statement of what the artists there had to offer. Unlike in other more central areas of Israel, in which music creators strive to keep up the beat up to date, there was something almost pure in the lyrics and melodies brought out by the citizens of the desert city.
Once a month Keren rents some amplifiers, microphones and lights, and the little quiet home of his goes through a transformation: in the corner of the kitchen the artists are invited to “the stage,” on the other corner of the living room neighbors and families take their place on the couch or on a carpet on the floor ready for magic to begin.
POSOTIVE project aims to bring music as Keren believes it should be delivered to the listeners: intimate, close, un-plugged. For this cause he assigned Itamar Luria to follow the monthly events with his camera. The result, they hope, will become a 40-minute documentary aimed to expose the Negev local voices to the world. Voices that are unlikely to be heard at global scale.
February 15, 2013 | 2:08 am
Posted Ian Shulman
‘Visas for Life: Righteous Diplomats’, a Holocaust day exhibition at Vienna UN headquarters, surprisingly evokes one’s strongest emotions; and these emotions have no connection to horrifying pictures of mass murders. Sadly, I’ve put the word ‘surprisingly’ here intentionally.
There are two groups of people: those who are too scared to see a Holocaust exhibition and those who have seen so many of them that it can hardly change their state of mind anymore. Often, it can hardly tell anything new to them either: if your plans for this weekend include a Holocaust exhibition, you probably already know that Shoa is a terrible tragedy which should not happen again.
The exhibition in Vienna kindly invites both groups to come. There is completely no Auschwitz there, but plenty of little-known, yet important and exciting stories instead. Promised.
‘Righteous Diplomats’ were different diplomatic officers, who used their positions and available means to save the persecuted Jews along with other victims of the Nazi regime. Fake visas and illegal hideaways acted as life saving tools. The ‘Righteous Diplomats’ were not exactly the same as the ‘Righteous Among the Nations’ (though many of them were awarded this title). A collective image of a peasant hiding a fellow Jewish family in a barn obviously had less resources for a rescue than an ambassador. Lives of heroic diplomats was full of risk and often ended the way they expected the least.
Raoul Wallenberg, the most famous one from the list, has saved tens of thousands Jews working as a Swedish diplomat in Budapest. His tool were fake protective passports of ‘Swedish expatriates’ and illegal embassy buildings. Wallenberg knew he was suspected and Nazis could capture him anytime, so he slept in a different place each night. His prediction was not entirely accurate: he was captured by the Soviets and died imprisoned in 1947, somewhere in the Soviet Union.
Ariel de Sousa Mendes, a Portuguese aristocrat and diplomat in France, whose signature was on 30,000 illegal free visas, allowing its bearers to escape the Nazi regime. Dishonor, disgraced and forgotten in the post-war Salazar Portugal, he died alone in poverty in 1954.
Some other diplomats, like Carl Lutz, Ho Feng-Shan, Chiune Sugihara, Giorgio Perlasca, Hiram Bingham IV and Jan Zwartendijk had a better fate. But what does unite them all? What is in common among a Swiss Vice-Consul in Budapest; a Chinese diplomat in Vienna and his Japanese colleague in Lithuania, which have helped thousands of Jews to get to Shanghai and Japan; a disillusioned Italian fascist, working under a Spanish disguise; a noble American descendant of Protestant missionaries and treasure hunters and a Dutch director at the Phillips factories in Lithuania? Was there a common factor, which have turned all these different personalities into heroes saving thousands of lives?
Presenting the stories of the righteous diplomats, the exhibition highlights six keywords, attempting to identify the guiding powers behind the heroic actions. These words are ‘Cooperation’, ‘Ingenuity’, ‘Self-Sacrifice’, ‘Social Responsibility’, ‘Integrity’ and ‘Moral Leadership’. But can these concepts describe the real motives as good as the words of the diplomats themselves, which open each story presented at the exhibition?
‘Even if I am discharged, I can only act as a Christian, as my conscience tells me. If I am disobeying orders, I would rather be with God against men than with men against God’. These are the words of Aristides De Sousa Mendes, a Portuguese saviour of 30,000 French Jews and other persecuted persons. The main guiding power of the diplomats was their strong values, and only then the strong decisions. But what nurtures these values? Are there any requirements for embodiment of such values into one’s character? And, importantly, of what use are these stories and their motives to us, here and now?
As mentioned at the conclusion of the opening ceremony, apart from its direct meaning, the exhibition also has a universal message. It’s about the choice each of us has regardless any circumstances. It’s about our jobs, which assignments and constraints should not cross our moral values and personal interests, regardless of the possible loss or punishment. And if they do, it’s again about the choice we always have. And probably a bit of heroism too.
February 15, 2013 | 2:05 am
Posted by Klaudia Klimek
In writing about the Shifting Thought Shifting Action gathering in Berlin I am not going to describe the entire event, but the thoughts that came to me specifically because I had a chance to be there.
For some time now, sociologists have been describing the change in people’s relations, which have transformed from local to global. The greatly reduced travel time to the farthest regions of the world and the economy of it allows us to move easily and participate in the same conference in some central location, allowing for the exchange of views and the building of strategic relationships.
Facebook, which has had doctor’s theses devoted to it, changed personal relations for the better, into quick, concrete, task and information exchange oriented contacts. Not community bonds, but supranational relations have become the everyday staple of human communication. However, humans cannot live in such conditions for long, because we are gregarious creatures and need contact with other people. When I say contact, I mean face to face, hand in hand, where the exchange of thoughts and observations counts and not just brief, specific information. What is more, we are no longer satisfied by international contacts, as those, which were to be intimate. Relationships such as family, friendship, partnership, those closest to humans are slowly returning to its place, that is the local environment. Long distance relationships through the Internet, Skype friendships, were an interesting experiment of our contemporary period, but despite their ease and accessibility did not give us the same satisfaction as „old fashioned”, pre-Internet relations.
Jews around the world began to realize this. As a „global nation” tied by a network of various contacts, they realized that the strength and basis of its existence is that which is local. But so far, from my „Polish-Jewish” observations, I can say that, that which is local is often pathological, incompetent, without a long-term goal, chaotic. How then can one build a great supranational network based on this? I believe that Jewish organizations such as ROI and Paideia noticed this problem long ago, but it did not seem right for them to speak out about it. Firstly, because ROI is an Israeli-American organization, so any comments made about Europe could be perceived as interfering in matters not on their turf or a form of paternalism. Secondly, Americans, Israelis and Poles all differ mentally, so even if the intention were good, communication could fail. Regardless, ROI was bold enough to organize a conference, with a catchy name – Shifting Thought, Shifting Action, which simply screams, Europe, it’s time for some pretty serious changes.
Such a logo could only imply one thing – there will be discord. 50 confident, young people, activists with approaches as different as the two extremities of a river, were locked in one conference room with a table decked with bagels and coffee. For three days. Honestly? It turned out fantastic. Why? Because ROI and all the wonderful people working for the organization knew, that they were treading on thin ice. There was time for conversation, official and personal, time for direct action and time for a spiritual connection (personally, I’m not fond of candles or spiritual morning exercises, so I don’t even know what to call it, though I still wear the blue string on my right wrist. By the way, only those that were there in Berlin know about the blue string). There was time for an exchange of thoughts and not the shallow, goal-oriented type, but of the deeper kind, which comes to you when given a bit of time to interact with another person. It was then that important comments were made by the event’s participants. Even though it was nice to spend time and work together, get to know each other and promise to keep in touch, the meeting wasn’t all that local. Because, even though it was an event for Jews in Europe and even though we stated how we wanted our modern community to look, few of us can actually return to it and make a change. There is a certain establishment, and excuse me for saying so, but it is mostly post-communist or blind to new initiatives. Those who managed to get in, can slowly drill into the rock and hope that someday there will be a tunnel; however most of us will crash into that rock.
A true challenge for organizations such as ROI, though perhaps not that one specifically, would be to gather for 3 days, in one room with bagels, members of the establishment. Would the days pass by in as pleasant an atmosphere? I would venture to guess – no. Although ROI is probably capable of surprising me. Much was said about us being the future of our local communities, but most of us probably thought, „sure, when the establishment dies off”. Although I believe that the priority of approaching social changes will be local community, I’m afraid that for some time still, young people will escape to the international, shallow, informational, task and goal oriented contacts. There is such a great chasm between the way of thinking of that which is young, fresh and new and that which is stale and firmly clinging to the wall, that I personally don’t see much of a role for us in local Jewish communities in Europe. You can tell by the projects that young Jews create. There are a lot of apps, websites, video blogs and photos. We feel better in the virtual realm than we do with flesh and blood. In the case of problems or unpleasantness we can retreat more quickly. We close the site and we disappear, born again on a new page. In the real world of local Jewish communities, the mistakes of our youth, interesting initiatives which the establishment calls „being out of line” or even the less diplomatic plays, they haunt us and spoil every new idea from the start. But how is a young man to know, what is diplomatically correct or what is not. Which strategy will prove successful? Many people may not agree with me.
This text is not a summary of research but rather an observation. And as any observation, it is based on the specific physical and mental characteristics of my person. I do not doubt that organizations such as ROI or Paideia will tackle this problem as well. They have proven many times their great intuition for spotting trends, correlations and nuance. I am only calling attention to it...
February 8, 2013 | 9:43 am
Posted Klaudia Klimek
Dear Jewrnalism Blog readers,
My name is Klaudia Klimek and I am director of Jewrnalism Project, initiative of young citizen Jewish reporters whose mission is to inform American Jewry about their European Jewish life. We started our adventure one year ago and since that time we have made quite big success.
Now in 2013 year we want to expand even more. We plan to create more visual messages. That's why we came up with innovative idea (as for European Jewish stadards )- Jewish talk show were we will promote young leaders, projects and their communities.
If you like our blog and would like to see even more, please donate even a small sum on our fundraising web site campaign. We might not reach our ideal sum but for sure we will use every donated dollar for videos and education.