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August 14, 2009

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PAGE 20A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, AUGUST 14, 2009 By Gabe Levenson New York Jewish Week With a certain gradu- ate of Harvard Law in the White House, that ivy cam- pus in Cambridge, Mass., may be ascendant in the popular imagination. But for travelers on a budget looking for an easier, but no less ivy-draped destina- tion than Cambridge, New Haven, Conn. home to the picturesque and culturally rich Yale University is the ticket. The city and the uni- versity, only 75 miles from Manhattan, have compel- ling Jewish stories to tell. Few of the 25,000 Jews in Greater New Haven likely re- alize that a handful of dissi- dent Puritans (who founded this, Connecticut's larg- est city, almost 400 years ago) had envisioned it as a "Wilderness Zion," based on biblical law. It would be for them a "new haven" for the truly faithful, at a suf- ficient (and more tolerant) distance from Plymouth Rock, where they and their more conservative former comrades first landed. Over a century later, the first Jews, the brothers Jacob and Solomon Pinto, arrived in New Haven, com- ing from Dutch-held New Amsterdam to the more ac- cepting Connecticut colony. The two Pintos quickly became a part of the corn- A weekend among the ivy munity. Jacob Pinto's three sons Solomon, Abraham and William served under Gen. George Washington in the Revolutionary War. In 1783, Jacob Pinto signed the petition to the state's General Assembly that brought about the formal incorporation of New Haven as a town. Ezra Stiles, president of Yale College at the time, welcomed the newcomers. He himself was fluent in Hebrew; indeed, at the Yale commencement exercises he would deliver his presi- dential speech in effortless Hebrew. During his years as president of the college (not yet a university) he made the study of Hebrew compulsory for all Yale freshmen. Stiles was devoted to the Hebrew language and culture. He had believed that such study was necessary to achieve a liberal education and a thorough understanding of the Bible. Stiles also designed the Yale seal, which is still in use. It reads "Urim v'Thumin," Hebrew for "light and truth." The He- brew language is no longer compulsory, but Yale Uni- versity still offers courses in Hebrew and a bachelor's degree in Judaic studies. It was Stiles who predict- ed that, ultimately, there might be enough Jews in New Haven to form a minyan and to build a synagogue. A gradual migration of Bavar- ian Jews into New Haven began some 50 years after Stiles' death. When there were enough German Jew- ish families in the city, they formed the minyan, which. after holding services in a variety of local halls, built its own house of worship and named it Congregation Mishkan Israel. Today, Mishkan Israel. self-described as Progres- sive Reform, is one of about 15 synagogues, Reform to Chabad, which serve the Greater New Haven com- munity. Mishkan offers its members and the general public a great variety of programs, from a nursery school, to a coffee shop, to a single Brotherhood for both young n~en and young women, to a senior center. Mishkan Israel is at 785 Ridge Road in suburban Hamden; 203-388-2077. On the Yale campus, you can enjoy kosher food on the premises of the Slifka Center for Jewish Life. It houses Claire's Corner Cafg (203-562-3888), which has been providing dairy lunches since 1975. You can dine also at the Chabad Center. on Whitney Avenue, for a complete glatt-kosher meal, but call to make reservations in advance; space is limited. At Slifka, there is a host of other activities: an energetic Hillel chapter, art classes. exhibits, Jewish education for children, and more. Yale University, whose current president is Rich- ard Levin (a congregant of Mishkan Israel), merits at least one full day or. better. a weekend, of exploration. Often labeled as having the nation's most beautiful ur- ban campus, the ivy-covered university is also the desti- nation for visitors interested in its main library's vast collection of Judaica. At 120 Wall St., in the center of downtown New Haven. is the Sterling Memorial Library, which earlier this summer held an exhibit called "The Art of the Ketubah." which featured four centuries of marriage contracts. A pod- cast of the show is available at The cur- rent show focuses on Islamic architecture. The Yale University Visi- tor Information Center (149 Elm St.: 203-432-2300) is the meeting place for free. guided walking tours of the Yale campus; the one-hour tour takes place daily, at 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Among other aspects of the tour is your realization of the dra- matic change in Yale, since the restrictive admission of Jewish undergraduates until World War II. Now, perhaps a quarter of the students and a large number of faculty members are Jewish. Look for such highlights as the New Haven Green. which occupies what was once one of the original town squares laid out by the Rev. John Davenport when he founded New Haven in 1638. Other highlights of the walk include the Yale University Art Gallery, 1111 Chapel St., designed by Louis Kahn in 1951, and exhibiting every- thing from Egyptian mum- mies to modern abstracts; the Yale Center for British Art, directly across the street at 1080 Chapel St., possibly the best gallery of English art outside of Grea~ Britain, with important originals by Turner. Constable and many others; the Amisted Memorial, 165 Church St., commemorating the 1839 rebellion (ultimately suc- cessful) of 59 kidnapped Africans. Also on the walk are the Peabody Museum of Natural History, 170 Whitney Ave., with more than 11 million specimens; the Yale Col- lection of Musical Instru- ments, from the 1500s to the present; the Beinecke Rare Book Library, featuring an original Gutenberg Bible, complete Sets of Audubon prints and the largest col- lectiOn of Eugene O'Neill archives; and the Ethnic Heritage Center, 501 Cres- cent St., showing the roles of Jews, Italians. Irish, Ukrai- nians and Afro-Americans One of the courtyards on the Yale University campus (top). The Sterling Memorial Library houses a vast collec- tion of ~Iudaica (above). in developing New Haven. Don't feel bad for the Yalies. though, because Barack Obama is in the White House. Remember, Bill and Hill met in New Ha- ven and Bushes '41 and"43 were grads. And don't forget that almost-vice president and U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieber- man got his undergraduate and law degrees in New Haven. But whatever your politics. Yale's greenery, museums and distinctive ar- chitecture make it a splendid day or weekend trip. Gabe Levenson is a travel writer at the New York Jew- ish Week from which this article was reprinted by permission. Read the Jew- ish Week online at www. In Burman's firstplay, a son tries to escape his mother grasp By Josh Lambert and Sara Kippur NEW YORK (TABLET) From"MeynYiddishe Mame" (1930) to "PortnoY's Com- plaint" (1969), Jewish moth- ers have been portrayed so frequently on the page and on screen as larger-than-life characters spewing out affection, anxiety, guilt and criticism onto their children like fire hoses--that it is no particular surprise to encounter one in Daniel Burman's debut play, "Las Llaves de Abajo" ("The Keys for Downstairs"). So huge that she must be re presented, at once, by three actresses. More unexpected is Bur- man's writing and directing a theatrical piece. In recent years, the young Argentine has made an international name for himself with a series of charming semi- autobiographical films set among Buenos Aires' Jew- ish population including "Waiting for the Messiah" (2000), "The Lost Em- brace" (2003), "Family Law" (2006) and "Empty Nest" (2008) earning him a not-altogether-sensible reputation as the Argentine Woody Allen. His films have taken home awards from festivals in Berlin, Biarritz, Valladolid and Havana, and aside from screenwriting and directing, his credits include co-producing the international hit "The Mo- torcycle Diaries" (2003). So why would an auteur with a growing interna- tional following, lauded by The New York Times as "an outspoken champion of understatement." turn to mounting a one-act play currently being staged in a cultural center in the heart of Abasto. a Buenos Aires neighborhood so thoroughly Jewish it boasts the world's only kosher Mc- Donald's outside of Israel? The stylistic difference between Burman's films and the play explains at least part of this unan- ticipated move. Burman's movies are remarkable for their gentle humor and sweetness, for the care with which they detail family relationships, and for the precision of their portraits of Buenos Aires' counterparts to New York's Lower East Side. On film he represents emotions subtly, through a father and son's quietly shared meal or an afternoon's aimless walk. In Las Llaves de Abajo, on the other hand, the son-- played by Damian Dreizik. who co-wrote the play and appeared as comic relief in "Family Law" reaches out to strangle his mother, in garish pantomime, to dem- onstrate his frustration. His mothers, dressed as skeletons, perform a black- lit striptease in which they pluck their bones off one by one and toss them aside. In an earlier scene, the mothers swim and gurgle in a fish tank while their son contemplates pulling the plug on them. Burman's attention to"at- tractive visuality" on stage, as La Nacion. Argentina's only broadsheet, called it. owes to his cinematic eye, but tonally "Las Llaves de Abajo" evokes the Sunday funnies and Looney Tunes more than any of his modest, realist films. Yet the play is by no means a complete departure for Burman, as it attends to exactly the sorts of genera- tional loyalties and conflicts that propel his films. At 42. Gabriel wants to escape the overbearing grasp of his mother, Mabel, represented in her three incarnations as affectionate, depressive and euphoric by Adriana Aizenberg, Chela Cardalda and Elvira Onetto. He can- not physically exit their apartment, though, because the mothers have changed the lock. When Gabriel decides, even with the keys finally in his hands, to ignore his children and estranged wife waiting below and remain by his mothers' side. his pro- nouncement of "You three are my Eden! My refuge!" broadcasts in no uncertain terms his inability to leave his childhood behind. In cartoonish fashion, then, the play confronts what Bur- man has called "a battle of titans between [Gabriel] and his mothers, or between his present and his past." Is Mabel meant to be a specifically Jewish mother. an Argentine Mrs. Portnoy? So it would seem, as the Show's producers, after some debate, settled on the surname of Cohen for Ga- briel, instead of Ventura (a Sephardic name that might not be noticed as Jewish). But Bur~nan himself isn't certain. "No, they're not a Jewish mother and son, oryes--I don't know." he told an interviewer. Although Burman says he makes "an enormous effort to avoid the theme of Jewishness in [hiS] works," it's clear that Gabriel and Mabel's relationship would resonate with Jewish audi- ences from New York to Paris to Tel Aviv, if trans- lated and stripped of some of the more obscure local references. Which is why, as in- triguing as it is to see a promising young artist extending his generic and tonal range, Burman's American and European admirers must hope that theatrical experiments like Las Lla~es de Abajo won't detract from his filmmaking. DVDs are. of course, a whole lot easier to ship overseas. Josh Lambert is a con- tributing editor to Tablet Magazine. Sara Kippur is an assistant professor of lan- guage and culture studies at Trinity College. Reprinted from Subway From page 1A the clout of a global chain behind him. Ham and bacon were re- moved from the menu. the "cheese" is made of soy, and the Seafood Sensation sandwich is filled with imitation crab. TwO microwaves and toaster ovens ensure that fish and meat are kept separate, a consideration for more observant Jews. There is a full-time mashgiach, or kosher supervisor, and the res- taurant is closed on Shabbat. "It's been wildly successful," Hyman says. In June, the JCC of Greater Washington in Rockville, Md., picked up on Cleveland's expe- rience, opening a kosher Sub- way in a space formerly filled by a kosher Dunkin' Donuts. Executive director Michael Feinstein says the center has been getting much more foot traffic since it opened, par- ticularly from Orthodox Jews. "There aren't that many kosher restaurants in the D.C. area, so it's nice for the com- munity to have this option," Feinstein says. "And it's great for us because it gets people into our building who might not otherwise be there." The Miami Beach JCC also looked to Cleveland's example. The center's direc- tor. Gary Bomzer. notes that the building already has an in-house kosher caterer, but no sit-down restaurant. "Bringing in a national chain gives us real credibility," he explains. "A brand name like Subway provides more than a cup of coffee." The remaining kosher Subways are freestanding stores: two in New York City, in Brooklyn and Queens. as well as one in Cedarhurst in the city's Long Island suburbs; and one each in Los Angeles, Baltimore and Kansas City. The U.S. stores are the only kosher Subways. Israel opened the world's first kosher Sub- way in 1992 but the operation. which reached 23 stores at its peak. shut down in 2004 after theoriginal manager died. Subway spokesman LesWin- ograd says the company used its experience with halal, the Muslim standard to learn how to deal with kashrut challenges - such as sourcing specific meat and followingstrict dietary laws. The first halal Subway opened in Bahrain in 1984, followed by branches in Saudi Arabia, Ku- wait, the UnitedArab Emirates, Tanzania, Zambia and other countries with large Muslim communities. England alone has nearly 60 halal branches. Kosher Subways are more difficult to keep open. Wino- grad says. Some open and shut, like one that lasted for about a year in Livingston, N.J., and a Wall Street branch that closed last winter when the economy collapsed. WhileWinograd receives lots of inquiries from potential fran- chise owners in other countries who are interested in the kosher option, none has panned out. "The population has not always been there to support the business," he says. Subway serves meat, so a kosher store requires full-time kosher supervision an extra expense added to ingredients that already cost more than their non-kosher equivalents. Maurice Lichy, owner of the new Miami JCC Subway, says he's trying to keep his prices "competitive" and hopes to charge no more than $1.50 ext*ra per sandwich. Will he offer a kosher $5 Footlong? Lichy hesitates. "No," he says, "but I'll try to manage a $6 Footlong. Probably tuna or turkey; not the corned beef."