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November 20, 2009

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, NOVEMBER 20, 2009 PAGE 21A By Hilary Larson New York Jewish Week Quick: Name one of the most exciting, happening art scenes in the United States. Did Dallas come to mind? I'll bet not. The coasts, along with larger inland cities lil(e Chicago, loom in the col- lective imagination as our repositories of culture. But over the past few decades, the Dallas- Fort Worth metro area has been quietly cultivating a passionate arts scene, replete with world-class museums. hit shows and a grand scale that reflects Texan ambition. Texans may be best known for rodeos and oil, but Dallas and FortWorth invest in their art. And their architecture, as well: the crop of new nmseum buildings reveals a veritable roll-call of celebrity archi- tects, transforming the sky- line with stunning new forms that take advantage of the spacious Western aesthetic. From the freshly unveiled performing arts center in downtown Dallas to a stun- ning new sculpture collection, to the tens of millions of dol- lars' worth of new acquisitions at the Dallas Museum of Art and the first Michelangelo in an American collection, there is enough to make sure a cul- ture lover of any stripe could easily plan a long weekend here and never run out of stimulation. Jews feature prominently in the cities' arts and philan- thropic community. Close to 60,000 Jews call Dallas home, according to local statistics: more than a dozen thriv- ing synagogues and several kosher restaurants serve the metropolitan area. leading one rabbi to joke about the • "'Bible Belt" effect. Religious commitment is no joking matter in Texas. of course, and Jews have been a significant presence since founding the Reform Temple Emanu El in Daltasin the late 19th century. Jewish historical memory is preserved at the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance, which opened in 2005 in the West End district and is plannin~ a larger facility downtown. A testament to the city's civic spirit, the museum hosts more than 15.000 an- nual visitors and countless school groups. Its exhibitions connect the Shoah to present- day moral challenges around the world. Last month, the city of Dal- las celebrated the completion of its long-planned DallasArts District by opening the AT&T Performing Arts Center. First conceived in the 1970s as a 19-block downtown complex that would bring t6gether the city's prestigious arts companies, the new center is very much of the 21st century. A series of eye-catching, fu- turistic theaters and concert halls are designed by such contemporary luminaries as Rein Koolhaas and Norman Foster. Resident companies in- clude the Dallas Opera. the Dallas Theater Center. the Dallas Black Dance Theatre, the Texas Ballet Theater and the Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico. A New York Jewish sen- sibility is evident in the cosmopolitan-yet-accessi- ble programming for the center's inaugural season. The acclaimed Broadway revival of "South Pacific," the classic from Rodgers and Hammerstein, is slated for mid-December through early January at the Winspear Opera House. Comedian Billy Crystal's one-man hit, "700 Sundays," will run in mid- November. while the popular musical "Spring Awakening" is a winter feature. Nearby in the~arts district is the Dallas Museum of Art. one of the first local institutions to make the move downtown years ago. Long a powerhouse col- lection, the DMA, as it is known, has lately ascended to the ranks of America's top museums. In the ,oast few years, it received major cash gifts from donors and the artworks from three major private collectionsflrst-rate De Koonings, Twomblgs and a Monet "Water Lilies," among other gems.. The DMA is celebrating the blossoming of the arts district with a series of exhibitions. "A Dream Come True: The Dallas Arts District," running through January, chronicles the evolution of Dallas' civic pride and ambition in the arts. "All the World's a Stage: Cel- ebrating Performance in the Visual Arts," on view through February, is a more indirect tribute to the new performing arts center. It is also a tribute to the universal human in- stinct for creative expression: Here are more than 100 paint- ings, sculptures, photographs and objects that span two and a half millennia and five continents, including Degas' ballerinas, Picasso's guitar- ists and Italian Renaissance bacchanals. Also new in the arts dis- trict is the Nasher Sculpture Center. formed six years ago, whose gorgeous, glittering new building was designed by the prolific Renzo Piano. Sculpture is increasingly get- ting the attention it deserves as a powerful and accessible art form, rather than a poor relation to painting. The wild, weird and whim- sical shapes of Miro, Calder The Louis I. Kahn-designed Kimball Art Museum in Fort collection to acquire a painting by Michelangelo. and Giacometti, the craggy modernism of David Smith and the undulating curves by Richard Serra tell the story of 20th-century aes- thetic currents in a most- enjoyable space. Mammoth Rodins and Moores loom over strollers in the lovely garden outside. Across the way in Fort Worth, the famous Kimbell Art Museum just became the first American collection to acquire a painting by Michel- angelo, thus solidifying its position as one of the top arts destinations in the American West. Famed mid-century archi- tect Louis I. Kahn designed this iconic modernist space, whose collection is particu- larly strong in Asian, pre-Co- lumbian andclassical Greek and Roman art, as well as European paintings from the Renaissance through Picasso. Michelangelo's early and im- portant work "The Torment of St. Anthony," acquired in May, is the centerpiece of a new exhibition. This winter brings a unique opportunity to see works by Rembrandt, Renoir, Gauguin, Van Gogh and Matisse that usually decorate the living rooms of West Texas ranches and Houston oil-baron man- sions. "From the Private Col- lections of Texas: European Travelers' Resources: Dallas Museum of Art: KimbeU Art Museum: Nasher Sculpture Center: Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth: Amon Carter Museum: Dallas Holocaust Museum: http://www'dallushol°caustmuseum'°rg Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County: Pmorgan67/flickr/Creative Commons Worth is the first American Art, Ancient to Modern" opens on Nov. 22 and runs through late March. Conceived as a deliberate complement to the Kimbell, which is strongest in pre- mid-20th-century art, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth displays works from the 1940s to the present. Like its counterparts, the Modern is as beautiful outside as in- side: the breathtaking space consists of five glass-walled, Japanese-inspired "pavilions" on a lily pond. The American architect Philip Johnson, no slouch himself, designed the Amon Carter Museum. a showcase for American art. The collec- tion includes works by John Singer Sargent, Winslow Homer, Georgia O'Keefe and Frederic Remington. Urbane in shimmering ivory, the building channels both Manhattan's Lincoln Center (including Johnson's David H. Koch Theater) and Jeru- salem's pale stone cityscape. Hilarg Larson is a travel writer for the New York Jewish Week from which this article was reprinted by permission. i 1 t By Johanna Ginsberg New Jersey Jewish News If you think kashrut hasn't changed much over the ages. consider David Kraemer's 2007 book. recently released in paperback. "Jewish Eating and Identity Through the Ages.'" Picture some Torah schol- ars sitting around a table eating. Do they have forks. knives, dishes? Now picture Torah scholars from several hundred years ago. They don't have utensils or dishes, and they use their hands. "Most people who study and teach talmudic discourse are unaware about how eating technologies have changed," said Kraemer, a professor of Talmud and rabbinics at the Jewish Theological Semi- nary. "When l paid closer attention to the fact that we use cutlery and centuries ago they used their hands, and [I] went back to the talmudic discourse, I had a very differ- ent understanding." Kraemer discussed Jewish eating from biblical days to the present at a series of lec= tures at Congregation Beth El in South Orange, N.J., where he served as scholar in residence Nov. 13-14. Kraemer offered insight into the history and diversity of Jewish eating practices over the centuries. A run- ning theme of his research is how food was used by Jews to distinguish themselves from gentiles or not. In the Book of Tobit. from the Apocrypha, its author describes friends and family as eating "geotile food." Kraemer writes. "Tobit reports that his compatriots fail to observe his eating piety, suggesting that he stands apart in his avoidance." The apocryphal book also includes a discussion, from 16th-century Poland, over how long one must wait be- tween meat and milk meals. While the popular practice seems to have been one hour. Rabbi Solomon Luria insisted on six hours. Those who refused to wait that long, declared Luria, lack even a "whiff of Torah," In both cases, Kraemer writes, the author of Tobit and Luria were separating them- selves not just from gentiles, but from their fellow Jews. "Jews living in every age had to live with their neigh- bors. They were always ne- gotiating over eating," Krae- met said in a recent phone interview from his home in Manhattan. "What surprised me most was when I realized that Jewish eating practices also separated groups of Jews from other groups of Jews." Kraemer described con- temporary kashrut practices among observant Jews as "the strictest restrictions ever." Some Orthodox authorities are "prohibiting all kinds of vegetables no one ever had any hesitation to eat," he said. including vegetables like broccoli and ca.uliflower, due to the possible presence of microscopic bugs. "This can't just be about separating from gentiles," he said, especially in relatively affluent, heavily Orthodox neighborhoods, where con- tact with gentiles is scant. In fact. he argues, like Tobit and Luria, observant Jews are separating themselves from other Jews whom they deem not pious enough. Kraemer, firmly in the camp that eats broccoli and cauliflower, is critical of the increased strin- gency. "Our dream of Jewish unity is that--a dream;" he lamented. "On some things we can all cooperate; on some things, we'll stay separate." He does take issue with the three-hour wait between meat and milk embraced by many of his fellow Conserva- tive Jews. "It's literally a compro- mise, and aweak compromise that does not depend on any tradition or principle." he said. Because most Conser- vative Jews are of Ashkenazi descent, he believes (with apologies to Luria) that the waiting period ought to fol- low the original Ashkenazi practice of one hour. "I have no hesitation to wait just one hour," he said. But then, he said, he is "mostly a vegetarian." If he doesn't share the nostalgia of the Jewish deli as much as some recent authors, Kraemer does have some concerns about the loss of distinctly Jewish eating habits among acculturated suburban Jews. He pities the future historian of Jewish folkways in the early 21st century, lip ~ PAVILION Various Jewish services are offered at Savannah Court thanks to our Friends at The Jewish Pavilio~L "It would be hard to write a book about that. because we eat like everyone else," • said Kraemer. "What makes us different today? Very little." Johanna Ginsberg is a staff writer for the New Jersey Jewish News from which this article was reprinted by permission. 1301 W. Maitland Blvd. Maitland, FL 32751 407-645-3990 -ALF License No. 8447. SNF 1635096 maitland I