Arts & Culture Notes

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Tonight's Tenement Talks at The Tenement Museum features two journalists with books out about uncovering family secrets. In The Pages in Between, Erin Einhorn tracks down the Polish family that hid her mother from the Nazis; in Annie’s Ghosts, Steve Luxenberg tells the story of the sister whose existence his mother hid from everyone. For more about the authors visit Steve Luxenberg's site here and Erin Einhorn's site here.  You can also hear Erin's story as told on NPR's  "This American Life".

                            

Barbara Bietz's blog, Jewish Books For Children, features a nice interview with Jacqueline Dembar Greene, author of the series of books that come along with the newest American Girl doll, Rebecca.
Barbara writes:

Rebecca is a nine-year-old Jewish girl growing up in New
York City in 1914 during the height of America’s immigration era.
Written by award-winning author Jacqueline Dembar
Greene, the stories
offer insight into a unique time in America’s history, including the
struggles of immigrants, the early days of the movie industry, and the
fight for safe working conditions. Young readers will experience
Rebecca’s loving extended family, the excitement of Coney Island and
the sights and smells of the Lower East Side of New York.

Monday News Links

Elliot Sander defends the much maligned MTA in the New York Times, just a few weeks after stepping down as the agency's chief executive.

The Daily News likes Governor Paterson's ethics reform proposals, aimed at repairing Albany's "corrupt" and "dysfunctional" politics and ending a culture of "pay to play."  The editorial takes direct aim at Sheldon Silver:

Since Paterson and the Senate appear to be on the same page, the question marks are the Assembly and Speaker Sheldon Silver, a tort lawyer who adamantly refuses to disclose who his clients are or how much money he makes from them. Facing
a snowballing issue, Silver has promised to hold hearings on Paterson's
ethics bill with the intention of taking action before the end of the
session this month. He must."

From Craigslist: Auditions will be held on the Lower East Side Saturday for "a brave, beautiful, strong character" to play a Japanese terrorist known as the "mistress of menace." The role is for a film tied to a "prestigious art exhibition" in New York.

Finally, New York Magazine "stands in awe" of David Sax who managed to rattle off the names of 30 Jewish delis in one minute:

Wednesday News Links

Two more New Yorkers with the swine flu have died, but health officials say they both had other health complications that may have been contributing factors. Still, the city is continuing to grapple with the swine flu even as it has subsided in other parts of the country. Experts at the NYC Health Department are trying to determine why H1N1 is so persistent here.

State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has unveiled his plan for mayoral control of the New York City schools. But many of his members remain skeptical, convinced that more oversight of the mayor and accountability are necessary.

Beliefnet columnist Brad Hirschfield, says the release of "Rebecca Rubin," American Girl's latest historical doll, is being treated like the arrival of the Messiah. He questions whether Rebecca's "life story" (growing up on the Lower East Side in 1914), written by author Jacqueline Dembar Greene, is relatable to Jewish girls in the year 2009:

"We are a community that has entered Jewish life through
inter-marriage, adoption, conversion… I am just not sure why having dolls
whose "life" stories are written by an author who struggled to come of
age as a Jew in the 50's, is the place to begin for little Jewish girls
today.

Russ & Daughters is heralding the arrival of the New Catch Holland Herring on June 9th. They're only available for about a month.  The famed appetizing store's blog, Lox Populi, calls these delicacies "a piece of gastronomic heaven, a fabulous buttery and mild matjes (young) herring unlike any other."

The New York Times, previewing summer food events, highlights the Rahkaing Thingyan New Year Water Festival. It's held July 12th at the J.H.S. 56 schoolyard, Madison and Montgomery Streets. The Times says to look for:

"… a bowl of shwe yin aye, whose loose translation is “something that
cools you.” It drenches sticky rice, coconut, assorted colorful agars
and scissor-snipped white bread in several ladles of coconut milk and
tapioca pearls. Other dishes (most are about $5) include mohinga, or
fish noodle soup; shrimp fritters tossed with watercress, cucumber and
fish sauce; and mont kyar si, hand-rolled rice-flour dumplings with
shredded coconut."

“American Girl” Rebecca Rubin Pays Homage to LES Roots

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The new American Girl doll, Rebecca Rubin, will debut on Sunday morning (9am) at the company's retail store on 5th Avenue and 49th Street. If you haven't been following the hoopla, Rebecca is the newest historical character from the Wisconsin Company (bought out by Mattel) with a huge following among, as the New York Times put it "the female 7-12 year old set."

She's 9 years old, living on the Lower East Side in 1914. Rebecca will retail for $95. The author of a series of accompanying biographical books about Rebecca, Jacqueline Dembar Greene, will be on hand at the store Sunday afternoon (330-530pm) for the big event. Then on June 7, there will be a special lunch at the store to "meet" Rebecca, followed by a trip downtown to tour the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. There are similar events on June 29th and August 10th. Tickets are $75 per person, enough to make Rebecca's Russian immigrant family plotz! More info on American Girl's web site.