JTS in the Berkshires: Learning Inspired by This Season’s Performances

Date: Jul 12, 2019

Time: 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Sponsor: JTS Learning in Your Community

Location: Massachusetts

Category: JTS in Your Community

Compelling Jewish Learning Inspired by This Season’s Performances

Taking inspiration from the arts programming that enlivens summer in the Berkshires, eminent JTS scholars will explore a performance of Verdi’s Requiem in Terezin, interrogate the legacy of Richard Wagner through the lens of the Bible’s imperfect messengers, and introduce an extraordinary 16th-century Jewish play written in the style of Shakespeare’s marriage comedies. 

Fridays, July 12, July 26, August 9
11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Tickets: $15 per session.
Sign up for one or all. 

Shakespeare & Company
Elayne Bernstein Theater
70 Kemble Street
Lenox, Massachusetts

July 12

Verdi in Terezin: A Composer’s Inspiration
Dr. Gerald Cohen, Assistant Professor, H. L. Miller Cantorial School
Lecture and Performance

The Nazis allowed a measure of art and education to take place in Terezin, both as a way of occupying the prisoners and to deceive the world as to the nature of concentration camps. Composer and cantor Gerald Cohen will tell the story of a determined group of prisoners in Terezin and their performance of Verdi’s Requiem under the direction of the dynamic conductor Rafael Schachter. Cohen will explore the significance of the Verdi Requiem at Terezin and discuss his own composition for string quartet, Playing For Our Lives, which was written as a tribute to the Terezin prisoners and which draws upon the Verdi as inspiration. Will include a musical performance by the Pittsfield High School String Quartet.

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July 26

What Can the Bible Teach Us About Wagner? Jewish Views on the Imperfect Messenger
Dr. David Kraemer, Joseph J. and Dora Abbell Librarian and Professor of Talmud and Rabbinics
Lecture and Text Study

Richard Wagner, T.S. Eliot, Shakespeare. Sometimes the most important or even sublime messages are delivered by highly imperfect messengers. This is the case in the Jewish tradition as well, which includes complex and flawed figures like biblical Joseph or King David. Does Judaism allow one to separate the message from the messenger? Can the handiwork of the sinner, if not the sinner him- or herself, be allowed into the community? Dr. David Kraemer will explore this troubling and very current question.

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August 9

Matchmaking and Midrash: A Hebrew Comedy From the Time of Shakespeare
Dr. Stefanie Siegmund, Women’s League Chair in Jewish Gender and Women’s Studies
Lecture and Dramatic Reading

Dr. Stefanie Siegmund will introduce you to The Comedy of Betrothal, the oldest Hebrew play in existence, and its creator, Leone de’Sommi, an Italian Jew from Mantua.  Written in the 16th century in the style of an Italian Renaissance comedy, the play will surprise you with its provocative themes and creative weaving of biblical and Talmudic texts with a plot more characteristic of Shakespeare’s marriage comedies. Dr. Siegmund will discuss the play in the context of the history and cultural lives of the Jews of Italy in the early modern period. Local actors will perform scenes from the work.

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For more information, contact Lynn Feinman at (212) 678-8821 or lyfeinman@jtsa.edu

Presented in partnership with Knesset Israel and in cooperation with the Jewish Federation of the Berkshires.  Supported in part by a grant from the Harold Grinspoon Foundation and the Herald Institute for Jewish Studies of JTS.