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University of Illinois Sports Center Offers Kosher Food Stand

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University of Illinois fans who observe kashrut can now enjoy a hot dog with the rest of the Fighting Illini. The flagship campus at Urbana-Champaign has introduced a kosher food stand at basketball games this year.

The Associated Press reports that the kosher dogs, drinks, and snacks are thanks to the efforts of local Chabad Rabbi Dovid Tiechtel. Teichtel was dissatisfied that outside food was not allowed in the school’s State Farm Center, leaving observant Jews with few dining options.

The university has about 3,500 Jewish students out of 43,000 total, and it’s likely few of them keep kosher. Tieichtel confirmed that few of the stand’s customers on opening night this week were observant Jews. But he was excited that others have been eagerly enjoying the treat, including some observant Muslim diners, who must avoid pork hot dogs to observe halal. The food stand’s volunteers promote the hot dogs simply as “the best all-beef hot dog” at the arena.

Kosher food options are somewhat common in professional sports arenas, especially in cities with large Jewish populations; one blogger lists 31 professional stadiums with kosher food stands.

But these choices are much less common at the college level. The AP could find only one other kosher food stand nearby. Not coincidentally, it was founded by Tiechtel’s brother, Zalman, at the University of Kansas.

‘Aftermath’ Unearths Terrible Secrets of Polish Participation in WWII

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A sense of violent dread pervades every moment of Polish drama “Aftermath.” A simple story of two brothers reunited after 20 years is slowly revealed to be a complex power struggle between the legacy of the past and the possibilities of the future.

Franek Kalina (Ireneusz Czop), the son of a poor farmer, immigrated to the US in the 80s, but is having trouble achieving the American dream and blames Chicago Jews for his plight. He finally returns to his hometown, a small village in central Poland, when his brother’s wife arrives on his doorstep without explanation.

Franek finds that his brother Jozek (Maciej Stuhr) is shunned and threatened by the locals. He doesn’t understand what happened, and struggles to reconnect. He soon finds out the root of the problem: Jozek has rescued Jewish gravestones from roads, plazas and houses all over town. Franek’s latent anti-Semitism fights his familial loyalties as he takes on his brother’s quest to honor the Jewish dead, while the town does all it can to keep the past buried. Ultimately, the brothers uncover a horrifying secret. One chooses the path of righteousness, while the other succumbs to self-doubt.

Slow moving, but steady of hand, “Aftermath” deserves the acclaim it received upon release in Poland, and the controversy that followed it. Some cinemas banned the picture, and Polish Nationals accused the film of being anti-Polish propaganda. Clearly, some in Poland still struggle with accounting for actions in wartime.

“Aftermath” shows what happens when people have been given permission to be their darkest selves, and how they will try to cover it up afterwards. The images of Jewish headstones in a burning wheat field, and a group of Jews that locals call “vacationers” saying Kaddish are haunting. Not a film to be viewed lightly, “Aftermath” will hopefully open a dialogue about Polish complicity in WWII that is long overdue.

“Aftermath” is now playing in New York City and opens in Los Angeles on November 15.

Jspace Exclusive Interview with Sex Expert Dr. Ruth

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This article was published originally on Jspace News on August 9, 2012.

Born Karola Ruth Siegel in Wiesenfeld Germany to Orthodox Jewish parents, the woman affectionately known as Dr. Ruth lived through the Holocaust, the birth of Israel, and the advent of Twitter—where she maintains a healthy presence. The iconic sex guru and cultural fixture has spread sexual education through television, print, radio, and the Internet. Jspace caught up with Dr. Ruth to talk about her attachment to Israel, Jewish sexual philosophy, and the best lovers in the world.

Jspace: You were orphaned at an early age, and then severely injured during the Israeli War for Independence, yet you fearlessly moved around the world and have made a global impact in your field. How did you find the strength to persevere through challenges?

Dr. Ruth: First of all, because of the challenges, I have a strong belief and strong conviction that I have an obligation to contribute something to the world, since I was saved and a million and half Jewish children were murdered. I did not know that it would be talking about sex, but I certainly do believe that I was fortunate to be very well trained with a doctorate from Columbia University.

This spring I’m teaching a graduate course at Teacher’s College Columbia University on the family as depicted in television, movies, and Internet. I always try to do something new. I just taught six years at Princeton and Yale, and now that that has run its course as an adjunct, I’m going to be teaching at Columbia.

I think part of why I can do what I’m doing is because I’m very Jewish. I did a book called “Heavenly Sex: Sexuality in the Jewish Tradition” with Jonathan Mark a few years ago, and I believe I can talk so openly about sex because I am very Jewish. In the Jewish tradition, sex has never been a sin; sex has always been considered an obligation between married people of course, but never anything that is sinful.

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In honor of the Olympics, you recently shocked your followers with the news that you were a sniper in Israel. What was that time like in your life?

I went to then-Palestine in 1945 after having been in an orphanage in Switzerland for six years. I went to a kibbutz, and all 47 of us living there were trained in some area of warfare. I was very, very lucky that I was in the Haganah, which was the forerunner of the Israel Defense Forces. And for some reason that I cannot explain, they found out that I’m a very good sniper. So I became a sniper. I know how to throw hand grenades.

I’ve never killed anybody, but I was badly wounded on my 20th birthday in Jerusalem on both of my legs and I’m fortunate there was a wonderful German-Jewish surgeon. So I was wounded very early in the game in 1948 on June 4.

I go back to Israel every single year. I do documentaries. I did a documentary about the Bedouin living in Israel, about the Druze, about the Ethiopian Jews. I did a documentary for the Joint Distribution Committee on the training of the Haredim, of the very Orthodox men who go to the army and the women trained to be computer analysis.

I was most recently in Israel for President Shimon Peres’ conference Tomorrow. I did a master class about the future of sexuality and sex education. I had to switch the room because the room they gave me was too small. I had 600 people in the audience, so I had to be in a larger auditorium of the Knesset.

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In your opinion, how important is it for Jews to marry other Jews?

I would not say that it is important. It’s important to marry a person that is compatible with you and if somebody adheres to the Jewish tradition, then the partner has to know that and hopefully might convert to Judaism. It’s just important that these things be discussed before children arrive and also before there are problems. So I’m not against intermarriage, I just think it’s easier if both of the couple agrees ahead of time on how the children will be raised.

Are there particular issues that seem to face Jewish couples as opposed to other religions?

No.

It’s all the same?

Absolutely. The same problems of boredom, of being stressed, of not having time, of problems with mother-in-laws. It’s not different in the Jewish tradition.

How has modern technology—from sexting to Facebook-inspired divorces—changed relationships over the years?

Texting, for example, takes away from communicating with each other. If both sit over dinner and text there’s very little communication between the two of them. There’s very little talk. So of course, any of this modern social media, has an impact on the relationship. People have to be aware of the danger of not having enough conversation topics if they’re all involved in their own texting.

Specifically for our Jspace daters, how can you make a meaningful connection online?

First of all I would say I’m all for dating services. The time has passed when parents are able to introduce their children to future spouses. However, it’s very important to not only rely on the Internet but to meet, and very important to make sure that people are safe. So I tell them never to meet in a secluded place, but to meet in hotel lobbies, in restaurants, and places that are public.

But make sure that this whole idea of maybe there’s somebody better out there is put into perspective, because otherwise we’re going to have a whole generation of people in their 40s and 50s who haven’t found a partner because of unfulfilled and unrealistic expectations. Real romance isn’t what we see on television. That’s stories, that’s film. Reality looks different.

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You recently tweeted that you’d go out with Christian Grey. Why do you think so many women are in love with a fictional character?

Forget about the sadistic part of it—pass over those pages. We live in a materialistic society, and the guy not only has money, he has a plane, a motorboat, he has everything! What he does have, in addition to his affliction of adultery and I would like him to go see a psychiatrist on his sadistic impulses, but he certainly has a way of treating women. And the women that did get involved with him were free not to do so. He didn’t rape anybody, he didn’t force anybody, so I think a combination of all of that is what makes it such fun to read.

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You’ve lived in Israel and Paris and New York. What country has the best lovers?

All of these countries have wonderful lovers. The idea that the French are the best lovers is not true. The Americans have the best scientifically validated data about human sexual functioning. Women in the United States certainly have heard people like me, I’m not the only one, keep saying that they have to take the responsibility for their own sexual satisfaction. That they first have to masturbate in order to know what they need. Even here, with all the research that we have from Masters and Johnson, Kinsey, and Kaplan, who trained me, we need more research. We need more research in terms of how to do sex education and also how to treat sexual dysfunction.

Turning to gender roles, is there anything you deem not ladylike or gentlemanlike? Or are terms like that obsolete?

Certainly not obsolete. I’m now 84. I do believe in equal pay for equal work, but I still want the man to open the door for me. I think that it’s a ridiculous thing to say ‘I don’t need that.’ Certain things are very nice in terms of old-fashioned manners. And that translates also into the bedroom.

What’s the most erotic Jewish food?

Chicken soup with matzo balls is the most erotic Jewish food because it makes you think of your grandparents, it makes you think of tradition, and who knows, there might be some sexually arousing material in a chicken soup.

Jspace Exclusive Interview with Gal Gadot on 'Fast & Furious 6'

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This article was originally printed on Jspace News on May 24, 2013. 

When Israeli actress and model Gal Gadot beat out six other candidates for the role of Gisele Harabo in “Fast & Furious,” she signed on for a hell of a ride. Now in it’s sixth film, the franchise is revving up its engine for a splashy release in theaters nationwide.

But Gadot rose to fame far before “Fast & Furious” brought the car heist genre to the American mainstream. At the age of 19, Gadot won the Miss Israel title, and went on to represent the Jewish state at the 2004 Miss Universe pageant. From there, Gadot launched a successful modeling career, becoming Castro’s leading model in 2008. Making the jump to acitng, Gadot has held roles in Israeli and American films, from “Bubot” (2008) to “Date Night” (2010) and “Knight and Day” (2010). In the latest “Fast & Furious,” which critics are calling a thrilling ride, Gadot’s Gisele Harabo joins the team once more to pursue an organization of villainous mercenary drivers in exchange for a full pardon.

Jspace News caught up with Gal Gadot via email to learn more about the latest film, becoming a working mother, and representing Israel on the global stage.

Jspace: This is your third appearance as Gisele Harabo in the “Fast & Furious” series. How did it feel to return to the character?

Gal Gadot: It was great coming back to the set. It felt like a family reunion! The very first film, we all became great friends. In “Fast & Furious,” the fourth film, we were all single. By “Fast Five” we had all gotten married, and during “Fast & Furious 6” everyone came to set with babies!

What was the hardest part about filming “Fast & Furious 6”?

The hardest part was actually the last day of shooting. After being together for four months, we have to say goodbye—but it was really more like, “See you later!”

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What reactions are you getting from fans about your role as Gisele?

The reactions are amazing. Clearly, this franchise has a lot of loyal fans and I don’t take that for granted. The fans really like the car heist narrative, but more than anything, they care about the characters. For me, as an actress, I feel a lot of responsibility to show Gisele as a role model for young girls. I wanted to show that women are empowered and strong, and don’t necessarily have to be saved by some male hero, but they can take care of themselves using their intelligence and their power.

Has it been difficult to go on the road, shooting and promoting the film with a young child at home?

I actually got to bring my daughter, Alma, along! It has been an amazing family road trip. I feel incredibly privileged to be able to travel the world with my family.

What are the differences between working in Israel and in the US?

The only real difference is budget. In Israel, the budgets are tiny compared to the US. But because of this limitation, the content and the level of creativity in Israel is much higher.

Do you feel as if you are representing Israel in your professional life?

I don’t see myself as an ambassador or anything, but I defiantly talk a lot about Israel and invite the people I meet to come and visit. There are a lot of misconceptions about Israel and it’s very important to me that people know that Israel is a beautiful place with great history and culture.

Jspace Exclusive Interview with Author and Actress Mayim Bialik

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This article was published originally on Jspace News on March 16, 2012.

Some know her as “Blossom,” and others as Amy Farrah Fowler on “The Big Bang Theory,” but now Mayim Bialik is taking on a new role as the unofficial celebrity spokesperson for attachment parenting. Her book, “Beyond the Sling,” released last week, candidly and humorously answers questions about the practicalities of how her parenting style works, from the family bed (where do you have sex?) to gentle discipline (how do kids learn to share?). We caught up with the actress-turned neuroscientist-turned mother to find out just how she manages to get it all done.

Jspace: Do you see yourself as the voice of the attachment parenting movement?

Mayim Bialik: Gosh, I consider a lot of other people to be the voice of the attachment parenting movement—people like William Sears, and the brave leaders of La Leche League International, and Ricki Lake, who is one of the leaders in terms of educating people about natural birth. I have sort of become this unofficial celebrity spokesperson for this way of life, which is a burden I knew I was taking on. Many of us for years and years and years have been privately slammed and attacked, and I guess I knew that I was taking this on publically on behalf of all the amazing people who helped me get here.

Did you discover attachment parenting before or after you had your first son and developed your parenting style?

It was actually even before we got pregnant. My husband and I had friends who had kids before us and a lot of our learning about attachment parenting was from seeing these people who believed in home birth, and breast-feeding on demand, and gentle discipline.

Honestly it sounded crazy to us. These people seemed really consumed with their kids, and it was very bizarre. But what we saw even before we got pregnant, was as these kids got older, this really interesting relationship emerged. Our friends were not parenting by force, or by fear, they weren’t hitting their kids. Their kids believed that they had a voice. It’s not that the kids trumped the parent’s lives and desires, but that they believed that their opinions mattered enough to be able to communicate really effectively. And I think that’s what appealed to us.

Have you seen results with your own children?

A lot of this style of parenting is about lowering expectations of what it should look like and being at peace with this process. Our kids are not perfect. I wasn’t looking to have quiet children, or good children, or obedient children. But by not fighting with a baby in their first years about when they want to nurse and when they want to sleep, we had an easier way of life.

We had very high needs kids who demanded a lot of attention and care and holding, but it seems to have suited their temperaments well. Our older son, who’s six, eventually weaned, and can put himself to sleep, and says “please” and “thank you,” even though we didn’t give him time-outs if he didn’t. He expects big things of people, like love and kindness. He’s a really interesting person.

How has your Jewishness influenced your parenting choices?

I don’t know if it’s influenced it so much as my parenting is just a part of the Jewish person that I am. I feel like a lot of Jewish tradition is about teaching to each their own, and that’s something we believe very strongly.

I also feel like a lot of my environmentalism comes from being raised in a reform synagogue where tikkun olam was a very big part of our education. I do feel like this style of parenting is a very green and environmentally friendly way of parenting. Children who know that they’re loved and cared for will become part of a community where the world is loved and cared for. So I think that feels pretty consistent to us.

It sounds like you find that your Jewishness meshes with the theories of attachment parenting.

I know all sorts of Jewish parents who parent a lot of different ways. But there’s absolutely a sizable portion of halachic Jews, like me, who also believe in natural birth and breast-feeding and attachment parenting style. But there are as many kinds of Jewish parents as there are others, and I think a lot a people who claim to do the attachment parenting thing may look a lot like other traditional ethnic communities.

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What will readers find most surprising in your new book, “Beyond the Sling”?

I didn’t write a parenting book about how you should parent your kids. I think a lot of people think attachment parents think they have figured it all out, and got it all right, and are judgmental, and if you don’t breast-feed, you’re a bad mom. None of that is true. It’s not lip service. I’m really not in a position to write a book to tell you how to parent. What I did is tell what works for us and why, and how my neuroscience background affirmed a lot of intuitive stuff that many parents are scared out of by conventional doctors.

You touch on this in your book, but what has it been like to switch back and forth between acting and academics?

Gosh, I mean, there’s a lot of similar skillsets needed. There’s a lot of suppression of ego and a lot of complexity to the social relationships in both academics and acting. Schedule-wise, my husband and I prefer this kind of schedule. I get to be with our kids a lot, and I was with them in their first years. I wasn’t planning to be a regular on a TV show when I went back to auditioning.

Speaking of your regular TV role, is it coincidence that you have a PhD in neuroscience and your character on “The Big Bang Theory” is a neurobiologist?

My first episode, she had no profession. They made her a neurobiologist after they brought me back in season four. Bill Prady, our creator and executive producer, said that way I could fix things if they were wrong.

You have been a very active representative of several Jewish organizations. What compelled you to this work?

I guess personal desire to be part of the philanthropic community, because of the way I was raised. I’m not as wealthy as people think I am.

Participating, especially as a young person, in philanthropic organizations, is why I got involved with JFLA. Now that I’m a more prominent person, I’m being asked to put a face on Na’amat, which asked me to do a PSA for them, and Chai Lifeline, recently I’ve been very involved in Gift of Life. I’ve made six bone marrow matches—six!—just from a drive that I did with the Maccabeats and Matisyahu last Hanukkah.

But honestly I feel like it’s important to put a face on organizations, and a lot of times people want someone that they know and are familiar with. But I also feel very strongly and deeply about being part of the Jewish community and our desire to help other people. It’s the foundation of our peoplehood. Personally I feel that, and now publically it’s become something that I’m known for.

You are related to Hayim Nahman Bialik, one of the pioneers of modern Hebrew poetry. Has his legacy influenced you at all?

He’s my great-grandfather’s first cousin. I grew up with an acute knowledge that I was part of a very important family in modern Jewish history. It gave me a lot of pride, and honestly I think it was very special. I grew up in an area where there were a lot of Jews, but I didn’t go to Jewish day school, and most of the people I interacted with were not Jewish. So for me, it did give me a little extra confidence and feeling of uniqueness.

I think it’s something that’s possible for the entire Jewish people. We all descend from some amazing people, whether it’s a couple generations ago, or thousands of years ago. It’s been interesting to see that I felt a real personal destiny for myself and my family, but now that I’ve learned more, and become a more observant person, I feel as close to Moshe Rabbenu as I do to that sort of legacy.

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Do you have any recommendations for any of our Jewish readers also trying to balance motherhood with career and interests?

Honestly, and this is something I’ve said to non-Jewish publications as well, I feel like the Sabbath has been the greatest present. I feel like it’s almost more of a secular gift than a religious one. We work all week. For me, the only reminder that we are human beings and not human doings is the Sabbath.

It means really unplugging from everything that distracts me from my kids and from my responsibilities as a parent. I can’t do that every day. But I feel like if I can do it for 25 hours a week, it replenishes my resources, and really keeps me going. It’s sort of what guides my entire week, to get there, and then it’s what powers me through the next week.

It’s actually been kind of amazing. I took on Shabbos observance before I felt that way about Shabbos. I did it because, oh, it’s something I’m trying to do, and it was really only after doing it and become more frantic in my work life, that it became that important.

J-Connection: “The Big Bang Theory” actress Mayim Bialik is a Jew with a bachelor’s degree in Hebrew and Jewish Studies, and a PhD in neuroscience.

.ORG-Connection: The Jewish Free Loan Association of Los Angeles offers interest-free loans on a non-sectarian basis to individuals and families whose needs are urgent and who may not qualify through normal financial resources.

Jspace Exclusive Interview with Playwright Tony Kushner

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This article was published originally on Jspace News on June 20, 2012.

Tony Kushner is arguably the most famous American playwright alive today. He also happens to be Jewish. While fans may know him best for hits like “Angels in America” and “Caroline, or Change,” Kushner has also been quietly working for years on a project close to his heart: editing “The Collected Works of Arthur Miller” with the Library of America. The first volume has been circulating for some time, and Volume II was just recently released.

Jspace caught up with Kushner to discuss Miller, himself an iconic Jewish playwright; Willy Loman, Miller’s most revered character; and why Jewish and American aren’t mutually exclusive terms.

Jspace: Was Willy Loman, the protagonist in Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman,” Jewish?

Tony Kushner: My feeling is there’s really no question that Willy Loman is Jewish. Miller makes it clear that the characters are primarily based on a couple of people he knew from the Jewish neighborhood he grew up in in Brooklyn. But my feeling is that the Loman family is sort of identifiably pre and post war Jewish New York. There’s a number of complicated reasons why the Lomans do not refer to themselves as being Jewish.

The play is very, very specific to its time period, sort of the beginnings of the economic collapse following World War II and the period of recession going into the 60s following the end of the economic boom. In “All My Sons” [Miller] deals with the nature of war. The nature of war is economic. So you know that you’re an American, you know that you’re in New York, you know you’re dealing with a guy who is living in the late 1940s, early 1950s, but the language is stripped of a certain kind of specificity while remaining realistic language. I think Arthur was a great experimenter with language. There’s really a powerful attempt to make the language that is spoken in the play very clean and spare and I think in a way classic. Timeless. And because I think it’s because he was aiming for tragedy on the level of Sophocles.

And I think he succeeded. I think that the fact that he succeeded has made the play one of this country’s most universal and exploitable plays. He wrote beautifully about doing “Salesman” in Beijing in the 80s. You can sort of pick it up and put it anywhere. And I remember when I was on the Executive Council of Drama Schools in the early 90s, it was sort of a running joke that when delegations of theater artists came, the only person they ever really wanted to meet was Arthur Miller. He was the last of the sort of great patriarchs of the revolution that swept through the transformation of American drama that began with [Eugene] O’Neill and concluded with [Tennessee] Williams and Miller.

I feel like in terms of his Jewishness, I feel very strongly that Miller was certainly a Jewish identified writer. He wrote about being Jewish, he wrote plays about being Jewish, and the older he got the more open about it he got. I think there’s a clue there. For people who are from the Jewish American writers of Arthur’s generation, assimilation was a very important thing. And being American. He was like the immigrant parents, it was sort of beaten into them. They weren’t taught Yiddish. They weren’t sent to yeshiva. They didn’t even go to shul. They’re supposed to become assimilated and be able to function in America. Look at a writer who is as profoundly Jewish and profoundly Jewish identified as [Arthur Miller]. Saul Bellow, from the other side of the political spectrum. His first great work of art, the first sentence of “The Adventures of Augie March,” is ‘I am an American, Chicago born.’ Not, “I am a Jewish American.” And there’s no question that Augie is Jewish, but he is also very much an American. And I think that’s what the emphasis is on.

Sam [Freedman, New York Times writer] was reaching [in a recent article] towards an idea that part of Willy’s tragedy is a lack of a strong ethnic identity or cultural or religious identity. That Miller was making a point. But I don’t agree with that at all. I don’t believe that we’re meant to think that had Willy gone to shul on Shabbat and had he identified himself as a Jewish guy, that his tragedy would have in some way been adverted. The destruction of this man that we witness, his self-destruction and also that he is destroyed by the world in which he lives, is completely, absolutely meant to be, and irreducibly is part of, the greatness of this play. A tragedy of a formal social organization that absolutely devalues the human and makes a human being interchangeable, disposable. Cogs in a machine by which rich people get richer.

I mean, it’s not a simple play. It’s not an easy play. It’s not street scene or 1930s agitprop. It’s much deeper and richer and more complicated. But I don’t think we’re meant to think that for Willy, there is a personal pathology that has produced some sort of separation from his Jewishness and that’s a big part of is what’s wrong. I don’t think that was at all intended.

Now I could be wrong about that, but that’s my reading of it. I think one of the things that makes the play so great is it’s hard to think of other plays that succeeded in this. But there’s absolutely no way to understand what’s wrong with this guy if you don’t understand the political economy of his world. And it’s the indiscernibility of those, of the personal and the social. That’s part of the genius of the play. There are people who say that the play on one level is kind of old-fashioned, creaky, rusty, nonsense, but it’s a great play about a great character. You literally can’t even understand what’s happened to Willy if you don’t understand what’s happened to the salesman. You can’t separate the two at all. And any attempt to do that just misses the point entirely.

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There are parallels between your work and Miller’s work: Two Jewish playwrights using theater for social advocacy. Do you feel a kinship with him and is that perhaps why you have paid such attention to his plays?

I feel an enormous indebtedness to him. “Death of a Salesman” was the first play I saw when I was 6 years old, my mother was in a production in Lake Charles, Louisiana. And I saw the “The Diary of Anne Frank” and a couple of other Broadway hits that were being produced in the little theater in Lake Charles, but nothing had that impact on me as a 6 year old. I didn’t really know what was going on. But I could tell this was a play that was having a profound effect on the grown ups in the audience– the power of it was clear even as a little kid. So yeah, he had a huge impact on my life in a way.

I think of my mother in that production as sort of the beginning of my interest in theater. And as a writer of drama, I mean when I was much younger I was somewhat critical of O’Neill and of Miller. I was always a fan of Williams because he was gay and he was southern and I found him and the lyrics of his writing gloomy, powerfully. But with Arthur and with O’Neill, both writers that I now revere, when I was 18 or19 I was really scornful. Probably some sort of Oedipal thing going on. But they seemed corny to me and individualist and I was very much looking at everything through the eyes of Brechtian theory [universal appeal technique] and not impressed with them.

As I started to write plays, I reread “Salesman” and “View from a Bridge” and there’s a magnificent sort of erratic construction in these works. They serve as the greatest structure of dramatic events this country’s ever produced. And I think in terms of social advocacy, Arthur is important as a model in two ways. In one way because he doesn’t write polemic, he writes drama, which is really different. And the plays are not plays that present problems and provide answers for those problems, they’re deeper and more complicated and more tortured than that. That’s when they’re at their best. And as it progresses, they become more and more what we would call personal, and less and less obviously political.

At the same time Arthur used his immense fame for social good. He was a brave, tireless fighter, a scrupulous and courageous public intellectual, an advocate. Those are important things. I think he remains the luminous example of a writer as a citizen. It’s always good to have role models and certainly for me, when faced with a choice between doing something political and doing something that I really enjoy doing, I say to myself, “What would Arthur Miller do?” I knew him a little bit but not well, but the Arthur in my head is a very interesting and valuable figure.

You wrote the screenplay for “Munich.” The Olympic Committee is currently receiving flak for refusing a proposed moment of silence for the 40th anniversary of the attack. Do you have any reflection on the decision?

Well I mean this is completely repulsive. Not surprising because the Olympic Committee reacted disgustingly when it happened. I wasn’t there of course, I was only 10 or 11 years old. But, in working on “Munich” I found their reactions really horrifying. I had a conversation with one of the widows of one of the athletes in Tel Aviv after the movie came out. I don’t understand the Committee’s decision to continue with the games when these men had been murdered, I find it shocking.

The way that the Olympic Committee behaved then was terribly tough. It’s an appalling and disgusting decision. I don’t that think you deal with tragedy by pretending it didn’t happen. I don’t think that you deal with tragedy by saying that if murderers interrupt the flow of everyday life, that they’ve won. They have interrupted the flow of everyday life. What happened to those guys was a monstrous tragedy and it’s disrespectful not to stop this sporting event, very disrespectful. For whatever kind of reasons, I’m sure the kind of rhetoric that you expect from these people. But also it’s misguided geo-politics. It’s a terrible decision to try and make what happened 40 years ago political.

“Caroline, or Change,” your Broadway musical, featured Klezmer music. Can we expect more musicals in the future from Tony Kushner, and if so will we hear Klezmer music again?

Jeanine Tesori, who wrote the music for “Caroline,” did an opera with me last summer for Glimmer Glass. It was a one act so we’re now working on the second and expanding it into a full-length opera about Eugene O’Neill. And I’m very proud of it. I think it’s very good. And we have plans to do other things, so it’s a possibility.

I grew up in the Deep South. What I listened to was classical music, because my parents loved classical musicians. I felt I wanted to be very true to what the Jewish world of Lake Charles, Louisiana in the 1960s. It was before “Fiddler on the Roof,” which was for a lot of Jewish Americans in my generation the first exposure we had to anything that sounded remotely Klezmer. When I finally heard my first Klezmatic album it was a giant revelation. I love the music very much. I have another piece I’ve been working on for a long time and the Klezmatics wrote some music for it. And it isn’t finished yet. We did a reading of it years ago at the Jewish Museum [in New York]. Susan Sontag was in it, and it’s about my grandmother. So it’s quite possible we’ll one day see that finished.

Six ‘Israeli Spies’ Shot in Gaza Without Trial

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Six accused Israeli collaborators were shot today in Gaza.

The men were accused of spying for Israel, and shot one by one without trial or conviction.

The bodies reportedly remained in a heap in the middle of the street, as hundreds gathered to kick and spit on the bodies.

An incensed mob chanted “Spy! Spy!” according to the Times of Israel.

A video of another accused Israeli conspirator being dragged from the back of a Hamas motorcycle was also circulating online today.

Today’s actions came after a similar killing last Friday, when Hamas shot Ashraf Quaida for Israeli espionage.

A poster was hung from Quaida’s body accusing him of traitorous acts, as his corpse was left on display for civilians to see.

Hamas’ al-Aqsa radio said today the six killed were “caught red-handed” with “hi-tech equipment and filming equipment to take footage of positions.”

 

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