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Flatiron Hot! News | November 22, 2017

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Jewish Boxers, James McDonald, Michael Walzer & More: Center for Jewish History Offers Great Cultural Events and Treasures for Flatiron & Chelsea

Jewish Boxers, James McDonald, Michael Walzer & More: Center for Jewish History Offers Great Cultural Events and Treasures for Flatiron & Chelsea
Tod Shapiro

By Tod Shapiro and the Flatiron Hot! News Editorial Staff

Flatiron and Chelsea residents should check in at the wonderful local cultural resource that is the Center for Jewish History.  Located on 16th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, this amazing resource is the home of five world-class Jewish cultural organizations: American Jewish Historical Society, American Sephardi Federation, Leo Baeck Institute, Yeshiva University Museum and YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. This remarkable institution offers programs for the general public at reasonable prices, or sometimes, for free.

May saw four interesting offerings for area denizens which I had the privilege of attending.  First, and still on view, is a fantastic exhibit called “Yiddish Fight Club” featuring Yiddish boxers and wrestlers, complete with photos and texts explaining the interplay of the unforgettable Yiddish vernacular as it co-existed with the larger-than-life series of brawny fighters that populated NYC life in the first half of the 20th century.  Second was a fascinating round table discussion with five scholars concerning the notable James McDonald, who chaired a committee that recommended the settlement of European Holocaust survivors and Jewish refugees in Palestine at the end of World War II against all odds. Third, a discussion with the well-known left-wing scholar and intellectual Michael Walzer, who talked in stark terms about similarities in the early political development of Israel, Algeria, and India in the post-colonial era after World War II – soul food for the mind!  And finally, just this past Wednesday, there was a compelling discussion of Nachman Libeskind’s life story as related by his daughter, Annette Libeskind Berkovits,  in the form of a book “The Unlikeliest of Places” constructed upon his writings and life experiences as recorded by his family.  Libeskind, an immigrant American artist of note, lived an incredible life and was the ultimate survivor – he lived through the Holocaust in his native Poland (where he grew up steeped in Yiddish and Polish Jewish culture), endured a forced flight and imprisonment in the Soviet Gulag in Siberia, an escape to a short but abortive sojourn in Israel, and then finally a successful career in New York as a trend-setting artist.  Check out this sneak peak Flatiron Hot! News video clip.