The season opens on September 10 with the New York premiere of Commandant, a staged reading of Frederic Morton’s play which will be followed by a discussion with the playwright and former Harper’s editor Lewis Lapham. On September 17, the Museum will present an important discussion about Religion and the 2008 Presidential Campaign featuring moderator Sally Quinn of the Washington Post, Reverend Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, President of the Interfaith Alliance, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Charles Haynes, Senior Scholar, First Amendment Center, and author Susan Jacoby.
This fall, the Museum will delve into greater depth and detail about the remarkable woman who is the subject of Woman of Letters: Irene Nemirovsky and Suite Francaise. On September 24, the day the exhibit opens, Irene Nemirovsky: A Daughter’s Discovery will feature Irene’s daughter, Denise Epstein in conversation about her mother’s life, work, and legacy with professor and translator Sandra Smith. Professors Michael Marrus and Robert O. Paxton will offer important historical context for the period in which Nemirovsky wrote and lived in a discussion entitled Jews in Vichy France on October 26. The season concludes on October 29 when the dynamic doublebill of Soulfarm and the Moshav Band perform a special concert in honor of Daniel Pearl World Music Days.
Detailed descriptions of all the programs listed above are included with this release. The Museum’s threefloor Core Exhibition educates people of all ages and backgrounds about the rich tapestry of Jewish life over the past centurybefore, during, and after the Holocaust.
Special exhibitions include: Daring to Resist: Jewish Defiance in the Holocaust, on view through September 14 and Woman of Letters: Irene Nemirovsky and Suite Francaise, opening September 24. The Museum offers visitors a vibrant public program schedule in its Edmond J. Safra Hall. It is also home to Andy Goldsworthy’s memorial Garden of Stones, as well as James Carpenter’s Reflection Passage, Gift of The Gruss Lipper Foundation. The Museum receives general operating support from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and is a founding member of the Museums of Lower Manhattan.
Wednesday, September 10, 7 P.M. – Commandant
New York premiere of a staged reading of a new play by awardwinning author Frederic Morton Set in 1945, Commandant is a psychological duel in which a prisoner —a preeminent actor — faces the greatest acting challenge of his life: forced to wear the SS uniform, he must take on the role of the Commander and face questioning while his captor escapes. Frederic Morton will discuss his work after the performance with Lewis Lapham, former editor of Harper’s Magazine.
Frederic Morton is the author of twelve books, two of which, The Rothschilds and A Nervous Splendor, have been National Book Award finalists. The Rothschilds was adapted into a Tony Awardwinning musical with Hal Linden and ran on Broadway for 2 years. Morton’s work has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories 1965 as well as in The Best American Essays 2003. Commandant premiered as a staged reading at the prestigious National Volkstheatre in Vienna in January. Lewis H. Lapham is national correspondent for Harper’s Magazine and was the editor of Harper’s from 1976 to 2006. He is the author of numerous books and editor of Lapham’s Quarterly, a journal of history which debuted in the spring of 2007. He has written for Life, Commentary, National Review, Elle, Fortune, Forbes, American Spectator, Vanity Fair, The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and other publications. Lapham was inducted into the American Society of Magazine Editors’ Hall of Fame in February of 2007.
Wednesday, September 17, 7 P.M. - Religion and the 2008 Presidential Campaign
Moderated by On Faith founder and comoderator, Sally Quinn with Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, President, Interfaith Alliance, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and author Susan Jacoby.
Religious freedom is a foundation of democracy in America. In the most religiously diverse nation in the world, it is not surprising that faith plays a prominent role in public life. Panelists will examine the boundaries between religion and government, politicians’ use of religious language in marketing their initiatives, and the role of religion in the 2008 election.
Sally Quinn is a Washington Post reporter and the founder and comoderator of the Washington Post Newsweek blog On Faith. She is the author of Regrets Only, Happy Endings, The Party: A Guide to Adventurous Entertaining, and We’re Going to Make You a Star.
Reverend Dr. C. Welton Gaddy leads the national nonpartisan grassroots and educational organizations, The Interfaith Alliance and The Interfaith Alliance Foundation, and serves as the Pastor for Preaching at Northminster Baptist Church in Monroe, Louisiana. Rev. Gaddy is the host of State of Belief, a weekly radio show by The Interfaith Alliance that is carried on Air America. Rev. Gaddy is one of 20 international religious leaders on the Council of 100 Leaders, a group created by the World Economic Forum to improve dialogue and understanding between the Western and Islamic worlds.
In addition to being the author of over 20 books, he provides regular commentary to the national media on issues relating to religion and politics. Rabbi David Saperstein represents the national Reform Jewish Movement to Congress and the administration. During his 30 year tenure as Director of the Center, Rabbi Saperstein has headed several national religious coalitions. He currently cochairs the Coalition to Preserve Religious Liberty, comprising more than 50 national religious denominations and educational organizations, and serves on the boards of numerous national organizations including the NAACP and People For the American Way.
In 1999, Rabbi Saperstein was elected as the first Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom created by a unanimous vote of Congress. Also an attorney, Rabbi Saperstein teaches seminars in both First Amendment ChurchState Law and in Jewish Law at Georgetown University Law School. His latest book is Jewish Dimensions of Social Justice: Tough Moral Choices of Our Time.
Charles Haynes is senior scholar at the First Amendment Center. Haynes is best known for his work on First Amendment issues in public schools. Over the past two decades, he has been the principal organizer and drafter of consensus guidelines on religious liberty in schools, endorsed by a broad range of religious and educational organizations. In January 2000, three of these guides were distributed by the U.S. Department of Education to every public school in the nation. Haynes is the author or coauthor of six books, including First Freedoms: A Documentary History of First Amendment Rights in America (2006) and Religion in American Public Life. His column, Inside the First Amendment, appears in newspapers nationwide. He is a founding board member of the Character Education Partnership and serves on the steering committee of the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools and the American Bar Association Advisory Commission on Public Education. He chairs the Committee on Religious Liberty of the National Council of Churches.
Susan Jacoby is the author of The Age of American Unreason, Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism, and several other books including the Pulitzer Prize finalist Wild Justice: The Evolution of Revenge. An independent scholar whose work now focuses on American intellectual history, the author began her writing career as a reporter for The Washington Post. Her articles and essays have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Washington Post Book World, Los Angeles Times Book Review, Newsday, Harper's, The Nation, Vogue, among other publications. She is also program director of the Center for InquiryNew York City, and a regular panelist for On Faith. She also has her own political blog, The Secularist’s Corner on the Web site of The Washington Post.
Wednesday, September 24, 7 P.M. - Tours begin at 5 P.M. - Irene Nemirovsky: A Daughter’s Discovery
With Denise Epstein, daughter of Irene Nemirovsky, interviewed by Sandra Smith, Robinson College, Cambridge, U.K. Fifty years after her mother’s death, Denise Epstein discovered and transcribed the first two parts of the remarkable, unfinished fivepart novel, Suite Francaise, now a worldwide bestseller. Denise will discuss her mother’s life and work with Nemirovsky translator and literature professor Sandra Smith. Join us for a highlights tour of Woman of Letters: Irene Nemirovsky and Suite Francaise led by the exhibition organizers.
Tours begin at 5 p.m. and continue every 30 minutes until 6:30 p.m. Space is limited. Preregistration is required. Call the Museum box office to reserve your spot. Dr. Sandra Smith, a Senior Teaching Member of Robinson College, Cambridge, U.K., began work as a professional translator with her commission for Suite Francaise. She has now translated several more of Irene Nemirovsky’s works, including a biography and new translations of four classics. Denise Epstein is the only surviving daughter of Irene Nemirovsky. Now 78 years old, she lives in Toulouse, France. Presented in conjunction with the special exhibition Woman of Letters: Irene Nemirovsky and Suite
Sunday, October 26, 2:30 P.M. - Jews in Vichy France
With Michael Marrus, Dean of Graduate Studies and the Chancellor Rose and Ray Wolfe Professor of Holocaust Studies at the University of Toronto, and Robert O. Paxton, Robert O. Mellon Professor of Social Sciences Emeritus, Columbia University. In 1941, the Vichy government worked with the Nazis to begin rounding up Jews for the concentration camps. Between 1942 and 1944, nearly 76,000 Jews were deported to concentration camps from France. Robert Paxton and Michael Marrus, the world renowned scholars and authors of Vichy France and the Jews, will provide historical context for the experience of Irene Nemirovsky and other Jews of France during World War II.
Robert Paxton is an American historian specializing in Vichy France and Europe during World War II. Paxton is best known for his 1972 book Vichy France, Old Guard and New Order, 19401944, in which he argues that Vichy collaboration with Germany was a voluntary program entered into by the Vichy government, not forced upon it by German pressure. He is currently a professor emeritus of history at Columbia University. Michael Marrus is a Canadian historian of France, the Holocaust, and Jewish history. He is an expert on the history of French Jewry and antiSemitism, and cowrote with Robert Paxton the 1972 book on Vichy France described above. He teaches at the University of Toronto.
Wednesday, October 29, 7 P.M. - Soulfarm and the Moshav Band
Inspired by their Jewish roots, the dynamic and wildly popular musicians of Soulfarm and the Moshav Band will offer up their unique blends of rock, reggae, folk, funk, and soul for this year’s Daniel Pearl World Music Days concert at the Museum.
Soulfarm is made up of C. Lanzbom (lead guitar and vocals), Noah Solomon Chase (guitar and lead vocals), Mark Ambrosino (drums and vocals), and Jeff Langston (bass), extraordinarily gifted musicians from New York who are forging an exciting new sound by combining the musical roots of their heritage with a shared passion for writing melodic songs and modern, progressive arrangements. Hailed as “a high intensity band” by CMJ New Music Report and “An original new trip, indeed,” by The Philadelphia Inquirer, Soulfarm has played everywhere from New York to San Francisco to Berlin. They have performed with such wellknown musicians as Perry Farrell, Bruce Hornsby, and Shawn Colvin. In its hometown, Soulfarm regularly sells out clubs like the Lion's Den and the Wetlands where their first album was recorded. They have also played before a packed house in New York’s famed Town Hall.
Through extensive tours of the U.S. and Europe, the group has gained popularity on college stages and at festivals. The Moshav Band is made up of Israeliborn California transplants — brothers Yehuda (vocals, persussion), Yosef (bass), and Meir Solomon (mandolin guitar), and their friend David Swirsky (vocals, guitar), — who grew up on the Moshav Meor Modi’im, a musical village between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv founded by Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, with whom they performed. Eventually, American students traveling in Israel heard them play and befriended the members of the band. Taken with the music and the band’s stage presence, these kids from the U.S. went back to the States and raised the money to bring the band to America for a short college tour in 1998. By 2000, the band had moved to Los Angeles, determined to make it in the mainstream pop world. They have performed with Matisyahu, Blue Fringe, and Neshama Carlebach.
Woman of Letters: Irene Nemirovsky and Suite Francaise - Opens September 24
Woman of Letters tells the remarkable story of a writer driven to create, of a mother and her daughters, of memory and identity, of legacy and loss. A Russianborn Jewish author, Irene Nemirovsky quickly rose to literary celebrity in her adopted France. But her fame and accomplishment, and even her conversion to Catholicism, were not enough to save her when war came? she was deported to Auschwitz in 1942.
Among the few items that she left behind was a valise that contained a leather notebook. Haunted by painful memories, her daughters avoided opening it until Denise read it more than fifty years after their mother’s death. She discovered not a diary, but a major literary work: the first two parts of an unfinished fivepart novel, Suite Francaise. The exhibition illustrates Nemirovsky’s life and her extraordinary literary gift to the world with stunning and heartbreaking artifacts, including the original manuscript and the valise, never before exhibited.
Coproduced with Institut Memoires de l’Edition Contemporaine (IMEC). The exhibition is made possible through generous funding from: American Express, The David Berg Foundation, Diller — von Furstenberg Family Foundation, Embassy of France in the United States, Nancy Fisher, Grand Marnier Foundation, Alexis Gregory Foundation, Fanya Gottesfeld Heller, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council with the generous support of The September 11th Fund, The Felix & Elizabeth Rohatyn Foundation, Howard J. Rubenstein, and The Robert Sillins Family Foundation. Salon furniture courtesy Ligne Roset. -- www.mjhnyc.org