The Ruins of Lifta – Poignant Documentary Provokes Intense Discussion of Israel’s Palestinian Wound

Held over at Lincoln Plaza cinema after strong reviews

Rated 100 at Rotten Tomatoes, praise from Times and Voice

Where the Holocaust and the Palestinian Exile meet

After a well attended release in Manhattan, the new documentary The Ruins of Lifta has been held over for another week, which seems especially timely as the funeral of the most arms oriented yet peacemaking president of Israel, Shimon Peres, proceeds.

Here is our review of this remarkable film:

The Ruins of Lifta – Where the Holocaust and Nakba Meet: An unusually rich and understanding exploration of the painful past and threatened future of Lifta, the last ruins standing of the 1948 forced removal of 700,000 Arabs from over 800 villages to make way for an independent Israel, personalized in a moving face-to-face meeting of two good people on either side of al-Nakba (“the catastrophe”)

Sins of the past and present
Deep humanitarianism is the style of this well constructed, caring and penetrating documentary about the two sides of Israel’s first but still festering war atrocity, the Palestinian Nakba (national disaster) of forced exile of 700,000 Arabs from as many as 800 villages in Israel’s 1948 war of independence, with its iron fist policy against return, as New York filmmakers Menachem Daum and Oren Rudavsky follow Daum in his personal odyssey to escape his Orthodox Jewish family’s one sided views and visit Israel to explore for himself the true character of Palestinians and their experience in the ongoing dispute since 2005 over The Ruins of Lifta, a vivid model of the whole Israeli-Palestinian conflict, since Lifta is the only one of the evacuated Arab villages whose ruins have not yet been replaced with Israeli settlement, whose crumbling walls with stones quarried and built by the hands of its Arab inhabitants and holes blasted in its roofs to prevent return still stand as mute witness to political violence long ago and since which has left so many torn from their ancestral homes and still yearning to go back, a predicament here personalized by Menachem’s meetings with the poetic and dignified Lifta refugee Yacoub Adeh who leads the Palestinian movement to at least preserve Lifta as a memorial and defend it from an Israeli plan to develop the historically significant valley, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, though only if the Israeli government agrees not to develop it, and in the person to person rapprochement Menachem achieves in the moving climax to their film, when he introduces his friend and Holocaust survivor the lively 85 year old Dascha Rittenberg from Manhattan to Jacoub and both clash over whether one great anguish justifies another, but as they tread the paths of Lifta’s ruins together, eventually agree that peace would be served by making Lifta a memorial to a past where many Jews and Arabs once lived in harmony and an inspiration to a shared future, a small but meaningful victory for the notably humane spirit of Daum, whose equally distinguished preceding documentary Hiding and Seeking was on a similar theme of broadening the views of his two sons by taking them to Poland to visit the families of the farmers who hid Jews during World War II at the risk of their own lives, and to see young Christian Poles renovating Jewish cemeteries, both films a gentle but penetratingly effective counter to Israel’s policy of enforced enroachment on Palestinian territory, with yet another expansion in the news this week. – AL


The Ruins of Lifta will be premiering on Friday, September 23, 2016 at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas, New York (and in Los Angeles a month later, in Laemmle Theatres on October 28, 2016)

The mega-narratives underlying the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are pitted against each other by a Holocaust survivor and a Nakba refugee who meet in the haunting ruins of Lifta, the only Arab village emptied in 1948 that has not been completely destroyed or repopulated by Jews.

Trailer: The Ruins of Lifta – Trailer


attendnyc-sep-16-16-lifta-less-ruinedLifta is the only Arab village abandoned in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war that has not been completely destroyed or repopulated by Jews. Its ruins are now threatened by an Israeli development plan that would convert it into an upscale Jewish neighborhood. Discovering that his parents’ Holocaust experiences may have distorted his views of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Menachem–the filmmaker and an Orthodox Jew from Brooklyn–sets out to establish a personal relationship with a Palestinian. He meets Yacoub, who was expelled from Lifta and now leads the struggle to save the haunting ruins of his village from Israeli plans to build luxury villas on the site. Learning that Lifta was once a place where Jews and Arabs got along, Menachem joins Yacoub’s campaign in the hopes that Lifta can serve as a place of reflection and reconciliation. This sets up a climactic encounter between a Holocaust survivor and a Nakba refugee amidst the ruins of Lifta.

Menachem, Dasha and Yacoub:  Human contact - the only way political narratives and emotions can be brought together in mutual understanding

Menachem, Dasha and Yacoub: Human contact – the only way political narratives and emotions can be brought together in mutual understanding

“Lifta’s Ruins succeeds as a personally honest and politically provocative documentary. It makes me think of the wonderful line that Jean Renoir speaks in his film Rules of the Game, ‘There’s only one terrible thing in this world, that everyone has his reasons.’” – Annette Insdorf, Columbia University Film Professor, author of Indelible Shadows: Film and the Holocaust

“A personal, self-questioning encounter with the myths of history that measures the abyss between Palestinians and Jews, and between the two contending nations and peace; “a site of memory” whose history has for too long been erased; a profoundly searching and moving inquiry into the collective and personal past of Arabs and Jews; an ethical testimony marked by visual beauty and emotional poignancy, and a place where the ongoing tragedy, of Israel/Palestine continues to be reenacted.” – Marc Kaminsky, author of Shadow Traffic

“A painful, powerful and problematic film that dares to go into the ruins of a Palestinian village strategically situated on the road to Jerusalem and the conflicting claims of memories that divide Jews and Palestinians. It boldly believes that the commonality of our collective humanity can heal wounds and bridge divisions, a message that is all the more urgent because it is all the more absent in the world today.” – Michael Berenbaum, author After Tragedy and Triumph

“To the great credit of its creators, The Ruins of Lifta offers no pat dialogue-based solution to the crises of the region.” – George Robinson, The Jewish Week

“A vital study of loss and memory. Grounded in the art of listening, ‘The Ruins of Lifta’ builds a powerful, personal, political conversation between Palestinians and Israelis looking to live differently. The result is necessary viewing.” – Diana Clarke, Village Voice

“An achingly poignant documentary that investigates a debate in which dueling narratives collide.” – Daniel M. Gold, The New York Times

Built by the hands of those who lived in Lifta before 1948, many of the houses were substantial investments in time and place whose memories are as real as ever in the minds of those who fled

“By turns inspiring and dispiriting, ‘The Ruins of Lifta’ offers a muscular example of the ability of documentaries to make the political intensely personal.” – Ella Taylor, NPR

“To the great credit of its creators, ‘The Ruins of Lifta’ offers no pat dialogue-based solution to the crises of the region. Guardedly hopeful.” – George Robinson, The Jewish Week

“Provocative…allows the ambiguity to surface through interviews that reflect a range of heartfelt experiences and interpretations…visually stunning and packs an emotional wallop.” – Simi Horwitz, Film Journal International

Yacoub Odeh, Dasha and Menachem walk the path of peace in the deserted village

Yacoub Odeh, Dasha Rittenberg and Menachem Daum walk the path of peace in the deserted village

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on The Ruins of Lifta – Poignant Documentary Provokes Intense Discussion of Israel’s Palestinian Wound

Religious treasures from Jerusalem glow at Met

Choir Books of the Franciscans of Bethlehem Tempera, gold, and ink on parchment Andrea di Bartolo (active in Siena and Venice, 1380–1429) and workshop Ca. 1401–4, Venice Terra Sancta Museum, Bibliotheca Custodialis, Jerusalem In presenting these massive and colorful books to the Franciscan community in Bethlehem, Henry IV of England (1367–1413) asked that they pray for the soul of his father. The friars’ daily routine followed a rhythm of communal prayer and singing, reflected in these volumes. The Prophet Isaiah, in a Letter H The prophet Isaiah stands outside the walls of Jerusalem, as the hymn proclaims: “Jerusalem, thy salvation cometh quickly; why art thou wasted with sorrow? . . . Fear not, for I will save thee

Choir Books of the Franciscans of Bethlehem Tempera, gold, and ink on parchment Andrea di Bartolo (active in Siena and Venice, 1380–1429) and workshop Ca. 1401–4, Venice Terra Sancta Museum, Bibliotheca Custodialis, Jerusalem In presenting these massive and colorful books to the Franciscan community in Bethlehem, Henry IV of England (1367–1413) asked that they pray for the soul of his father. The friars’ daily routine followed a rhythm of communal prayer and singing, reflected in these volumes. The Prophet Isaiah, in a Letter H The prophet Isaiah stands outside the walls of Jerusalem, as the hymn proclaims: “Jerusalem, thy salvation cometh quickly; why art thou wasted with sorrow? . . . Fear not, for I will save thee

Knight on Horseback, copper alloy, mid 13th Century from Lower Saxony, actually a vessel for washing hands (water is poured through the helmet and spills from the horse’s forelock) is included in an exhibition of the treasures of art and craft from Jerusalem during its heyday as a global religious center

Another item from the Met’s own collection, this chasse (box for relics shaped like a church) depicts Christ’s Crucifixion and Second Coming in copper and enamel (about 1180-90 from Limoges)

Religious treasure
Nearly fifty rich works of art and craft from medieval Jerusalem, the worldly focus of religion for Christians, Jews and Muslims over 1000-1400, have been borrowed from the city’s present religious communities to share the spotlight at the Met with 200 works in total that include tomb statuary, remarkable huge choir books from the Franciscans with the four line staff of the time (above), ornate boxes for relics, very fine large lamps, goblets, bracelets, wedding rings, maps, bottles, crosses, mats, pillar capitals, bibles and Qu’rans all mellowed in the glow of deep religiosity, in a unique collection where the sole vast gap is an imaginative one, the legendary Temple of the Mount destroyed by the Romans in AD70 which was never rebuilt but which lives on vividly in the memory of Jews today, and where the attached exhibition shop allows visitors to buy their own reminders of how religion inspires unmatchable art and artifacts, including carpets and colored glasses, and guides to all three religions which competed over Jerusalem then and since.


September 26, 2016–January 8, 2017

Exhibition Location:
The Tisch Galleries, Gallery 899
Press Preview:
Monday, September 19, 10:00 am–noon

Beginning around the year 1000, Jerusalem attained unprecedented significance as a location, destination, and symbol to people of diverse faiths from Iceland to India. Multiple competitive and complementary religious traditions, fueled by an almost universal preoccupation with the city, gave rise to one of the most creative periods in its history.

“A kind of Jerusalem fever gripped much of the world from about 1000 to 1400. Across three continents, thousands made their way to the Holy City—from Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions alike. Generals and their armies fought over it. Merchants profited from it. Patrons, artists, pilgrims, poets, and scholars drew inspiration from it. Focusing their attention on this singular spot, they praised its magic, endowed its sacred buildings, and created luxury goods for residents and visitors. As a result, the Holy City shaped the art of this period in significant ways.”

Opening at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on September 26, the landmark exhibition Jerusalem 1000–1400: Every People Under Heaven will demonstrate the key role that the Holy City, sacred to the three Abrahamic faiths, played in shaping the art of this period. In these centuries, Jerusalem was home to more cultures, religions, and languages than ever before. Through times of peace as well as war, Jerusalem remained a constant source of inspiration that resulted in art of great beauty and fascinating complexity.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Religious treasures from Jerusalem glow at Met

Bronte and Triptych Match Genius at Morgan

Three Bronte sisters painted by their brother who took himself out of the image possibly in deference to their imaginative distinction, which far surpassed their looks

The power of imagination A striking portrait of the three Bronte sisters dominates this celebration of the seminal novel Jane Eyre and its author Charlotte, whose personal determination to be known forever as an author permeates the domestic adventures of her heroine as she breaks free from the confinement of standard expectations for women in 19th Century England to assert her individuality and independence to join Rochester in a marriage of equal spirits rather than bourgeois convenience, and the Morgan’s Christine Nelson has assembled a range of evocative curiosities from the Yorkshire rectory from which three literary geniuses sprang, including Charlotte’s laptop portable writing desk and a selection of the astonishing Lilliputian works they produced as children where the handwriting is often hand drawn imitation print font and in either form so microscopic that large round magnifying glasses are thoughtfully provided on the wall of the second floor exhibition space reached by the vertigo inducing glass walled Morgan elevator, but even with their use are still almost illegible, all of which contributes to the profound impression created here of the intensity of mental attention which being born into a secure but quiet provincial Victorian backwater was frustrated until it was turned inward towards the riches of imagination in poetry and prose uncovered in their unique family cooperative, which included a brother whose image in ghostly outline is still visible in the portrait he painted although he erased it apparently in deference to the group distinction of his three sisters, whose faces are captured without flattery and in their slightly popeyed intensity suggest that their lack of standard female charms may have helped them focus with such productivity on art, with Jane Eyre a peak reached by Charlotte six weeks after her initial effort The Professor was turned down, although Ms Nelson who has read that book vouches for it as “good but not Jane Eyre”, the latter being a work which she is now reading for the fifth time, she says, and “finding new qualities to admire in it” yet again. attendnyc-sep-8-16-charlotte-bronte

Please join us for a


featuring the exhibition
Charlotte Brontë: An Independent Will

Thursday, September 8, 2016
10:00–11:30 AM

The curator will make remarks
and guide a walk-through of the gallery.
Coffee and tea served.



Charlotte Brontë: An Independent Will
September 9, 2016 through January 2, 2017
New York, NY, August 17, 2016 — From the time Charlotte Brontë’s novel Jane Eyre was first
published in 1847, readers have been drawn to the orphan protagonist who declared herself “a free human being with an independent will.” Like her famous fictional creation, Brontë herself took bold steps throughout her life to pursue personal and professional fulfillment. Charlotte Brontë: An Independent Will, a new exhibition opening at the
Morgan Library & Museum on September 9, traces the writer’s life from imaginative teenager to reluctant governess to published poet and masterful novelist.

The exhibition celebrates the two-hundredth anniversary of Brontë’s birth in 1816, and marks an historic collaboration between the Morgan, which holds one of the world’s most important collections of Brontë manuscripts and letters, and the Brontë Parsonage Museum, in Haworth, England, which will lend a variety of key items including the author’s earliest surviving miniature manuscript, her portable writing desk and paintbox, and a blue floral dress she wore in the 1850s. The centerpiece of the exhibition is a portion of the original manuscript of Jane Eyre, on loan from the British Library and being shown in the U.S. for the first time, open to the page on which Jane asserts her “independent will.” Also shown for the first time in America will be the only two life portraits of Brontë, on loan from London’s National Portrait Gallery.



Hans Memling: Portraiture, Piety, and a Reunited Altarpiece
September 2, 2016 through January 8, 2017
New York, NY, July 18, 2016 — Completed around 1470 in Bruges, Hans Memling’s extraordinary Triptych of Jan Crabbe was dismantled centuries ago and the parts were scattered.
The inner wings from the altarpiece are among the finest paintings owned by the Morgan Library & Museum, where they have long been on permanent view in museum founder Pierpont
Morgan’s study. Hans Memling: Portraiture, Piety, and a Reunited Altarpiece, opening on
September 2, reunites the Morgan panels with the other elements of the famous triptych: the central panel from the Musei Civici in Vicenza, Italy, and the outer wings from the
Groeningemuseum in Bruges, Belgium.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Bronte and Triptych Match Genius at Morgan

Qualifying Week at US Open Tennis Offers Up Close Views of Stars In Action

Laura Robson into US Open qualifying rounds

Nobody can match the commercial success Sharapova has achieved but she was pretty good on court as well. She won 35 WTA titles including all four grand slams and achieved world rank no.1 status in 2005 and since then she has remained a top 5 player, though she has now been banned from play for the next two years for not noticing that a heart drug she was taking had been put on the black list.

Official Twitter of the US Open Tennis Championships | 2016 Dates: 8/29 – 9/11 | Terms of Use: |

Flushing Meadows, New York

The US Open, the biggest pro tennis event in the United States (and one of the four Grand Slam tournaments), returns to Flushing Meadows Corona Park August 29–September 11. The free Qualifying week starts Aug 22 Mon. It’s a chance to see the sport’s heavyweights, like Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova and Novak Djokovic, up close and qualifying newcomers as they practice for their upcoming battles for glory and prize money—the purse this year is a massive$3.3 million each for the singles winners.

One future star of the Open is the under-construction roof, which is slated to make weather delays and cancellations a thing of the past in 2016.

While any tennis fan is fairly certain to have a great time during a visit to the Open, we’ve put together six tips to help you make the most of your time at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

For tickets, visit

1. You can get in free or cheap.
It’s true. Though this is tennis at its highest level, you can still pay as little as $30–$35 (before fees) for an opening-night or early evening session ticket, or $10 for Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day on August 27. You can also attend—for free—the qualifying tournament (August 19ck–27), in which ambitious players battle for a berth in the main tournament, and practice day, August 28, when the stars hone their game in preparation for their moment in the spotlight.

In breaking news, the 2016 tournament CHECK brings one more big free attraction: on September 08, all doubles matches (including the men’s and women’s semifinals) cost nothing to watch in person.

2. It’s not just tennis.
Even if you’re not a superfan (or if you’re attending with someone who’s not so into tennis), you can still be entertained by festivities at the Open.

This year’s iteration of Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day (again, that’s on August 27) is scheduled to include music from various unheard of contemporary names advancing the deterioration of pop music, plus interactive and entertaining tennis-related fun.

On opening night (August 29), the music will come courtesy of Josh Groban, so you’re covered if you prefer sensitive singer-songwriters to tennis players. If you love both, you’re really in luck.

Aside from the music and the kid-friendly fun, there’s plenty of overpriced food, which most everyone enjoys. Health destroying options include Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, the upscale Aces wine and sushi bar, a glatt kosher cart and even a Carnegie Deli outpost. Bargain seekers can hit the little vendor before the turnstiles, too, though security won’t let you enter with outside snacks.

3. Use public transit.
Best to just take the train, and that goes double on days when the Mets are playing at home.

4. Wear a hat, and apply plenty of sunscreen.

5. Know the rules.
Like all other big events, the US Open has a lengthy and slightly oppressive and irrational list of what is and is not allowed. Do yourself a favor and read upbefore arrival.

6. Embrace the side courts.
You don’t need a courtside ticket to get a great view—you just need to know where to look. If you buy a grounds pass, you’ll be able to see the pros at very close range on the numerous side courts (and at a fraction of the cost of a courtside seat in one of the stadiums, where the players are out of sight pygmies from the higher seats and the sounds are muffled whispers compared with the drama on TV, which is much the better bargain, sad to say, now that the smaller Louis Armstrong stadium has gone West.).

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Qualifying Week at US Open Tennis Offers Up Close Views of Stars In Action

Back With The Best: WKCR – Global Home of Jazz History Refurbished – Has Louis All Day Jul 4

Ultimate jazz radio on WKCR in NYC back on line for phones pads and PCs

Here you will find Louis all July 4, Bach 24/7 Christmas till New Year

Phil Schaap loquacious but knowledgeable presenter historian perseveres in place, has jazz shop on line

Treated with respect honor and full appreciation on WKCR, the great source himself

After 47 years the great jazz authority Phil Schaap is still talking a little too long but always informatively on WKCR, where you can hear the world’s best jazz through times past to the present, including whole days devoted to big names on their birthday. Bach gets his own 24/7 festival at Christmas till New Year’s Eve annually.

There was a six month long interruption of WKCR 89.9 FM on line perhaps because the Web site was being overhauled but now all is spic and span, though updating of program scheduling continues.

Jul 1 2016: Thank you for your patience and support during the past months with regard to the issue of our online stream. We are excited to announce that our broadcasts are once again accessible in the form of a live stream at WKCR.ORG. We have been in the process of making technical and logistical changes to improve your listening experience and to ensure that WKCR can have a sustainable and consistent online presence in the future. One of these changes involves our playlists, which are enhanced to continuously display track and artist information for content as it is being broadcast. This new feature will be allow us to record and share the details of our programs in a more dependable and accessible way. In addition, we have improved our audio quality, and our listener capacity is now unlimited.

We sincerely appreciate your dedication throughout this transition. If you have feedback on our new services, please feel free to contact the WKCR Executive Board at


The WKCR Board

Columbia University NY 10027 | Studio 212-854-9920 |

A phone call to the studio will often be picked up by the person such as a musical toned female student picking up slack in the early morning, who will say again what the LP you heard is and what it’s number is.

The other programming on WKCR is all on the same informed top level on a myriad subjects to interest those in academia and other explorers of culture in many forms.

WKCR-FM, Columbia University’s non-commercial student-run radio station, is dedicated to presenting a spectrum of alternative programming—traditional and art music, spoken arts, and original journalism. Granted its FCC license in 1941, WKCR is both steeped in tradition and committed to innovation. In the New York area, the station can be heard at 89.9 megacycles in FM; worldwide, it streams online.

WKCR-FM is celebrating its 75th Anniversary in 2016! WKCR originated as the Columbia University Radio Club (CURC) in 1936 and our first official broadcast occurred on February 24th, 1941. A few months later, on October 10th, 1941, the CURC was granted its license from the Federal Communications Commission. WKCR celebrates 1941 as its founding year and February 24th as its birthday. Join us as we honor and look back on WKCR’s 75 years of broadcasting and radio throughout the remainder of 2015 and the year of 2016. Check our website for exclusive, rare, and special content unveiled for this remarkable milestone in WKCR’s history. Happy 75th Anniversary WKCR!

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Back With The Best: WKCR – Global Home of Jazz History Refurbished – Has Louis All Day Jul 4