Archive for July, 2013

Jane Katz, 70, Sweeps at Maccabiah Games

July 31, 2013

This interview was first published on The Sisterhood blog at the Forward.

Jane Katz- 13 Maccabiah Medals 2013(3)

Jane Katz with the 13 medals she won at the 19th Maccabiah Games.

When Jane Katz said she was swimming for the gold at the 19th Maccabiah Games, she wasn’t kidding. The 70-year-old Masters champion, who has participated in every Maccabiah Games since 1957, came home to New York laden with 13 medals.

Katz won each of the 11 individual Masters level swimming events she entered, and also earned a gold medal as a member of the US team in the women’s freestyle relay, and a silver medal in the medley relay.

The lifelong athlete and promoter of aquatic fitness held a banner and marched directly behind Team USA flag bearer, Olympic gold medal swimmer Garrett Weber-Gale, in the Maccabiah’s opening ceremony at Jerusalem’s Teddy Stadium. She also participated in the inauguration ceremony for the new state-of-the-art pool at the Wingate Institute in Netanya, where the games’ swimming competitions were held. As part of those festivities, Katz, wearing a swim costume with both American and Israeli national symbols, performed a synchronized swimming routine choreographed to Hatikvah.

Back in New York and still on a high from her wins, Katz spoke with the Forward’s Renee Ghert-Zand about her 14th consecutive Maccabiah experience — her most successful one yet.

Click here to read the interview.

© 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

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Taking a Bite of Converso History Through Tacos

July 31, 2013

This piece was first published on The Jew and the the Carrot blog at the Forward.

FOOD_TACO_PLATTER_MG_1404

Since 2005, Texas-born conceptual artist and former Heeb photo editor, Peter Svarzbein has been interviewing and photographing Latino families in the American Southwest who are returning to Judaism — believing their ancestors were Conversos, forced converts to Catholicism during the Spanish Inquisition.

Svarzbein, 33, was looking for a way for more people to feast their eyes on these portraits of Crypto-Jews and to chew on the historic circumstances that connect Latinos and Jewish traditions. That’s when he came up with the idea for a food truck — a kosher taco truck, to be exact.

With the support of various organizations in his native El Paso, including the Svarzbein launched Conversos y Tacos Kosher Gourmet Trucks, an innovative and interactive art installation than ran for a week in the city in far West Texas in late July.

Over the week, the truck made six stops at various community and food events around El Paso (where Szarzbein grew up in a culturally Jewish family with a Hispanic-Ashkenazi background), serving fusion taco plates melding Jewish and Mexican cuisine. The food reflected the questions Svarzbein wants to challenge people with, like: How can a person be both Jewish and Latino? How can culture, religion and identity fuse together over, or through, the U.S.-Mexico border?

Click here to read more.

© 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

Feminist Fashion in the Tower of David

July 31, 2013

This piece first appeared on The Arty Semite blog at the Forward.

Dana Ivgi modelling clothes designed by Aluma for Queen Melisende. Photographer Tamar Karavan

Dana Ivgi modelling clothes designed by Aluma for Queen Melisende. Photographer Tamar Karavan

It’s a striking experience to enter a hall dating to the Crusader period deep in the bowels of the Tower of David in the Old City of Jerusalem, and to encounter mannequins draped in haute couture by some of the Israel’s top contemporary fashion designers.

This is exactly the effect desired by new museum director Eilat Lieber and the exhibition’s curator, fashion photographer Tamar Karavan. “It’s a groundbreaking exhibition for this museum,” said Tower of David spokeswoman Caroline Shapiro, about the institution, which is known more for its archeologically excavated layers of the Holy City than for layers of fabric draped over models.

“Threads,” as the exhibition is titled, invites visitors to “experience contemporary fashion embroidered by history.” On view are exquisite garments created by 10 of Israel’s leading fashion designers — all women — inspired by 10 remarkable women from Jerusalem’s past. It’s a fashion show and feminist history lesson all rolled in to one.

“The brief to the designers was, ‘This historical character walks into your studio — dress her,’” explained Shapiro. “That’s it. The designer did not have to be historically accurate in any way, or even be historically inspired. She was free to interpret the woman in any way she wished.”

Click here to read more.

© 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.