The New Kid on the Block: Introducing the Jewish Arts Collaborative

Sidra Bell Dance Company
Sidra Bell Dance Company

By Laura Conrad Mandel

Published January 22, 2016, issue of January 21, 2016.

Boston’s thriving arts scene has a new player for 2016 – the Jewish Arts Collaborative (JArts), a new organization dedicated to featuring the best of Jewish culture. Born of the strengths of New Center for Arts and Culture and the Boston Jewish Music Festival, JArts will bring the “art to the Jewish, and the Jewish to the art” through partnerships with artistic institutions, Jewish organizations and talented artists.

Whether you’re a culture vulture, a foodie, an artist, or just looking to creatively explore Jewish culture, JArts has something for everyone, with a diverse array of hands-on and multimedia opportunities.  

For a taste of what this new organization is all about, here are 10 happenings in the inaugural spring season:

New Center NOW DIY Arts circle brings a crafty sensibility to JArts with a celebration of Tu B’Shevat on January 24. Celebrate the Jewish birthday for trees with a build-your-own-terrarium workshop and traditional Tu B’Shevat seder at Mahoney’s Garden Center.

The Music Festival in early March brings a passion for original Jewish music to JArts. The Odessa Havana Project, a multi-cultural ensemble from Toronto that fuses Latin, Klezmer and jazz, will be at Villa Victoria for a little klezmer tradition, a little Latin flair and a fun adventurous night out on March 3.

Continue your spring culture fix with the Boston premiere of the 1923 silent Austrian film, “Moon of Israel,” about a Jewish slave girl who falls in love with Pharaoh’s son, at the Somerville Theater on March 5. The movie will be accompanied by live music.

Venture into N.H. for a special musical experience by Guy Mendilow on March 6. Experts in Ladino music exploration, Mendilow and his world music ensemble are bringing songs, stories and Holocaust poetry to life through a powerful performance that got rave reviews in Philadelphia.

N.Y.-based modern dance company Sidra Bell (Bell is black and Jewish) will bring a fresh look into what Jewish art can be on March 12 at the beautiful new Reimer Goldstein Theater (at the JCC in Newton). Working with Bell’s father, a Jewish composer, the company will perform “Triumph,” an exploration of memory from a Jewish place, reflecting issues of beauty and identity in a new way.

On March 13, taste Jewish culture through the delicious imagination of some of the best chefs in town at the 6th annual Beyond Bubbie’s Kitchen on March 13, which originated through New Center NOW.

One of NPR’s top picks of the last year, Yemenite Israeli funk group A Wa is produced by the guy behind Balkan Beatbox. Join these three fun and funky sisters who will make you think differently about Israeli music on March 24 at the Somerville Armory.

2016 is the 500th anniversary of the founding of the world’s first ghetto – the Jewish ghetto in Venice. Venice’s glassblowing tradition is a craft innovation shared by the Jewish people. JArts is bringing a taste of Venice to JP on April 7 with a night of glassblowing demos, hands on glass fusing, wine and cheese.

May is all about Israeli food, bringing an authentic Israeli celebration to Boston in honor of Israel’s 68th birthday. Get your hands dirty with an Israeli Street Food class with Chubby Chickpea food truck owner Avi Shemtov. Later in the month, meet Philadelphia chef Michael Solomonov as he shares his new documentary, “In Search of Israeli Cuisine,” and check out the Shavuot Cheese Pairing on May 25 with former Formaggio Kitchen cheese expert Adam Centamore.

Laura Conrad Mandel is executive director of Jewish Arts Collaborative. For tickets and more information, visit

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