A Living Remnant of a Vibrant Culture Comes to Battery Place
“The Sorceress,” a uniquely Jewish fairy tale about an innocent young heroine, her dashing fiance, a devious stepmother, and a scheming witch, is being presented now by the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene at the Museum of Jewish Heritage.
Written in 1878, “The Sorceress,” is one of the earliest works of Yiddish theater and the first formal theatrical production presented in America by the legendary Boris Thomashefsky, who emigrated to the United States in 1881, two years before the thriving Yiddish theater industry was banned in his native Imperial Russia. He went on to found, almost singlehandedly, what became a vibrant genre in American theater — productions catering to Jewish immigrants from all the countries in the diaspora, presented in the one language they all spoke: Yiddish.
The National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene (NYTF), based at the Museum of Jewish Heritage (MJH), is presenting “The Sorceress,” an operetta about an innocent young heroine, her dashing fiancé, a devious stepmother, and a scheming witch, now through December 29.
This staging (performed in Yiddish, with English and Russian supertitles) features fully restored orchestrations that are based, in part, on pre-Holocaust musical arrangements that were spared from destruction at the hands of the Nazis by scholars in Poland and Lithuania, who risked their lives to save thousands of unique documents and manuscripts.
In 2017, researchers began combing archives and reassembling the score from multiple sources, as part of NYFT’s Global Restoration Initiative, which prioritizes archetypal examples of Yiddish operettas, musicals, and plays — reconstituting librettos and scores in a digital format. This makes the material useable to both artists and scholars, and suitable for display to audiences, often for the first time in decades.
“‘The Sorceress’ opened the door to Yiddish theater in America, where it has thrived for nearly 150 years,” reflects NYTF’s associate artistic director Motl Didner. “It is a uniquely Jewish fairy tale that is delightful, charming and historic, and with a timely message. It is as much fun to watch as it was to make.”
On December 25, NYTF will also continue a longstanding New York Jewish tradition by hosting a lavish all-you-can-eat Chinese food buffet between the matinee and evening performances of “The Sorceress.” Participants will be invited to join NYTF staff to celebrate the fourth night of Chanukah with a special pre-buffet candle lighting ceremony.
NYTF’s executive director, Dominick Balletta, recalls a wry observation that has been evoked at this time of year for decades: “If the Hebrew calendar year is 5780 and the lunar calendar year is 4717, that must mean that — against all odds — Jews went without Chinese food for 1,063 years!”
“Borscht-belt humor aside,” he continues, “American Jewish families and friends consider an annual Christmas Day trip to their favorite Chinese restaurant — typically the only establishments open — to be part of their cultural history. It’s a ritual based on foods at once foreign and familiar.”
What If All This Is Not Enough?
Pondering Whether $300 Million and 16.5 Feet of Protection Will Matter
85 Broad Street parking garage after Sandy
At the October 29 meeting of the Battery Park City Authority board, Catherine McVay Hughes raised a potentially troubling question. As BPCA management reviewed plans to spend some $300 million on resiliency measures designed to protect the community against future sea-level rise, extreme-weather events, and climate change, she questioned one of the key assumptions upon which these plans are predicated.
“I think a lot of folks are looking at the depth-to-design elevation flood line,” Ms. McVay Hughes began. “And there was a report that was recently issued… [in which] this technical expert suggested that the 16.5 feet needs to be raised another two to three feet. So I just wanted to make sure that what the Battery Park City will be planning to do will be adequate, as well.”
The metric to which Ms. McVay Hughes was referring comes from the lower end of the mid-range of predicted coastal flood heights for Lower Manhattan by the 2080s. A 2014 report by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, entitled “Climate Change in New York State,” noted that middle range for such predictions at the Battery was 16.5 to 18.3 feet. (The lowest bracket was 16.1 feet or less, while the most extreme scenarios ranged up to 19.9 feet.)
How a Nazi Sympathizer’s Tribeca Garage Could Become a Luxe Mansion
The builder’s plans call for a 17,000-square-foot private home that will contain four bedrooms, ten bathrooms, a multi-car garage, and a basement-level indoor basketball court, as well as outdoor patio above street level.
Community Board 1 is pushing back, in unusually emphatic terms, against a builder’s plans for a new mansion in Tribeca. The property in question is located at 11 Hubert Street, near the corner of Collister Street.
The existing structure at 11 Hubert Street has a tangled pedigree. It was built in 1946 by Dietrich Wortman, who was born in Leipzig, Germany, in 1884, and emigrated to the United States, where he studied architecture at Columbia University.
Click to watch Pioneer
Today in History
Bust of queen Nefertiti in the Neues Museum in Berlin
1240 – Mongol invasion of Rus’: Kiev under Daniel of Galicia and Voivode Dmytro falls to the Mongols under Batu Khan.
1790 – The U.S. Congress moves from New York City to Philadelphia.
1877 – The first edition of The Washington Post is published.
1884 – The Washington Monument in Washington, D.C., is completed.
1897 – London becomes the world’s first city to host licensed taxicabs.
1912 – The Nefertiti Bust is discovered.
1917 – Finland declares independence from Soviet Russia.
1917 – Halifax Explosion: A munitions explosion near Halifax, Nova Scotia kills more than 1,900 people in the largest artificial explosion up to that time.
1933 – U.S. federal judge John M. Woolsey rules that James Joyce’s novel Ulysses is not obscene.
1957 – Project Vanguard: A launchpad explosion of Vanguard TV3 thwarts the first United States attempt to launch a satellite into Earth orbit.
1969 – Altamont Free Concert: At a free concert performed by the Rolling Stones, eighteen-year old Meredith Hunter is stabbed to death by Hells Angels security guards.
1973 – The Twenty-fifth Amendment: The United States House of Representatives votes 387-35 to confirm Gerald Ford as Vice President of the United States. (On November 27, the Senate confirmed him 92-3.)
2006 – NASA reveals photographs taken by Mars Global Surveyor suggesting the presence of liquid water on Mars.
2017 – Donald Trump’s administration officially announces the recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel.
1421 – Henry VI of England (d. 1471)
1642 – Johann Christoph Bach, German organist and composer (d. 1703)
1812 – Robert Spear Hudson, English businessman and philanthropist (d. 1884)
1876 – Fred Duesenberg, German-American businessman, co-founded the Duesenberg Automobile & Motors Company (d. 1932)
1896 – Ira Gershwin, American songwriter (d. 1983)
1898 – Alfred Eisenstaedt, German-American photographer and journalist (d. 1995)
1901 – Eliot Porter, American photographer and academic (d. 1990)
1920 – Dave Brubeck, American pianist and composer (d. 2012)
1941 – Richard Speck, American murderer (d. 1991)
1941 – Bruce Nauman, American sculptor and illustrator
1305 – Maximus, Metropolitan of Kiev
1716 – Benedictus Buns, Dutch priest and composer (b. 1642)
1889 – Jefferson Davis, American general and politician, President of the Confederate States of America (b. 1808)
1988 – Roy Orbison, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1936)
National 9/11 Memorial & Museum
I have nothing against the Tribute Museum and I was angered when I heard that they were losing their lease. It is a good institution and should survive.
However, the National 9/11 Memorial & Museum doesn’t deserve to be put down in comparison to the Tribute Museum.
Highly Regarded Local Arts Education Group Stays the Course
Drum lesson at Church Street School
To stroll in Tribeca in 2019 is to apprehend what is happening throughout Lower Manhattan. Buildings – along with their occupants and uses – are in perpetual flux. Amid this tumult is a symbol of local continuity: the Church Street School for Music and Art.
Recently, the Broadsheet asked Dr. Ecklund-Flores, who has been the sole proprietor of CSS for many years, to reflect on the move north and the challenges faced in relocating to a new neighborhood. To read more…
New York Theatre Ballet: The Nutcracker Free Brookfield Place New York This free one-hour version of the beloved holiday ballet performed to Tchaikovsky’s cherished score is set in Art Nouveau-style circa 1907 with innovative choreography by long-time New York Theatre Ballet choreographer, Keith Michael.
Tribeca Performing Arts Center The Writers in Performance workshop is designed to give writers the opportunity to explore performing their written pieces. Whether they are playwrights, poets, monologists, writers of prose, or spoken word artist, this workshop gives the writers an opportunity to create a performance piece out of their writings. Workshop participants are chosen on the strength of their writing plus either performance ability, or willingness to explore that aspect of creativity. The workshop mixes professionals with students. $10 199 Chambers Street.
Cruise Ships in New York Harbor
Arrivals & Departures
Sunday, December 8
Anthem of the Seas
Inbound 5:30 am (Bayonne); outbound 3:00 pm
Southern Caribbean Queen Mary 2
Inbound 6:00 am (Brooklyn); outbound 5:00 pm
Transatlantic (Southampton, UK)
Friday, December 13
Inbound 9:15 am; outbound 3:30 pm; Port Canaveral, FL/Bahamas
Many ships pass Lower Manhattan on their way to and from the Midtown Passenger Ship Terminal. Others may be seen on their way to or from piers in Brooklyn and Bayonne. Stated times, when appropriate, are for passing the Colgate clock in Jersey City, New Jersey, and are based on sighting histories, published schedules and intuition. They are also subject to tides, fog, winds, freak waves, hurricanes and the whims of upper management.
CB1 to Consider Cutbacks in Number of Stops on Free Bus Service
Map of the Downtown Connection free shuttle bus route.
Tonight (Tuesday, December 3) the Transportation Committee of Community Board 1 (CB1) will hear a presentation from the Downtown Alliance about planned cutbacks to the number of stops on its free Downtown Connection shuttle bus.
The plans include the elimination of six stops within Battery Park City.
Cantonese/Mandarin-speaking and Excellent Cook for Battery Park City.
SEEKING FREE-LANCE PUBLIC RELATIONS PROFESSIONAL OR SMALL PR FIRM
Work with well-reviewed author of five E-books, developing and implementing outreach strategies. Includes writing, placement, research, new outlets and on-line advertising. Savvy social media skills a must. Downtown location.
A Convenient Connection to the Airport Visible from Lower Manhattan Rooftops May Be Less Than Ten Years Away
Seen from Newark Airport, the spires of Lower Manhattan appear almost close enough to touch. But antiquated transportation infrastructure makes the trip to Lower Manhattan, in some cases, longer than the flights from which travelers arriving at the airport have just disembarked.
The Regional Plan Association (RPA) recently partnered with the Downtown-Lower Manhattan Association (DLMA) to build support for a proposed rail connection between Lower Manhattan and Newark Airport. A report the two organizations produced together, “Taking the PATH to Newark Airport,” summarizes the potential and the prospects for such a link, which local leaders have long pushed for.
Community-Focused Cultural Center Faces Uncertain Future, as Tourism Magnet Thrives
The 9/11 Tribute Museum, at 88 Greenwich Street, which is endangered by skyrocketing property values in Lower Manhattan.
The 9/11 Tribute Museum, a highly regarded local cultural institution, is grappling with a precarious outlook, according to a story first published in Crain’s New York Business, which says that the space housing the facility, located at Greenwich and Rector Streets, may be sold out from under the organization by its landlord.
Council Member and Borough President Push for Transparency in Development
A proposed law now under consideration by the City Council would compel disclosure of air rights transfers that make possible “super-tall” towers, such as the one planned for 80 South Street, which would have a roof height greater than that of One World Trade Center.
Community Board 1 has endorsed a proposed new law — sponsored by a City Council member representing the Upper East Side and supported by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer — that would require City government to notify local officials whenever development rights are transferred between building lots. Such transfers are often used by developers to maximize the zoning potential for the site of a planned skyscraper.
Your Next Neighbors Might Be Vastly Less Interesting, But Better Able to Pay High Rents
Even as public art proliferates in Lower Manhattan artists themselves are being driven from the area by skyrocketing housing costs, a new report finds.
A new report from City Comptroller Scott Stringer documents that Lower Manhattan is undergoing an exodus of artists and other “creative economy” workers, who are being driven away primarily by skyrocketing costs for housing.
FiDi Renters Seek Recompense for Years of Rent Overcharges; Landlord Asks U.S. Supreme Court to Overrule Tenants’ Victory
A map, compiled by New York University’s Furman Center (which advances research and debate on housing, neighborhoods, and urban policy)illustrating the dozens of Lower Manhattan buildings — erstwhile office towers,converted to residential use — that have benefited from the 421-g program.
More Financial District tenants are going to court to demand restitution from years of illegally high rent, on the heels of a June ruling by New York State’s highest court, which found that as many as 5,000 Lower Manhattan apartments had been illegally deprived of rent stabilization benefits.
The first to file suit in the wake of this decision were Bruce Hackney and Timothy Smith, tenants at Ten Hanover Square, who brought their complaint in October.
At issue is the 421-g subsidy program, which was designed to encourage Downtown’s transformation into a residential district, by offering rich incentives (chiefly in the form of tax abatements) to developers who converted former office buildings — south of a line connecting Murray Street to City Hall and the Brooklyn Bridge — into apartment towers.
Decades of Savings Needed to Purchase on Lavish Lanes
A trio of new analyses points to the self-evident conclusion that Lower Manhattan is a mind-numbingly expensive place to reside.
Tribeca’s Murray Street was calculated to be the third-most expensive anywhere in the five boroughs, with a median sales price of $5.4 million, and a volume of sales in excess of $364 million. To read more…
Nadler Sponsors Legislation to Make Lower Manhattan Heliopolis No More
Congressman Jerry Nadler announces proposed legislation to ban non-essential helicopter flights from New York skies.
Support is building among decision-makers to heed a decade long call by Lower Manhattan community leaders to enact a comprehensive ban on non-essential helicopter flights in New York’s airspace.
Seaport Structure Reborn as Flood-Proof Food Emporia as Owner Celebrates with Support for Local Charity
The Tin Building as it will appear in 2021
The South Street Seaport’s historic Tin Building reached a milestone on Wednesday, when the last and highest structural beam was placed (after being ceremonially signed by dozens of well-wishers) within a reconstructed edifice, following an unprecedented, years-long effort to preserve it.
FiDi Renters Seek Recompense for Years of Rent Overcharges
A map, compiled by New York University’s Furman Center (which advances research and debate on housing, neighborhoods, and urban policy) illustrating the dozens of Lower Manhattan buildings — erstwhile office towers, converted to residential use — that have benefited from the 421-g program.
In the wake of a June ruling by New York State’s highest court that tenants in Financial District rental buildings had been illegally deprived of rent stabilization benefits, a pair of apartment dwellers is litigating to recoup the money they lost by paying inflated, market-rate rents for years.
In October, Bruce Hackney and Timothy Smith, tenants at Ten Hanover Square, filed suit against their landlord, alleging that the owner’s, “failure to follow rent regulations was part of a fraudulent scheme to deregulate apartments in the building.” To read more…
Eighteen Years Later, What about the Children?
Schools Agency Begins Belated Outreach Effort to Former Lower Manhattan Students at Risk of 9/11 Illness
The City’s Department of Education is partnering with the United Federation of Teachers union for an unusual mission: tracking down former New York City public school students who were pupils at Lower Manhattan schools on September 11, 2001 (or in the months that followed) and informing them that their health may be at risk. The project will also seek to put these students in touch with the World Trade Center Health Program and the September 11th Victims Compensation Fund. To read more…
Click to 30 seconds of morning sounds on the esplanade
The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Shoot
Chin Pushes Legislation to Rein in Production Permits
A late-night film shoot on
Tribeca’s Staple Street
City Council member Margaret Chin is co-sponsoring a package of bills to clamp down on rampant film and television production in Lower Manhattan.
Although the new laws, if enacted, will have City-wide effect, their impact would be especially significant in the square mile below Chambers Street, where dozens of movies and TV shows commandeer local streets (sometimes for days at a time) each year. To read more…
Things That Make You Go ‘Hmm…’
Lawsuit Over Similarity Between One World Trade and Architecture Student’s Design Moves Ahead
Jeehoon Park’s 1999 design for a skyscraper with eight sides that taper between a square base and a square roof.
One thing is reasonably certain: In 1999, Jeehoon Park, then a student at the Illinois Institute of Technology’s College of Architecture, created a design for a very tall building with a large square base tapering to a smaller square top. In Mr. Park’s vision, the square formed by the roof was rotated 45 degrees relative to the one at the ground level, so that the center-points on each side of the quadrilateral below corresponded to the corners of the one above, and vice versa. And instead of four vertical walls, the structure’s facade consisted of eight elongated triangles.
Amid a Booming Economy, Lower Manhattan Retail Space Languishes
Vacant storefronts dot Downtown
A new report from City Comptroller Scott Stringer finds that in one Lower Manhattan zip code — 10013, which covers parts of western Tribeca SoHo, and the Canal Street corridor in Chinatown — there are 319 empty retail spaces, comprising almost 300,000 square feet of unused property.
BPCA’s Public Art Collection Represents Multiple Layers of Value
The Pylons, a pair of granite and stainless steel obelisks by sculptor Martin Puryear
The Battery Park City Authority, has completed an inventory and appraisal of its public art collection. This is part of a broad effort to take stock of the Authority’s ongoing role as a patron and custodian of pieces that represent an integral thread in the fabric of the community, as evidenced by the fact that space and funding for public art were both set aside decades ago, in the neighborhood’s first master plan, before the first building was erected. To read more…
BPCA Puts the Brakes on Conversions of Rental Buildings within Community
Residents of rental apartments in Battery Park City who fear being thrown out of their homes as developers plan to convert those buildings to condominiums can rest a little bit easier, according to the Battery Park City Authority.
Death Came Calling at the Corner of Wall and Broad Streets, in Lower Manhattan’s First Major Terrorist Attack
In an instant, both wagon and horse were vaporized, and the closest automobile was tossed twenty feet in the air. Incredibly, the iconic bronze of George Washington surveys the devastation from the steps of the Sub-Treasury without so much as a scratch.
As the noon hour approached on a fall Thursday morning in 1920, a horse-drawn wagon slowly made its way west down Wall Street toward “the Corner,” the high-powered intersection of Wall and Broad. Its driver came to a gentle stop in front of the Assay Office, where stockpiles of gold and silver were stored and tested for purity. But theft was not his motive.