Friday, March 19, 2010


For those of us familiar with Ashkenazic names, Shwekey wouldn't initially strike you as Jewish.  But if you're outside this mold, and familiar with the Syrian community, this name will be as familiar to you as kibbeh and ma'moul.

Probably the most public person with this name today is the Israeli-born, New Jersey-based Yaakov Shwekey .  A Jewish singer-songwriter, Shwekey has played at venues around the world, including the Beacon Theater in New York last December.  We have no clue as to the origin of his name, but would love to know.  According to his Wikipedia page, originally the surname was Choueka and his father is of Egyptian and Syrian background.

a poster promoting a performance in France

We're not quite sure if he's our style, but this performance with Yonatan Razel offers a taste.

The whole reason you read this far?

Click to 2:57 for a hilarious interlude.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Kentridge or Kantorowitz, a fine artist indeed

William Kentridge, a South African artist (and a Jew), has hit the scene in New York.  Currently, you can see his work at MoMa and the Met, and starting May 2nd, at the Jewish Museum.

How's that for a triple whammy?

Kentridge's work ranges from original opera to film to collage to sculpture to performance art.  He grew up in a liberal Jewish family in South Africa who was involved in the liberal elite and fighting apartheid.  The nose that is featured on the sets of his opera "The Nose," Kentridge has said, is inspired by his own Ashkenazic Jewish nose.

And what about the name?

Kantorowitz comes from the same place as Kantrowitz and even Kantor, Cantor and various other spelling variations.  Way back when their family in Poland or Russia were probably cantors, or hazzanim.  So belt it out, Mr. Kentridge.  You should be singing your halleluyahs that you've got such a fine showing in NYC this spring.