Tablet is a daily online magazine of Jewish news, ideas, and culture. Launched in June 2009, it’s a project of the not-for-profit Nextbook Inc., which also produces the Nextbook Press Jewish Encounters book series. Our archive holds all the articles and features that originally appeared on the website Nextbook.org.
When my friend Max called me up to suggest we host a dinner for a dozen or so close friends, it sounded like a great idea. Id been wanting to gather everyone together for a while, at least since Donald Trump was elected and our faith in democracy was upended. Because, even in the darkest moments of history, you dont postpone joy.
And since Max and I are both Jewish, and I had the next Friday night free, I thought: Why not a Shabbat dinner?
Like all the finest adolescents, Tel Aviv in the 1990s was brilliant and awkward. Not yet the sophisticated city it is now, it hid its insecurities in style, faking it in the hope that one day it would make it as well. It only had a handful of worthy placestwo good restaurants, one decent barbut those were so sublime that you couldnt be bothered by the slim pickings. And towering over this city busy being born, a light unto the young and the restless, was Kolnoa Allenby.
It was built in 1937 as a movie theater by and for the German-Jewish refugees who sought to erect the New Berlin on the shores of the Mediterranean. Designed in the style of the Bauhaus, it was true to the teaching insisting that form follow function: Tall and stark, it was a building built for a screen. From Gone with the Wind to Jaws and The Godfather, the theater was where Tel Avivis went to watch cinema.
Growing up, Meilech Kohn didn’t like it in the Yeshiva. He was the quiet kid who liked to daydream and hum nice tunes, and his fellow students were so miffed by his strange ways that they shunned him altogether, refusing to speak to the awkward child. Increasingly distraught, he retreated into his inner world, which was increasingly consumed by writing songs and melodies. Eventually, he decided to drop out.
Much to the chagrin of his parents, Meilech left the fold of his tightly-knit Hasidic community. He moved to Los Angeles, then Puerto Rico, then Texas. He listened to any kind of music he could find, and continued to teach himself his craft. By the time he was ready to return home and recommit himself to religious life, he contained multitudes.
Each week, the Scroll will be highlighting upcoming exhibits, performances, and cultural events around the country.
This past Saturday night, like many observant Jews across the country, I watched the Yankees vanquish the Cleveland Indians in Game Five of the American League Division series. This would be unremarkable except for the fact that the game had been played three days earlier. Thanks to the Jewish holiday of Sukkot and then Shabbatduring which religious Jews eschew electronicsI had completely missed the entire exciting affair. I’d heard the Yankees had won, but did not know the score.
Some might raise an eyebrow at watching a three-hour sporting event when one already knows the outcome. It’s one thing to DVR a game one can’t watch in real-time, avoid all spoilers, and watch it shortly thereafter. It’s another to wait days, know the endgame, yet do so regardless. But I’ve actually been engaging in such retrospective fandom for some timeand not just for games on Shabbat.