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Agenda: Banksy in Berlin, Lebowski (and Walter Sobchak) in Los Angeles, The United States of Palestine Israel at the New Museum, and more

Stephanie Butnick
September 16, 2011

Agenda is Tablet Magazine’s weekly listing of upcoming cultural events.

Maya Rudolph, the former Saturday Night Live actress and the impressively multitalented spawn of musicians Richard Rudolph and Minnie Riperton, plays the boss of Christina Applegate’s character in a new parenting sitcom, Up All Night, which debuts Wednesday night. The Los Angeles Times calls the show “unexpectedly, almost nervily touching,” and Rudolph told the New York Times she gets anxious as a parent, citing “that lovely Jewish guilt that comes with ancestry” (premiere: Sept. 21; then airing Wednesdays, 8 p.m., NBC). The film David, playing Saturday night as part of the 17th annual Temecula Valley International Film and Music Festival in Southern California, looks at the complicated friendship between the young son of a Brooklyn imam and a Jewish student at a local yeshiva (Sept. 17, 5 p.m., $5). And The Big Lebowski ’s rabid fans abide at Lebowski Fest Los Angeles at The Wiltern—with a screening Friday (Sept. 23, 8 p.m., $25.50) and bowling party Saturday (Sept. 24, 9 p.m., Cal Bowl, $25).

Berlin 36, a 2009 film based on the true story of Gretel Bergmann, a talented German-born Jewish high-jumper who was barred from the 1936 Berlin Olympics, opens tonight at Manhattan’s Quad Cinema (Sept. 16, $11). Further north, the Museum of Modern Art is deadly serious about its month-long Roman Polanski retrospective. Saturday screenings include Oliver Twist (2 p.m.), The Pianist (5 p.m.), and The Ghostwriter (8:30 p.m., $12 plus museum admission fee). The Missing Letters, a 1920 silent film by Czech master Josef Rovenský, about a mysterious medieval manuscript supposedly containing the location of hidden treasure, screens at the Czech Center New York (Sept. 20 at 7 p.m., free).

Completeness, Brooklyn-based playwright Itamar Moses’ play about the complex relationship between a computer scientist and a molecular biologist, runs through next weekend at Playwrights Horizons in New York ($70). The life of Hannah Senesh, who was imprisoned in Hungary in 1944, is the basis for Hannah, performed through this weekend at Kean University in Union, N.J. (Sept. 17-18, 3 and 8 p.m., $25). And further afield, in Sherman Oaks, Calif., Seaglass Theater presents Kvetch, a play by Steven Berkoff about a Jewish family’s pent-up emotions. Its tag line is “Just kill me” (opens Sept. 17, 8 p.m., through Oct. 16, $25, $20 for seniors). Wednesday, Tablet Magazine co-sponsors one of Smith Magazine’s six-word memoir events—“Six Words on the Jewish Life”—at 92Y Tribeca. Try out your best attempt here. One memoir will be selected to read. It will not take very long (Sept. 21, 7 p.m., $10).

Berlin’s Kuenstlerhaus Bethanien gallery has excavated the remnants of a 2003 spray painting by street artist Banksy, which featured the phrase “every picture tells a lie” above images of five soldiers with angel wings and round, yellow smiley faces, and had been painted over for subsequent exhibitions (What Lies Beneath, through Oct. 22). The Jewish Museum Berlin, Daniel Liebeskind’s 2001 architectural feat, opens a special exhibition for the museum’s 10th anniversary today. “How German Is It: 20 Artists’ Notion of Home” features artists’ responses to questions of national identity and collective memory (through Jan. 29, 2012, $7). Israeli artist Noma Bar’s brilliant interactive exhibition at Outline Editions gallery is part of the London Design Festival, which runs through next weekend. Bar has created a massive, dog-shaped paper-cutting machine, and visitors will be able to create their own rubber prints that Bar will sign and number (Sept. 17-30, 11 a.m., prints available online).

Chicago is hosting its first official Gallery Weekend, featuring the Rhona Hoffman Gallery and Donald Young Gallery, the latter of which has an exhibition by artist Bruce Nauman, who is married to another artist, Susan Rothenberg, whose work is being shown at the Sperone Westwater Bowery art gallery in New York through Oct. 29. This Saturday, as part of the “special engagement” series, New York’s New Museum hosts The United States of Palestine-Israel, a presentation and discussion featuring Joshua Simon, Ohad Meromi, and Ingo Niermann and their proposals for reimagining the kibbutzim and the settlements (Sept. 17, 3 p.m., free with $10 museum admission). Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race, a traveling exhibition of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, has taken up temporary residences at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in downtown Manhattan (through Jan. 16, 2012, $12). Because deadly medicine spreads, the show can also be seen through Oct. 20 at Washington University in St. Louis. Next Thursday, the medical school there hosts a related lecture, “Deadly Medicine … Beyond the Era of National Socialism” (Sept. 22, Moore Auditorium, 5:30 p.m.).

Who knows what Sen. Joseph Lieberman and Rev. A.R. Bernard will discuss this Sunday at the Brooklyn Book Festival (moderated by Rabbi Joseph Potasnik)? OK, maybe the Sabbath (3 p.m., Brooklyn Borough Hall and Plaza, free). The 12th annual Beit Lessin Open State Festival in Tel Aviv runs this weekend and next at the ZOA House, featuring plays by young Israeli playwrights (Sept. 15-17 and 22-24, starting at $5). A new cultural center opens Monday in Kiryat Arba, Israel, featuring a performance space with 400 seats and a promise to bring cultural events to the area. On Wednesday, Iris Bahr—better known as Rachel Heinemann from the ski-lift episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm—signs copies of her memoir, Machu My Picchu: Searching for Sex, Sanity, and a Soul Mate in South America, in West Hollywood (Sept. 21, Book Soup, 7 p.m., free).

This week, New York’s Bowery Whole Foods got a pickle shop, the blogging butchers of Fleischer’s in Brooklyn compiled a meat blotter, and Czech restaurant Hospoda opened on the Upper East Side. Wednesday, Bobby Flay discusses (and signs!) his new book, Bobby Flay’s Bar Americain Cookbook, at Washington’s Sixth and I synagogue (Sept. 21, 6:30 p.m., $40 includes a copy of the book). Sunday, celebrate New York City Apple Day—and the apple orchard that was the Lower East Side in the 1700s—with food vendors (such as the illustrious Katz’s Deli) and activities sponsored by the Tenement Museum and the Chabad Lower East Side (Sept. 18, 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Orchard St. between Broome St. and Grand St., free).

Matisyahu fills the spirit of the Saban Theater in Beverly Hills Sunday as part of the Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy’s charity concert series (Sept. 18, 5 p.m., $18-136, VIP $250). Monday, in New York, the National Yiddish Theater Folksbiene presents a free performance of “Soul to Soul,” a concert billed as a musical celebration of African-American and Jewish culture (in Yiddish and English with English and Russian subtitles), with shows at other local universities to follow (Sept. 19, CUNY Graduate Center, 7 p.m.). Amy Klein of the band Titus Andronicus opens for the Vivian Girls Tuesday night at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn (Sept. 20, 7:30 p.m.; $12).

Meanwhile, Marks and Spencer, the British department store co-founded by a Polish immigrant, gets a facelift. J.J. Abrams signs on to direct Star Trek 2. And, gosh, it’s been 20 years since Nirvana and Pat Smear (born Georg Ruthenberg) released Nevermind.

Stephanie Butnick is deputy editor of Tablet Magazine and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.

Stephanie Butnick is chief strategy officer of Tablet Magazine, co-founder of Tablet Studios, and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.