January can be awfully cold in Boston. But here at the Jewish Arts Collaborative, things are heating up with the arrival of our spring season. While each season has its own charms and high points, I think Spring 2019 is the most intriguing, thought-provoking and far-reaching range of programs we have ever offered.

There’s classic theater with a staged reading of “God of Vengeance” and the avant-garde performance art of “Salomé: Woman of Valor.” There’s fun with Mike Reiss, the Emmy-winning writer from “The Simpsons” and funk with Ethiopian-Israeli Gili Yafo and the Anbessa Orchestra. There’s a public art poetry celebration of liberty for Passover, and our unexpected approach to a Leonard Bernstein tribute concert.

I’m happy to offer my personal recommendations, but let me ask you a few questions:

Are you a foodie?

Our first Taste of Israel Restaurant Week pairs local Israeli chefs with key Boston chefs and restaurants (February 23 to March 2) to tickle your tummies with new Israeli cuisine.

The 10th Annual Beyond Bubbie’s Kitchen (March 3) is Boston’s biggest, tastiest and most creative celebration of contemporary Jewish food.

Join a tasteful conversation with New Orleans’ sensational Israeli chef Alon Shaya (May 19).

Bake, and reminisce, with PBS’ “Food Flirts,” Marilynn and Sheila Brass (May 30).

Up for trying something new and adventurous?

“Salomé: Woman of Valor” is contemporary Jewish performance art unlike anything we’ve ever seen in Boston. It’s a multimedia retelling of the Salome story fusing poetry, music, film and dance that repositions her as a feminist hero, not an evil vixen. Written by poet Adeena Karasick with music by The Klezmatics’ Frank London, it’s a unique evening of performance art that delivers moments of amazing beauty (March 13).

May I have this dance?

Ethiopian-Israeli star Gili Yafo is this year’s special guest at our annual Israeli party at the Somerville Armory. He’ll be performing with the Anbessa Orchestra, whose recent album has been named one of the year’s 10 best world music albums by popmatters.com. Meet your friends on the dance floor. And thanks to CJP’s israel360 for working with us to bring Gili to Boston (March 28).


Is poetry your muse? 

April is full of poetry as we celebrate National Poetry Month and Passover. Watch for #JArtsLiberty posters on the MBTA’s Green and Red lines and then share your thoughts on liberty on social media (throughout April). Better yet, take the T into Boston when Robert Pinsky brings his PoemJazz program (featuring Stan Strickland, Hankus Netsky, Catherine Bent and Yedidyah Syd Smart) to a special Sunday brunch at City Winery (April 14).

Need a little more drama in your life?

Don’t miss our staged reading of “God of Vengeance,” the play that the Broadway hit “Indecent” is based on, directed by Barbara Grossman. This important piece of Jewish theatrical history tells the story of a Jewish brothel owner’s quest for acceptance. In 1923, it featured Broadway’s first lesbian kiss, which was a major reason the cast was arrested and tried on obscenity charges (April 8).

Want a good laugh?

Enjoy stories and secrets from “The Simpsons” with one of TV Springfield’s favorite Emmy-winner writers, the ever-entertaining Mike Reiss (April 29).

Want tonight to not be just any night?

Imagine an evening full of surprises and unexpected pairings of Bernstein compositions and performers. Hosted by Broadway bon vivant Seth Rudetsky and Andrea Burns (“In the Heights,” “Back to Normal”), the evening features a superb cast of performers, including jazz pianist Ran Blake and vocalist Dominique Eade, pianist Donald Berman, baritone David Kravitz and the Triton Brass Quintet (classical), singer/songwriter Vance Gilbert, tap-dancing sensation Ian Berg, the Lonely Heartstring Band (bluegrass), poet Judson Evans and more. This is such an intriguing program, Bernstein’s daughters Nina and Jamie are planning to attend (May 16).

Ever eat at Rubin’s, G&G Delicatessen, Jack and Marion’s, Zaftigs or Mamaleh’s?

Check out our Kitchen Explorations series that uses food as a launching point to explore the roles that local neighborhoods, urban transitions and Jewish cuisine play in shaping Boston’s identity. With guests such as Dr. Jonathan Sarna, Dr. Ellen Smith and even PBS’s “Food Flirts,” the Brass sisters, be prepared for thought-provoking insights and fond memories of Jewish Boston (May 5, May 30 and June 13).

Now, for my last question: Have you bought your tickets yet?

For complete details on the JArts spring season, visit jartsboston.org.

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