Melvyn Kohn's blog

Alan Slifka passes away in Los Angeles

By Melvyn Kohn, February 11, 2011

Alan B. Slifka, a New York based philanthropist, passed away on 4 February at his home in LA. He is best knowm in the US for Halcyon Asset Management, which manages more than $10billion.
It the late '80s, after one of his trips to Israel, he started the Abraham Fund Initiative, a charity to further relations betweens Jews and Arabs. It has provided more than $10million in grants. He says he was partial to this project as he, a twin, understood the proximity that siblings experience.


Jewish Humour from NY

By Melvyn Kohn, February 7, 2011

So much broiges has been occasioned by my last post that I feel I need to change pace and post a few jokes.
This one, from the Jewish Comedy Fest, appeared in the NYT recently and I just love it:
"I was walking home in Greenwich Village the other day when I saw some guy try to grab a lady's purse...
after 10 minutes of watching this guy try and try while she held on tight, I just couldn't ignore the situation any I jumped in to help. You know, it took the two of us at least another 20 minutes to finally get that bag out of her hands."


Is the Village Voice antisemitic?

By Melvyn Kohn, January 31, 2011

The Village Voice, that bastion of all things far to the left of left, recently ran some articles on
bad landlords. It singled out Jewish landlords in a front page piece by Elizabeth Dwoskin; one wonders
if it will follow up with a report on bad Protestant landlords, or bad white landlords, or single out any other group.
So far, it is just us. We're bad.


Tullia Zevi Obituary

By Melvyn Kohn, January 28, 2011

In yesterdays' New York Times there was an obituary for Tullia Zeli, 1919-2011.
She was a leader in the Italian Jewish community, who had international influence as well.
It was she who negotiated with the Italian governemnt to recognise Judaism and not just Catholicism
in Italy, but was supportive of the rights of all to practice the faith of their choice, calling on
support for the Moslem community as well.
She was one of four children born in an upper middle class family in Milan, on 2 Feb. 1919. Her family was


Jewish Film Fest in NY

By Melvyn Kohn, January 13, 2011

I take a break from my posts on US politics, which is only occasioning a broiges, to return to subjects I am happier blogging about, such as art, film, music, linguistics, etc.
This month the Jewish Film Festival is taking place at Lincoln Center; it runs from 12-27 January.
There are 36 features and shorts: fictional and non-fictional, political and apolitical, religious and secular.


Palin uses term 'blood libel'

By Melvyn Kohn, January 12, 2011

Today Sarah Palin shot herself in the foot, telling the world that those questioning her use of cross hairs were guilty of 'blood libel'...This is a typical response from the US diaspora:


Nazi movements in Arizona

By Melvyn Kohn, January 11, 2011

This weekend was marred by the shooting of 20 people, among them a Jewish US Congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords. Six are dead, many are in hospital; Gifford's brain was pierced by a bullet from a Glock 19. She is expected to recover but how much we do not yet know. She is responsive to the medical team.
This has occasioned miles of column inches; in today's New York Daily News it is on the first seven pages.


Is Bloomberg losing his grip?

By Melvyn Kohn, December 31, 2010

Last year while birdwathcing in Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge a NYC school teacher named Esther told me how much she could not stand Mayor Bloomberg. He was infringing on the Education Dept., and he has lately angered more educators with his appointment of Cathie Black, who, despite the requirement for a masters', holds no such degree - nor any experience in education.


Letter to Jerusalem Post author re article mentioning Bolivia

By Melvyn Kohn, December 11, 2010

Yesterday, (10/12/2010) the Jersusalem Post published an article by Caroline Glick about South America; it mentioned Bolivia and had some misinformation, so I wrote to her the following letter. Much as I'd like to take the liberty of posting her article here, it might be a copyright issue, so I will refrain from doing that, but I think a google search will bring it up.
BTW, see previous posts here about Bolivia - and the one I posted to on 20 May 2009, and I think you will be at entertained, if not enlightened...

Dear Ms. Glick,


What South American country saved thousands of Jews?

By Melvyn Kohn, December 4, 2010

The answer to that title is Bolivia. And it is an answer to an urgent question inside of me, one I have been asking myself for some time; why am I so supportive of Bolivia?


New York Stories

By Melvyn Kohn, October 13, 2010

A few weeks back in Gotham I spent time going to friends' plays and rehearsals. A Harold Pinter play called "A Slight Ache" is in workshop with Const Schultz, Ron Leir and Mike Stranger. An open rehearsal of it was being performed at the Muhlenberg Library on West 23rd Street. This is a new concept, whereby actors get to do not-quite-ready-for-prime-time run throughs, and the public gets to watch and comment at the end.


Cuentas de Bolivia

By Melvyn Kohn, April 20, 2010

A little known Latin American country is makings lots of news but we do not hear of it. Expect to soon though, as it is hosting an international summit for Earth Day and James Cameron is already there, in Cochabamba, the birthplace of that famous maths teacher, Jaime Escalante - known as the best teacher America ever had. His epic battle to improve education for inner city youths is documented in the film "Stand and Deliver". He used to wear a poncho in the classroom to express his solidarity with his homeland.


Morgenthau retires

By Melvyn Kohn, March 5, 2010

For all of my life, a guy named Morgenthau has been a top prosecutor in New York; Robert Morgenthau, probably the best DA America ever had. He served the city since 1961, when he was picked by JFK to be Manhattan U.S. Attorney. In 1975 he moved his office a few doors down to be the Manhattan DA. He has just retired, as he is 90 years old. Morgenthau, to those of us not from NY, brings to mind Henry and Henry, his grandfather and father (respectively....). The former is famous for blowing the whistle on the Armenian Holocaust at the hands of the Turks, a fact they still are in denial about.


New newspaper in New York

By Melvyn Kohn, December 8, 2009

Have a look at The Epoch Times - - it is the new kid on the block here in NY. It is run by Fulan Gong members, who have been persecuted by the Communist Party in China. They often express solidarity with Jewish people as they have received support from this community for what they are going through. The paper has its HQ in New York at 34 W 27, but also has an office in London.
It is on stands around Manhattan for 25 cents, and is good value at any price, though smaller than the New York Times or the Village Voice.


Bolivian elections

By Melvyn Kohn, December 8, 2009

Sunday the Bolivian went to the polls and re-elected the incumbent, President Evo Morales. No surprise, as he increased social welfare and got his country the highest growth rate in all of South America, to the praise of the IMF.
But everyone is not singing his praises. As Simon Romero in the New York Times mentioned, Bolivia has the key to the world's clean energy - but he wants the world to pay for it. Like, we can't just go in and help ourselves to lithium? No, mean Evo wants to share the wealth with his Aymara and Quechua speaking voters.


Review of The Box

By Melvyn Kohn, December 8, 2009

I like taking walks around New York, and though I've been here five decades, I still find new things. A recent walk took me to Bleeker Street, where I noticed the Chaim Gross statue titled "Family", which was sculpted in 1979 and donated to the city in honour of former mayor Ed Koch. That was en route to a party for Harper's Bazaar at Juicy Couture, which was all posh and pink inside. I walked up and down Bleeker, looking in at the shops, including one jewellery shop that had taxidermy birds, whilst I waited for Marcia Salzburg to appear; she it was who invited me.


Jewish Artworks in New York, an interview with Dan and Gad Nasinov

By Melvyn Kohn, November 20, 2009

Living in NY, the largest diaspora community in the world, one is bound to find bagels. W 19th St. is no exception. Books and Bagels caters to such needs, offering its round bread and hot cups of coffee to passersby, along with a number of their own regulars, including woman named Luna Pariente, who owns the gallery next door.


Evenings at the National Arts Club

By Melvyn Kohn, October 27, 2009

While in London, I joined the Arts Club; several years I spent in its comfortable rooms overlooking Dover St. Then it became fashionable, and Madonna joined. The likes of me, unfashionable as I am, left. Which is a pity, because it has reciprocal agreements with many clubs, such as the National Arts Club in NY; situated on Gramercy Park no less. Which is where I spent two evenings lately. While I am a member of neither at the moment, I am of the St. George's Society of NY, and they put on events once a month there.


Art in New York

By Melvyn Kohn, October 26, 2009

I'm still hanging out in New York, catching up with friends and contemplating my next move. For now, I've got a place in Chelsea, which is where quite a few galleries are located. There seems to be more of them now than in the '90s, with over two dozen in the area, the same on the Lower East Side, and quite a few artist studios midtown as part of an arts initiative by the city.


Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters walk the Big Apple

By Melvyn Kohn, August 2, 2009

I have been back in New York for a month now, and at times I want to sing a few lyrics from three Elton John songs: Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters, Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters pt. 2, and New York City I wouldn't have you any other way. But there are quality of life laws now, and I am sure that one of them is you don't inflict upon passersby your bad singing. So I refrain.