(Uncle Moses, 1932)
been said over and over again this long campaign season: despite its myriad and
manifest problems, America
these days is still — hopefully always will be — a place to which people the
world over long to come, a nation where the new arrival will have a fair shake
at a better life.
tonight, the New Center for Arts and
Culture presents a
four-day festival called Promised Land: Exodus and America, which is meant to explore how
Americans throughout history — be they
Puritans or African slaves or the immigrants of today —have “adopted and
adapted” the story of Exodus
to mirror their experiences in the United States.
The idea is to create a “cross-cultural
dialogue informed by the Jewish experience,” in NCAC deputy director Francine
Achbar’s words, enabling the public to learn more about Jewish culture through
the prism of the Exodus story and the ways its themes of refuge and deliverance
are expressed in literature and film.
The festival starts tonight at 8
p.m. with a screening of the 1932 Yiddish-language film Uncle Moses,
hosted Rabbi Moshe Waldoks, at the West Newton Cinema.
Tomorrow evening, at 7 p.m., the Coolidge Corner
play host to a discussion and reading called “Escape! Arrival! Disappointment!” featuring authors
Elisa Albert, Janice Erlbaum, and Joseph
O’Neill discussing their books, which describe narrow escapes and journeys to new places, and
Stephen Levinson screening his animated short, God &
Saturday, “The Greatest Story: Exodus in
Words and Music,” hosted by former Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky, the African American Institute Unity Gospel Ensemble,
and a coterie of Boston’s community
leaders, public officials, and media personalities — Ten Point Coalition founder Ray
Hammond, authors Anita Diamant and Steve Almond, WBUR’s Bill
Littlefield — will explore the second book of the
Pentateuch. That’s at 8 p.m. at Northeastern
University’s Fenway Center.
And finally, Sunday will see a day-long symposium
called “Promised Land: Exodus and America,” at which a dozen scholars and writers
will “explore how the Exodus story shaped American history and how various
Americans have adopted and adapted the Exodus story to fit their own.”
* Gish Jen,
Jamaica Kincaid, and Susan Lanser discuss “Promised Lands: The American
Immigrant Novel at 11:00 a.m.
* Adam Kirsch,
Stephen Prothero, and Elisa New talk about “Exodus: Story of a Nation” at
* Nicholas Lemann,
Orlando Patterson, and Beverly Morgan Welch explore Moses’s stature as an African-American
Hero at 2:45 p.m.
* Noah Feldman,
Jenna Weissman Joselit, and Alan Wolfe discuss “The Ten
Commandments in America”
at 4:15 p.m.
(It’s all Northeastern University West Village F)
For more information and ticket prices, visit the New Center for
Arts and Culture site.