Grandpa Joe



By Stephen A. Sadow

Let me begin by saying that Grandpa Joe Sadow was and is my idol. That is to say that the following account comes from my own memories of him until I was fifteen, the year that he died. They are enhanced by comments made by other relatives, particularly my parents Lenny and Jessie Sadow—while Joe was alive and thereafter. Therefore, what I am about to relate is how I remember a great man who had an enormous influence on me.

The Sadow family myth is that when Joe arrived along at Ellis Island, after a voyage in steerage from Moscow via Hamburg, he was met by an aunt (probably his sponsor) whose last name was Sadowsky—we don’t know who she was or who else she might have been related to. As the story goes, the Irish immigration changed his name from “Yussel Tchezik” to “Joe Sadow.” Yussle became Joe and Chezik metamorphosed into Sadow.  (All of this is highly unlikely, as Ellis Island immigration agents did not, as a practice, change immigrant’s names.)

He spoke only very rarely about Moscow, except to say that a limited number of Jews were allowed to live there. His father was a butcher who sold tref (non-Kosher) meat to Russian Orthodox clients, and that during the long Russian winters the Volga River froze so hard that they laid railroad track and ran trains over it (I’ve never verified this.)

My clearest memory of Grandpa Joe is when he took me into the foyer of the apartment to show me his books. He did this a number of times. He was very proud of his books. He had hardbound copies of the great Russian classics, in Russian, of course; he had a collection of literature and a bunch of pamphlets in Yiddish; and he had what appeared to be some sort of encyclopedia written in English. He also showed me that day’s editions of the Forvertz, the Yiddish daily newspaper and one of New York’s daily. I was about eleven years old, an avid reader myself, and was awestruck. Once, he asked me if I was going to learn Russian. It was, in his words, an “easy” language! Joe had had very little formal education, but he was well read in three languages, no less.  To his misfortune, Grandpa Joe was woefully near-sighted, and the eyeglasses of the 1950’s didn’t help him much (though I don’t ever remember seeing him without them.)  He once tried out a set of “bottle glasses” which had lenses about ten inches long: they didn’t work well either. When he read, he wore his glasses and used a magnifying glass up close to the paper.

Once, I told Grandpa Joe that, in school, we had read How the Other Half Lives by Jacob Riis, an early photojournalist who recorded life in the slums of New York. I mentioned that the worst conditions were on Cherry Street on the Lower East Side of New York City. Grandpa replied, “I lived on Cherry Street.”

Joe had the habit of humming songs as he went through the day. He urged me to do the same. To my wives’s chagrin, I still do so.

When I was about thirteen, Grandpa Joe took me with him to the Luxor Turkish Baths on 34th Street in Manhattan. In those days, Turkish Baths were a Jewish immigrant institution, and the Luxor Baths were known as about the best around. After we entered, we went into the locker room where we stripped down to our skin and wrapped ourselves in large bed sheets, supplied by the management. To my amazement, the “baths” included steam baths and “the pine-scented room,” that is, a steam bath in which pine oil had been added to the water. There were fire hoses alternately spraying intense bursts of hot and cold water. Most impressive were the masseurs. These were enormous men who were capable of untying the tightest muscles. They spoke no English, but rather grunted in Russian or some such language. Since many men spent the whole day at the bath or even all night, there was a cafeteria that served meals at all hours. Grandpa and I were on line, just behind a huge masseur. Grandpa told the man behind the counter, “I’ll have what he’s having!” What the masseur had ordered was a whole apple pie, a pint of vanilla ice cream and a quart bottle of Pepsi-Cola. Grandpa ordered sandwiches.

Joe and Rose met in New York. He came from Russia, she from Lithuania. As they couldn’t speak together in their native languages, they communicated in Yiddish and later on in English too.  Long before I knew him, Grandpa Joe had been a cigar-smoking, burly-chested foreman in a factory that made corrugated boxes. He and Grandma Rose, Saul, Lillian and “Lenny, the student” lived in the Morris Park section of the Bronx.  By the time I knew him in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, he was a thin, grey-haired older man, who usually wore checkered or plaid shirts. The changeover had come in 1943, when at age fifty-eight he suffered a serious heart attack, so serious they thought, that my father was summoned back from a ship in the South Pacific. Joe survived the heart attack, but retired so he could receive a small pension from the factory. (Today, he would have gone back to work.)

At some point, I’m not sure when, Joe and Rose moved to a one and a half room (the half being the kitchen) apartment on Brighton 6th Street in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, which is where I knew them. –Brighton Beach had been originally developed as a seaside day resort for those New Yorkers who could afford to spend the night at one of its hotels. Though the ocean hadn’t moved and the Boardwalk was still there, the Brighton Beach where grandpa and grandpa lived was made up of aging apartment buildings, inhabited primarily by aging Jews—.

Grandpa and Grandma lived on the sixth and highest floor of their particular building: I have a strong olfactory memory of rancid chicken soup, encountered as we rode the elevator. The apartment itself was tiny, positively suffocating when our families came to visit, which was often. Grandpa did most of the cooking, and his repertoire was limited:  grapefruit to  start, boiled chicken with potatoes and a vegetable, and ice cream for dessert. On occasion, there was gefilte fish or chav, that is, jellied calves feet (I detested it.)

Grandma Rose suffered terribly from asthma, and often had attacks while cooking. So, in that household, “just what Mama used to make” was often burnt. Grandma did cut the onions. The kitchen window faced the black, iron fire escape. Rose would put the onions and chopping board outside that window, then close the windows onto her wrists, so that the onions wouldn’t make her cry.

Years earlier, Grandpa Joe had done everything he could to help alleviate Grandma’s asthma. There was no air conditioning, of course.

Each late spring and summer, when the pollen count was the high, Rose would spend those weeks at a hotel, built for especially for asthma victims in the piney White Mountains of New Hampshire. Most Friday nights, Grandpa would take the train to the Granite State to visit her; he would return to the Bronx on Sunday night.

Of course, Grandpa was not perfect. He had an explosive temper, and often blew up at Grandma for reasons I could not possibly comprehend. But to me, he was always the sweetest man. Moreover, he was my direct connection to the Old Country, the world of European Jewry that was gone before I was born and to the world of the Jewish immigrants in New York. He attended an orthodox shul around the corner from his apartment. He couldn’t be called a regular, but he knew the service by heart. The only time I remember that he wore a suit when he attended my Bar Mitzvah. That day, Grandma Rose proudly wore the mink stole that the family had bought for her. Grandpa Joe died the next year, age seventy-five. Grandma Rose died a few months later, at seventy-five more or less (no one every knew the day or year in which she was born; she chose July 4 as her birthday.)

I’ve spent a great deal of my career involved in Jewish Studies. When I first arrived in Buenos Aires, in 1972, the Villa Crespo neighborhood reminded me of the Brooklyn of my childhood. I subscribe to the weekly Forward, an English-language reincarnation of the Forvertz. During the last couple of years, I’ve been teaching myself Yiddish. When I study, I think of Grandpa Joe.

Perla Bajder


Perla Badjer earned a degree in visual arts and is a specialist in cultural administration. She studied at the National Schools of Fine Arts and at the University of Barcelona. She exhibited her work and gave classes in Córdoba, Mendoza, Río Negro (Argentina), Barcelona, Biesko Biala, Krackow and Torun (Poland), Boston, Washington, D.C. (USA), Cappadocia (Turkey), Edinborough, Essex (United Kingdom), Florencia, Urbino (Italy), Kazakhstan México City., Havana, Quito, Santiago (Chile), Transylvania (Romania), Y Vilnius (Lithuania). Museums in many of these places show her Works.

Perla Badjer does pen and ink drawing and is a painter and a maker of artistic toys. Much of her work has the Holocaust as its theme.


Perla Bajder es Licenciada en Artes Visuales y especialista en Gestión Social. Estudió en las Escuelas Nacionales de Buenos Aires y en la Universidad de Barcelona. Estudió y dictó clases en Córdoba, Mendoza, Río Negro (Argentina), Barcelona, Biesko Biala, Cracovia y Torun (Polonia), Boston, Washington, D.C. (EEUU.), Capadocia (Turquía), Edinborough, Essex (Reino Unido), Florencia, Urbino (Italia), Kazajistán, México, D.F., La Habana, Quito, Santiago de Chile, Transilvania (Romania), Y Vilnius (Lituania). Museos en muchos de esos lugares exhiben sus obras.

Perla Bajder es dibujante, pintora y fabricante de juguetes artísticos. Muchos de sus obras tienen el Holocausto como tema.

La Casa de los Lápices/The House of the Pencils

Imágenes y Palabras/Images and Words (in Spanish)

IMG_20170612_155815 (1).jpg






La Casa de los Lápices

No son los vientos sino las velas las que conducen el viaje.

Imaginé viajábamos en tren con gente sencilla

que disfrutábamos la exuberancia del paisaje

comentábamos la obra de Daumier: “Vagón de tercera clase”

y finalmente llegábamos a la Casa de los Lápices

bautizada así por los vecinos

Imaginé a la luna entre los pinos

a los afinados grillos como señal de alegría

yo preparaba la cena

tu buscabas una flor para la mesa

veíamos “El Lado Oscuro del Corazón”

y junto con BenedeJ conversábamos hasta el amanecer

de poesía.

Nos despertábamos con los pájaros

y el concierto de las cigarras en el tórrido día

el aroma de lavandas




descubríamos en mares teñidos de verdes terrosos

azulados plateados y rojizos anaranjados

todo el mundo del color

que visible allí estaba.

Entonces decías:

-Oh Dulcinea ya es tiempo que los ojos de tu grandeza miren a éste

tu cautivo caballero-

Te revelaba mi duda:

– Acaso es anhelo, sueño o sólo una ilusión por el reflejo de la luna-?

-¡Que mi amor es de locura!-(esto no lo dice el Quijote pero se intuye)

Y nos abrazábamos entre risas y lágrimas

para volver sobre las huellas de nuestros cuerpos en las sábanas Dbias


y tus caricias encendían mis senidos

entonces imaginé el olor a Tierra húmeda y a las primeras gotas

que amenazaban la llegada de la lluvia.

El regreso también lo imaginé

al paisaje infinito en movimiento

vendedores ambulantes que iban y venían

campos secos quemados por el sol

la humareda ensuciando el atardecer

el aire viciado de la ciudad

y a nosotros

sobre todo nosotros

en medio de una muchedumbre ciega

concebíamos en silencio nuestra próxima aventura.

No imaginé (lo supe al azar)

que otros amores tenías

y las palabras, las mágicas que misteriosamente

habitaron mi piel

se desmoronaron en cáscaras vacías

hojarasca que sopló el espíritu del viento donde quería

Solo quedaron las otras

las que amor duradero no prometan.

Imaginé otro lugar con olor a tierra húmeda

que anunciaba en el aire

la inminencia de la lluvia.

Notes on the Art Show in Havana/Notas sobre la muestra de arte en La Habana


The exhibition “Con-textos” took place in the Servando Cabrera Gallery in Havana. It was supported by the Argentine Embassy in Cuba and the Government of Cuba. As far as we can ascertain, this show is the first time that works of art and creative commentaries, inspired by each work have been shown together.


Nora Seilicovich, was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She graduated as an architect at the University of Buenos Aires, where she studied Drawing, Painting and Engraving.Since 1980 she has held exhibitions and art showrooms, both individual and collectively, in museums, centers and cultural places in Argentina and abroad. Several works belong to private collections in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Spain, Italy, Great Britain, Cuba and USA.

Colors and movement are shown in all of her works. Using digital elements is part of the process in which the artist manages to make her characters come alive, through graphic art tools that allow the interaction with objects and places. The choice and combination of techniques are central to Nora Silicosis’s creations. Nora returns to her unique characters and reorients them. She inserts them into situations that are not expected by spectators and by themselves. Nora’s creatures inhabit complex combinations of time and places.



La muestra “Con-textos” tuvo lugar en la galería Servando Cabrera en La Habana. Fue patrocinada por la Embajada Argentina y el Gobierno Cubano.Que sepamos es la primera vez que se ha combinado arte y comentarios creativos, inspirados por cada obra.


Nora Seilicovich, nació en la ciudad de Buenos Aires, Argentina. Se graduó como arquitecta en la Universidad de Buenos Aires. Cursó estudios de Dibujo, Pintura y Grabado. Desde 1980 realiza exposiciones y muestras, tanto individuales como colectivas, en museos, casas y espacios culturales en Argentina y en el exterior. Varias de las obras pertenecen a colecciones privadas en  Argentina, Brasil, México, España, Italia, Gran Bretaña, Cuba y EEUU.

Los colores y el movimiento se hacen presentes en cada uno de sus trabajos. El encuentro con lo digital es parte del proceso en el que la artista logra que sus personajes cobren vida, a través de herramientas gráficas que permiten la interacción con objetos y lugares. Elección y combinación de técnicas son creación propia de Nora Seilicovich. Nora retoma sus característicos personajes y los re-orienta. Los inserta en situaciones poco esperadas por espectador y por ellos mismos…Los seres de Nora habitan complejas combinaciones e épocas y lugares.




Juana García Abás

The Cuban-Jewish poet Juana García Abás was born in Havana in 1950. Her parents were descended from Sephardic Jews on the Canary Islands. She has worked as a journalist, playwright, screenwriter and art critic and is a specialist in mass media She studied poetry writing with world-renowned Cuban writers José Lezama Lima, Cintio Vitier and Roque Dalton. Some years later, she became a member of the prestigious Unión Cubana de Escritores (Cuban Writers Union.) In 2006, she was awarded the Premio Nacional de Poesía “Nicolás Guillén,” (The “Nicolás Guillén,” National Poetry Prize, one of Cuba’s most important literary honors for her book length collection Circonloquio (Circumlocution.)

In the collection Sacred Archeology/Arqueología Sagrada, her poems are infused with the Kabbalah.


La poeta judía-cubana Juana García Abás nació en La Habana en1950. Sus padres fueron de ascendencia sefardita de las Islas Canarias, Ha trabajado como periodista, dramaturga, guionista, crítica de arte y es una especialista en los medios masivos. Estudió el escribir de la poesía con José Lezama Lima, Cintio Vitier y Roque Dalton. Luego, llegó a ser una socia de la prestigiosa Unión Cubana de Escritores. En 2006, fue otorgada el Premio Nacional de Poesía “Nicolás Guillén,” uno de los honores literarios cubanos más importantes por su colección Circonloquio.

En la colección Sacred Archeology/Arqueología Sagrada, sus poemas están infundidos con la Cábala.




2 POEMAS/POEMS — Juana García Abás


Ando extraviada: estoy en todas partes.



I wajk along lost: I am everywhere.



I’m nobody—Who are you?

Are you nobody too?



Hay un orden proscrito que se exilia

en los desastres de lo manifiesto,

cuando lo esotérico se confina distanciado de ti,

décima sefirá—y hasta de sí—, en lo finito;

allí algo mío se exime de mí, y aun de ti—que eres yo.

Somos lo enajenado en la rueca de los expuesto,

donde toda esta plenitud pareciera lo más abarcador

siendo abarcada, y se limita en esta totalidad

alienada de sí.

Algo ni mío ni tuyo colapsa en mis perfiles:

lo distanciado de lo no manifiesto

expulsado de sí mismo en lo finito,

–sin contar contigo ni conmigo–,

se escurre por los nichos de las uras del alma

–que de tan abarcados parecieran lo más abarcador.

Somos lo toral que se desnuda

porque algo mío se excluye de mí, décima sefirá:

ya al final de todo—extrañado aun de ti,

que también eres yo

lo nunca redimido que se exilia

de sí, de ti, de mí: del todo.



I’m nobody—Who are you?

Are you nobody too?



There is a proscribed command that goes into exile

in the disasters of the manifest, when the esoteric keeps itself distanced from you,

tenth Sephirah—even from itself—, in the infinite;

there, something of mine frees me from myself, even from you—who is I.

We are the alienated in the spinning wheel of the exposed,

where all this plenitude might seem all-encompassing

being embraced, and it limits itself in that totality

alienated from itself.

Something not mine nor yours collapses into my profiles:

the distanced from the not manifest,

expelled from itself in the infinite,

— without relying on you or me —,

that slips into boreholes made by the tapeworm of the soul

–that so well embraced, they seemed the most encompassing.

We are the all that undresses

because something mine is excluded from me, tenth Sephirah:

already at the end of everything—even missing you,

who also is me

the never redeemed who is exiled

from him, from you, from me: from everything.


Translations by Stephen A. Sadow and J. Kates






Introduction to the Kabbalah/Introducción a la Cábala


In Provence and Navarre, Spain, toward the end of the twelfth century and in Castile, a bit later, The Kabbalah (The Received Tradition,) the Jewish system of visionary thinking, was conceived, debated and always hidden from view. Through the study of the ancient Hebrew texts such as the Sefer Bahir (the Book of Illumination,) the Sefer Yetsirah (The Book of Creation) and many other treatises, these early Kabbalists commented on the characteristics of God, (among these are: Hod (Splendor) and the balanced forces of Hesed (Love) y Din (Judgment) creation and the cosmos.  Their speculations culminated in the Zohar (The Book of Splendor,) an enormous and multi-layered commentary on the Tanach, The Five Books of Moses. Most of the Zohar was written in the thirteenth century by Moisés de León, a Spanish Jew who purported to have translated the work from ancient Aramaic.

Roughly fifty years after the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, in Safed, Eretz Yisroel, Rabbi Yitzhak Luria, also known by his acronym HaAri orThe Lion, revolutionized the Kabbalistic understanding of the creation of material world, the nature of evil, the ability of man to repair the world, exile, redemption, the Messiah and also the relationships among these themes. Luria did not write down his ideas, he stated them. Chaim Vital, was the most important transcriber of Luria’s Kabbalistic talks, but others also took notes, and the emphasis put on each of Luria’s central ideas varies greatly among them.


Comenzando a fines del siglo doce en Provenza, Navarra, España y un poco más tarde en Castilia, el sistema de pensamiento visionario, La Cábala (La tradición recibida) fue concibida , debatida y casi siembre ocultada. Por el estudio del Sefer Bahir , Sefer Yetsirá (el Libro de Esplendor)  y muchos otros tratados, esos cabalistas tempranos comentaban sobre las características de Dios, la creación y el cosmos. Estas especulaciones colminaron en El Zohar (El Libro de Esplendor,) un enorme y de multilayer comentario sobre el Tanach, los cinco libros de Moisés. En gran parte, El Zohar fue escrito por Moisés de León, un judío español.

En Sefat, Eretz Yisrael, unos cinquenta años después de la expulsión de los judíos de Espańa en 1492, el Rabino Yitzhak Luria, concocido también por su acrónimo HaAri, o el León, revolucionó el entendimiento cabalístico de la creación del mundo material, la naturaleza del mal, el remeniendo del mundo, el exilio, la redención, el Mesías y la relación entre ellos. Luria no escribió sobre sus estudiantes, Chaim Vital, en particular, transcribieron sus charlas. Por eso, hay variantes en el enfoque sobre unas de sus ideas centrales.


Steve Sadow



“Borges and Me” A Short-Short Story by Steve Sadow

Borges and Me

Jorge Luis Borges, “La Recoleta”

Convinced of demise

by many noble certainties of dust,

we delay and sink our voice

between the slow lines of pantheons,

Whose rhetoric to shadow and marble,

Promise or prefigure the dignity of having died.

Translated by Aaron Goekleer

On one of those mild winter evenings in Buenos Aires, I walked through the imposing entrance gate of the labyrinthine Recoleta cemetery. There lie the remains of the illustrious heroes of the Argentine Republic– Sarmiento, Mitre, Avellaneda and even Rosas. Later on, Evita would be there, but Juan Domingo Perón, never made it. Also interred there are the country’s literary and sports notables. I was totally ignorant about this national monument, but I was well aware of Jorge Luis Borges’ poem about the cemetery, one of his best-known works.

I entered and immediately, and to my amazement, caught sight of Borges himself, standing not more than twelve feet from me. Literary. Borges, no less, accompanied by his translator Thomas DiGiovani, standing in from of crypt. I saw them from behind. Borges was wearing a gray suit, DiGiovani a sweater. Not talking or moving. Reflecting, perhaps meditating. Motionless.

I felt an intense desire to interrupt them. Nevertheless, through respect, timidity, or both, I did nothing. For an instant I looked away, my gaze fixed on an elegant tomb. When I looked back, the two were no longer there.

  Borges had disappeared.

By Stephen A. Sadow

“Eva/Eve” by Susana Grimberg

Susana Grimberg es poeta, cuentista, novelista, psicoanalista y comentarista social destacada argentina. En su poesía, los silencios pueden ser tan importantes como las palabras.

Susana Grimberg is a renowned Argentine poet, short-story writer, psychoanalyst, and commentator on social issues. In her poetry, the silences can be as important as the words.

A translation of this poem into English by J. Kates and Stephen A. Sadow follows the original. Please scroll down.


Me duele el amor en todo mi cuerpo.

Jorge Luis Borges

Una mujer.

sueño de Adán,

dejó en él una herida.


Ella fue el corte,

él la cortejará.


Una mujer parte

de él.


El hombre la buscará.



Nunca sabrán dónde están.


Ella lo deseará

y se perderá

con él.


Él se perderà

en ella.


Una mujer ha dormido la noche clara.

Despierta el cuerpo del otro cuerpo.


Respira su deseo el otro ardor insomne

mueve su deseo el otro ardor despierto.


Duerme el día en la noche.

¿A qué hora asoma su rostro el sol.


Levanta sus pasos por los pasillos de arcilla.

Se escucha, se agita, recorre silencio, sorpresa.


Vuelve a sí,

lo arranca del sueño


para asomarse a sus ser,

en el instante

cavadp en el vacío.


Un silbido

se desliza.

se arrastra,

se levanta.


Una forma erguida entre los árboles.




Susurra tienta acaricia.




Es solo un silbido.


Suspendido en el aire.




Ella quiere rozarlo.




Desliz de la mirada.


Palabras deseantes de saber de un deseo más cerca que la piel.


Las palabras son el otro.


El otro seduce,




El silbido es ese otro.


El otro:

la occasión.


Ella quiere saber

saber del licor del cuerpo de Adán

saber del sabor

saber de la passion

saber del deseo.


Nunca se sabe del goce del otro

se lo sabe,

se lo saborea.


La mujer que de mí arrancaste

me tentó, dijo él.

El fruto prohibido (para el hombre),

fue apetecible a mis ojos, dijo ella.


Lo prohibido,

saber por fuera del silencio.


La vergüenza

vistió sus cuerpos.

Insinuantes hojas de parra,

provocan a la mirada.


Inventaron el disfraz, el obstáculo.

la seducción.

Jugando a los escondidas

dejaron los jardines de la infinitud.


Imaginaron una espada

para lucir de tranquera.

Fulgor de metal.

Encandilados, sin retorno.

Exilados de la ignorancia dulce.



Elegir errar,


por siempre errar.


Saber del saber,

amarga dulzura de la curiosidad.


Me duele el amor en todo mi cuerpo.

Jorge Luis Borges

A woman,

Adam’s dream

left him cut open.


She was the wound,

he will woo her.


A woman, part

of him.

The man will seek her.



They will never know where they are.


She will desire him.

and will lose herself

with him.


He will lose himself

in her.


A woman has slept through the cloudless night.

The body awakens from the other body.


One of them, burning and sleepless, breathes her desire

The other, burning and wakeful, spurs his desire.


He sleeps through the day instead of the night.

What time does the Sun show its face?


She paces along the clay paths.

She listens, she frets, crosses silence, surprise.


She returns to herself,

she pulls him from his sleep


to show herself to his being,

at that moment

dug into the emptiness.

A hiss

slides itself,

drags itself,



A standing form among the trees.




Whispers tempts caresses.




It is only a hiss.


Suspended in the air.




She wants to stroke him.




A chance look.


Words that desire to know of a desire closer than skin.


The words are the other.


The other seduces.




The hiss is that other.


The other:

the occasion.


She wants to know

know the liquor of Adam’s body

know the taste

know the passion

know the desire.


The other’s pleasure is unknowable




The woman whom thou hast drawn from my body

tempted me, he said.

The fruit forbidden (to the man)

was pleasing to my sight, she said.


The forbidden:

to know beyond the silence.



clothed their bodies.

Insinuating vine leaves,

keep catching the eye.


They contrived disguise, obstacle,


Playing hide-and-seek

they left behind the gardens of the immeasurable.


They imagined a sword

to adorn the gate.

Brilliant metal.

Dazzling, without return.

Exiles from sweet ignorance.


To choose.

To choose to err.

to err,

to err forever.


To know the knowledge,

the bitter sweetness of curiosity.

Un cuento mío escrito en español. (One of my stories written in Spanish (An English translation will appear in a later post.)


–México, D.F. es una ciudad religiosa y espiritual. Aquí pasan cosas que no son del todo entendible racionalmente–me decían unos amigos judo-mexicanos cuando tomábamos cerveza una noche en un café de la Colonia Polanco. “Entonces los judíos en su mayoría también somos creyentes, algunos hasta místicos”, agregó un compañero de origen argentino.  Ahora los entiendo.

Cuatro años antes, yo había presentado mi antología de “Literatura y cultura judío-latinoamericanas contemporáneas” en la Cafebrería-El Péndulo, una librería espectacular visualmente y amplísima en el rango de sus ofertas. Como es de costumbre allí, después de hablar yo, había un panel de expertos que comentan (casi siempre en un modo muy favorable) al contenido y calidad del libro. En el panel ése, participaron tres miembros de la flor y nata de la intelectualidad mexicano –judía: la novelista y fotógrafa Ivonne Saed, el periodista José Gordon y la novelista, poeta y experta del misticismo Angelina Muñiz-Huberman. Nos escucharon noventa asistentes.

Para la noche siguiente, Angelina nos invitó a mi esposa Norma y a mí a cenar en su casa Ella vive con su marido el físico Alberto Huberman en un apartamento sobre un callejón sin salida en la Colonia Insurgentes no tan lejos de Universidad Nacional Autónoma Mexicana (UNAM) donde los dos son profesores. Al lado de su edificio, hay un convento.

Los taxistas no conocen la calle. Por esa razón, Angelina le da a cada visitante instrucciones precisas y detalladas con muchos puntos de referencia. Durante el viaje, yo me concentraba tanto de instruir al taxista—pase al Centro Atlético, doble a la derecho después de . . .–que no pensaba en otra cosa. Al llegar le di una propina al taxista y accidentalmente dejé mi cámara en el asiento trasero Me di cuenta inmediatamente de mi error, pero estuvo demasiado tarde; el taxi había desaparecido en el tremendo tráfico de D.F. Me sentía mal, pero qué hacer.

Por una hora y media, Norma y yo nos divertíamos mucho con los Angelina y Alberto. Charlamos de todo:  la política, nuestros hijos y algo de la cábala sobre la cual Angelina es experta. La comida fue excelente. Antes de las nueve y media, escuchamos un golpeteo a la puerta. Con un poco de aprehensión Alberto abrió la puerta de par en par. ¡Era el taxista y tenía en las manos mi cámara! Tratamos de darle una propina grande, pero el hombre no quiso aceptarla. Dejando la cámara con Alberto, salió diciendo, “Que Dios los bendiga”. Angelina exclamó, “¡Una cosa semejante nunca ocurre en México!” Más, tarde Norma y yo regresamos al hotel sin problema. Ese taxista conoció el lugar.

Cuatro años más tarde, volví a D.F y a la Cafebrería -El Péndulo; viajé solo esa vez. Vine para presentar los catorce libros de artista que habíamos armado en Buenos Aires unos colegas y yo.[i]  Después de disertar yo, cinco poetas judío-mexicanas—entre ellas, Angelina, Becky Rubenstein, Jenny Asse Chayo— leyeron de sus poemarios.   Nos escucharon a eso de cien personas.

Para la noche siguiente, Angelina me invitó a cenar en su un apartamento sobre un callejón sin salida en la Colonia Insurgentes no tan lejos de UNAM donde es profesora. Al lado de su edificio, hay un convento’

Los taxistas ya no conocen la calle. Durante el viaje, yo me concentraba tanto darle instrucciones al taxista—“pase al Centro Atlético, doble a la derecha después de…–que no pensaba en otra cosa. Al llegar le di una propina al taxista y accidentalmente dejé en el asiento trasero el catálogo de los libros de artista que iba a regalarle a Angelina. Me di cuenta inmediatamente de mi error, pero estuvo demasiado tarde; el taxi había desaparecido en el tremendo tráfico de D.F. Me sentía mal, pero qué hacer.

Por casi dos horas, Angelina y yo charlamos. Nos discutimos el misticismo hispano-hebreo, la literatura comparada y las actitudes de nuestros estudiantes. La comida fue excelente. Se hizo tarde y nos despedimos. Regresé al hotel sin problema. ¡Ese taxista conoció el lugar!

A mi entrada al Hotel Obelisk, la recepcionista me comentó, “Hay un libro aquí para usted, señor Sadow.  Un taxista se lo dejó”. Fue el catálogo. “¡Una cosa semejante nunca ocurre en México!”, insistió la recepcionista.  ¡Pero a mí, sí— dos veces!


[i] Los libros de artista son libros armados por artistas plásticos. Cada uno es único. Es una forma de arte iniciada en la Edad Media, desarrollado por William Blake y luego por los surrealistas. En este caso, los libros miden 28 cm. de altura y 14 cm. de anchura. Cada uno incluye un poema de un diferente poeta judío-latinoamericano, la traducción del poema al inglés y también una obra de arte inspirada por el poema hecha por un artista plástico judío-latino-americano.



Latin American Jewish Arts/Las artes judío-latinoamericanos

This Mega-Website includes/Este mega-sitio-web consiste de:

Jewish Latin Art/ El arte judío-latinoamericano

Anthology of Contemporary Latin American Jewish Literature/Antología de literatura judío-latinoamericana.

A Voice among the Multitudes: Poetry and English Translations/Una voz entre las multitudes: Poesía y traducciones al inglés.

We, The Generation in the Wilderness/ Nosotros, la generación en el desierto. Ricardo Feierstein.

Interviews with 12 Argentine-Jewish Writers and Artists/Entrevistas con 12 judío-argentino escritores y artistas plásticos.

Latin American Jewish Artes/Las artes judío latinoamericanas





Two Jewish Women Chatting/Dos judías conversando/2






Eric Lönrot, the unfortunate detective in “Death and the Compass” by Jorge Luis Borges, states that to solve the murder of a rabbi, he would prefer an explanation that was purely rabbinical, in other words “in Jewish affairs you must use Jewish interpretational techniques.”

Following that reasoning, we can see by their “sheitls” (wigs) that cover all their hair and the clothing that hides their bodies, that these married Jewish women maintain a high level of tzinut (modesty.) The woman, seated in an armchair, is well-established and prosperous. She is wearing a beautiful linen dress. The other woman, in continual motion, is seeking her place in the world. She is dressed in everyday clothes.

The entire scene is quite Kabbalistic and spiritual. It contains many female qualities. These Jewish women are symbols of the

“Shekinah,” the feminine aspect of God. The chairs, like floating stars, are waiting for honored guests like the prophet Elijah, who visits Jewish homes during Passover Seders. They are grouped in threes. In Jewish numerology, 3 symbolizes harmony and connection. There are 9 chairs; 9 signifies generosity. It is even possible that that the armchair replicates the vision of the throne of Prophet Ezequiel (Ezequiel1:4-26.) That is, the burning chariot that ascends toward heaven and whose light demonstrates the “tov,the Good.

Two Jewish Women Chatting/Dos judías conversando/3

Eric Lönnrot, el detective desgraciado en “La muerte y la brújula” de Jorge Luis Borges, dijo que para resolverle asesinato de un rabino “preferiría una explicación puramente rabínica”, en otras palabras, “en asuntos judíos, hay que usar técnicas judías de interpretación”.

Por lo tanto, por los sheitls (pelucas) que cubren todo el pelo y la ropa que oculta el cuerpo, se sabe que estas mujeres judías casadas mantienen un alto nivel de tzinut (modestia). La mujer sentada es la más instalada y próspera, se encuentra cómoda en el sillón. Lleva un traje bello de material fino. La otra mujer está en continuo movimiento, busca su lugar en el mundo. Se viste con ropa común y corriente.

Toda la escena es muy cabalística y espiritual. Está llena de cualidades femeninas. Las mujeres judías simbolizan

La Shejiná, el aspecto femenino de Dios. Las sillas, cual estrellas, están listas para huéspedes honrados como el profeta Elías. Ellas están agrupadas de a tres. En la numerología judía, el 3 simboliza armonía y conexión. Hay 9 sillas. El 9 significa la generosidad. Aún es posible que el sillón replique la visión del Profeta Ezequiel (Ezequiel1:4-26), el carro ardiente que asciende al cielo y cuya luz demuestra lo tov, lo que está bien.

Dos judías conversando/Two Jewish Ladies Chatting/4

In exhibitions held in Havana, Buenos Aires and New York, the Argentine artist Nora Seilicovich and I combined her artworks with my comments, that is, what the paintings inspired to write. Both of us were expanding our imaginations to the limit. Nora Seilicovich’s work will appear repeatedly in this blog.

This is my first attempt to include Spanish in my blog.


Raquel (Rachel) by José Luis Fariñas

Rachel became, by his father-in-law Laban’s deceit, Jacob’s second wife instead of his first as Jacob had wished. Leah, the first wife, bore him sons, but Rachel, like the other matriarchs Sarah and Rebecca, was barren for a long time. This situation heightens the tension of the narrative. Finally Rachel gave birth to Joseph and then Benjamin, key figures in Genesis. In Fariña’s work, an egg-shape signifies life.

A version of this acuarelle is exhibited in the Hotel Raquel in Havana.



José Luis Fariñas

The work of the Cuban-Jewish artist José Luis Fariñas will be featured in this blog. Besides being a friend of mine, José Luis is an internationally-known drawer and aquarellist. His work is complex, highly detailed and often hermetic. His work is influenced by Dürer, Bosch and Rembrandt. Figures from the Old Testament and Kabbalist themes regularly appear in his art.

More about Steve

Stephen Sadow – American. He lives in Boston. He has dedicated his long academic career to seeking the simple in the complex and the complex in the simple. He is keen on free association, metaphor and symbol. He searches for explanations by combining the verifiable and tangible with the imagination. Passionate reader of Cervantes, Borges, Cortázar, and the Cuban poet Juana García Abás. Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass and Lewis Carroll’s Complete Works are always on his night table.