Vanessa Hidary: Strong words for a good cause

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PITTSFIELD — Nationally acclaimed spoken word artist Vanessa Hidary will perform on Friday, July 8, at Mr. Finn's Cabaret to support The Berkshire Eagle's Newspapers in Education program.

Hidary's work compassionately pierces the often segregated worlds of religion and race. She offers her audiences a sharp social critique wrapped in an invitation, simultaneously entertaining and thought-provoking.

Her performance, which begins at 9 p.m., will include "poems, short stories and monologues that focus on Jewish identities and women's issues," Hidary said in a recent interview. Her work poses questions about assumptions that are associated with ethnicity, religion and race.

Her current work, on the show "KALEIDOSCOPE: What Does Jewish Look Like To You?" which she developed and continues to direct, "focuses on diversity in the Jewish community, giving voice to Sephardic and Jews of color," she said.

She has appeared on HBO's "Russell Simmons Presents: Def Poetry Jam" and in the award-winning film "The Tribe." Her popular poem, "The Hebrew Mamita," went viral, garnering over half a million YouTube hits, igniting widespread discussion among Jews and non Jews alike regarding the subject of identity.

Hidary grew up in Manhattan, attended the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of the Arts and spent summers at her family's house in Becket, Mass., where she said she often walked to the general store.

In addition to her performance on Friday, she will be in the Berkshires meeting with major donors of the Jewish Federation of the Berkshires on Sunday to support that organization's philanthropy in the region.

Learn more about Hidary at vanessahidary.weebly.com.

IF YOU GO ...

What: Vanessa Hidary "The Hebrew Mamita"

When: 9 p.m., Friday, July 8

Where: Mr. Finn's Cabaret, 36 Linden St., Pittsfield, Mass.

Cost: $10, pre-order tickets by calling 413- 496-6310 or email glavariere@berkshireeagle.com

Newspapers in Education is a program that provides newspapers to local classrooms and supports teachers as they incorporate the news into the curriculum. In response to program surveys:

• 94 percent of the teachers said the newspaper in the classroom increased their students knowledge of the world,

• 78 percent reported the newspapers improved their pupils' vocabulary,

• 73 percent said it helped develop comprehensive skills,

• 72 percent said it helped critical thinking skills, and

• 70 percent credited the newspaper with increasing students' interest in reading.

To learn more about Newspapers in Education, visit: nieonline.com/neni


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