Lilly Rivlin is grateful for Charney Bromberg’s editorial comments (at bottom of this post).
Art D’Lugoff was one of a kind that could only probably have happened in America. There are very few left of his ilk: a universalist/Yiddishist/Zionist.
Our connection harked back to Jerusalem. He came from the Mandelbaum family as in Mandelbaum Gate, which was a border crossing after 1948. I’m not sure whether we were actually related but he called me his cousin and I liked that. Art served on the Meretz USA Board for a full term.
Art’s connection to Israel was lifelong, through his family and by marriage to Avital, a vivacious sabra who proved to be an excellent match for Art, known to the world as the owner of the The Village Gate nightclub, located in the heart of the Village near the corner of Bleecker and Thompson Streets. He booked such jazz performers as Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Billie Holiday and Duke Ellington. The club also featured comedy, and among the famous comedians who performed there, way before they became famous, were Bill Cosby, Woody Allen and Mort Sahl.
In 1994 Art sold the club, but in the next few years he tried to start another Village Gate on the Upper Westside but it didn’t take. Times had changed. Art threw his ever burning passion into building a jazz museum, but he couldn’t raise the funds. Art was approached by a documentary filmmaker to be the subject of a biography. He was excited about this. I spoke to him at the beginning of the week, the funding was in place. Art was elated. We planned to attend Theo Bikel’s Shalom Aleichem performance next week. On Wednesday he died.
Art was a man for all seasons. — Lilly Rivlin
Charney Bromberg (the immediate past executive director of Meretz USA) adds:
Art was a passionate member of the Meretz USA Board. Truth be told, lending us his good name was one of his major contributions to our organization – he had many, many commitments – but his heart was with our camp always. As in all things, Art was on the cutting edge in his beliefs about what Israel could and should be. He found the sweet spot at the intersection between culture and politics – Israeli and American – and gave it life.