jcl-events

To download the Library's catalog of events for spring/summer 2017, click here.
To request a copy in the mail, please email Andy at
amuchin@jewishlearningworks.org or call 415-567-3327 x 703. Click here to sign up for the Library's e-newsletter, with news of upcoming programs, community events, and new titles.

All events take place at the Jewish Community Library, 1835 Ellis Street in San Francisco, unless indicated. Free garage parking is available on Pierce between Ellis and Eddy (click here for a map).


Artist's Reception for Tree Diaries: Writing with a Knife

THURSDAY, APRIL 27, 7 P.M. / EXHIBIT ON DISPLAY THROUGH AUGUST 27

Memory is the source of Jewish self-knowledge and renewal, but is history lost to us if it remains unrecorded? Our stories must be cherished and preserved if they are to sustain us in the present. Trees, long seen as models of steadfast strength and endurance, bear silent witness to the past. In this exhibition of work by Jane Rice, imaginary diaries give voice to the trees’ silence. Their eloquent words and organic beauty awaken us to a deeper appreciation of the role of stories in our own lives.

Jane Rice is a San Francisco artist and poet. Her hand-made books have been exhibited at the Mendocino Art Center, the Marin Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Jewish Community Library, and her collection of poems, Portrait Sitters, was printed in a limited edition by Propolis Press.


Jewish Labor Songs: A Concert and Sing-Along

SUNDAY, APRIL 30, 1:30 P.M.

With International Labor Day (May 1) around the corner, Oakland-based singer Gerry Tenney will perform and lead a sing-along of rousing and poignant Jewish labor songs, many of them in Yiddish. From the
sweatshop poet Morris Rosenfeld, whose 1911 poem Mayn Rue Platz (My Resting Place) has become a classic labor song, to tunes popularized by labor troubadour Joe Glazer, American and European Jewish singers and songwriters have been at the forefront of music supporting the working class.

Renee Enteen, president of the Jewish Folk Chorus of San Francisco, will highlight the history of the three Yiddish workers’ choruses that have operated in the Bay Area — in Oakland, Petaluma, and San Francisco
— and display photographs and historical programs.

Gerry Tenney is a musician, recording artist, children’s entertainer, leader of the bands California Klezmer and The Lost Tribe, and president of KlezCalifornia, a Bay Area organization supporting Yiddish culture. He directed the local Jewish Music Festival in its early years and organized the first klezmer camp in California. He composed music for Rebels with a Cause, a 2000 documentary film about the activist student organization Students for a Democratic Society.

Program made possible, in part, by Judy Baston. Co-presented by the Jewish Folk Chorus of San Francisco, KlezCalifornia, and the Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring of Northern California.


Under the Wings of Rafa’el: A Healing Journey

THURSDAY, MAY 4, 7 P.M.

Cantor, singer, composer, Reiki practitioner, and life coach Sharon Bernstein has written Under the Wings of Rafa’el, a healing journey of prayers, chants, meditations, explorations, and creative exercises. Designed for people at different stages of healing, this book and companion recording combine traditional Jewish texts with experiential approaches to offer support and sustenance for healing. In her presentation, Bernstein will discuss the creation of this healing journey as well as her experiential relationship with liturgy and prayer, and share some of the music from the CD.

Cantor Sharon Bernstein has been building prayer experiences for two decades, incorporating musical expressions from around the world, developing new rituals, and writing music for liturgy and Yiddish poems. A graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary, she serves as cantor for Congregation Sha’ar Zahav in San Francisco

Program made possible, in part, by Carla Ruff in memory of Dr. Robert T. Mendle. Co-presented by Congregation Sha'ar Zahav.


Genealogy Clinic

SUNDAY, MAY 7, 12 P.M.

Whether you're trying to find your great-grandmother's elusive hometown or your grandfather's passenger manifest, take advantage of the Library's extensive reference collection and Internet connection to countless searchable databases -- all with guidance from a roundtable of experienced genealogists from the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society. Bring your materials and questions to the Library. Registration requested. Call 415.567.3327 x 704.


Uncovering Family Secrets: A Panel Discussion

THURSDAY, MAY 11, 7 P.M.

The novel Moonglow is structured around the outpouring of untold family stories, and many people encounter stories that long went untold in their own families. What are these stories? Why were they
withheld? How were they discovered? What have they meant to the people who discovered them? oin panelists Judy Baston, Wendy Beck, and Mani Feniger, who learned a family secret that had a life-changing impact on how they saw themselves. There will also be time for audience members to share their own stories in this interactive evening.

Moderator Jim Van Buskirk is the Library’s Drop-In Book Club facilitator and possessor of his own family secret. He is the co-author with Susan Stryker of Gay by the Bay: A History of Queer Culture in the San Francisco Bay Area, and co-author with Will Shank of Celluloid San Francisco. He has also co-edited two anthologies: Identity Envy: Wanting to Be Who We’re Not and Love, Castro Street.


ONE BAY ONE BOOK CULMINATING EVENT

Michael Chabon: In Conversation

SUNDAY, MAY 21, 3 P.M.

A reception follows the presentation.

Award-winning author Michael Chabon will discuss his new novel, Moonglow, with  writer Dan Schifrin. Moonglow is the LIbrary's One Bay One Book selection this year. The novel unfolds as the deathbed confession of the narrator’s grandfather, whose tongue has been loosened by painkillers and whose memory has been by stirred by the imminence of death. From the Jewish slums of prewar South Philadelphia to the American invasion of Germany to the heyday of the space program, the novel revisits an entire era through a single life and collapses a lifetime into a single week. A work of fictional autobiography, Moonglow, above all, is about the destructive impact and the creative power of keeping secrets and telling lies.

Michael Chabon is a short story writer, screenwriter and essayist in addition to being a novelist. His novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2001. His other books include Wonder BoysThe Final Solution, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, Maps & Legends, Gentlemen of the Road, and Telegraph Avenue.

Dan Schifrin is a writer, teacher, and creativity consultant living in Berkeley. His essays and fiction have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, McSweeney’s, em, Jet Fuel Review, Transfer, Sequestrum, and other publications.


Film Class: Immigrant Jews on the Silent Screen

THURSDAY, MAY 25, 7 P.M.

We will look at a variety of clips and shorts that demonstrate some of the ways immigrant Jews were represented in films of the silent era, ranging from admiring portraits to prejudiced caricatures.

As the centrality of immigration in American history and identity has been at the forefront in recent months, we will examine films made during an era when most American Jews were immigrants themselves or the children of immigrants.

Taught by Library Director Howard Freedman. Films will be shown in video projection.


Genealogy Clinic

SUNDAY, JUNE 4, 12 P.M.

Whether you're trying to find your great-grandmother's elusive hometown or your grandfather's passenger manifest, take advantage of the Library's extensive reference collection and Internet connection to countless searchable databases -- all with guidance from a roundtable of experienced genealogists from the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society. Bring your materials and questions to the Library. Registration requested. Call 415.567.3327 x 704.


Musical Tribute to Howard Freedman plus Friends of the Library Annual Meeting

THURSDAY, JUNE 8, 6:30 P.M. RECEPTION AND ANNUAL MEETING, 7 P.M. CONCERT

We hope you will join us for a special musical tribute to Jewish Community Library Director Howard Freedman. Leading Bay Area Jewish singers will perform at this memorable event. The occasion will offer opportunities to personally thank Howard for his years of dedication to the community.

This is also an opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to the Library’s future and Howard’s leadership by making a tax-deductible donation to the Library. Please call 415.567.3327 x 703 during regular Library hours, or make a secure donation online at www.friendsofthejcl.org.

Donations to the Friends of the Jewish Community Library in honor of Howard will be
listed on the Friends’ website. A contribution to the Library in Howard’s name is a most
appropriate way to recognize his 25 years of devotion to Jewish learning.


Drop-In Book Club: 'The Life Before Us' by Romain Gary

SUNDAY, JUNE 11, 2 P.M.

Momo, an orphaned Arab teen, is taking care of his ailing surrogate mother, Madame Rosa, an Auschwitz survivor and former lady of the night. He narrates his life in a Paris slum, a world filled with pimps, prostitutes and witch doctors. This moving story won the Prix Goncourt, France’s premier literary prize, and was the basis for Madame Rosa, a 1977 film. 

Book discussion facilitated by Jim Van Buskirk. Pick up a copy of the book at the Library or at a Pushcart branch at the Palo Alto or San Francisco JCC.


Film: 'The Broken Sound'

THURSDAY, JUNE 15, 7 P.M.

Spearheaded by Alan Bern of the band Brave Old World, the Other Europeans project was a collaborative effort of fourteen lăutari (professional Roma musicians) and klezmer musicians from eight countries who came together to study and perform the interconnected musical traditions of the Jewish and Roma communities of Bessarabia.  This documentary film, shot over two years in Moldova, Hungary, Israel, Germany, and the United States, follows the musicians as they explore Roma and Jewish musical traditions, develop relationships across national and cultural boundaries, and perform extraordinary music. 2012, 125 minutes, in English, German, Yiddish, and Romanian with English subtitles. The film will be shown in video projection.

Co-presented by KlezCalifornia, Lehrhaus Judaica, and the Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring of Northern California.


Film Class: 'The Jazz Singer'

THURSDAY, JUNE 22, 7 P.M.

In the film that marked the transition from silent films to talkies (although it is largely silent), Al Jolson stars as Jakie Rabinowitz, a gifted singer whose desire to perform popular music conflicts with his father’s expectation that he become a cantor. Following Rabinowitz as he anglicizes his name, adopts blackface for his performances, and struggles with his family and tradition, this film would be the most explicit cinematic representation of a Jewish identity crisis for decades. 1927, 89 minutes, in English.


As the centrality of immigration in American history and identity has been at the forefront in recent months, we will examine films made during an era when most American Jews were immigrants themselves or the children of immigrants.

Taught by Library Director Howard Freedman. Films will be shown in video projection.


Drop-In Book Club: Roz Chast's graphic memoir

SUNDAY, JULY 9, 2 P.M.

The New Yorker cartoonist describes the last several years of her aging parents’ lives, told through colorful cartoons and family photos in the graphic memoir Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? With her signature wit she offers laughs, tears, comfort and profound insight. “By turns grim and absurd, deeply poignant and laugh-out-loud funny,” writes The New York Times.

Book discussion facilitated by Jim Van Buskirk. Pick up a copy of the book at the Library or at a Pushcart branch at the Palo Alto or San Francisco JCC.


Film Class: 'Counsellor-At-Law'

THURSDAY, JULY 20, 7 P.M.

In an unlikely bit of casting reflecting the studios’ distaste for Jewish actors playing Jewish roles, John Barrymore portrays a Jewish immigrant who has risen from the East Side slums to a high-powered law practice, but suddenly faces the possible collapse of both his career and his marriage. William Wyler directed this engaging portrait of a man caught between his roots and his aspirations, between the law and the real world’s slippery ethics. 1933, 82 minutes, in English.

As the centrality of immigration in American history and identity has been at the forefront in recent months, we will examine films made during an era when most American Jews were immigrants themselves or the children of immigrants.

Taught by Library Director Howard Freedman. Films will be shown in video projection.