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).

On Exhibition: Paintings by Shalom Flash


Flash, of Rehovot, Israel, regularly paints landscapes and city scapes of his native land as well the Bay Area on his frequent visits. He paints in the plein air style, meaning that he works on-site using natural light, seeking to portray a scene in natural hues. This exhibit offers a sampling of these realist scenes in varying media and sizes. 

Flash explains that "painting within realistic constraints is what gives one real freedom, i.e., the possibility to go to extremes. It is not an arbitrary freedom, but a freedom that gives joy."

View of San Francisco (c)  by Shalom Flash.

View of San Francisco (c)  by Shalom Flash.

Born on Kibbut Shfayim, Israel, Flash studied electronics, then shifted to fine arts, studying in London, Israel and Boston. His artwork has been displayed in Paris, Toronto, Boston, and throughout Israel.

The exhibit runs through April 23, 2017.


ONE BAY ONE BOOK

When Is a Story True? With Joel ben Izzy & Andrew Ramer

THURSDAY, MARCH 23, 7 P.M.

Michael Chabon’s novel Moonglow presents as a memoir, but how much of the book is actually true? And even if an unknowable number of plot points is invented, is there a bigger truth to be told in this award-winning novel? In this One Bay One Book event, two Bay Area authors and storytellers will explore these and other questions in a program that will include readings from their new books.

Joel ben Izzy has told stories and led workshops in thirty-five countries, has produced six recorded collections of his stories, and works as a story consultant to organizations and individuals who seek to better the world. He is author of the memoir The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness, which is published in seventeen languages, and the middle-grade novel Dreidels on the Brain, a 2016 National Jewish Book Award finalist.

Andrew Ramer is an ordained maggid (sacred storyteller) and the author of numerous books and articles including Queering the Text: Biblical, Medieval, and Modern Jewish Stories. A liturgy writer, a number of his prayers and poems appear in the siddur of Congregation Sha'ar Zahav. His new book, Torah Told Different, expands on midrash (Jewish legends based on biblical text) and invents additional Jewish texts from which spring new midrash.


A Polish Journey to Yiddish Language and Culture: Presented by Agnieszka Ilwicka

SUNDAY, MARCH 26, 1:30 P.M.

Polish-born Yiddishist Agnieszka Ilwicka will reflect on her work with the last native Yiddish speakers in Poland and her teaching of the language at the University of Wroclaw, Poland. She has studied and advanced Jewish culture in Poland in conjunction with the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life & Culture, San Francisco, and the National Yiddish Book Center,  Amherst, Mass.

Ilwicka began learning Yiddish as an undergraduate at the University of Wroclaw, Poland, and she has continued her study of the language in Vilnius, Paris, London, and New York.  She holds a master’s degree in Polish philology and history, specializing in Jewish studies, from the University of Wroclaw. She was a student in Jewish studies at the University of Southampton, England, where she has worked with the archive of Yiddish manuscripts in the Hartley Library and with the Yiddish Book Collection atUniversity College in London.  


Beyond Books Concert:

Anthony Russell Sings 'Convergence'

THURSDAY, MARCH 30, 7 P.M.

RECEPTION BEGINS AT 6:30 P.M.

Bass singer Anthony Mordechai Tzvi Russell, accompanied by piano, will perform music from Convergence, his soon-to-be-released album melding diverse strains of traditional Ashkenazi Jewish and African American music at their spiritual, historical, and textual crossroads. He also will speak about the development of the project.

Proceeds from the concert benefit the Friends of the Jewish Community Library's Beyond Books Fund, which underwrites the Library's free public programming.

The musical sources for Convergence are diverse: Chasidic melodies, Negro spirituals, Yiddish labor union songs, Civil Rights anthems, Israeli folk songs and traditional Ashkenazi synagogue music. The arrangements bear elements of contemporary classical, jazz, blues, gospel, klezmer, cantorial, and experimental music.

Anthony Russell is a vocalist, composer and arranger specializing in Yiddish art and folk song, chazones (cantorial music), and Chasidic melodies. He recorded Convergence, exploring themes of exile, spirituality, hope and redemption, with the klezmer trio Veretski Pass. Russell has performed Jewish music in Berkeley, Boston, Miami, Montreal, New York, San Francisco, Tel Aviv, and the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.


Genealogy Clinic

SUNDAY, APRIL 2, 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.


Zionism in Theory and Practice: An Author in 1948 Israel

THURSDAY, APRIL 4, 7 P.M.

Local attorney, activist, and scholar Ephraim Margolin will speak about his new book, "Philosophy of Early Zionism," a collection of essays based on a lecture series he presented in 2016 at Congregation Beth Sholom, San Francisco. Margolin analyzes the various expressions of Zionism: from biblical to political, from cultural to modern religious, from spiritual to nationalist, and follows the development of modern Hebrew as the unifier among early Zionists.

Ephraim Margolin also reflects on his “ordinary life”: he was born in Poland; raised in Tel Aviv (where one of his house guests was a young Polish refugee named Menachem Begin); served in Israel’s War for Independence first with the Palmach, then as the Irgun’s secret radio announcer; and has taught and practiced law in the Bay Area, served as president of the San Francisco Jewish Community Council, and provided free legal service to Israelis.

Program made possible, in part, by Chen and Rebekah Sapirstein.
Co-presented by Berkeley Hadassah and Congregation Beth Sholom.


ONE BAY ONE BOOK

Why Jews Love the Moon

THURSDAY, APRIL 6, 7 P.M.

The Jewish connection to the moon is deep and longstanding. Modern Jews continue to be affected by moon rituals, the lunar-solar calendar, and blessings such as Kiddush Ha-Levanah (Sanctification of the Moon). In this ONE BAY ONE BOOK event, Rabbi Sydney Mintz will explore the ancient lunar-Jewish connection that began in the land of Israel and continues to the Bay Area. 

Sydney Mintz is a rabbi at Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco, where she has served since her ordination in 1997. She is a senior rabbinic fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, and serves on the national board of Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice, and as a rabbinic scholar for American Jewish World Service. She also is a member of the US State Department’s Working Group on Religion and Social Justice.


An Afternoon with Naomi Newman and Her Characters

SUNDAY, APRIL 9, 1:30 P.M.

Acclaimed Bay Area actress Naomi Newman will perform monologues featuring characters that have populated her stage work over the decades. They include Rifka, an Eastern European Jewish mother, and The Hag, a wise old street crone, both from the play "Snake Talk: Urgent Messages from The Mother." She’ll also discuss her career and answer questions from the audience.

Naomi Newman co-founded of A Traveling Jewish Theatre, where she worked as playwright, director, and actress for thirty-four years, winning awards in each field. Previously, she sang on the concert-stage, acted in television and had a psychotherapy practice. For her contributions to the cultural life in the Bay Area, she has received a Tikkun Award, Mill Valley Creative Achievement Award, and Theatre Bay Area’s Community Leadership Award. A book containing an oral history of her life and career is part of the Legacy Collection of the San Francisco Performing Arts Museum.


Jews in Science Fiction: It’s Not a Fantasy

THURSDAY, APRIL 20, 7 P.M.

Jewish writers, including many from the Bay Area, are responsible for some of the most entertaining and mind-bending stories, books, and scripts written in the genres of science fiction and fantasy. Who are these local writers, and how do they apply Jewish ideas and themes to their work? Jacob Weisman, editor and publisher at Tachyon Publications, a San Francisco-based publisher of science fiction, fantasy, and literary fiction, will speak about writers including Peter S. Beagle, Avram Davidson, Lisa Goldstein, Robert Silverberg, and Richard A. Lupoff. He’ll also answer questions about publishing.

Jacob Weisman founded Tachyon Publications in 1995. He has been nominated for the World Fantasy Award three times and is the series editor of Tachyon’s multi-award-winning novella line. His writing has appeared in The Nation, Realms of Fantasy, the Louisville Courier-Journal, The Seattle Weekly, and The Cooper Point Journal. He is the editor of The Treasury of the Fantastic (with David Sandner), The Sword & Sorcery Anthology (with David G. Hartwell), and Invaders: 22 Stories from the Outer Limits of Literature. His latest anthology, The New Voices in Fantasy, co-edited with Peter S. Beagle, will be published this year.


Jews, Muslims, and North African Music in the Twentieth Century

SUNDAY, APRIL 23, 1:30 P.M.

For much of the twentieth century, Jewish musicians came to dominate the Arabic-language music scene in Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. Their repertoire was at once conservative and innovative, folkloric and popular, and sacred and scandalous. Much of that music remains embedded in North African popular imagination. Utilizing rare documents, photos, and recordings, Chris Silver will revisit North Africa’s Jewish superstars of yesteryear and explore their enduring impact.

Chris Silver is a Ph.D. candidate in the history department at UCLA. His dissertation explores the outsized role played by Jewish music-makers and music-purveyors in shaping North African culture in the twentieth century. He has contributed to or been featured on outlets as diverse as Afropop Worldwide, Vox Tablet, Dublab, and NPR. Silver writes the blog Jewish Maghrib Jukebox (jewishmorocco.blogspot.com) featuring rare 33 and 78 rpm recordings of North African Jewish music, and tweets at @JewishMorocco.


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? Join panelists 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.