The Jewish Community Library is located at 1835 Ellis Street, San Francisco, 94115; between Scott and Pierce on the campus of the Jewish Community High School.
Each season, the Library presents engaging cultural and literary events.
To access our 2013 Spring/Summer Program Catalog, click here.
All events are
- Open to everyone
- Held in the Main Library, unless noted otherwise
Programs are made possible by the Friends of the Jewish Community Library and Keren Keshet - the Rainbow Foundation. The Jewish Community Library is a member of the Jewish Book Network, coordinated by the Jewish Book Council.
HANDLE WITH CARE: A PORTABLE CULTURE
On display through August 4.
The first Jewish food was take-out, and the first Jewish art had handles! When the Israelites slung kneading troughs with unleavened dough over their shoulders in their hurry to leaveEgypt, and equipped their first sanctuary vessels with carrying poles, they invented a portable culture. Journey is a fundamental element of the Jewish experience. Text and tradition have traveled the length and breadth of the Diaspora without losing their essential identities, but how were they carried? For this exhibition, local artists were invited to imagine how culture can be made portable not only out of necessity but also by design. Exhibition curated by Elayne Grossbard.
FILM CLASS: Assimilation and Its Discontents
With America’s ethnic minorities experiencing a revival of interest in their roots, the 1970s ushered a change in the presentation of the Jewish experience in American cinema. Jewish filmmakers began to look back to a past where the experience of assimilation could be examined critically. We will explore two films from this era of that depict the choices faced by Eastern European Jewish immigrants to America.Taught by Library Director Howard Freedman. Films will be shown in video projection.
Hester Street (1975)
Thursday, May 30 at 7 pm
Recently selected for the National Film Registry, Joan Micklin Silver’s low budget black-and-white adaptation of Abraham Cahan’s 1896 novella, Yekl, was a landmark in independent cinema, as well as in women’s and Jewish filmmaking. Portrayed by Carol Kane in an Oscar- nominated performance, Gitl arrives in New York with her young son to join her husband, Jake, who has established himself in the Lower East Side. Their relationship is tested as Jake embraces a new American identity, discarding the values of the Old World. 90 minutes, in English and in Yiddish with English subtitles.
The Chosen (1981)
Thursday, June 27 at 7 pm
Jeremy Kagan’s adaptation of Chaim Potok’s 1967 novel follows two Brooklyn boys from different worlds who strike an unlikely friendship in the mid-1940s. Hasidic Danny has been chosen by his stern father to follow in his footsteps as his community’s rebbe, but he yearns to discover the world for himself. Modern Orthodox Reuven is drawn to Danny’s large close-knit clan, but Danny’s father is deeply opposed to Reuven’s widowed father’s Zionism and promotion of non-traditional study. Struggling to make sense of who they are and who their fathers want them to be, the two boys navigate between tradition and modernity, empathy and misunderstanding. 108 minutes, in English.
Help with Your Family Tree: Brainstorming with the Mavens
Sunday , JUNE 2
Whether you're trying to find your great-grandmother's elusive town or your grandfather's passenger manifest, take advantage of the Library's extensive reference collection and Internet connection to countless searchable databases - all with one-on-one guidance from experienced genealogists. Longtime Library volunteer staffer Judy Baston and other veteran researchers from the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society begin with a brainstorming and problem-solving roundtable, followed by individual attention using the Library's resources. Bring your materials and your questions to the Library.
Registration requested but not required; call (415) 567-3327 x 704.
Di Gantse Velt Iz Mayn: The Sidor Belarsky Songbook
A presentation by Anthony (Mordechai Tzvi) Russell
Thursday, June 6 at 7 pm
African-American by birth and Jewish by choice, Anthony (Mordechai Tzvi) Russell is a fresh new voice in the contemporary Yiddish music scene. Having trained and performed as an operatic bass, Russell has more recently discovered in Yiddish art song an ideal canvas for the expression of his own multifaceted identity.
Russell has immersed himself in the recital repertoire of Ukrainian-born Sidor Belarsky (1898-1975), one of the most celebrated and prolific performers of cantorial music, Hassidic nigunim, and Yiddish folk songs (and best known to many from the soundtrack to the film A Serious Man). Striving in his interpretations to “embody the aspirations, desires, and struggles of one diaspora culture enriched with the colors and experiences of another,” Russell gives new life to an oft-neglected repertoire.
Anthony (Mordechai Tzvi) Russell made his professional debut with the San Francisco Opera in the world premiere of Philip Glass’s opera Appomattox. He has performed his Yiddish repertoire at the Ashkenaz Festival in Toronto, the JCC in Manhattan, and Central Park Summerstage.
Program made possible, in part, by Mike Zimmerman. Co-presented by Be’chol Lashon (In Every Tongue), 28th Jewish Music Festival, KlezCalifornia, and the Workmen’s Circle/ Arbeter Ring of Northern California
Black Over White
A film by Tomer Heymann
TUESDAY, JUNE 11 at 7 P.M.
For his film Black Over White,Tomer Heymann followed the popular Israeli world-beat band The Idan Raichel Project on their 2006 concert tour to Ethiopia and emerged with a documentary that rollicks and rocks. The film, part lighthearted road trip, part examination of multiculturalism in Israel, is a close-up ride with the young Israeli-Ethiopian-Yemenite band members, who muse on the loss of their heritage and on their excitement as tourists embracing roots in Africa.
Black Over White deftly explores the musicians’ cultural ambivalence and their experience of racism back home in Israel. The culminating concert— a fusion of Middle Eastern multiethnic grooves— is a success and emotional high point, but for the band members the meaning of home remains elusive.
49 minutes, in Hebrew with English subtitles. Film shown in video projection.
The Life and Comedy of Allan Sherman
A presentation by Mark Cohen
Thursday, June 13 at 7 pm
“Hello Muddah, hello Fadduh, here I am at Camp Granada....” Allan Sherman’s familiar lyrics from his many novelty songs secured him a permanent place in American comedy. Called the Larry David of 1963, Sherman led Jewish humor out of ethnic enclaves and into the mainstream with his hit recordings: My Son, the Folk Singer; My Son, the Celebrity; andMy Son, the Nut.
On the 50th anniversary of Sherman’s albums going gold, Mark Cohen, author of the new biography Overweight Sensation: The Life and Comedy of Allan Sherman, presents Sherman’s famous spoofs in the context of their surprising success and the parodist’s complicated life. Cohen will include Sherman’s lost Jewish parodies, including “There Is Nothing Like a Lox,” “Seventy-six Sol Cohens,” and “On the Streets Where Jews Live.”
Mark Cohen is a writer and speaker specializing in the Jewish American scene. His previous books include Missing a Beat: The Rants and Regrets of Seymour Krim and Last Century of a Sephardic Community. His articles have appeared in such publications as the Forward, American Jewish History, Saul Bellow Journal, Modern Judaism, History of Photography, and Midstream.
To see our past season of events, click here for the fall 2012 program catalogue.