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Library Events

The Library's 2014 - 2015 Fall/Winter Program Catalog is available online.  CatCover

Click here to view the pdf. 

Printed copies will be mailed out in September.
If you are not on our mailing list and wish to receive a copy,  please contact us at 415.567.3327 x 703 or at l This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  with your mailing address. 


Library Art Exhibition


Collages by Mikhail Petrenko: Chagall and Russian Revolutionary Art
— NOVEMBER 23, 2014 

In the 1920s, avant-garde Russian art included two distinct movements: a severe geometric style known as Suprematism, and the poetic vision of artists such as Marc Chagall. Local artist and art critic Mikhail Petrenko explores these two contrasting movements in a series of collages incorporating both geometric and figurative elements. To learn more about Mikhail Petrenko, click here to visit his website.

Illustrated books in Hebrew and Yiddish from the private collection of Henry Hollander enlarge our understanding of this historic period.  For more information about Henry Hollander’s books and services, click here to visit his website.



Jewish LearningWorks’ One Bay One Bookobob1
A project of the Jewish Community Library 

One Bay One Book is a yearlong conversation connecting Bay Area readers through shared discussions and events centering around a single book. Click here for more information about the One Bay One Book project.

The Betrayers by David Bezmozgis is the selection for 2014 - 2015 One Bay One BetrayersBook. This short novel spans one momentous day in the life of Baruch Kotler,a former Soviet Refusenik who has built a new life in Israel as a powerful politician. Fleeing scandal with his young mistress to the Crimea, he unexpectedly comes face to face with the former friend who denounced him to the KGB almost forty years earlier. The Betrayers raises profound questions about the nature of fate and consequence, love and forgiveness.

Book Launch & Opening Program for ONE BAY ONE BOOK 
David Bezmozgis in conversation with ZoetropeAll-Story Editor Michael Ray
At the Jewish Community Center San Franciscobezmozgis1

Program presented by the JCCSF and the Jewish Community Library Tickets can be purchased at the JCCSF box office or click here for the JCCSF website. Jewish Community Library Friends and JCC Members receive 10% discount. Use the code “Friends” when purchasing tickets. Book groups can receive 50% off if booking as a group. Use the code "Friends50" when purchasing tickets for your group.

David Bezmozgis,  Latvian-born writer and filmmaker has explored themes of exile and aspiration through his award-winning collection Natasha and Other Stories and the heartfelt multigenerational saga The Free World

A compact saga of love, duty, family, and sacrifice from a rising star whose fiction is "self-assured, elegant, perceptive . . . and unflinchingly honest."
—New York Times



A Replacement Life
A presentation by Boris FishmanBoris Fishman - ReplacementLife HC c

Boris Fishman’s celebrated debut novel, A Replacement Life , follows Russian-born Slava Gelman, a frustrated young Manhattan writer attempting to distance himself from the rest of his immigrant family in “the swamp broth of Soviet Brooklyn.” When his grandfather asks him to compose a  fraudulent application for German reparations for Holocaust survivors, Slava proceeds on an ethically murky course that will challenge his relationship to his family and past, his romantic choices, and his desire to conform to the rules of American life.

Boris Fishman was born in Minsk in 1979 and immigrated to the United States in 1988. He earned a degree in Russian literature from Boris Fishman credit Rob LiguoriPrinceton University and an MFA infiction from New York University, where he was a New York Times Foundation fellow.  He is the editor of the story collection Wild East: Stories from the Last Frontier. His journalism, essays, and criticism have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The London Review of Books, The Wall Street Journal, and other publications. 

Program made possible, in part, by Marilyn Dobbs Higuera


The Mathematician’s Shiva
A presentation by Stuart RojstaczerStuart cover - Mathematicians Shiva
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 23, 7 P.M.                        

Alexander “Sasha” Karnokovitch and his family would like to mourn the passing of his mother, Rachela, with modesty and dignity. But Rachela, a famous Polish émigré mathematician, is rumored to have solved the million-dollar Navier-Stokes Millennium Prize problem, and spitefully taken the solution to her grave. To Sasha’s chagrin, a motley group of socially challenged mathematicians arrives to crash the shiva, vowing to do whatever it takes to find the solution. With its delightfully quirky characters, Rojstaczer’s comic debut novel captures the American immigrant drive not just to survive, but to solve the impossible.

Stuart Rojstaczer , the son of Polish Jewish immigrants, is a writer, scientist, and musician. Educated in public schools and Hasidic day Stuart  Rojstaczerschools, he received degrees fromthe University of Wisconsin, University of Illinois, and Stanford University, and was a professor of geophysics at Duke University. He has written for The New York Times , Washington Post, and various scientific journals.


 Drop-in Book Club at the Library

 Natasha and Other Stories by David Bezmozgis

Discussion led by Jim Van Buskirk

CLICK HERE for more information about the Library's Drop-in Book Club program.Natasha by David Bezmozgis

Bereft of money or English skills, the Bermans have departed Brezhnev-era Riga to settle in Toronto. Told in the restrained but slyly humorous voice of their son, Mark, these seven stories span two decades, recording the narrator’s growth and the family’s efforts to adjust to their new life and cope with its disappointments.



The Family: Three Journeys into the Heart of the Twentieth CenturyDavid Laskin - The Family

A presentation by David Laskin

Reception for members of the Friends of the Jewish Community Library at 6 pm

In this deeply personal and compelling narrative, David Laskin chronicles how the tide of history affected three branches of his mother’s family during the great Jewish upheavals of the twentieth century: mass immigration to America, the founding of the state of Israel, and the Holocaust.

Beginning in Russia in the mid-1800s with his great-grandfather Shimon Dov HaKohen, a Torah scribe, Laskin traces the movements of his family to the U.S. (where one relative, Ida Rosenthal, founded the Maidenform Bra company), to pre-State Israel, where members of another branch were idealistic pioneers, and to Eastern Europe, where an entire branch of the family perished.
David Laskin photo

David Laskin is the author of The Children’s Blizzard and other books of nonfiction, including The Long Way Home and Partisans. The Family was shortlisted for the 2014 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing. 

Program made possible, in part, by Judy Baston
Co-presented by Lehrhaus Judaica and
the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society


A Tribute to My Teacher Rabbi Simon Krinsky:
His Poetry until 1936
A book launch with presentation by Rabbi Edward Zerin
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 1:30 P.M. with light refreshmentsRabbi Ed Zerin book cover

When Simon Krinsky published his book Faranene un Gevezene (Present and Past) in 1935, Edward Zerin was 15. But it was not until Zerin discovered a copy at the Yiddish Book Center in Massachusetts 75 years later that he came to appreciate how much his teacher had influenced his life.Krinsky was born in Poland and ordained in Palestine. As a rabbi and Hebrew school principal in Wilmington, Delaware, Krinsky was the teacher who guided Zerin to the rabbinate. His writing reflects his sharp sense of social justice and his deep love of Torah.

Rabbi Zerin has translated sixty of the poems from Yiddish to English in a bilingual edition which has recently been released.His Rabbi Ed Zerinpresentation will include an audio recording of Rabbi Krinsky reading his poetry.

Rabbi Edward Zerin grew up in a Yiddish-speaking family in Delaware. He was ordained as a rabbi in 1946, received a doctorate in 1952 from the University of Southern California, and has worked as a college professor, licensed marriage and family therapist, congregational rabbi. Rabbi Zerin is the author of ten books, including Jewish San Francisco.

Program made possible, in part, by Tricia Hellman Gibbs
Co-sponsored by KlezCalifornia and the Workmen’s Circle of Northern California


The Man Who Put the Rainbow in The Wizard of Oz:
A Tribute to Lyricist Yip Harburg
A presentation by Bonnie Weiss
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 1 – 3 P.M.  Yip Harburg stampimage

In honor of the 75th anniversary of the beloved film The Wizard of Oz, Bonnie Weiss presents the life and work of lyricist Yip Harburg. In addition to his famous “Over the Rainbow,” Harburg wrote the lyrics to such classics as “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime,”“It’s Only a Paper Moon,” “April in Paris,” and the Broadway hit musical Finian’s Rainbow. His childhood on the Lower East Side of Manhattan influenced his fight for social justice, as expressed in his lyrics.Weiss will introduce vintage film clips that include renditions of Harbug’s songs by Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Groucho Marx, Audra McDonald, and Harburg himself.

Bonnie Weiss is a theatre educator, writer, and radio and cabaret producer. She teaches musical theatre appreciation at San Francisco Bonnie WeissState University, Dominican University of California, and Santa Clara University. Weiss also writes feature stories for The Sondheim Review and Stage Directions, a national magazine for theatre educators.

Program made possible, in part, by Paul and Shirley Kadden
Co-sponsored by Lehrhaus Judaica
Co-presented by 42nd Street Moon and the 30th Jewish Music Festival


U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum presents 3 minutes in Poland work
Rescuing the Evidence: Three Minutes in Poland
A presentation with archival film clips, by Glenn Kurtz and Leslie Swift

Reception and  book signing will follow the program
Program is free, but RSVP appreciated. To register, click here for the USHMM website.

Traveling in Europe in August 1938, one year before the outbreak of World War II,  David Kurtz, a Jewish immigrant to the U.S., captured on 16 mm color film three minutes of ordinary life in Nasielsk, a small, predominantly Jewish town in Poland. Through the brutal twists of history, these few minutes of home-movie footage became the sole surviving moving images of this town. Seventy-five years later, as part of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's permanent collection, the film serves as a memorial to an entire community that was annihilated in the Holocaust.

Three Minutes in Poland: Discovering a Lost World in a 1938 Home Movie, a book by Glenn Kurtz, traces the author's four-year journey to identify the people in his grandfather’s haunting images. Rarely seen archival footage will be shown during the conversation between the author and Museum film researcher Leslie Swift.

Glenn Kurtz holds a PhD from Stanford University in German studies and comparative literature. He is the author of Practicing: A Musician's Return to Music and Three Minutes in Poland. He is currently on the faculty of New York University's School of Continuing and Professional Studies.

Leslie Swift has worked at theUnited States Holocaust Memorial Museum since 1997 as a reference archivist in the photo archives and presently as film researcher in the film and video archive. She has a Master’s Degree in American studies from George Washington University.

Co-sponsored by the Jewish Community Library and Lehrhaus Judaica
Co-presented by KlezCalifornia, the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society, and Jewish Family and Children’s Services Holocaust Center


Exploring Piyut: The World of Sacred Hebrew Song
A presentation and performance by Yair Harel
Yair Harl 1

Piyutim (Hebrew liturgical poems), chanted for centuries across the Diaspora, have been adapted to different melodies, evolving into a form of “Jewish world music” in Europe, North Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East. This singing tradition, a core component of synagogue practice, has also entered secular life in Israel through public performances, workshops, and arts festivals. Yair Harel, active in the revival and contemporary interpretation of the ancient art of liturgical Hebrew poetry, will perform and teach a selection of these piyutim.

Yair Harel is an Israeli performance artist, artistic director, and community organizer based in Jerusalem. He is an artist in residence at The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, University of California, Berkeley, during the fallof 2014. His residency is supported by the Schusterman Visiting Israeli Artist Program of the Israel Institute.

Program made possible, in part, by Anne Germanacos
Co-presented by the 30th Jewish Music Festival, KlezCalifornia, Congregation Beth Sholom, the Israel Center, and the Israel Education Initiative (IEI) and Integration of the Arts programs of Jewish LearningWorks


Winter Library Art Exhibitions

SNAC- Ash Tree      The Social Network Art Competition (SNAC-expo):
       Thirty Award-winning Contemporary Israeli Artists
       ON DISPLAY: DECEMBER 2   21, 2014

Opening Night Reception: TUESDAY, DECEMBER 2, 6:30 — 9 P.M.
7 P.M. Remarks by Guy Clement Cohen, SNAC-expo founder    Selected from thousands of world-wide online submissions, this exhibition showcases the work of thirty contemporary Israeli artists. SNAC-expo unites artists and art communities through a free, online, curated competition that culminates in an international gallery tour. Each show transcends the narrow boundaries of language and geography. For more information about SNAC-expo click here to visit their website.

reCOVER: Book Bindings by Sasha MosalovSasha Mosalov 1

reCOVER, Sasha Mosalov’s first solo exhibition, illustrates Mosalov’s dedication to the craft of bookmaking and his long-term interest in Jewish imagery and symbolism. They find expression in the unique albums, book covers, and other objects he creates. To learn more about Sasha Mosalov, click here to visit his webiste.


All Library events are

  • Open to everyone
  • FREE, unless noted otherwise
  • Held in the Main Library, unless noted otherwise

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. Free garage parking; entrance on Pierce Street between Ellis and Eddy.

Programs are made possible by the Friends of the Jewish Community Library.