Lectures from the Center for Jewish Life and Learning
Below you will find information about all of our visiting authors and distinguished speakers. Click here to jump to information about our Schmooze with the Author series. If you'd like more information about any of these events, please contact Jenessa at 408.357.7411 or email@example.com.
The JCC's Visiting Authors and Distinguished Speakers Series
The Distinguished Scholars Series is back for another year of incredible discussions. Each month, come and hear from some of the most amazing minds of our times. We've lined up a season of one-of-a-kind events featuring big names and buzzed-about newcomers.
All lectures listed below are $5 for JCC members and $7 for non-members, unless otherwise noted. For more information, contact Jenessa Schwartz, the JCC's Director of Jewish Life and Learning, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 408.357.7411.
Anita Diamant, author of The Red Tent
Thursday, February 20th | 7:00pm
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Join us for an evening of conversation with author Anita Diamant. Best known perhaps for her debut novel The Red Tent, Diamant is also the author of three other novels and six works of non-fiction.
Diamant’s first book was The New Jewish Wedding. Written in the year following her own wedding, Diamant’s handbook combined a contemporary sensibility, respect for tradition, and a welcoming prose style. She followed the wedding book with five more guidebooks to Jewish life and life cycle events: The New Jewish Baby Book, Living a Jewish Life: Jewish Traditions, Customs and Values for Today’s Families, Choosing a Jewish Life: A Handbook for People Converting to Judaism and for Their Family and Friends
In 1997, Diamant published her first work of fiction, The Red Tent, inspired by a few lines from Genesis. The book became a word-of-mouth bestseller thanks to reader recommendations, book groups, and support from independent bookstores. Diamant’s second novel, Good Harbor, is a contemporary story that also explores the importance of women’s friendships as a source of strength and happiness. With The Last Days of Dogtown, she returned to historical fiction. Set on Cape Ann in the early 1800s, The novel describes life in a poor, rural community inhabited by widows, spinsters and other marginal women, freed Africans, and orphan children. Her newest novel, Day After Night, returns to the land of Israel to tell the stories of women who lived through the Holocaust and await the future in a British internment camp. It is a story of loss, hope and courage set in the days before the founding of the state of Israel.
In recent years, Diamant spearheaded the creation of a new kind of resource for Jewish renewal. Click here to read more about Mayyim Hayyim: Living Waters Community Mikveh.
To read about what’s on Anita's mind right now, visit Anita Diamant’s Blog.
Two Religions, One Family, A Million Questions
A Panel Discussion at Temple Emanu-El
Wednesday, March 19th | 7:00pm
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Susan Katz Miller, author of Being Both: Embracing Two Religions in One Interfaith Family
Jon M Sweeny and Michal Woll, authors of Mixed-Up Love: Relationships, Family, and Religious Identity in the 21st Century
As interfaith marriage becomes more and more common, the Jewish community as a whole has been faced with some tough questions. Join us for an extremely interesting and timely panel discussion on this sensitive subject. Panel will include the authors of Being Both and Mixed-Up Love as well as Rabbis from our local Jewish community.
Film Screening and Discussion
Making Light in Terezin by Richard Krevolin
Saturday, April 19th | 7:00pm
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If you have ever been touched, or had your life changed, by a song, film, book or performance, you inherently understand the transformative power of the arts. In Making Light in Terezin, a new film and book, Richard Krevolin reveals the true story of how, in WWII’s darkest days, prisoners in the Terezin ghetto (outside of Prague) maintained their humanity, made light, and found a mechanism for survival through theater, song, dance and laughter. Making Light in Terezin follows a modern day Minnesota theater group as they travel to Terezin to perform a cabaret piece originally created and enacted there during WWII. Weaving together interviews with performers, Holocaust survivors and scholars discussing Jewish humor, Jewish history and more, it tells a story not only of survival but also the triumph of a culture, artistic expression, and the human spirit. Both the film and the book, co-written with Nancy Cohen, celebrate the indomitable creative spirit that was alive—and helped save lives—in 1943.
Richard Krevolin (Film Writer/Director/Producer & Book Co-Author) – In addition to creating Making Light in Terezin, his first documentary, and its companion book, Making Light in Terezin: The Show Helps Us Go On, he is also the author of several best-selling non-fiction books on writing and novels. He lectures on storytelling, film and writing around the world.
Nancy Cohen (Co-Author) – Editor of Natural Awakenings magazine in Connecticut, Nancy Cohen is also a freelance writer and editor and a member of the Journalism & Women Symposium.
Renowned Journalist Harry Rosenfeld
Thursday, May 22nd | 7:00pm
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How does one boy from a Polish family of furriers and tailors become an editor at two of the greatest American newspapers in the twentieth century and a key figure in overseeing the breaking of the Watergate scandal?
In From Kristallnacht to Watergate, Harry Rosenfeld traces his ambition to become a journalist back to his childhood in Hitler’s Berlin. He saw his father taken away by the Gestapo in the middle of the night and witnessed the burning of his synagogue on Kristallnacht. When his family escaped to America, Rosenfeld felt a responsibility to ensure that what had happened in Nazi Germany could not happen here. “Looking back,” he writes, “I discerned a theme underpinning much of my journalistic labors: holding to account the accountable, the more powerful the better.”
It was this lifelong endeavor for accountability that led Rosenfeld to demand standard-setting coverage during his years as an editor at the New York Herald Tribune and the Washington Post, earning the Post the Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal for Public Service. Rosenfeld reminds us why journalism matters, and why good journalism is essential to our democracy.
Harry Rosenfeld is Editor-at-Large and a consultant at the Albany Times Union. He is also a member of the newspaper’s editorial board. He lives in Albany, New York.
Schmooze with the Author: the JCC's Book Club . . . with a twist
Are you left with burning questions after finishing a good book? Ever wish you could pick the author's brain? Now is your chance! Read these amazing new books and then come and schmooze with the author! All our authors this year are local to the Bay Area: Michael Lavigne, author of The Wanting, Jason Friedman, author of Fire Year, and Helene Wecker, author of The Golem and the Jinni.
All Schmooze events are at the APJCC unless otherwise noted. Events are FREE! For more info or to RSVP, please contact Jenessa at 408.357.7411 or email@example.com.
Helene Wecker, The Golem and the Jinni
Tuesday, October 15th | 7:00pm
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An immigrant tale that combines elements of Jewish and Arab folk mythology, The Golem and the Jinni tells the story of two supernatural creatures who arrive separately in New York in 1899. The woman is a golem created out of clay in Poland by an aged dabbler in the dark Kabbalistic arts to be the wife of a man who then dies at sea, leaving her unmoored and adrift as the ship comes into New York harbor; the man is a jinni, a being of fire, who is trapped by a Bedouin wizard in a copper flask and released accidentally by a Syrian tinsmith in Lower Manhattan. In an exciting and fast-paced narrative of adventure and adversity, the Golem and the Jinni finally meet and only they can recognize each other for what they truly are. The narrative traces their respective journeys as they explore the strange human city—both working to make a place for themselves in this new world and develop tentative relationships with the people in their neighborhoods.
Helene Wecker is Jewish and her husband’s family is Syrian, giving her a unique perspective on these two cultures’ traditions and immigrant experiences. She received a B.A. from Carleton College in Minnesota and an M.F.A. from Columbia University. A Chicago-area native, she now lives near San Francisco with her husband and daughter. The Golem and the Jinni is her first novel.
Jason K. Friedman, Fire Year
Monday, December 16th | 7:00pm
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An awkward boy grapples with God and girls at his bar mitzvah. A con artist cantor is taught a lesson by his student. A Polish immigrant to Savannah faces the loss of her cow. A Jewish assistant curator struggles to understand a 500-year-old Italian painter’s body of work, until his boyfriend makes an accidental discovery that challenges decades of art criticism.
Fire Year, winner of the 2012 Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction, is Jason K. Friedman’s first collection. “Blue,” the first story, won the 2010 Karma Foundation-Moment Magazine Short Fiction Prize, and “All the World’s a Field” was among the five finalists that year. Those stories and most of the others in this collection are set in a southern Jewish community from the 1920s to the present day. Characters in these seven comic tales find a response to their worldly urges in transcendent religious experiences. Fire Year has been described as “candid, cunning, brave, and wickedly funny.”
Jason K. Friedman earned a B.A. from Yale and an M.A. from the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars. His work has appeared in literary journals and been anthologized in Best American Gay Fiction and the cultural-studies reader Goth. He is the author of the children’s books Phantom Trucker and Haunted Houses. He lives in San Francisco with his husband, filmmaker Jeffrey Friedman.
Michael Lavigne, The Wanting
Monday, January 13th | 7:00pm
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In the galvanizing opening of The Wanting, the celebrated Russian-born architect Roman Guttman is injured in a bus bombing, causing his life to swerve into instability and his perceptions to become heightened and disturbed as he embarks on an ill-advised journey into Palestinian territory. The account of Roman’s desert odyssey alternates with the vivacious, bittersweet diary of his thirteen-year-old daughter, Anyusha (who is on her own perilous path, of which Roman is ignorant), and the startlingly alive witnessings of Amir, the young Palestinian who pushed the button and is now damned to observe the havoc he has wrought from a shaky beyond.
Enriched by flashbacks to the alluringly sad tale of Anyusha’s mother, a famous Russian refusenik who died for her beliefs, The Wanting is a poignant study of the costs of extremism, and a satisfying story of characters enmeshed in their imperfect love for one another and for the heartbreakingly complex world in which that love is wrought.
Michael Lavigne studied at Millersville State College and the University of Chicago, where he did graduate work on the Committee on Social Thought. His first novel, Not Me, received the Sami Rohr Choice Award. Lavigne is a founder of the Tauber Jewish Studies Program at Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco, and spent three years working in the Soviet Union.