APJCC jewbilant about expanded Jewish learning festivities

Even though Jewbilee is billed as a day of Jewish learning, Rabbi Joshua Fenton prefers to think of it as a day of Jewish expression.

“Our hope is to create a space for the entire community to come together under a single roof for a single day, to leave their baggage at the coat check, and for one day, to open their eyes to the diversity of Jewish life that we are fortunate to have in the Bay Area,” Fenton said. “For one day, the things that divide us — the reasons that prevent us from spending time or celebrating together — are not issues.”

Rabbi Joshua Fenton

Jewbilee takes place from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Jan. 24 at the Addison-Penzak Jewish Community Center in Los Gatos.

Jewbilee evolved from the evening of Jewish learning that the APJCC hosted in the past. Those nighttime events focused primarily on adult education.

“If we want to really welcome the Jewish community as a whole, we have to have something for everyone, and that includes family programming,” said Fenton, the director of the APJCC’s Center for Jewish Living and Learning.

To that end, Jewbilee will include early childhood and family education, including a mime performance, puppet show and  interactive Tu B’Shevat “museum” where children (and their parents) can taste the seven species of fruits and grains, plant seeds and create recycled art.

“We wanted to rethink what Jewish learning means,” Fenton said. “There’s a diversity of ways in which we learn and express and experience Judaism, but we had been so focused on a couple of trees that we had lost sight of an enormous forest.”

Yet adult education is in no way getting short shrift at Jewbilee. In fact, Fenton has expanded adult education by offering more classes, more learning sessions and a greater diversity of presenters.

Classes include history lessons, film screenings, political discussions, Torah text study, song and art workshops and religious and spiritual debates.

For example, Rabbi Aaron Schonbrun of Congregation Sinai, a Conservative synagogue in San Jose, will teach a class titled “God Talk: Modern Theology.”

It will be anything but a lecture, Schonbrun said.

“Learning Torah involves people really getting into the text, sharing with one another and hearing from the teacher, who is also learning from the students,” Schonbrun said. “Interactive study helps bring Torah learning to life, and lets everyone’s voice be heard. Jewish learning is really a conversation.”

Jewbilee takes place 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Jan. 24 at the Addison-Penzak JCC, Levy Family Campus, 14855 Oka Road, Los Gatos. Tickets: $4-$7. For more information, visit www.svjcc.org/jewbilee.

Stacey Palevsky