Lectures & workshops

Amichai Lau-Lavie (left) and Gary Shteyngart photo/creative commons-mark coggins

Let there be stories

In the beginning, we started telling stories. And they were good. Pretty good. But what they lacked in form they made up in message: “Let there be Jews.” And so we were Jews. Today the art of storytelling continues, as does the tradition of asking questions: How is Jewish storytelling changing? How will new media change things? Which traditional Jewish stories are being reimagined?
A Jewish storytelling conference at Stanford is bringing together a long list of presenters to address those concerns, including writer and performer Amichai Lau-Lavie (pictured), local monologist Josh Kornbluth and writer Gary Shteyngart (pictured), the author of “Absurdistan” and “Super Sad True Love Story.”

“The Future of Jewish Storytelling,” Sunday, March 3 through Tuesday, March 5 at Stanford University, Palo Alto. Free. Complete listing at www.stanford.edu/dept/jewishstudies/events/storytelling_conf


Talk on Western Jewish History Center archives. By Francesco Spagnolo, curator of the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life. At Congregation Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Road, Los Altos. 7:30 p.m. Free. www.jewishgen.org/sfbajgs.


“Building the Jewish People While Repairing the World.” Avraham Infeld, a founder of Birthright Israel and former president of Hillel International, discusses Jewish identity and tikkun olam. At Beth Jacob Congregation, 3778 Park Blvd., Oakland. 7:15 p.m. Free. RSVP to glenn@jfed.org by Feb. 22. www.jfed.org.


“Black Jews in America.” Talk by scholar Len Lyon. At Congregation Beth Ami, 4676 Mayette Ave., Santa Rosa. 7 p.m. Free. www.bethamisr.org.


“Below the Belt.” Program on circumcision for men converting to Judaism. At Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland. 7:30 p.m. Free. www.lehrhaus.org.

“LGBT Legal Limbo.” Panel discussion on how to legally protect yourself, your partner and your children as you age. At Hyatt Vineyard Creek, 170 Railroad St., Santa Rosa. 9:30 a.m. $15. RSVP to BarbaraT@jfcs.org. www.jfcs.org.


Nehirim retreat. Weekend for LGBTQ Jews and allies. Through March 3. At Walker Creek Ranch, Petaluma. $120-$575. www.nehirim.org/west.


Scholar-in-residence Rabbi Darby Leigh. One of the first deaf rabbis ordained by a major American rabbinical school discusses “Faith and Community for Persons with Disabilities.” At Addison-Penzak JCC, 14855 Oka Road, Los Gatos. 7 p.m. $5-$7. www.siliconvalleyjcc.org.


“Meet the Doulas Night.” Question-and-answer session for expectant parents about pregnancy, breastfeeding and childbirth with Imeinu, a Jewish birth collective. At Manzanita Wellness Clinic, 2818 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley. 6 p.m. Free. RSVP to imeinudoulas@gmail.com. http://imeinu.wordpress.com.

“The Rise of the Spanish Jewish Community.” Video and lecture on Spanish Jews during the Middle Ages. At Albany Community Center, 1249 Marin Ave., Albany. 4 p.m. Free. www.kolhadash.org.

Philosophers’ Café. Discussion of ethical issues hosted by Tri-Valley Cultural Jews. At Café Rumi, 4799 Heyer Ave., Castro Valley. 10:45 a.m. $5 suggested donation. www.trivalleyculturaljews.wordpress.com.

“The Gershwins and Me.” Michael Feinstein, who worked closely with Ira Gershwin, discusses the Gershwin family’s legacy. At JCC of San Francisco, 3200 California St., S.F. 7 p.m. $32-$45. www.jccsf.org.


“Dialoguing Across Differences.” Palestinian Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, whose three daughters were killed during Israeli rocket fire in Gaza in 2009, discusses the power of understanding and action. At Osher Marin JCC, 200 N. San Pedro Road, San Rafael. 7 p.m. Free. www.marinjcc.org.