Friday, May 4, 2012

cover story

news & features





opinions & letters






Enrique Goldenberg. Artist displays fused-glass works influenced by Judaica. Also May 6. At Chrome Architecture, 905 Fourth St., San Rafael.


“Territory.” Opening reception for Israeli artist Yigal Ozeri’s large-scale, photo-realistic oil paintings pairing women with natural settings. Through June 30. At Jenkins Johnson Gallery, 464 Sutter St., S.F. 5:30 p.m. Free.

Israeli art exhibit and sale. More than 100 artists and 1,500 works from the Safrai Fine Art Gallery in Jerusalem. Opening includes Israeli Lag B’Omer celebration, with bonfire and falafel. Though May 13. At Congregation B’nai Shalom, 74 Eckley Lane, Walnut Creek. 6 p.m. Free. (See story, 29)


Awards ceremony. Presentation of Dorothy Saxe Award for a work that reflects the goals of “Do Not Destroy: Trees, Art, and Jewish Thought.” At Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission St., S.F. 1 p.m. Included with admission.


“An American Experience: Growing Up Jewish in America.” Exhibit displays heritage of residents and family members of the Reutlinger Community for Jewish Living. Through July 29. At the Jewish Heritage Museum, 4000 Camino Tassajara, Danville.

“California Dreaming.” Multimedia exhibit exploring Jewish life in the Bay Area from Gold Rush to present. Through Oct. 16. “Do Not Destroy: Trees, Art, and Jewish Thought.” Tu B’Shevat–themed exhibit that explores tree design, purpose and Jewish thought. Through Sept. 9. “Stanley Saitowitz: Judaica.” New perspectives from the S.F.-based architect. Through Oct. 16. At Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission St., S.F.

“More Than Enough: Redefining Excess.” Jewish artists answer “When do we need more than enough?” Through Aug. 5. At BJE Jewish Community Library, 1835 Ellis St., S.F. (See story, 25)

“The Sacred Word: A Sculptural and Print Exploration of Hebrew and Chinese Characters.” Art by Joyce Steinfeld. Through June 5. At Osher Marin JCC, 200 N. San Pedro Road, San Rafael.

“These Are My People!” National touring exhibition telling the story of Portuguese diplomat Aristides de Sousa Mendes, who saved 30,000 people during World War II. At Addison-Penzak JCC, 14855 Oka Road, Los Gatos. Through May 4. Free.

“Treasures from the Gershwin Archive.” Exhibit of memorabilia from the trust of Ira and Leonore Gershwin, including music covers, personal photographs and sketches. Through June 15. At JCC of San Francisco, 3200 California St., S.F. Free.



On a high note

Marvin Hamlisch is most known for what he’s done off stage. The award-winning Jewish music prodigy composed the score for “A Chorus Line,” “The Sting,” “The Way We Were” and much more. Hamlisch will take center stage this weekend to tell stories about his career and perform many of his hits on the piano with vocal accompaniment by Mark McVeigh.

4 p.m. Sunday, May 6 at JCC of San Francisco, 3200 California St., S.F. $72-$85.



The origins of hope

“Hatikvah” is familiar around the world as the Israeli national anthem. Fittingly, the song, like Zionism and the Jewish people, has a long history that spans centuries and continents, evolving through Romanian folk songs, the first settlements in Israel and modern hip-hop music. Israeli pianist and musicologist Astrith Baltsan will take audience members through the history of “Hatikvah” (“The Hope”) with an electrifying combination of performance, lecture and video.

7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 10 at Oshman Family JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto. $30-$40.



Fred Lifsitz and Friends. Violinist in the Alexander String Quartet plays Bach, Bloch (“Baal Shem Suite”), Bartok and Vieuxtemps. At Congregation B’nai Emunah, 3595 Taraval St., S.F. 3:30 p.m. $20.


“The Musical Genius of Leonard Cohen.” Listen to Cohen’s songs and learn about the Jewish texts that inspired them. Also May 16. At Congregation Beth Chaim, 1800 Holbrook Drive, Danville. 7 p.m. Free. RSVP to (925) 736-7146.


Yiddish album release concert. Heather Klein’s Inextinguishable Trio performs Holocaust poetry set to music by composer Steven Greenman. At JCC East Bay, 1414 Walnut St., Berkeley. 7:30 p.m. $10.


“The Jewish Fiddler.” Cookie Segelstein, founder of the klezmer group Veretski Pass, explores the tradition of Jewish violin music. At BJE Jewish Community Library, 1835 Ellis St., S.F. 7 p.m. Free.

on stage


“Crazy Wisdom Saves the World Again.” Author, comic and Buddhist meditation teacher Wes “Scoop” Nisker performs a comedic monologue in a benefit for Chochmat HaLev. At Chochmat HaLev, 2215 Prince St, Berkeley. 8 p.m. $18.

“The Garment.” One-man play based on short stories of Israeli Nobel laureate S.Y. Agnon. In Hebrew with English subtitles. At Oshman Family JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto. 8:30 p.m. $30-$35.


“Red.” Play about painter Mark Rothko written by Oscar-nominated author John Logan. Through May 12. At Berkeley Repertory Theater, 2025 Addison St, Berkeley. Times vary.

film & video
photo/courtesy of jewish federation of the east bay
photo/courtesy of jewish federation of the east bay

If Phoebe and Chandler were Jewish

The hit Israeli TV show “Srugim,” set in the Katamon neighborhood of Jerusalem, has been described as a Modern Orthodox “Friends,” in which a group of 30-somethings navigates love, careers and religious life. The JCC of the East Bay will screen eight episodes from the show’s third season. Come find out if Hodaya, Re’ut, Yifat, Nati, Amir and Roi can be lucky in love as they shmooze, observe Shabbat and daven.

11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, May 6 at JCC East Bay, 1414 Walnut St., Berkeley. $10-$18.



“Freilach.” Jewish music and cultural radio show for the Russian River area. KGGV 95.1 FM. 8 p.m.

lectures & workshops


Meeting of many minds

As his full title suggests, Rabbi Dr. Laibl Wolf LL.B M.Ed.Psych D.Div is a polymath. But beyond his credentials, which include university-level training in law and psychology, Wolf works across disciplines in his roles as spiritual mentor and teacher. The Australian mystic blends contemporary positive psychology with ancient Kabbalah to facilitate a “behavioral” approach to life training. Wolf will be in the Bay Area next week to present lectures and workshops.

7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 9 at Sunnyvale Historical Museum, 550 E. Remington Drive, Sunnyvale. $12-$18.; and Shabbaton May 11-12 at JCC of San Francisco, 3200 California St., S.F. $18-$36.


“An Afternoon with Mayim Bialik.” Actress, author and neuroscientist discusses the experience of the mikvah in a benefit for the Community Mikvah of Silicon Valley. At Addison-Penzak JCC, 4855 Oka Road, Los Gatos. 1 p.m. $18. RSVP to

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.

“The Worlds of Contemporary Judaism.” Talk by professor Nathaniel Deutsch, co-director of the Center for Jewish Studies at U.C. Santa Cruz. At Congregation Shir Hadash, 20 Cherry Blossom Lane, Los Gatos. 9:30 a.m. Free.

Genealogy clinic. San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society offers a brainstorming and problem-solving roundtable. At BJE Jewish Community Library, 1835 Ellis St., S.F. 12 p.m. Free.

“Campus Problems for Jewish Students.” Talk by Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, co-founder of Amcha, which advocates on behalf of Jewish college students. At Hillside Clubhouse, Rossmoor, Walnut Creek. 4 p.m. Free. (925) 938-4738.


“The New Middle East and Israel.” Discussion with Akiva Tor, Israeli consul general of the Pacific Northwest region, moderated by John Diaz, editorial page editor of the San Francisco Chronicle. At the Commonwealth Club, 595 Market St., S.F. 12 p.m. Free for students and members, $20 for nonmembers.

“World War II in the Soviet Shtetl: From the Shoah to Victory Day.” Talk by professor Jeffrey Veidlinger, director of Jewish Studies at Indiana University. At Stanford University, Margaret Jacks Hall, 450 Serra Mall, Stanford. 5:15 p.m. Also 12 p.m. May 8. Free.

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan. The mayor takes questions from the Jewish community. At Temple Beth Abraham, 327 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland. 7 p.m. Free. RSVP to Jessica Sterling at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) by noon May 7.


“A Composer’s Vision: The Photography of Ernest Bloch.” Eric Johnson, professor of art and design at Cal Poly, discusses the photography of the Jewish, Swiss-born composer. At BJE Jewish Community Library, 1835 Ellis St., S.F. 7 p.m. Free.


Book talk with Harvey Gotliffe. Author discusses “The Oy Way,” a humorous guide to Yiddish. At Jewish Family and Children’s Services, 200 Channing Way, Palo Alto. 1 p.m. Also May 17 at JFCS, 2150 Post St., San Francisco. 2 p.m. Free.


“Persecution of Jews and Christians in Muslim Lands.” Panel discussion with Middle East specialist and author of “The Al Qaeda Reader” Raymond Ibrahim and expert on Iran’s Jewish population Elliot Benjamin. Sponsored by JIMENA: Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa. At JCC of San Francisco, 3200 California St., S.F. 7:30 p.m. Free. RSVP By May 7 to (415) 626-5062.

“Perspectives on Israel.” Talk by Mike Harris, co-founder of San Francisco Voice for Israel (StandWithUs Bay Area chapter). Second of a four-part series. At Congregation Beth El, 1301 Oxford St., Berkeley. 7:30 p.m. Free.


“400 Miles to Freedom.” Talk and presentation of clips by Ethiopian Jewish filmmaker Avishai Meckonen about his journey from Ethiopia to Israel as a child and his kidnapping in Sudan. At Museum of the African Diaspora, 685 Mission St., S.F. 2 p.m. Included with admission. Also May 14 at JCC of San Francisco, 3200 California St., S.F. 7 p.m. $10-$20.


“Miss Representation.” Film and panel discussion on the media’s portrayal of women and girls. At Oshman Family JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto. 6:30 p.m. Free. RSVP required.

“Moses, Marijuana, and Violence: Stories of Return.” Author and lawyer Joshua Safran shares stories from his forthcoming memoir on his return to Jewish tradition. At BJE Jewish Community Library, 1835 Ellis St., S.F. 7 p.m. Free.


“50 Years of Jewish Laughs.” KQED Radio’s Michael Krasny hosts a night celebrating Jewish humor. At Congregation Kol Shofar, 215 Blackfield Drive, Tiburon. 7:30 p.m. Free. RSVP to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Andy Cohen. Bravo TV producer of “Top Chef” and “Real Housewives” gives a talk for the Commonwealth Club. At Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St., S.F. 7:30 p.m. $10-$25.

“Batya Gur’s Mysteries.” Discussion and documentary about the popular Israel mystery writer. At Congregation B’nai Tikvah, 24 Hillcroft Way, Walnut Creek. 6:30 p.m. Free.

benefits & social events


Fire up the barbecue

Coming right up is Lag B’Omer — the festive holiday that celebrates the 33rd day of counting the omer and commemorates sage and mystic Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (he wrote the Zohar) along with the fighting Jewish spirit. Communities around the Bay Area, including those listed below, will celebrate the holiday with bonfires, music and picnics.

Chabad of Contra Costa, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 9 at 1671 Newell Ave., Walnut Creek. $10.; Chabad of the Tri-Valley, 5 p.m. Thursday, May 10 at Alameda County Fairgrounds, 4501 Pleasanton Ave., Pleasanton. $15.; Chabad of the East Bay, 5 p.m. Thursday, May 10 at Padre Picnic site in Tilden Park, Berkeley. $15.; Jewish Study Network, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 10 at Lucie Stern Community Center, 1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto. $10.


Hillel house opening gala. Cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, entertainment and auction to celebrate new facility for Hillel of Davis and Sacramento. At Hillel house, 328 A St., Davis. 4:30 p.m. $125.

Contemporary Jewish Museum kids’ day. Stories, art gallery explorations and sing-alongs with Camp Tawonga song leader Isaac Zones. Separate events for preschoolers through teens. At Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission St., S.F. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free for children.


Anniversary celebration. The Merkavah Torah Institute for women holds a siyyum, marking the completion of a unit of Torah study. At Congregation Beth Israel, 1630 Bancroft Way, Berkeley. 7:30 p.m. Free. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


Hazon California Ride. Hazon’s third annual environmental bike ride fundraiser from Sonoma County to San Francisco includes two days of riding and a Shabbat retreat. Accommodates a variety of cycling levels. Minimum sponsorship required. Through May 13.

spiritual & holiday


Staff art show and Lag B’Omer barbecue. JCC teachers and staff share their art and music in a community celebration with dinner. Child care provided. At JCC East Bay, 1414 Walnut St., Berkeley. 6 p.m. Free. RSVP to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


“Contemplative Sufi-Jewish Retreat.” Torah study, body awareness, Sufi ceremonies. Includes presentations by Zvi Bellin, Brian Yosef Schachter-Brooks and Ibrahim Abdurrahman Farajajé. Through May 13. At Angelica Center, 535 Angela Drive, Santa Rosa. $230-$275. Register at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


“From Hora to Zumba.” Bay Area Zumba instructor Lara Walklet leads dances in celebration of Israel’s 64 birthday. At Congregation Beth Emek, 3400 Nevada Court, Pleasanton. 7:30 p.m. Free.