Friday, May 11, 2012

cover story

news & features




opinions & letters






Jews of Yemen

To document the lives of the last indigenous Jewish community in the Middle East, journalists Rachael Strecher and Josh Berer spent several months living in Sana, Yemen. Their unique collection of photos and journal entries on Yemen’s ancient Jewish community — a small but resilient population threatened by civil war and anti-Semitism — will be on display at the Oshman Family JCC.

“Last Jews of Yemen,” May 18-June 28 at Oshman Family JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto. (650) 223-8699 or


Israeli art exhibit and sale. More than 100 artists and 1,500 works from the Safrai Fine Art Gallery in Jerusalem. Though May 13. At Congregation B’nai Shalom, 74 Eckley Lane, Walnut Creek. 6 p.m. Free.

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.


“Paper and Cheese.” Shmooze with artist and author Kayte Terry, create art out of recycled paper, and taste cheese from Cowgirl Creamery for Shavuot. At Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission St., S.F. 6 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.

“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.

“Territory.” 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.

“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.



Eternal music

Heather Klein’s Inextinguishable Trio will share the century-old art of Yiddish song, and then invite the audience to join in the singing at the JCC in Berkeley. Klein, a classically trained soprano, and her group will perform a world premiere of Holocaust poetry set to music, a haunting niggun (melody) collected in Budapest and other rarely heard works by Yiddish composers in an album-release party for “Shifreles Portret.”

7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 12 at JCC East Bay, 1414 Walnut St., Berkeley. $10.


“Celebrating Jewish Racial Diversity.” Mark Levy performs a combination of Ashkenazi and Sephardi melodies. Culmination of yearlong program on Jewish diversity. At Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland. 6:30 p.m. Free.


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


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

on stage


Classic Woody

“The Kugelmass Episode,” a Woody Allen short story published in the New Yorker in 1977, has all the familiar Allen ingredients: The protagonist is an intellectual — Professor Kugelmass — who feels the ennui of middle age and his unhappy marriage and seeks out an affair. A magician transports Kugelmass into a book, Flaubert’s “Madame Bovary” and, much like in Allen’s recent movie “Midnight in Paris,” the protagonist becomes overwhelmed by the extreme personality of a literary figure, in this case Emma Bovary. The story will be staged by Word for Word, the San Francisco performing arts company.

8 p.m. Thursday, May 24 at Herbst Theater, 401 Van Ness Ave., S.F. $22-$27.


“Nu Wurks.” Festival of plays written and performed by students at Jewish Community High School of the Bay. At JCHS, 1835 Ellis St., S.F. $5-$10.


“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


“Dolphin Boy.” A teenager from an Arab-Israeli village recovers from violence by spending time with dolphins. Presented by the Silicon Valley Jewish Film Festival. At Camera 12 Theater, 201 S. Second St., San Jose. 4 p.m. $9.50-$11.


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

lectures & workshops


The reality maven

TV executive and late-night talk show host Andy Cohen has taken pop culture to new places with his knack for reality TV. He’s the force behind “Top Chef,” “The Real Housewives” franchise, “Project Runway” and much more. Cohen also hosts Bravo’s nightly “Watch What Happens: Live,” in which he names a “mazel of the week” (and a “jackhole”). When designer Isaac Mizrahi was on the show, the two debated which of them was more gay or more Jewish. Cohen will be in San Francisco to share stories about his life and being at the top of his game.

7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 16 at Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St., S.F. $10-$25.


“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. Sold out; check on cancellations at (650) 223-8605. (See story, 6)

“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.

Luncheon for seniors. Workshop on the early history of Eastern European Jewry, with kosher box lunch. At Creekside Clubhouse 3, Rossmoor, Walnut Creek. 12 p.m. $8. RSVP to (925) 964-2063.

Book talk by Haley Tanner. Author discusses her novel “Vaclav & Lena,” about two 10-year-olds in Brooklyn’s Russian émigré community. At Addison-Penzak JCC, 14855 Oka Road, Los Gatos. 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).

“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.


Israel education and advocacy training workshop. To help prepare teens for life as Jewish college students. Sponsored by StandWithUs and Jerusalem Online University At Oshman Family JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto. 9 a.m. $18 per family.

“Theological Responses to the Holocaust.” Video lecture by history professor David Ruderman of the University of Pennsylvania. At Albany Community Center, 1249 Marin Ave., Albany. 4 p.m. Free.


“Stand with God, Against Man.” Granddaughter of Aristides de Sousa Mendes, the Portuguese diplomat who saved thousands of refugees during World War II, tells her family’s story. At Congregation Beth David 19700 Prospect Road, Saratoga. 7:30 p.m. Free. www.

“The Realities of Modern Israel.” Talk by Israeli Consul General Akiva Tor. At Tehiyah Day School, 2603 Tassajara Ave., El Cerrito. 7 p.m. Free, but RSVP required to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). (510) 233-3013.


Israeli Green Party. Alon Tal, party chairman, gives overview of environmental issues in Israel. At Peninsula Sinai Congregation, 499 Boothbay Ave., Foster City. 7 p.m. Free. (650) 349-2816.

“Perspectives on Israel.” Talk by J Street’s S.F. Bay Area chair and national board member Molly Freeman. At Congregation Beth El, 1301 Oxford St., Berkeley. 7:30 p.m. Free.

“Muslims, Jews, and a New Song.” Tricia Hellman Gibbs discusses her journey back to Judaism and findings from the Koran, as well as her novel “A New Song” (written under the pen name Sarah Isaias), in conversation with author Nafisa Haji. Includes performance of Middle Eastern music by the Yuval Ron Trio. At Osher Marin JCC, 200 N. San Pedro Road, San Rafael. 7 p.m. $12-$15.


“The Extraordinary Story of Anne Frank’s Family.” Buddy Elias, Anne’s first cousin and close friend, shares family stories. At JCC of San Francisco, 3200 California St., S.F. 7 p.m. $10-$25.

“Reclaiming Jewish Activism: Rediscovering Voices of Our Ancestors.” Presentation and discussion by Jewish activists Julie Gilgoff, Rae Abileah and Elaine Elinson. At Congregation Sha’ar Zahav, 290 Dolores St., S.F. 7 p.m. Free. www.

“Speaking of Israel: Promised Land or Polluted Earth?” Talk by Alon Tal, Israeli Green Party chairman and professor at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev’s Jacob Blaustein Institutes of Desert Research. At Urban Adamah, 1050 Parker St., Berkeley. 7 p.m. $5.

benefits & social events


As seen on YouTube?

A man recently diagnosed with cancer goes to see his doctor (no, this isn’t the setup for a Jewish joke), and finds out a mistake has been made: He doesn’t have cancer after all. What is it like to live your life as if you’re dying, only to find out you aren’t? Jewish values about death and life in the era of social media inform “Life Gone Viral,” a comic play starring Charlie Varon and Jeri Lynn Cohen, written and directed by David Ford. The May 13 performance is a benefit for Or Shalom Jewish Community in San Francisco.

7 p.m. Sunday, May 13 at the Marsh Theater, 1062 Valencia St., S.F. $25.


Hazon California Ride. 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.


Israeli folk dance party. Café Shalom presents monthly dancing and munchies. At St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church, 1399-43rd Ave., S.F. 7:30 p.m. $5-$8.


Hike in the Baylands. With Jews’ Next Dor, young adults in the South Bay. Meet at the Baylands Nature Preserve, San Antonio and Terminal roads, Palo Alto. 10 a.m. Free.


Young adults’ afternoon with special-needs kids. Hang out and play games with children from Friendship Circle, which supports special-needs kids and their families. At Congregation Emanu-El, 2 Lake St., S.F. 3 p.m. Free. RSVP to

East Bay Mitzvah Day. Volunteer for community service projects throughout East Bay. Opening ceremony at Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland. 9 a.m.


“Mesibah! Fun Day.” Party for children ages 2-10 and their parents. At Addison-Penzak JCC, 14855 Oka Road, Los Gatos. 3 p.m. Free. www.

spiritual & holiday


“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.



Cooking lesson. Silicon Valley Jewish Widow and Widowers group meets for lunch and instruction on how to make stuffed cabbage. At a private residence in San Jose, location available with RSVP. 12 p.m. (408) 525-2323.