Filling up on Jewish culture
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These summer days have provided ample bounty for those of us with a hunger for Jewish culture who are lucky enough to live in the Bay Area.
A great example is this week’s cover story, which salutes 40 years of music, dance and community at Ashkenaz, the popular Berkeley nightclub that has been a second home for many in the Jewish community. Though it programs everything from reggae bands to Cajun swing, Ashkenaz has always offered Jewish music and dance concerts, too. Moreover, its creed has exemplified the “repair the world” spirit of its founder, the late David Nadel.
Not into dance? This week was the conclusion of the enormously successful 2013 edition of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival. Many events sold out, with moviegoers throughout the region eager to sample the latest in Jewish-themed world cinema.
With that festival completed, the Silicon Valley Jewish Film Festival is just around the corner. Running Oct. 19 to Nov. 17, the festival brings to the South Bay the same kind of rich cinematic fare as its S.F. counterpart.
This year, the Silicon Valley festival welcomes as its special guest the famed Israeli actor Topol, who will help the community celebrate the 50th anniversary of “Fiddler on the Roof.”
Then there’s the East Bay International Jewish Film Festival, which returns next spring. How many regions in the country can claim three successful, ongoing Jewish film festivals?
On another cultural front, this Sunday, Aug. 18, the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center in Palo Alto will hold its second annual Litquake, a celebration of Jewish books, authors and ideas. Needless to say, the reverence our community holds for writers and thinkers knows no bounds, which explains the success of such events.
Add in the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, the Contemporary Jewish Museum and the annual Jewish Music Festival, as well as regular programming at our five JCCs, and it’s clear the Bay Area is one of the world’s most vibrant centers of Jewish culture. The fact that the community supports all of these institutions speaks volumes about its dedication to Jewish arts.
And these are just the marquee events. Every day, at venues large and small, Jewish arts and culture have a forum somewhere in the Bay Area.
George Washington once called the arts “essential to the prosperity of the state and to the ornament of human life.” That ornamentation has no greater laboratory than here in the Bay Area. It’s so common, some of us may occasionally take it for granted.
So this is our shout-out to the Bay Area’s thriving Jewish arts and culture scene. We hope our readers ornament their lives by attending a Jewish cultural event soon.
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