Israeli filmmaker Yair Qedar, producer of 'Ha'Ivrim.' (Courtesy Yair Qedar)
Israeli filmmaker Yair Qedar, producer of 'Ha'Ivrim.' (Courtesy Yair Qedar)

Learn about 20th century’s most iconic Hebrew authors in new series

Books coverage is supported by a generous donation from Anne Germanacos.

A free sneak preview from an upcoming film about Amos Oz, conversations with the filmmaker and a course on five 20th-century Israeli writers are part of a new, multi-pronged series in the Bay Area on modern Hebrew literature.

The programming, which will begin Feb. 23, is based on ‘Ha’Ivrim‘ (‘The Hebrews’), a series created by Israeli filmmaker and social activist Yair Qedar that so far has produced 14 documentary portraits of Hebrew writers from the 17th century to today.

Qedar currently is working on the series’ latest documentary, about Oz, the Israeli writer who died in 2018. Presenting previews from the film and then talking about his work, Qedar will be a big part of the Bay Area program.

“It’s a unique opportunity to see a documentary in progress,” said Rachel Biale, one of the organizers. Qedar “has created this extraordinary project of documentary films about both the greats, and lesser knowns,” she added.

It’s a unique opportunity to see a documentary in progress.

The first Oz program will be held for free at the Magnes museum in Berkeley from 5 to 7 p.m. Feb. 23. After screening excerpts from the upcoming film, Qedar will converse with UC Berkeley’s Robert Alter (professor of Hebrew and comparative literature) and Chana Kronfeld (professor of modern Hebrew, Yiddish and comparative literature). RSVP by mailing haivrimRSVP@gmail.com.

The next night, a Hebrew-only preview screening will take place at 8 p.m. Feb. 24 at the Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto. In conjunction, Qedar will be in conversation with Israeli author Maya Arad and there will be readings of selected Oz passages (all in Hebrew). The cost is $20, with a discount for OFJCC members. For more information, visit paloaltojcc.org.

For those who would like to take a deeper dive, a five-part course will be held at HaMaqom|The Place, formerly Lehrhaus Judaica. Participants will watch (at home) five ‘Ha’Ivrim’ documentaries with English subtitles, read the works in translation and discuss them in the classes, which will be held from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursdays from March 5 to April 2. Costs range from $90 to $150.

The authors to be examined are iconic Hebrew writers Chaim Nachman Bialik and Lea Goldberg, Sephardi and North African writers Rabbi David Buzaglo and Jacqueline Kahanov and Yiddish poet Avraham Sutzkever.

For HaMaqom course information, visit hmqm.org.

Maya Mirsky
Maya Mirsky

Maya Mirsky is a J. Staff Writer based in Oakland.