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Israeli Film Festival highlights JCC’s cultural offerings

Three Mothers (above) is among the coming productions at the Weinstein JCC organized by Director of Adult Services and Cultural Arts Orly Lewis


Thousands of people zip by the Carole and Marcus Weinstein Jewish Community Center on Monument Avenue every day. It’s a good time to slow down for a closer look.

Step inside and you’ll find one of the area’s most vibrant cultural arts communities, with a theater company, speaker’s series, film festival, concerts, authors and more, all celebrating many aspects of Jewish and culture.

“We have tons and tons and tons of events, said Orly Lewis, Director of Adult Services and Cultural Arts.

And many people already participate; more than 1,300 people saw “How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying” last month and in November a concert by the singing group The Maccabeats was standing room only.

But there’s always room for more, said Lewis.

The busy cultural arts season at the Weinstein JCC is cranking back up this month after a short holiday break.

One of the highlights is the return of the Israeli Film Festival.

“The Israeli film industry is thriving,” said Lewis, “and we created this festival last year to raise awareness of the culture and society.”

The event was so well received that they’ve expanded to two days.

This year’s lineup includes:

• Three Mothers - Saturday, Jan. 21 at 7:30 p.m. at the JCC – The Hakim triplets, Rose, Flora and Jasmine, were born in Alexandria in 1942. Their saga is one of powerful love and deadly deceit played out in three languages and across three generations.

• Precious Life - Sunday, Jan. 22 at 10 a.m. at the JCC – A Palestinian woman must work with Israeli doctors and a Gaza reporter to save the life of her newborn son, who is suffering from an immune system disorder. For 18 months the reporter documents an extraordinary story that gives hope for the fate of this war-torn region. An audience discussion will be held after the screening.

• Salsa in Tel Aviv – Sunday, Jan. 22 at 1:30 p.m. at Byrd Theater – The romantic comedy tells of Vicky, a salsa dancer who arrives in Israel to work and send money to her mother and son overseas. Her son’s father, Beto, is living in Israel illegally, teaching salsa and cleaning homes. Following Beto’s advice, Vicky disguises herself as a nun in order to enter Israel more easily, but ends up meeting a biologist and developing an unlikely attraction.

• The Matchmaker – Sunday, Jan. 22 at 7 p.m. at the JCC – Set in 1968 Haifa, a teenage boy gets a summer job with a Holocaust survivor who makes ends meet by brokering marriages and smuggling goods. Throughout the summer, the mysterious matchmaker takes the boy on a dangerous coming-of-age ride into the deepest underbelly of Haifa during the time of the Six-Day War. Tickets are $8.50 per film (four films $28) for JCC members or $10 per film (four films $36) for non-members.

Other events

Also this month, the Sara D. November Gallery at the JCC will present “A Journey” by artist Julie Klaper. This series was inspired by Klaper’s conversion to Judaism and study of Hebrew. While contemplating celebrating her Bat Mitzvah at the age of sixty, she wanted to make the Hebrew language more relevant to her; she found 22 words, each beginning with one of the Hebrew letters, that was an attribute or goal she wanted to achieve.

An opening reception will be held Jan. 12 at 7 p.m.

Also happening this winter:

• Feb. 4 at 7:30 p.m. – The JCC Forum presents Roy Firestone, critically acclaimed journalist, commentator and stage performer who has won seven Emmy awards and seven Cable ACE awards.

• Feb. 16-26 – JFT Theatre presents Herb Gardner’s “Conversations with My Father,” part of the 2012 Acts of Faith Theater Festival. This saga of first generation American Jews explores the relationship between father and son.

• Feb. 26-March 3 – Weinstein JCC HumorFest, a week of standup comedy, improvisational comedy, film and cartoons.

In the spring, look for the Jewish Family Theatre’s production of the moving “And Then They Came for Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank” and the Reelabilities Film Festival, which champions the contributions of the disabled.

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