Arts & Culture

The JCA is proud to present our annual Arts & Culture Series, featuring scholars, authors, films, photography and musical performances.

The 2019-2020 Arts & Culture Series is presented with generous funding from the Sam L. Cohen Foundation, our donors, and community members, whose support makes these special programs possible.


Advanced registration strongly recommended to ensure sufficient seating. Register online at the links below or by calling (207) 772-1959.

Events are subject to change or weather cancellation – please see our e-newsletter and Facebook page for the latest information.

Finances should not be a barrier to participation. Please contact Deena at or (207) 772-1959 for discounted or free event admission.

JCA’s Arts & Culture events are free for students with a valid high school, college or university ID, unless otherwise noted.


Culinary Historian Michael Twitty discusses Kosher/Soul

Sunday, October 27th, 6:30 PM

USM Hannaford Hall - Abromson Center, 88 Bedford St, Portland

With funding from the Maine Humanities Council and generous support from the Sam L. Cohen Foundation

Co-sponsored by the University of Southern Maine Dean of Students Office

Admission: $10 – JCA members, $12 – general public

Free for students with a valid ID.

Culinary historian Michael Twitty is the James Beard award winning author of The Cooking Gene – A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South. Kosher/Soul explores what Michael has termed “identity cooking.”  Identity cooking isn’t about fusion; rather it’s how we construct complex identities and then express them through how we eat. Very few people in the modern West eat one cuisine or live within one culinary construct.

Being Kosher/Soul is about melding the histories, tastes, flavors, and Diasporic wisdom of being Black and being Jewish. Both cultures express many of their cultural and spiritual values through the plate and Kosher/Soul is about that ongoing journey.


MJFF & the JCA present The Yiddish Culture Festival

For tickets for all events and more info, visit (tickets go on sale in Sept.)

*   Saturday, November 2nd, 7:30 PM

Hankus Netsky & Ensemble - Live in Concert

One Longfellow Square - 181 State St, Portland

With vocalist and violinist Eden MacAdam-Somer


*   Sunday, November 3rd, all events below at the JCA (1342 Congress St.)

10:30 AM        Michael Wex book talk - Born to Kvetch

12:00 PM         Refreshments, crafts & children's book corner with PJ Library

12:30 PM         Free Family Program - Music & Stories with Rabbi Sruli Dresdner and Lisa Mayer

2:00 PM           Ashkenaz Rising: The Resurgence of Yiddish Culture in the 21st Century with Hankus Netsky

4:00 PM           Chew-daism film - A culinary tour of Jewish Montreal with Yid-Life Crisis

5:15 PM           Reception catered by Rose Foods & Tin Pan Bakery


Mr. Gaga (2015) - Documentary Film Screening

Presented with the Maine Jewish Film Festival as part of Portland Dance Month

Thursday, November 14th, 6:00 PM
JCA -1342 Congress Street, Portland
Tickets: $10 regular admission, $8 for students and seniors, available at

Director: Tomer Heymann | Israel | 2015 | English & Hebrew with English subtitles | 98 min.

Featuring breathtaking dance sequences and footage of intimate rehearsals, Mr. Gaga tells the story of Ohad Naharin, the renowned choreographer and artistic director of the Batsheva Dance Company. A genius who redefined the language of modern dance, Naharin's personal life is as compelling as his artistic evolution. A visual delight, Mr. Gaga is a spirited and insightful introduction to a man of creative integrity and extraordinary vision.

Margaret Hathaway

The New Portland, Maine Chef’s Table: Extraordinary Recipes from the Coast of Maine Book Talk with Author Margaret Hathaway & Photographer Karl Schatz

Thursday, December 12th, 6:30 PM

JCA - 1342 Congress Street, Portland

Suggested $5 donation - all proceeds benefit Klahr Jewish Family Services Food Pantry, Diaper Bank, and Period Supplies initiatives.

Maine’s cultural and culinary heart, Portland is a buzzing and energetic food community. Widely considered to have one of the country’s most vibrant food scenes—named “Restaurant City of the Year” by Bon Appetit—the city offers a diverse culinary landscape, from classic seafood to Oaxacan to Korean to Milanese, and its devotion to farm-to-table cuisine and locally sourced ingredients is undeniable given that the Portland Farmers’ Market, the country’s oldest continually operating market of its kind, has thrived here for over 200 years.

With more than 80 recipes from dozens of the city’s most celebrated restaurants, including Drifter's Wife, Rose Foods, and Chaval, and showcasing full-color photos of mouth-watering dishes by James Beard nominated chefs, and lots of local flavor, Portland’s dynamic food scene is celebrated in all its gustatorial glory.

Margaret Hathaway and Karl Schatz are the husband and wife team behind five books on food and farming, including the memoir The Year of the Goat, the guide Living With Goats, and the two volumes of the Portland, Maine Chef’s Table. Margaret is a writer who has worked in book publishing, corporate communications, and as manager of New York’s Magnolia Bakery. Karl is a photographer who has worked as an editor at Time, Inc., and as director of Aurora Photos. Since 2005, the couple has lived with their daughters on Ten Apple Farm, a homestead in southern Maine, where they raise dairy goats, tend a large garden and small orchard, make cheese, teach workshops, and operate a guest house.

Blum-Jenna Headshot 2019

The Lost Family Book Talk with novelist Jenna Blum

Thursday, January 9th, 6:30 PM

JCA - 1342 Congress Street, Portland

Suggested admission: $10 - JCA members, $12 - general public

The New York Times bestselling author of Those Who Save Us created a vivid portrait of marriage, family and the haunting grief of World War II in this emotionally charged, beautifully rendered story that spans a generation from the 1960s to the 1980s.


Behind the Scenes with MJFF

Sunday, January 26th, 3:00 PM

JCA - 1342 Congress Street, Portland

Free. All are welcome.

Join us for a preview of 2020 Maine Jewish Film Festival selections, and peek behind the curtain at what goes into planning the festival!


Portland Ovations presents Mandolinist Avi Avital & Harpist Bridget Kibbey

Tuesday, February 18th, 7:30 PM

Hannaford Hall, USM Portland Campus

We are pleased to offer a special 10% discount for JCA members for this classical music performance.

Tickets and more info:

Called “explosively charismatic” by The New York Times, Avi Avital is considered the driving force behind the reinvigoration of the mandolin repertory. More than 90 contemporary compositions, 15 of them concertos, have been written for this champion of the mandolin, all enhanced by Avi’s infectious spirit of adventure and the warm rapport he fosters with his audience. Avi was born and raised in Israel, and graduated from the Jerusalem Music Academy and the Conservatorio Cesare Pollini in Padua, Italy. He is joined by in-demand harpist Bridget Kibbey in a stunning classical program injected with traditional folk tunes.


• Use Promo Code “JCA” when ordering in person at the PortTIX box office (20 Myrtle Street, Portland ME 04101), by the phone at 207-842-0800 or online and receive 10% off your ticket.

• For online orders: enter the Promo Code “JCA” and click "Submit" before selecting your seats.   In your Shopping Cart you will see your new total that includes your savings.

Fine print

• Discounts cannot be applied to orders retroactively.

• Cannot be combined with any other discounts or promotions.

Burger-Ariel headshot 2019 web

Witness: Lessons from Elie Wiesel’s Classroom - Book Talk with Ariel Burger

Thursday, March 5th, 6:30 PM

JCA - 1342 Congress Street, Portland

Suggested admission: $10 - JCA members, $12 - general public

Witness opens an intimate window into Elie Wiesel’s classroom, in which conversations about ethics, activism, spirituality, and literature transformed the lives of students from around the world. Burger, one of Wiesel’s closest students, recounts his story of meeting the Nobel laureate at age 15, becoming his student, and then teaching assistant, and eventually a teacher in his own right. Weaving together memoir and stories from the classroom, Burger reflects on how Wiesel’s message might be applied today.

Code of Conduct

The JCA is committed to providing a safe and welcoming environment for all community members, guests, visitors, and staff, regardless of age, gender, race, religion, ethnicity, ability or financial status. Failure to abide by the Code of Conduct may result in the suspension or revocation of participation in JCA programming.

  • Program participants are committed to maintaining a respectful and pluralistic environment.
  • Harassing, bullying, threatening or proselytizing behavior will not be tolerated, and we reserve the right to remove from the premises any individual acting in an inappropriate manner.
  • Distributing flyers, booklets or other literature is prohibited without prior approval.
  • No one may enter the JCA facility while carrying or concealing weapons.