Arts & Culture

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



Presented in partnership with The Osher Marin JCC

Four Monday sessions on Zoom - January 4, 11, 18, 25 
2:00-3:15 PM (EST)  

$15/single session, or $50 for the series. 

Would you still like to travel? Now you can without leaving your home – just stay still! Let us whisk you away for an "armchair adventure" on an interesting, educational, fun and live, guided group tour in a destination beyond your front door.  

Please select “ME - JCA of Southern Maine - Portland” when asked through which program partner you learned about this event. 

BwayBackstage-Jan21-Barrett tall


Presented in partnership with The Osher Marin JCC

Four Thursday sessions on Zoom - January 7, 14, 21, 28 
4:00-5:30 PM EST  

$15/single session, or $50 for the series

Let JCC Program Director & Broadway/opera instructor James Sokol sneak you in the Stage Door to go “backstage” on Broadway! Meet special guest theater professionals – who bring unique expertise, experiences & insights to the discussion – at our exclusive, live, behind-the-scenes visits. Photos/video clips (when available) will enrich the experience. Come learn, off-stage, what makes the magic happen on-stage! 

Accountable graphic

IMPACT INVESTING with Michael O’Leary and Warren Valdmanis

A free Zoom event presented by the Portland Museum of Art and the JCA 

Tuesday, January 26th | 5:00 - 6:00 PM 

Art for All and DEAI work (diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion) are at the heart of the PMA’s mission. But how can you, as an investor, invest strategically to support this type of work in our community?  

The PMA, in partnership with Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine, welcomes investors and authors Michael O’Leary and Warren Valdmanis to share their experiences in social impact investing and corporate responsibility and sustainability. Together, they helped launch Bain Capital's social impact fund. Valdmanis is now a partner at Two Sigma Impact, and O'Leary is an investor with the impact investing firm Engine No. 1. O’Leary and Valdmanis will discuss impact investing, its critiques—fair and unfair—and its potential to create change for non-profit organizations and their endowments. Their book Accountable: The Rise of Citizen Capitalism, is available locally at Longfellow Books.

The Last trial
The JCA presents Book Festival in Your Living Room

SCOTT TUROW - The Last Trial 

In partnership with the JCC Literary Consortium and the Atlanta JCC

Wednesday, January 27th | 8 PM ET 

Tickets: $11 – virtual ticket, or $25 – one virtual ticket and one paperback copy of the book (including shipping):  

Two formidable men collide in this "first-class legal thriller" and New York Times bestseller about a celebrated criminal defense lawyer and the prosecution of his lifelong friend -- a doctor accused of murder (-David Baldacci). 

Margaret Hathaway


Sunday, January 31st | 4:00 – 5:30 PM
Free! Register by Tues. Jan. 26 

Savory fillings in a pastry crust make a delicious snack and a portable lunch. In this cook along, we’ll make sambusas and meat knishes, both variations on this tasty theme. Gamana Yarow’s stuffed Somali beef dumplings are spiced with curry powder and flecked with vegetables and herbs. Sadye Schatz’s beef knishes are sweet with onions and enriched with schmaltz—flavors she leaned heavily on as one of Portland’s two kosher caterers in the 1940s and 50s. In this 90 minute zoom, we’ll make the dough and fillings for both, and discuss ways to make these recipes our own.  

Registered participants will receive the Zoom link, recipes and ingredient list on Tues. 1/26. 

Gabrielle-Glaser (1)
The JCA presents Book Festival in Your Living Room

GABRIELLE GLASER - American Baby: A Mother, a Child, and The Shadow History of Adoption 

In partnership with the JCC Literary Consortium and the Atlanta JCC

Sunday, January 31st | 8 PM ET 

Tickets: $11 – virtual ticket, or $35 – one virtual ticket and one copy of the book (including shipping).

In 1961, sixteen-year-old Margaret Erle fell in love and became pregnant. Despite Margaret’s intentions to marry her child’s father and her desperation to keep her baby boy, Margaret was coerced into signing away her parental rights. After only two brief visits, Margaret’s son vanished into an adoption agency’s hold and out of Margaret’s reach for decades to come. In AMERICAN BABY: A Mother, a Child, and the Shadow History of Adoption, New York Times bestselling author and journalist Gabrielle Glaser explores the untold story of a predatory, secret adoption system in postwar America through the dual stories of Margaret and the son she never intended to give up. 

book of V

The Book of V. – Zoom author talk with novelist Anna Solomon

Thursday, February 18th at 7:00 PM EST 
Advanced registration required by Weds. 2/17

Free. Suggested donations of $10/household gratefully accepted. 

The Zoom link will be email to registered participants on Weds. afternoon 2/17, and again on Thursday, 2/18 at 4 PM. 

The Purim story of Esther is often told as the triumph of a Jewish minority over one man’s blinding hatred, through the courage and selflessness of one woman. Anna Solomon’s The Book of V. challenges this simple narrative — asking, what is Vashti’s story? And how do we choose to represent women’s lives, both in the past and today? 

Maine Bicentennial Community Cookbook


Sunday, February 21st | 4:00 – 5:30 PM
Free! Register by Tues. Feb. 16 at

Noodles with cheese are a classic comfort food that can take many forms. In this cook along, we’ll make variations from the last century’s Jewish and Italian immigrant communities of Maine. In the 1930s and 40s, Steven Quattrucci’s family owned the popular Balboa Cafe on Portland’s India Street, and his grandmother Nana Q's “Mac & Cheese” mixed leftover provolone from the cafe with other cheeses, noodles, and red sauce. Further north, the first Jewish cookbook of Maine was compiled by the Levine Chapter B’nai Brith/Waterville Chapter Hadassah in 1951. In this 90 minute Zoom, we’ll make Nana Q’s “Mac & Cheese” and classic Luchen Kugel from 100 Selected Recipes, plus a slightly embellished version of kugel that our family makes at home.  

Registered participants will receive the Zoom link, recipes and ingredient list on Tues. 2/16. 

passover haggadah bio

The Passover Haggadah: A Biography – A Zoom talk with author Rabbi Vanessa Ochs

Thursday, March 4th at 7:00 PM EST
Advanced registration required by Weds. 3/3 

Free. Suggested donations of $10/household gratefully accepted. 

“And you shall tell your son on that day….” This simple command in Exodus has led to more than five thousand versions of the Passover story. Ochs recounts its life beginning with various mentions in the Bible and ending with the profusion of Haggadot today; these variations reflect the geographical spread of Jewish communities, the diversity of practice, and historic events. For anyone interested in the emergence and complex evolution of the Haggadah, this biography offers a trove of information in engaging and inviting language. 

Gittels Journey

Welcoming Elijah – A Passover Tale with a Tail & Gittel’s Journey – An Ellis Island Story – A special family program with author Leslea Newman

Sunday, March 7th at 4:00 PM EST 
Advanced registration required by Friday 3/5 at 12 noon

Free. Suggested donations of $10/household gratefully accepted. 

Join celebrated author Leslea Newman for a reading and discussion of her two recent books: Welcoming Elijah: A Passover Tale with a Tail and Gittel’s Journey – An Ellis Island Story. 

The Zoom link will be emailed to registered participants on Friday afternoon 3/7. 

Jennifer Rosner

The Yellow Bird Sings – A book talk with novelist Jennifer Rosner

Thursday, April 1st at 7:00 PM EST 
Advanced registration required by Weds. 3/31

Free. Suggested donations of $10/household gratefully accepted. 

What did Holocaust survivors go through on a daily basis in order to stay alive, and how did these experiences shape their consciousness? Jennifer Rosner’s debut novel attempts to answer these questions as it follows Roza and her young daughter, Shira, who flee the Nazis during World War II. 

Yousef Bashir (1)

The Words of My Father: Love and Pain in Palestine – A book talk with author Yousef Bashir

Thursday, May 6th at 7 PM EST 
Advanced registration required by Weds. 5/5

Free. Suggested donations of $10/household gratefully accepted. 

Bashir offers a powerful memoir of love, growth, survival, and unfashionable generosity of spirit inspired by his father. This is not an exploration of the broader socio-political context, but rather a personal narrative which contains some hints at the larger landscape. 

My Year of Kaddish book cover

My Year of Kaddish: Mourning, Memory and Meaning – A book talk with author Naomi Baum

Sunday, June 6th at 10:00 AM EST
Advanced registration required by Friday 6/4

Free. Suggested donations of $10/household gratefully accepted. 

In this profoundly honest and revealing memoir, psychologist Dr. Naomi L. Baum invites us to journey with her as she says Kaddish, the traditional Jewish mourner’s prayer, in the year following her mother’s death. When experiencing loss, we are often without words to describe how we are feeling. Finding a place to rest the pain, this book travels through the seasons of grief and will resonate with anyone who has lost someone dear. Dr. Baum, an international consultant on trauma and resilience, draws on both her personal and professional experience to navigate this uncharted territory, as she takes a new look at tradition and discovers both emotional and spiritual sources of comfort in unexpected places. 

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.