Arts & Culture

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

Author talks are presented by the JCA as a member of the Jewish Book Council Network.

Zack Bodner Why Do Jewish manifesto book cover

Why Do Jewish? A Manifesto for 21st Century Jewish Peoplehood  

A virtual book talk with Zack Bodner
Thursday, Feb. 9th | 7:00 PM ET
Advanced registration required by Weds. February 8th  

How do I live a more meaning­ful life? In an era when we can choose our own identities, why might we choose to identify as Jews? Zack Bodner addresses these questions and others as he shifts from asking ​“Why be Jewish?” to ​“Why do Jewish?” After laying out a compelling answer, he goes on to explain what Jewish Peoplehood is and why he believes we are in the throes of an evolution to the next era: Jewish Peoplehood 4.0. He provides a road map for how to do Jewish in the 21st century including proposing ​“the next big Jewish idea.” Insisting that taking action is what matters most, Bodner proposes a creative framework for doing Jewish based on an acronym from the Yiddish word tachlis, which means ​“getting down to brass tacks.” Through a combination of personal stories, insights from some of the world’s greatest teachers, and contemporary analysis, Why Do Jewish? takes one of our oldest wisdom traditions and provides an accessible guide for anyone looking for answers to life’s most important questions. 

Zack Bodner is the CEO of the Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto, CA. 

The book is available to order from our local partner, Longfellow Books. Limited signed copies are available. 

Lisa Brahin Tears Over Russia Ukraine Pogroms book cover

Tears Over Russia: A Search for Family and the Legacy of Ukraine's Pogroms  

A virtual author talk with Lisa Brahin
Thursday, March 2nd | 7:00 PM ET
Advanced registration required by Weds. March 1st  

Struggle and resilience take center stage in Lisa Brahin’s Tears Over Russia, a meticulous attempt to reconstruct not only a family’s roots in present-day Ukraine and their travails on their way to America, but also the intricacies of the world they left behind. Using interviews, legal and historical documents, and literature from the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, Brahin retraces the formation of her family and the loss of their hometown, Stavishche, to mounting antisemitism in the first half of the twentieth century. In doing so, she provides us a unique narrative that does not endorse or glamorize immigration to the United States (or the ​“Goldene Medine”) and does not shy away from depicting the emotional and physical toll of the period’s pogroms on Ukraine’s Jews. Ultimately she concludes that “… if there were no adversity, pain, or suffering, or a story to tell, it is doubtful that anyone would venture across an ocean and leave their world, with everything and everyone they love in it, behind.”   

The book is available to order from our local partner, Longfellow Books. Limited signed copies are available. 

Rabbi Barry Block Social Justice Commentary

The Social Justice Torah Commentary  

A virtual author talk with Rabbis Barry Block and Erica Asch
Moderated by Rabbi Jared Saks
Thursday, March 16th | 7:00 PM ET
Advanced registration required by Weds. March 15th to receive the Zoom link. 

What does the Torah have to say about social justice? As the contributors to The Social Justice Torah Commentary demonstrate, a great deal. A diverse array of authors delve deeply into each week’s parashah (Torah portion), drawing lessons to inspire tikkun olam (healing or repair of the world). Chapters address key contemporary issues such as racism, climate change, mass incarceration, immigration, disability, women’s rights, voting rights, and many more. The result is an indispensable resource for weekly Torah study and for anyone committed to repairing the world. 

This special event will feature the book’s editor, Rabbi Barry Block, in discussion with Maine’s very own Rabbi Erica Asch, of Temple Beth El, Augusta; President-elect of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), and a contributor to this book. The discussion will be moderated by Rabbi Jared Saks of Congregation Bet Ha’am, South Portland.  

The book is available to order from our local partner, Longfellow Books. Limited signed copies are available. 

Sounding Trauma Mediating Memory Holocaust Bowdoin

SOUNDING TRAUMA, MEDIATING MEMORY: Holocaust Economy and the Politics of Sound   

With Prof. Kathryn Huether 
Co-sponsored by Beth Israel Congregation - Bath, Bowdoin College and the Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine 
RESCHEDULED - NEW DATE: Wednesday, March 29th | 7:00 – 8:30 PM
In person at Bowdoin College - Main Lounge - Moulton Union, Brunswick 

This talk will provide an overview of Dr. Huether's book project, Sounding Trauma, Mediating Memory: Holocaust Economy and the Politics of Sound, which examines Holocaust representation specifically for its sonic qualities, including musical underscoring, audio guides, vocal affect, and the sound of language. Dr. Huether will address dynamic strategies and implications of music and sound in contemporary Holocaust memory, including Hollywood films, museums and memorial sites, audio guides, and survivor testimony.