HomeOctober 2023A Celebration of Creativity, Heritage and Community

A Celebration of Creativity, Heritage and Community

2023 OC Jewish Arts Festival at the Merage JCC

    The richness and diversity of Jewish culture have always been a source of fascination and inspiration. This year, the Merage JCC is thrilled to invite you to join us for our annual OC Jewish Arts Festival. From acclaimed authors and captivating movies to thought-provoking exhibits and renowned cookbook authors, this Festival promises a deep dive into the heart and soul of Jewish culture.
    Our Festival is a rich mixture of culinary treats, a ballerina tea party for kids, movies that challenge and inform us and authors who share history and innovation. From well-established writers to emerging talents, our lineup covers a spectrum of genres, from historical fiction to poignant memoirs. Attendees can expect engaging readings, book signings, and discussions that delve into the themes, histories, and traditions that permeate Jewish literature.
    We kick off our Festival with Little Town by Award-winning filmmaker Dani Menkin who has charmed Jewish Film Festival audiences for years with crowd-pleasers such as Aulcie, On the Map, Picture of His Life, and Dolphin Boy, among others. He now returns with his new touching story about a father and son coming closer together with the help of a stranger. It’s then followed by Vishniac, a documentary about Roman Vishniac who was a Russian-American photographer best known for capturing on film some of the most iconic images of Jewish life in Europe before the Holocaust, documenting a world that was soon to vanish. Finally, we are proud to present the OC premiere of Closed Circuit, a deconstruction of a terrorist attack, raw security camera footage and gripping eyewitness testimonies chronicle the deadly June 2016 Sarona Market shooting in Tel Aviv. This special Orange County premiere event will be followed by a Q&A with producer Nancy Spielberg and writer/director Tal Inbar.
    With stories that span generations and geographies, these first few days showcase the power of storytelling to preserve and convey the essence of Jewish culture.
    As the weeks progress, we look forward to spending an afternoon with Dr. Eric Goldman, who will examine Steven Spielberg’s films, focusing on elements that make his movies so unique and how his Jewish background has deeply influenced his cinema.
    We also bring Chef Michael Solomonov who is a beloved champion of Israel’s extraordinarily diverse and vibrant culinary landscape. Join us for a delicious dinner featuring recipes from Chef Michael Solomonov’s cookbooks Israeli Soul and Zahav. Followed by a cooking demo and Q&A. Cookbooks will be available for purchase at the event.

Authors Joel Chasnoff & Benji Lovitt are bound to share laughter with us from their book Israel 201. These American-Israeli stand-up comedians pull back the curtain and show you the people, places, and phenomena that make the country truly unique, and that can happen “only in Israel.” Additionally, American-born novelist, playwright and journalist, Naomi Ragen joins us for an informal book club chat featuring her novel The Enemy Beside Me, a powerful, provocative novel about two people fighting for reconciliation over unforgivable crimes of the past.
    And a festival would not be complete without something for the whole family. Join us for a morning of wearing your favorite fancy party attire for an interactive event with Robin Preiss Glasser, bestselling illustrator of the internationally renowned Fancy Nancy series as she hosts a fabulous tea party and book reading, followed by a fun art activity.
    Don’t miss our Triumph of the Spirit exhibit in the Slutzky Family Art Gallery. It contains rare and never before seen memorabilia of Jewish Olympic athletes from before, during and after the Holocaust. The exhibit will be on display from late October through mid-December. The opening reception and presentation will take place on Monday, November 20 at 6 p.m. It is free and open to the public.
    Our OC Jewish Arts Festival promises to be an immersive and enlightening exploration of Jewish culture. Whether you’re a member of the J community or simply interested in learning more about this rich heritage, we invite you to join us on this incredible journey of discovery, connection, and celebration. Together, we’ll honor the traditions, stories, and contributions that have shaped Jewish culture throughout history, leaving us with a deeper appreciation for its enduring legacy. Don’t miss this opportunity to engage with the heart and soul of Jewish culture.
    Visit www.jccoc.org to purchase tickets to the Merage JCC’s OC Jewish Arts Festival authors, films and exhibits. 

ALIZA SABLE is the Cultural Arts Director at the Merage JCC and is a contributing writer to JTA and Jlife magazine.


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