An eclectic mix of thought-provoking films and author presentations combined with humor and entertainment make the Merage JCC’s OC Jewish Arts Festival, which runs from November 8 to 18, an event for the entire community to enjoy.
New this year is a Jewish Arts Festival Day on Sunday, November 11, from 12 to 4 p.m. The event, which is free and open to all, features live music with performances by Shir Ha-Ma’alot’s Cantor Arie Shikler and friends, entertainment and performances by the JCC’s Community Theatre JStage and JStars, and a special children’s book reading with Anne- Marie Asner, author of Hanukkah with Noshy Boy and Friends, as well as an artists’ bazaar with handmade jewelry, paintings and decorative objects and sweet and savory kosher treats, according to Yael Brudner, the JCC’s cultural arts director.
OC Jewish Arts Festival
Featured Event, Saturday, November 10, 7 p.m.
The nationally recognized political satire group Capitol Steps will be at the JCC only four days after the Presidential election with a fresh and “crispy” show right from the headlines. The Capitol Steps came together in December 1981, when some staffers for Illinois’s Senator Charles Percy were planning entertainment for a Christmas party. Ronald Reagan was President, so co-founders Elaina Newport, Bill Strauss and Jim Aidala figured that if entertainers could become politicians, then politicians could become entertainers! They used headlines of the day to create song parodies and skits that conveyed a special brand of satirical humor that was as popular in Peoria as it was on Pennsylvania Avenue.
Most cast members have worked on Capitol Hill. No matter who holds office, there’s never a shortage of material. According to Elaina Newport, “Typically the Republicans goof up, and the Democrats party. Then the Democrats goof up, and the Republicans party. That’s what we call the two-party system.”
The Capitol Steps’ material is in the form of parodies of well-known songs from the past several decades, usually introduced with a short skit. These songs are interspersed with other routines, including a spoonerism routine entitled “Lirty Dies” that the group generally includes near the end of each performance, running through recent scandals while making numerous innuendos. The show is constantly updated. The group has released more than 32 albums, including “Take the Money and Run for President,” “Obama Mia,” “Liberal Shop of Horrors” and “Desperate Housemembers.”
The Capitol Steps, who have performed for the last five Presidents, have been featured on NBC, CBS, ABC, PBS and National Public Radio. They have won the Washington Area Music Awards Cabaret/Musical Theater Artist Award for the last three years. Larry King was quoted on CNN saying, “They’re the best. There’s no one like them, no one in their league.” Former President George H. W.
Bush commented that, “The Capitol Steps make it easier to leave public life.”
Tickets are $32 for JCC Members; $40 for the public; VIP tickets with premium seating and reception with the performers are $100.
Thursday, November 8, 7 p.m.
Drama: Hebrew with English
subtitles, Troubadour Films, Geneva
Brothers, a drama directed by Igaal Niddam, addresses Israel’s religious-secular divide. Demonstrations from extremist elements of the Haredi (ultra-orthodox) community are the backdrop for the film, which focuses on the troubled relationship between two brothers who have not seen nor spoken to each other for 25 years: the distinguished lawyer and Torah scholar Aaron, who has traveled to Jerusalem from the United States in order to defend a group of yeshiva students who have refused military service in the IDF and his brother, Dan, an idealistic kibbutznik. The combination of an intelligent script, outstanding performances and the director’s commitment to presenting the issue in all its complexity, makes for a rich and satisfying viewing experience.
Ticket prices: JCC Members $10; Public $12; $12 all tickets at the door.
Follow Me – the Yoni
Sunday, November 18, 5 p.m.
Documentary: Israel, 2012
Screening followed with
special appearance by
Director Jonathan Gruber
Yoni Netanyahu was a complex, passionate individual thrust into defending his country in a time of war and violence. The older brother of Benjamin Netanyahu, the current Israeli Prime Minister, Yoni led the miraculous raid on Entebbe in 1976. Although almost all of the Entebbe hostages were saved, Yoni was the lone military fatality, leaving behind a grief-stricken family and nation.
On its own, Yoni’s story is a dramatic one, but when told through his published and unpublished notes and letters, it rises to another level. Follow Me is about conflict, patriotism, war, love, family, brotherhood, sacrifice and hope, all communicated in intimate detail through Yoni’s own words. Featuring interviews with three Israeli Prime Ministers, Yoni’s ex-wife (for the first time) and recently released audio from the Entebbe operation itself, Follow Me brings a rare portrait of Israel’s elite soldiers and their greatest hero to the big screen.
Ticket prices: JCC Members $15; Public $18; $18 all tickets at the door.
Sunday, November 11, 3 p.m.,
Children’s author Anne-Marie Asner will be at the Jewish Arts Festival Day for a fun-filled, interactive event including a reading of Matzah Ball Books’ latest title, Hanukkah with Noshy Boy and Friends. Children ages 2 to 7 and adults can enjoy a “time travel” activity to ancient times and even learning a little bit of Yiddish. In this story, Noshy Boy, with help from his Bubbe (grandma) and Zaide (grandpa), hosts a Hanukkah party filled with latkes, donuts and chocolate gelt celebrating the “tastiest holiday of the year!” Noshy Boy and his friends re-enact the story of Hanukkah as they become the Maccabees of ancient times.
Rav Hisda’s Daughter – a Novel of Love,
Talmud and Sorcery, Book I: Apprentice
Tuesday November 13, 10 a.m
Spend an intriguing morning with author Maggie Anton, author of the acclaimed Rashi’s Daughters series, and Rabbi Leah Lewis from congregation Shir Ha-Ma’alot, exploring the fascinating world of women, Talmud, love and magic. Hisdadukh, both beautiful and learned, is the youngest child of Talmudic sage Rav Hisda. Her story unfolds in the 3rd century Babylonia, in the household of her father, one of a handful of beleaguered rabbis struggling to establish new Jewish traditions after the destruction of Jerusalem’s Holy Temple. History reveals that in third-century Babylonia, in the land where the word “magic” originated, real-life enchantresses used incantations for everyday needs and desires.
Ticket prices: $15 JCC members, $20 public; includes light refreshments
Inside the Jewish Bakery: Recipes and Memories
from the Golden Age of Jewish Baking
Friday, November 16, 10:30 a.m.
Traditional Eastern European Jewish baking, along with the culture in which it evolved, is on its way to extinction. Meet author Stanley Ginsburg and go on a journey inside the Jewish bakery. More than a collection of recipes, Inside the Jewish Bakery: Recipes and Memories from the Golden Age of Jewish Baking chronicles the history and traditions, as well as the distinctive baked goods, of the Ashkenazic Jews of Eastern Europe and America. Drawing on sources as diverse as the Talmud, Sholom Aleichem and the Yizkor books that memorialize communities destroyed in the Holocaust, Stanley Ginsberg’s engaging “edible history” that endows these recipes with a powerful sense of time and place. The book received the prestigious IACP Jane Grigson Award, honoring distinguished scholarship and depth of research in cookbooks.
Ticket prices:$18 for JCC members, $25 for public; includes tastings
Author David Misch
The Book and the film, Circumcise Me
Thursday, November 15, 7 p.m.
A funny film and a hilarious author add up to a great evening, starting with the screening of the documentary film Circumcise Me and continue with author David Misch discussing his book, Funny – The Book.
Circumcise Me (comedy; directors: David Blumenfeld and Matthew Kalman) depicts Chris Campbell’s spiritual journey as a drug-drenched teenager in Philadelphia to become Yisrael Campbell. It’s a hilarious, searching and moving story of one man’s quest for spiritual enlightenment against the bewildering backdrop of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Funny – The Book is hilarious. David Misch knows the dark side of humanity, which makes this book prescribed reading for intelligent people. It’s not just about jokes and comedy routines — it’s about the hilarious absurdity of the human condition: life, death and what’s in between. The book is a wide-ranging look at the principles and practice of comedy, from its origins in pre-history to the worlds of movies, TV, prose, theater, stand-up and jokes.
Tickets (includes wine and desserts): $20 JCC members, $25 public