Presenters/Participating Organizations

Here is a list of the 2017 Jewbilee Presenters. Presenters list for 2018 coming soon!

(Please note this is a partial list and is subject to change)

Session 1 (1:30 – 2:30)

Ian Maksin – Cello Concert.

Having shared the stage with artists such as Andrea Bocelli and Sting, equally fluent in many genres from classical to jazz and world music, Russian-born cellist and composer Ian Maksin has created his own organic and soulful sound blend and developed a unique augmented way of using the cello as a lead and accompanying instrument at the same time. For his 2017 international solo tour, Maksin is shredding everything up from unaccompanied cello suites by J.S. Bach to blues, and from his original music infused with traditional flavors from Russia, Macedonia, Georgia to his own funky takes on songs by Nat King Cole, Bill Withers, Eric Clapton, Jacques Brel, backed up by his powerful one-man-cello-band.

Rabbi Dana Magat – Responding to the Hatred of our Times. CANCELLED

How do we cope with the rise of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, prejudice and hatred? Is Israel in danger? Are things really as bad as they seem?  In this session, we will process how we are feeling and talk about ways to respond to what is happening around us. How does our tradition respond to these threats? We will look to our tradition as well as discuss opportunities to respond to what is happening around us.

Rabbi Joey Felsen– Taking Personal Prayer to a Higher Level.

Join Rabbi Joey Felsen of the Jewish Study Network for an in-depth look at the pinnacle of Jewish prayer, the Amidah. Gain insights as well as practical tools for making your synagogue experience more meaningful and for enhancing your relationship with G-d.

Lewis Aptekar – Book Discussion of Moonglow by Michael Chabon.

Join us in a discussion of Michael Chabon’s new book, Moonglow which is described in various places as “a novel,” a “memoir” and a “pack of lies.” Truth or fiction, won’t matter to us as we talk about his book. What will matter is the story we hear from our Jewish progenitors and what stories of ourselves we tell our children and children’s children. Even if we can’t match Chabon’s beautiful use of language we will find plenty of truths and fabrications to describe our Jewish families.

Rabbi Leslie Alexander – Sexuality in Rabbinic Texts.

Rabbi Me’irah Iliinsky – Mapping the Journey of the Mourner.

We are familiar with the idea that the mourner goes through a process after the death of a loved one, but did you know that, in Jewish tradition, the soul does too? Being a rabbi and artist, Rabbi Me’irah created a "map" of the journey of the mourner AND the journey of the soul, set into four periods of Jewish time during the first year of mourning. Be prepared for a visual/experiential/spiritual approach.

Phil Spiegel – How 2,000,000 Jews Regained Their Identity.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War. For Jews in the former Soviet Union, this event had enormous significance. It proved that Israel was a viable nation and sparked their interest in learning about Judaism, being Jewish and emigrating to Israel. The class will look at the lives of several Soviet Jews who were inspired by the Israeli victory in 1967 and courageously fought for the right to "become Jews again".

Victoria Tenenbaum – Sleep Challenges for Parents of Young Children

Donna Frankel – Israeli Folk Dancing

Session 2 (2:40 – 3:40)

Shaya Bernstein – The Kabbalah of Jewish Foods.

The Kabbalah of Jewish Foods - exploring various Jewish and biblical foods and their meaning and messages.

Gordon Gladstone – Israel Right Now.

Each week brings a new, confusing and often worrying news from Israel and the greater Middle East. This update on the situation will bring you up to date on the developments inside the Israeli government, the American political scene and the near east.

Interfaith Panel - Learning to Listen: The Role of Interfaith Relations in Healing Our Nation.

Following the elections, it has become clear that Americans on all sides of the debates need to develop the skills and methods for listening to each other and discovering ways to work together to address shared needs. What role can Interfaith dialogue play in making the connections and developing the relationships that can move us beyond hostility and conflict? Rev. Andrew Kille, Chair of of the Silicon Valley Interreligious Council will moderate a panel discussion among members of the SiVIC board: Girish Shah (Jain), Steve Herrera (Catholic), Dolat Bolandi (Zoroastrian), Rev. Joy-Ellen Lipsky (Unitarian Universalist) and Rabbi Hugh Seid-Valencia (Jewish).

Betsy Cohen – An Exploration of Desire in The Song of Songs.

In this discussion, each member will receive a handwritten parchment copy of the Song of Songs, erotic love poetry from the Hebrew Bible.  Rabbi Akiba, (ca. 50 – ca 135AD), the founder of Rabbinic Judaism, defended the Song’s inclusion in the canon. Not only did he find desire holy, but claimed the Song, an exploration of desire, “the Holiest of Holies.”  That’s impressive!
This expression of human love and passion and has been interpreted in Midrash and commentary for centuries, as love between God and Israel, and between woman and man.  We shall read some of the erotic passages in unison. As a psychoanalyst, I have been able to incorporate the Song into my therapeutic practice.  We will share how the Song has helped heal people and we shall find our own meanings of the Song of Songs.

Shir Kochavi – Looted Art during World War II and Post-War Restitution Efforts.

The lecture will describe the main art events taking place in Germany between 1933-1945 and their affect on the art world in Europe and around the world, followed by introducing some of the major restitution cases that have taken place since the 1990s. 

Rabbi Ilana Baird – Learning with Rabbi Ilana. In Russian

Есть женщины в наших Талмудах

Session 3 (3:50 – 4:50)

Moshe Goodman – The Text of the Heart and the Heart of the Text.

The Text of the Heart and The Heart of the Text: This session will begin with a performance of a monologue based on one of the more heart wrenching human stories in the Hebrew Bible. Following the performance, we will study the relevant biblical text together in order to discover and evaluate the interpretive choices embedded in the performance.

Rabbi Philip Ohriner – Our Inner Impulses: Exploring the Purpose of Power of the Yetzer Hara in early Rabbinic Literature.

How did the rabbis of the talmud and midrash understand the human capacity to act in dissonance with our values and beliefs? How did the rabbis understand the impulse to do so and direct that impulse in positive ways?Join Rabbi Ohriner as we explore an understanding of the Yetzer Hara.

Sarah Lefton – Open Studio with BimBam in Club J.

Join the creative director of BimBam (formerly G-dcast) to contribute to the soundtrack and artwork for a new "music video" for Adon Olam, a liturgical poem that is very familiar to regular synagogue goers. We will explore the themes of this powerful text together, do some expressive painting and finally, record ourselves singing. From these assets, Sarah will produce a video after today's program and launch it on the BimBam YouTube channel. All are welcome...adults as well as families with kids 8+.

Rabbi Katie Mizrahi – Truth and Lies in Scripture, Liturgy and the Media -- a Jewish Take on our Post-Truth Era.

Explore ancient and contemporary texts about the virtues and limits of truth telling. Are there limits to the virtue of honesty? What is the ethical problem with deception?  If it’s possible to see Truth from different perspectives, how can we stop the spread of misinformation and create a trustworthy public discourse? Text study and discussion led by Rabbi Katie Mizrahi of Or Shalom Jewish Community in San Francisco.

Jacqueline Regev – Not your Grandmother’s ADL: Civil Rights Work in 2017.

Learn first-hand how ADL is mobilizing local schools to create communities where there is “No Place for Hate.” Description: Utilizing case studies from local communities, Jacqueline Regev, Education Director, will share best practices and real-life strategies that students, parents, and communities can use to disrupt bias-based bullying. 

Documentary Presentation – A screening of the documentary film Strangers No More. 

A story of welcoming immigrant children. The film is in Hebrew with English subtitles. 


Stella Filler – Jewish Mime and Song.

Luba Perlov – About Challah – And Why go Kosher?

Session 4 (5:00 – 6:00)

Rabbi Melanie Aron – A Lesson from History – Is Today’s American Politics Unprecedented?

Periodically the United States experiences a wave of populism with a paranoid tinge. The goal is to bring down the elite who are ruining the nations, "to be left alone, but not to leave others alone," as one historian put it. Jonathan Sarna has drawn parallels between our current politics and the "America First" slogans of President Warren G. Harding, while Kenneth Weisbrode examines the role that Poujadism played in the tax revolt and anti-foreigner feelings of the 1950's. Join me as we consider the extent to which our current situation represents a break from the past or a new incarnation of an enduring meme in American politics.

Doug Brook – Rear Pew Mirror

The front row is reserved for the righteous and the pure of heart. Come enjoy reflections from the back row, safely out of earshot from the Torah or rabbi. No Jewish topic is safe, but you'll be safe from lightning bolts. Probably. Doug Brook has been featured humor columnist for Southern Jewish Life magazine for over twenty years. He's artistic director of APJCC's Theatre Chevruta, a longtime synagogue instructor, and writer of such biblical plays as "Original Synergy," "Flood for Thought," "Lot in Life," "Yosef and Sound," "The Big Fish Story," and "What Ever Happened to HanuClaus?"  

Donna Frankel – Jewish Communities of India

Rabbi Josh Berkenwald - Vashti vs. Esther: Who is the Greater Feminist?

Modern readers of the Megillah try to redeem Vashti as a proto-feminist hero for standing up for herself and saying "no" to the King.   Meanwhile, Esther is critiqued for using her sexuality to manipulate the men around her.  But the truth is quite the opposite.  Esther is the true hero of the Purim story, shattering the social and political conventions of her day with wisdom and courage.
Come and find out how.

Rabbi Hugh Seid-Valencia – Igniting a Values Conversation.

What does it mean to be a Jewish Community Center that welcomes people of all backgrounds? What does it mean to be in Jewish community at this political and cultural moment-- when many Jewish values suddenly feel countercultural? It means that we organize ourselves around a series of core values that are deeply rooted in Jewish tradition and are directly relevant to all people interested in living engaged lives of meaning and purpose. In this session, we will explore the values conversation currently taking root at the APJCC.


Dror Sinai - "Desert Roots” -- Jewish music from around the world. In Hebrew and English.

Dror Sinai will take us on a relaxing, meditative, trance and joyful tour around the world, singing Jewish songs of various cultures including Israel, Yemen, Morocco,Turkey, Tunisia in Hebrew, Arabic, Aramaic…

While playing hand drums such as Frame Drum, Riq and Darbuka.

שורשי מדבר

דרור סיני ישרה עלינו טיול בעןלם השירים היהודים מסביב לעולם.

קונצרט מדידאטיבי, מרגיע, טרנסי ומהנה,שירים בעברית,תימנית,ערבית,מרוקאית,,,

Keynote (6:30 - 8:00pm)

Rabbi Darren Kleinberg, Kehillah Jewish High School - Hybrid Judaism

Keynote Presentation




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