Sunday, April 27, 2014, 2:00-3:30pm
The Aleppo Codex: In Pursuit of One of the World's Most Coveted, Sacred, and Mysterious Books, by Matti Friedman
Facilitated by Dr. Elaine Goodfriend
Department of Jewish Studies, Calif. State University, Northridge
A thousand years ago, the most perfect copy of the Hebrew Bible was written. It was kept safe through one upheaval after another in the Middle East, and by the 1940s it was housed in a dark grotto in Aleppo, Syria, and had become known around the world as the Aleppo Codex.
Journalist Matti Friedman’s true-life detective story traces how this precious manuscript was smuggled from its hiding place in Syria into the newly founded state of Israel and how and why many of its most sacred and valuable pages went missing. It’s a tale that involves grizzled secret agents, pious clergymen, shrewd antiquities collectors, and highly placed national figures who, as it turns out, would do anything to get their hands on an ancient, decaying book. What it reveals are uncomfortable truths about greed, state cover-ups, and the fascinating role of historical treasures in creating a national identity.
Sunday, November 16, 2014 @ 2:00-3:30pm
Our Holocaust by Amir Gutfreund
Facilitated by Margarete Feinstein, Assistant Professor, LMU Jewish Studies Dept.
Amir and Effi collected relatives. With Holocaust survivors for parents and few other 'real' relatives alive, relationships operated under a "Law of Compression" in which tenuous connections turned friends into uncles, cousins and grandparents. Life was framed by Grandpa Lolek, the parsimonious and eccentric old rogue who put his tea bags through Selektion, and Grandpa Yosef, the neighborhood saint, who knew everything about everything, but refused to talk of his own past. Amir and Effi also collected information about what happened Over There. This was more difficult than collecting relatives; nobody would tell them any details because they weren't yet Old Enough. The intrepid pair won't let this stop them, and their quest for knowledge results in adventures both funny and alarming, as they try to unearth their neighbors' stories. As Amir grows up, his obsession with understanding the Holocaust remains with him, and finally Old Enough to know, the unforgettable cast of characters that populate his world open their hearts, souls, and pasts to him.
Sunday, September 14, 2014 @ 2:00-3:30pm
Bearing the Body by Ehud Havazelet
Facilitated by Dr. Holli Levitsky, Professor of English, & Director of Jewish Studies, LMU
At the start of Bearing the Body, Nathan Mirsky learns that his older brother has died in San Francisco, apparently murdered after years of aimlessness. On the spur of the moment, Nathan leaves his job as a medical resident and heads west from Boston to learn what he can about Daniel's death. His father, Sol--a quiet, embittered Holocaust survivor--insists on coming along. Piecing together Daniel's last days, Nathan and Sol are forced to confront secrets that have long isolated them from each other and to being a long process of forgiveness.
Sunday, February 16, 2014, 2:00-3:30pm
--FILM SCREENING---Nicky's Family, directed by Matej Minac (2014)
Discover the inspirational true story of "Britain's Schindler" Sir Nicholas Winton in the award-winning film "Nicky's Family". An ordinary British stockbroker, Nicholas Winton organized the rescue of 669 Czech and Slovak children just before the outbreak of World War II. Winton, now 103 years old, did not speak about these events with anyone for more than half a century. His heroism would have probably been forgotten if his wife, fifty years later, hadn't found a suitcase in the attic, full of documents and transport plans. Today the story of this rescue is known around the world, and thousands of descendants of 'Nicky's Family' continue to follow in his footsteps to do good. "Nicky's Family" has earned rave reviews from audiences and critics around the world, winning over 29 awards - including 13 audience awards from U.S. film festivals! (100 minutes)
Sunday, November 2, 2014 @ Film Screening: 2:00-4:00pm
The Gatekeepers, directed by Dror Moreh (2012, 101 mins.)
"Charged with overseeing Israel's war on terror, both Palestinian and Jewish, the head of the Shin Bet, Israel's Secret Service, is present at the crossroads for every decision made. This documentary features interviews with six former heads of the agency who have agreed to share their insights and reflect publicly on their actions and decisions. The Gatekeepers offers and exclusive account of the sum of their successes and failures. It validates the reasons that each man individually and the six as a group came to reconsider their hard-line positions and advocate a conciliatory approach based on a two-state solution.” Academy Award Nominee - 2012 Best Documentary
Sunday, March 23, 2014, 2:00-3:30pm
My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok
Special Guest: Akiva Potok
Facilitated by Dr. Audrey Thacker, Department of English, CSUN
Asher Lev is a Ladover Hasid who keeps kosher, prays three times a day and believes in the Ribbono Shel Olom, the Master of the Universe. Asher Lev is an artist who is compulsively driven to render the world he sees and feels even when it leads him to blasphemy.In this stirring and often visionary novel, Chaim Potok traces Asher’s passage between these two identities, the one consecrated to God, the other subject only to the imagination.
Asher Lev grows up in a cloistered Hasidic community in postwar Brooklyn, a world suffused by ritual and revolving around a charismatic Rebbe. But in time his gift threatens to estrange him from that world and the parents he adores. As it follows his struggle, My Name Is Asher Lev becomes a luminous portrait of the artist, by turns heartbreaking and exultant, a modern classic.
Sunday, August 17, 2014 @ 2:00-3:30pm
Crossing Cairo: A Jewish Woman’s Encounter with Egypt By Rabbi Ruth Sohn
Rabbi Sohn was on campus person to discuss, sell and sign her book.
In Crossing Cairo, Rabbi Ruth Sohn has written an exceptional family portrait of the experience of living in Egypt with her husband and children. Advised not to share the fact that they are Jewish, they discover what it means to hide and then increasingly share their identity. Would it be possible to cross the boundaries of language, culture and religion to form real friendships and find a home among Egyptians? As she navigates new routines of daily life to make friends, find an Arabic teacher, and get to know the mysterious veiled woman that came with the rental of their apartment, Sohn takes us on a remarkable journey as she encounters the many faces of Cairo. In the Epilogue she returns to Cairo after the fall of Mubarak to find a newly exuberant and infectious patriotism and hope. Throughout this probing contemplation of self and other in a world that is foreign and in many ways inimical to her own as an American Jew, Sohn shows how even the seemingly mundane events of daily life can yield unexpected discoveries.
"With remarkable evenhandedness and...openness, Sohn has written a provocative and mesmerizing book of extraordinary passion and insight. I could not put it down!" Rabbi David Ellenson, President Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
Sunday, January 26, 2014, 2:00-3:30pm
The Crooked Mirror: A Memoir of Polish-Jewish Reconciliation by Louise Steinman
Facilitated by Dr. Holli Levitsky, Department of English and Director of Jewish Studies
In the winter of 2000, Louise Steinman set out to attend an international Bearing Witness Retreat at Auschwitz-Birkenau at the invitation of her Zen rabbi, who felt the Poles had gotten a “bum rap.” A bum rap? Her own mother could not bear to utter the word “Poland,” a country, Steinman was taught, that allowed and perhaps abetted the genocide that decimated Europe’s Jewish population, including members of her own extended family.
As Steinman learns more about her lost ancestors, though, she finds that the history of Polish-Jewish relations is far more complex. Returning time and again to Poland over the course of a decade, Steinman finds Poles who are seeking the truth about the past, however painful, and creating their own rituals to teach their towns about the history of their lost Jewish neighbors. This lyrical memoir chronicles her immersion in the exhilarating, discomforting, sometimes surreal, and ultimately healing process of Polish-Jewish reconciliation.