Jewish LIFE Programs


View the Complete Jewish LIFE Program Guide Here

Your Personal GPS to Navigate the Middle East in the 21st Century avi-melamed-photo

  • Tuesday, October 17
  • 7:00pm
  • Free to Community

In the second decade of the 21st Century, the 20th Century Middle East disappears. A new, yet at the same time, and old Middle East emerges. Avi gives us a comprehensive understanding of the Middle East today, including: the background to today’s events and real time analysis of unfolding events in the Arab and Muslim world.

Avi Melamed is a former Israeli intelligence official and senior official on Arab affairs. He serves as the Fellow of Intelligence and Middle Eastern Affairs for the Eisenhower Institute. He is an expert on current affairs in the Arab and Muslim world and their impact on Israel and the Middle East.

Falafel and Short Israeli Films Presented by the Ma’Aleh School of Television and the Arts in Jerusalem

Upcoming dates:

  • Thursday, October 19 • 6:30 pm
  • Thursday, December 14 • 6:30 pm
  • Thursday, March 8 • 6:30 pm

October Films:

One Too Manyone-too-many-image

30 year old Kobi is married to Rachel, who’s been in a coma 4 years following an accident. Kobi uses a little known loophole in Jewish law – the signatures of 100 Rabbis – in order to marry again, despite the fact his first wife is not deceased. However, the first wife wakes up from her coma as he is marrying his second and Kobi must make a choice between the two women.

French Revolution

A noisy disturbance from some youths on the street erupts into Noni and Tamar’s home, shattering their evening. The violence that ensues raises questions for both of them about fear and ethics, testing the relationship between them to the limit.

Hanna is Beautifulhannah-is-beautiful-image

Hanna, a special needs 37 year old, shows a moving and philosophical insight into her situation. She lives in protective housing, follows her daily routine and hopes for love. Earning well below the minimum wage in the kitchens of a government ministry, Hanna applies for a re-evaluation of her salary in the light of her high level of competence at work. The film accompanies her through her hardest and happiest moments.

  • Fee: $15 (includes falafel dinner)

This program is supported by the Irma Horowitz Endowment Fund.

The Power of Choice: Six Steps to get what you want out of Life power-of-choice-image

  • Thursday, October 26
  • 7 pm
  • Fee $10

Through storytelling and laughter, Denise will guide us on how to envision and make changes in life.  Backed by research and easy-to-read format, this book lays out how to set our goals and reach towards them. You’ll have the tools to shape your future and get more of what you want out of life!

Denise Yosafat is generously donating profits from each book sale to our JCC.



One of the Last Survivors of Kristallnacht: His Personal Story

  • Thursday, November 9Erwin-Ganz-photo
  • 7:00pm
  • Free to the Community

In 1938, the Nazis began their crusade against Jews with discriminatory laws and the looting of property. They turned to violence openly in what has been known as Kristallnacht: The Night of Broken Glass. German soldiers set fires to synagogues, destroyed Jewish stores and businesses, and deported thousands of men to concentration camps.

Erwin Ganz was born in Frankurt, Germany on 1929. He lived there until he was three, then his family was forced to leave, and they relocated to Bernkastel Koos, Germany. Erwin was 8 years old when Kristallnact occurred. In 1939, Erwin and his family immigrated at the age of 9 to the United States, where they settled in Newark, NJ.

This program is co-sponsored with the Jewish Federation.

Muslim and Jewish Women:  The Building of Strong Mutual Trust, Respect and Friendship. 

  • Tuesday, November 14sheryl-olitsky-photo
  • 7 pm
  • Fee $10

Sheryl is the Executive Director and Co-founder of the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom,  an emergence of all types of women from local groups, designed to foster abiding relationships between Muslim and Jewish Women.  It is the first national grassroots organization of Muslim and Jewish Women committed to living in harmony.  In just a few years, this Sisterhood has grown into a movement with members throughout the United States and Canada.

Sheryl Olitsky was a marketing executive at many firms, including Proctor & Gamble.


The 3/4 Life Challenge


As we age we become more aware of our own mortality and ask how we can live so as life has meaning. In this session we will explore how a series of Torah texts can form a foundation for our own life’s next stage.

  • Sunday, November 19
  • 11am Brunch
  • Fee $18

After Rabbi Address's talk, representatives from the Wilf Campus for Jewish Living will be available to discuss and advise on specific challenges related to aging and care giving.

Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min is founder and Director of Jewish Sacred Aging, LLC® and the web site www, He hosts a regular series of Jewish Sacred Aging pod-casts.

Rabbi Address was ordained from HUC-JIR in 1972 and has served congregations in New Jersey and California. He served on the staff of the Union for Reform Judaism for over three decades as Regional Director, and then as founding Director of the Department of Jewish Family Concerns. He has served as adjunct faculty at HUC-JIR in New York, co-chairs the Jewish Advisory group for Sukkat Shalom, the Jewish hospice of Samaritan Health care.  Rabbi Address also serves on an advisory committee for Jewish committee for the Alzheimer's Association of Delaware Valley, and co-chairs the Committee of Spirituality and Diversity for C-TAC, the Coalition to Transform Advanced Care, in Washington, DC.  He has contributed to numerous sites and publications on issues related to Boomers, spirituality and aging. His recent book (Behrman House) is Seekers of Meaning: Baby Boomers, Judaism and the Pursuit of Healthy Aging.

Twenty-Six Seconds: A Personal History of the Zapruder Film

  • Monday, December 4
  • 7 pm
  • Fee:  $10

THE END OF CAMELOT…Meet the woman whose grandfather filmed the 22 seconds.

On November 22, 1963, Abraham Zapruder left his office hoping for a glimpse of President John F. Kennedy’s motorcade.  A Russian Jewish immigrant who loved his home in America, Abraham was thrilled at the chance to see the young president in person – and perhaps be lucky enough to bring back a home movie.  The 26 seconds of Zapruder’s footage depicting the JFK assassination is now iconic.

Alexandra Zapruder began her career on the founding staff of the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC.  She is the author of Salvaged Pages:  Young Writers’ Diaries of the Holocaust, which is a National Jewish Book award winner.

Jewish-Muslims Relations: Challenges and Opportunities elisha-fishbane-image

  • Tuesday, December 5
  • 7pm
  • Fee $10

At a time when Jewish-Muslim relations are too often fraught with mutual suspicion and competing narratives, there is a great need for both communities to take stock of where we are and how we got here.  This presentation will explore our present predicament from a number of overlapping angles - history, religion, and politics - and consider alternative routes being explored today in Israel, Europe, and the United States to confront these challenges and work toward a more viable future.

Elisha Russ-Fishbane, Assistant Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University, is a historian of Jewish life and culture in the Islamic world and of the religious and cultural encounters between Judaism and Islam.  He is the author of a book on the Jewish-Sufi movement of thirteenth-century Egypt, entitled Judaism, Sufism, and the Pietists of Medieval Egypt: A Study of Abraham Maimonides and His Circle (Oxford University Press, 2015), and was awarded the Salo Baron Brize for best first book in Jewish Studies. Mr. Fishbane is currently at work on a history of old age in medieval Jewish society of the Mediterranean region, tentatively titled The Sabbath of Life: Portraits of Old Age in Medieval Jewish Society.

We’ll Always Have Casablanca: The Life, Legend and Afterlife of Hollywood’s Most Beloved Movie casablanca-image

  • Thursday, December 14  
  • 1 pm (Includes bagel & a smear.)
  • Fee:  $10

Filled with fresh insights into Casablanca’s creation, production and legacy, We’ll Always Have Casablanca is a magnificent account of what made the movie so popular and why it continues to dazzle audiences 75 years after its release. Noah Isenberg reveals the myths and realities behind the production of the movie, the controversial casting decisions, and focuses particularly on the central role refugees from Hitler’s Europe played in the production.

Noah Isenberg is director of screen studies and Professor of Culture and Media at The New School, and a recipient of an NEH Public Scholar Award.

*Friday, Dec. 1  at 12 Noon… join us for the movie Casablanca.  Fee: $5 includes Pizza! 

In Search of Israeli Cuisine

  • Thursday, December 14, 6:30pm
  • Fee: $15/person includes falafel dinner

In Search of Israeli Cuisine is a portrait of the Israeli people told through food. It’s a “feast for the cultures that make up Israel today – Jewish, Arab, Muslim, Christian, Druze- a rich, complex and human story emerges. Through a documentary-like setting, we will learn about food through interviews, farms, markets, restaurants, kitchens, landscapes and history. We will discover that this hot, multi-cultural cuisine has developed only in the last 30 years.

91% liked it on Rotten Tomatoes! 

This program is supported by the Irma Horowitz Endowment Fund.

Bad Rabbi And Other Strange But True Stories from the Yiddish Press bad-rabbi-image

  • Thursday, January 11 7pm
  • Fee $10

Really????  Bad Rabbi???  No way!.....

True stories plucked right out of the Yiddish papers from the late 18th Century to the early 20th Century, Eddy introduces us to thieves, wrestlers, poets and beauty queens -- and all their misadventures!  Part journalism, part “Jerry Springer”, get ready to laugh and be entertained by a bit of history not so easily found.

Eddy Portnoy is an expert on Jewish popular culture, and has an MA in Yiddish  from Columbia University and a PhD in Jewish History from JTS. He has taught at JTS and Rutgers, and lectured worldwide.

Something Beautiful Happened: A Story of Survival, Faith and Courage in the Face of Evil


  • Thursday, January 18
  • 7 pm
  • Fee: $10

Seventy years after her grandmother helped hide a Jewish family on a Greek island during World War II, Yvette Corporon sets out to track down their descendants – and discovers a new way to understand tragedy, forgiveness and the power of kindness.  In beautifully told interweaving storylines, the past and present come together in a nuanced, heartfelt story about the power of faith, the importance of kindness, and the courage to stand up for what’s right in the face of evil.

Yvette Corporon is a three-time Emmy Award winning writer, author and producer.  She has received the Silurian Award for Excellence in Journalism and the NYC Council & Comptroller’s Award for Greek Heritage & Culture.



Dr. Ali Chaudry Understanding Islam

The meaning of the Islamic Faith, its core theological principles, and its ethical teachings

  • Tuesday, January 23
  • Time: 7:00pm
  • Fee $10

Dr. Ali Chaudry, a prominent leader of the Muslim community in Basking Ridge, and a talented educator and leader of the great interfaith community in NJ, will share the fundamental principles of Islam.

Dr. Chaudry was elected to the Bernards Township Board of Education serving from 1990-1995 and as Mayor in Bernards Township in 2004, becoming the first Pakistani born Muslim to become Mayor in the United States. He is the co-founder of the NJ Interfaith Coalition. He serves on the NJ Attorney General’s Muslim Outreach Committee and as a member of the Interfaith Advisory Council of the NJ Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness. Dr. Chaudry is a frequent speaker at interfaith events and initiated the Pledge to Stand for the Other, calling on everyone to challenge
bigotry in any form.

My Jewish Year: 18 Holidays, One Wondering Jew my-jewish-year-image

  • Thursday, February 8
  • 7pm
  • Fee: $10

Whether you’re seeking an accessible, digestible roadmap for Jewish life, or a fresh take on what you have been practicing for a lifetime, Abigail’s journey will leave you educated, charmed and inspired.  She had great teachers – over 60 rabbis whose wisdoms are woven throughout Abigail’s personal journey.

Abigail Pogrebin is a former producer for 60 Minutes and Charlie Rose, and she moderates her own interview series at the JCC Manhattan.



Lift and Separate; Marilyn Simon Rothstein

  • Thursday, February 22
  • 7:00pm
  • Fee $10

This novel tells the story of a Jewish mother of three grown children whose husband left her for a younger model, tries her best to conquer family weddings by herself, divided loyalties, and the news that her husband’s pretty young chippy is now pregnant…oy!!! It’s time for her to pull herself up by her lacy bra straps and find a way to begin life again, second time around! Marilyn does a great job cramming in lots of hilarious scenarios for everyone to discuss!  

Marilyn Simon Rothstein has owned an advertising agency for 25 years, became an adult bat mitzvah (achieving her lifelong goal of chanting from the Torah), and happily married a nice Jewish man. 

Bring your book club to this event!

When Longing Meets Reality

Rachel Korazim, Visiting Scholar from Israel joins us for Yom Ha’atzma’ut 

  • Thursday, April 19
  • Time: 7:00 pm (6:30 pizza for teens)
  • Fee: $10 adults; free for teens

Based on one of the first paragraphs of Israel’s Declaration of Independence, this lecture offers a chronological exploration of the longing for Zion and its reality. The clash between romantic longing from afar and the harsh realities of the land, have been, and often still are, very difficult even for the greatest lovers of Zion. Popular songs and poetry put to music will be part of this lecture.


Lioness: Golda Meir and the Nation of Israel golda-meir-image

  • Sunday, April 22  6pm
  • Fee $10

“You will never find a better sparring person than adversity”.

Golda Meir was a world leader like no other.  Born in czarist Russia in 1898, she immigrated to America in 1906 and grew up in Milwaukee, where in her early years she displayed political consciousness.  From there, this would eventually catapult her into the inner circles of Israel’s founding generation.

Francine Klagsbrun is the author of more than a dozen books.  Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, The Boston Globe, Newsweek, and Ms. Magazine.

Come Support Our LGBTQ Community! Phoenix Schneider

  • Wednesday, April 25
  • 7:00pm
  • Free to the Community

Learn what LGBTQ means, the broad spectrum of gender and sexual orientation, and how we can best support loved ones in their expressed identity. This is the time for education and Q & A!! The program is open to one and all.  Phoenix Schneider, MSW, is a trans activist and social worker who has worked in the nonprofit sector since 2000. Phoenix specializes in program development and direct services with the LGBTQ communities. Phoenix is a thought leader in the area of LGBTQ youth and mental health and has extensive experience developing local and national programming. Under Phoenix’s leadership with JFCS of Greater Philadelphia, the agency was awarded The Human Rights Campaign Foundation “Seal of Recognition” for Leadership in Supporting and Serving LGBTQ Youth and Families. Phoenix’s lifelong mission is to help people seek their highest potential as well as to promote culture shifts towards full acceptance and inclusion of everyone. 

Event co-sponsored by Jewish Family Service 

Healthy Gut, Flat Stomach: Don’t we all dream of a flat stomach?

  • Thursday, May 10
  • 7pm
  • Fee $10
  • Jewish people are notorious for having digestive issues – and we LOVE to talk about them!  Learn about the right foods to eat.  It may sound complicated or far-fetched, but the many converts who have tried this science-supported diet swear by it.  This book will break down the science so that you can understand it – and implement it easily on your own.

Danielle Capalino is a registered dietitian in a private practice in

New York City.  She wants you to feel great without having to wear an elastic waistband!