This Fall at the J

The J is celebrating 50 years in Mercer Island, and 70 years in greater Seattle. Take a look at all the wonderful classes, events, and programs we’ve got for you and your family. 

Download the SJCC fall magazine.



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SeaJAM 2019 Lineup

Get ready for our 50th anniversary celebration
September 13-15, 2019

Wednesday, July 17: presale tickets open for J members and Arts+Ideas followers
Wednesday, July 24: tickets on sale to the general public

We’re thrilled to announce the lineup for our 2019 SeaJAM, Seattle Jewish Arts + Music Festival. Join us for a weekend celebrating the Stroum JCC’s 50th anniversary on Mercer Island and 70th in greater Seattle. 

An Evening with Debra Messing

Saturday, September 14
Benaroya Hall, downtown Seattle
A conversation with the Emmy-winning star of Will & Grace.

Chef Joel Gamoran

Sunday, September 15
SJCC, Mercer Island
Join us for a delicious brunch and talk with chef Joel Gamoran, Sur La Table’s national chef, author of Cooking Scrappy, and host of A&E’s hit series Scraps.

The Maccabeats
Sunday, September 15
SJCC, Mercer Island

Get ready to dance at this family concert from a capella stars combining Jewish music and playful pop parodies.

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SNL Comic Chris Kattan at the J

SNL Comic Chris Kattan Presents his New Memoir, “Baby Don’t Hurt Me” at the SJCC Arts+Ideas Stage on July 9
MERCER ISLAND, Wash. — The Stroum Jewish Community Center (SJCC) is thrilled to announce an author talk with veteran Saturday Night Live comic Chris Kattan at the SJCC auditorium on Tuesday, July 9 at 7:30 pm. 

Moderated by cultural conversationalist Warren Etheredge of The Warren Report, Kattan will discuss his new tell-all memoir, “Baby Don’t Hurt Me.” He’ll share stories from his unconventional childhood (filled with unusual characters like Zen monks and countercultural heroes Carlos Castaneda and poet Leonard Cohen), growing up on Bainbridge Island, his eight seasons performing with friends and future legends like Will Ferrell and Tina Fey on Saturday Night Live and subsequent falling out with Lorne Michaels, and the near-death fall on live TV that led to years-long struggles with addiction.  

The event includes books sale and signing as well after the show. Talk-only and book-bundle tickets are available. 

A former member of The Groundlings sketch comedy troupe in LA, Kattan is best known for the incomparable style of physical comedy he brought to such memorable SNL characters as Mango, Mr. Peepers, and one-half of the trademark head-bopping, nightclubbing Butabi brothers alongside fellow SNL cast member Will Ferrell in the 1998 film A Night at the Roxbury. Now, for the first time ever, Kattan opens up about his years on Saturday Night Live, sharing never-before told stories, provocative and personal, goofy and heartwrenching. 

This celebrity author talk closes out the SJCC’s 2018-19 Arts+Ideas performing arts season and its “Words to the Wise” Speaker Series (A free, outdoor screening of the “The Producers” and beer garden takes place on August 10). The 2019-20 season, featuring a full lineup of music from around the world, renowned chefs, local authors, headlining comedians, and more will be announced in August. 

Event Details – Author Talk
Saturday Night Live Comic Chris Kattan’s New Memoir, “Baby Don’t Hurt Me”
Tuesday, July 9 | 7:30pm
Stroum Jewish Community Center, 3801 E. Mercer Way, Mercer Island WA 98040
Tickets: $15*/$20 talk only | $30*/$35 includes talk + discounted book (retails $24.95+tax) | Box office: 206-388-0833 

*Ticket discount pricing for current SJCC members, students, seniors 65+  

About Stroum Jewish Community Center:
The Stroum Jewish Community Center inspires connections to build community and ensure Jewish continuity. Together we create outstanding programs, partnerships and spaces that welcome everyone to learn, grow and celebrate Jewish life and culture. Learn more at 

About SJCC Arts + Ideas:
The 2018/19 SJCC Arts + Ideas season includes five series (Global Sound International Concerts, Words to the Wise talks, Fable to Table culinary programs and chef talks, Jest Fest comedy shows, theater and year-round film). In all, over 40 programs annually, plus the annual 11-day Seattle Jewish Film Festival in the spring and SeaJAM (Seattle’s Jewish Arts + Music Festival) in the fall. Tickets and Info: 

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Holding On to a Vision: Bringing Israeli Art Back to the J

By Russell Benaroya, SJCC Board Member

June 21, 2017, was a hot day as we walked up the Maalot HaGardom, the Great Stairs of in Safed (Tsfat), separating the Old City from the Artists Quarters. We were on the 5th day of our two-week family trip to Israel to honor the Bat Mitzvah of our daughter, Maya, earlier that year. Accompanied by our harmonica-playing guide, Yohai, we wandered the city, soaking in the experience.

We navigated down the narrow market, poking our heads into the galleries and shops, feeling the tractor beam of commerce. We weren’t looking to buy anything but just let our eyes graze over the beautiful artwork (okay, we did buy some beautiful Shabbat candles from the Candle Factory). As our son, Shane, was looking for a University of Alabama (Roll Tide) yarmulke, my wife (Melissa), Maya, and I stepped into a small gallery.

Above the gallery proprietor was a striking piece of art that jumped out at me immediately. It was vivid and progressive and Judaic. I had never seen anything quite like it. Set in transparent plexiglass, the piece was alive and meaningful. We thought about buying it on the spot but we were five days into a two-week trip, assumed we would see a lot of art during our trip (we had not yet been to Jerusalem), and didn’t want to hassle with shipping. So we passed and kept walking.

judaic art at the sjcc

We never saw the art in Jerusalem and I felt I had missed an opportunity. “Who was that artist?” I asked my daughter, who supports my quickly shrinking brain. “Tovi,” she responded. I jumped online and started researching and learned about Tovi Ben Herzel.

Tovi is an artist, illustrator, and teacher of graphics and media design. She brings to her art eye-catching graphic design, content, colors, and shapes that symbolize rhythm, repetition, and cycles of life. Her pieces represent moments in the Torah that are symbolized in a very 21st-century way.

I found Tovi’s email address and introduced myself and let her know how impressed I was with her work and how much I would love to bring her work to Seattle. I knew that the SJCC was committed to the arts and I thought it would be so wonderful if Tovi could share her pieces for display with the SJCC. After a couple of months of coordination we made it happen.

I am so pleased that the J is currently displaying six of Tovi’s pieces. Even better, we have worked with Tovi to negotiate a price for her pieces ($999) for which 20% will go to fund the Arts+Ideas programs at the JCC.

judaic art at the sjccWhen the boxes of art arrived, and SJCC Senior Director of Community Engagement Dana Weiner and I opened them, it was such an exciting moment. From a missed opportunity in Tsfat to bringing Tovi to Seattle, this experience reinforced the power of holding on to a vision. And I’m so glad that now we have the opportunity to share Tovi with the local community.

I hope you find her art as exciting as I do and that if you are interested you will support the JCC while placing in your home a piece of Judaica art that will evoke the messages of peace, creation, perseverance, and light.

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