The Stroum Jewish Community Center is thrilled to announce its 2019/20 Arts + Ideas season lineup. Now in its fifth season, the Arts + Ideas stage at the J continues to bring world-class musicians, films, chefs, authors, live theater and podcast events, and two city-wide festivals to its home on Mercer Island and around the Puget Sound region.
The season kicked off in September with a successful SeaJAM Festival of Jewish Arts + Music, celebrating the SJCC’s 50th anniversary on Mercer Island and 70th in greater Seattle. The three-day festival featured a community challah baking contest judged by local chefs such as Robin Wehl of Hello Robin; an on-stage conversation with Will & Grace star Debra Messing at Benaroya Hall; a 50th anniversary brunch and banter with Sur La Table’s national chef Joel Gamoran; and a sold-out concert with a capella stars, the Maccabeats.
From klezmer fusion to local stars, this season’s “Global Sound” international music series features a diverse array of musical genres. On October 29, Israel’s pop superstar Rami Kleinstein, often compared to Billy Joel, makes a rare appearance in the US. On December 8, two female recording artists join forces when Elana Jagoda and the local Chava Mirel Trio headline the J’s annual Hanukkah community celebration with a family-friendly concert. Toronto-based world-music band Beyond the Pale fuses contemporary klezmer, Balkan beats, bluegrass, and reggae on February 15. Israeli superstar Noa returns to our stage with longtime collaborator Gil Dor to perform songs from her new album, “Letters to Bach,” produced by Seattle’s own Quincy Jones on March 12.
This year’s “Shpiel” theater and live podcast series and “Jest Fest” comedy lineup spans the gamut from staged readings to full productions. Comedy renegade Sandra Bernhard performs “Quick Sand” on November 2, a thrilling mix of political satire, pop culture commentary, comedy, music, and cabaret with her Sandyland Squad Band. Book-It Repertory Theatre returns with a timely staged reading of Jennifer Maisel’s new play “Eight Nights,” which follows the lives of eight immigrant families living in the same apartment over a span of more than 60 years (December 10). Suzanne Bachner’s spellbinding solo show, “The Good Adoptee,” explores adoption (from the same secretive agency as the triplets in the film THREE IDENTICAL STRANGERS), secrecy, and finding one’s Jewish identity (February 9); while the Seattle Jewish Theater Company brings “Arrivals,” an original Romeo and Juliet immigrant love story, to the stage on April 19. The Israel Story Live Podcast, known as Israel’s “This American Life,” returns for another magical evening of live radio, music, and multimedia storytelling on April 30. Finally, Comedian Myq Kaplan, known for his Netflix comedy special “Small, Dork, and Handsome” does standup on June 6.
Several high-profile authors and chefs are also featured in this year’s “Words to the Wise” spoken word and “Fable to Table” cookbook talk series, including hot, new Israeli chef Adeena Sussman. The co-author of Chrissy Tiegen’s “Cravings” cookbooks, brings tales and tastes on November 21 from her first solo cookbook “Sababa”—named one of the “Best 13 Cookbooks of Fall 2019” by The New York Times. On May 3, Boris Fishman presents his colorful Russian immigrant cookbook memoir, “Savage Feast.” Author Taylor Lustig, a contributor to the book “Yes She Can,” shares stories about her time working with many other young, female staffers in the Obama White House on April 23. Founding member of Blood, Sweat & Tears, Steve Katz, shares his new rock ‘n’ roll memoir on May 13, followed by a performance; and Dr. Alan Morinis of the Mussar Institute and author of “Everyday Holiness” speaks about love during trying times through a Jewish lens on June 7.
The film lineup this year includes movies that hit upon topics within the current zeitgeist: SAFE SPACES, a #MeToo seriocomedy starring Justin Long, Fran Drescher, and Richard Schiff; THE UPSTANDERS, a film about the power of peers to end bullying; and ASK DR. RUTH, which explores how Holocaust survivor Ruth Westheimer, became America’s most famous sex therapist.
Finally, from March 21-April 5, we celebrate the “Silver Screen” 25th Anniversary of the Seattle Jewish Film Festival. One of the largest and longest-running of its kind in the country, SJFF featuring films from around the world that explore global Jewish and Israeli life, culture, identity, history, and diversity for people of all ages. We’ll celebrate this milestone “silver screen” anniversary in classic Hollywood style, with a full lineup of special events and extraordinary films, including a Special Edition of Silent Movie Mondays with STG at the Paramount Theater, featuring the 1923 silent film ANCIENT LAW and a live score and ensemble featuring Alicia Svigals, a founder of The Klezmatics. Tickets are on sale at STG.org. SJFF’s full lineup will be announced in February.
This is only a sample of the SJCC’s rich and robust 2019/20 Arts + Ideas season. All events are open to the public; everyone is welcome. Visit www.sjcc.org/arts-ideas for more information or CLICK HERE for full calendar.