Daniel F. Amselem
Daniel F. Amselem is a Spanish filmmaker with over 20 years of experience in the industry, mainly in script writing, film production and direction. He has worked for advertising and film production companies from Spain, U.K., France, Germany, USA and China. Occasionally, he teaches and conducts workshops about filmmaking at the University and at the Swiss School of Barcelona. He is also an excellent illustrator, but only on special occasions, when the challenge deserves it. At JxJ he presents his last short film, KRISIS, a brilliant philosophical and psychological twist on the superhero genre which whimsically penetrates to our deepest conflicts and what is arguably the greatest threat to humans: our own Humanity.
Jennifer Babiak performs as Golde in Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish. Prior broadway and touring credits include Fiddler on the Roof, West Side Story (Maria), Grease (Sandy), Evita (Mistress).
Regional theater credits include:My Fair Lady (Eliza), Jekyll and Hyde (Emma), Lincoln in Love (Mary Todd).
Babiak is a graduate of NYU Steinhardt.
Eli Batalion is a writer, producer, director, actor and composer for film, TV, the web and the stage. Eli began his career in musical theatre with the hit the award-winning internationally touring play “JOB: The Hip-Hop Musical.” He and partner Jerome Sable evolved their theatre work to the screen with the musical horror comedy short The Legend of Beaver Dam, selected to TIFF, Sundance, Berlinale and over 75 global film festivals, and to the feature horror musical comedy Stage Fright, featuring Minnie Driver and Meat Loaf and produced by Serendipity Point Films. YidLife Crisis, Eli’s latest project done together with partner Jamie Elman, has been an award-winning success at the convergence of web series and culture. It has grown from an award-winning web series to a series of digital projects and global live touring.
Chris Baum is a contemporary violinist, composer, and educator who “ushers the violin into fresh sonic territory” (NPR). A pioneer of modern string technique, his strength lies in his versatility, consistently pushing boundaries while molding his playing to fit ensembles and genres often deemed unsuitable for the instrument. Trained in a demanding classical environment, Baum expanded his musical vocabulary at Berklee College of Music, where he graduated with honors, studying under cellist Eugene Friesen, violinist Mimi Rabson, and composer Sheldon Mirowitz. Chris’ growing list of credits include collaborations with Bent Knee, The Dear Hunter, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Dropkick Murphys, Amanda Palmer, Symmetry, Art Decade, Ben Levin, Jherek Bischoff, and the Video Game Orchestra, who recently featured him as a soloist at Boston’s Symphony Hall and on the ensemble’s recent tours in China, Taiwan, and Japan.
Grounded in classical technique, multi-instrumentalist, composer, and recording artist Andy Bergman’s musicality is informed by years of work with a wide range of ensembles from orchestras and theater pits to afro-funk, klezmer, folk, reggae, and jazz bands. His growing list of credits includes appearances at the Chicago World Music Festival, Oslo World Music Festival, Festival Mawazine (Morocco), Baloise Session (Switzerland), Cully Jazz Festival (Switzerland), Colours of Ostrava (Czech Rep), Ashkenaz Festival (Toronto), Cappadox Festival (Turkey), Women Of The World Festival (Frankfurt), Carthage Jazz Festival (Tunisia), Philadelphia Folk Festival, Celebrity Series (Boston). Current collaborations include tours and recordings with Iyeoka, The Macrotones, Destroy Babylon, and The Doped Up Dollies.
DirectorThe Dancing Dogs of Dombrova
Zack Bernbaum is a Canadian director and producer from Toronto, whose work captures rich aesthetics, authentic performances and unique tones. Bernbaum’s first two features, And Now A Word From Our Sponsor – starring Bruce Greenwood and Parker Posey, and Cold Deck – starring Paul Sorvino and Robert Knepper, have been sold and released internationally, including theatrical runs in the US and Canada. In addition to his narrative work, Bernbaum directs and produces commercials for brands and organizations such as Spotify and Outward Bound Canada. Bernbaum heads Ezeqial Productions and is in development on a number of exciting projects, including Cut for Stone – which finished in the Top 50 of the Nicholl Fellowship.
Ric Esther Bienstock
Ric Esther Bienstock is an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker best known for her groundbreaking investigative documentaries. Her films, including “The Accountant of Auschwitz”, “Tales From the Organ Trade”, “Sex Slaves“, “Ebola: Inside an Outbreak” (aka “Plague Fighters”), “Boxing: In and Out of the Ring”, “Penn & Teller’s Magic and Mystery Tour” and “Ms. Conceptions”, have screened at over 80 international festivals and aired in over 60 countries
Her work has garnered dozens of prestigious awards, including an Emmy Award for Outstanding Investigative Journalism, 2 Edward R. Murrow Awards, a Dupont-Columbia Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism, a British Broadcast Award, a Distinguished Achievement award from the IDA in Los Angeles, 4 Canadian Screen Awards, 2 Donald Brittain Awards for Best Documentary, 2 Geminis, a Genie, a Royal Television Society Award and 2 Amnesty International Awards among many others.
She speaks 3 languages, none of which her children listen to.
Isaac Cherem was born in 1992 in Mexico City and graduated from The Los Angeles Film School in 2011. He started working as a production assistant on film sets at the age of fifteen and in 2015 he founded Fosforescente, a production company solely focused on Mexican cinema. In 2018 he shot his directorial debut, Leona.
Ambassador Ron Dermer
Ron Dermer was born and raised in Miami Beach, Florida. He earned a degree in Finance and Management from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) from Oxford University. For three years, he was a columnist for the Jerusalem Post.
In 2004, Ron co-authored with Natan Sharansky the best-selling book, The Case For Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror, which has been translated into ten languages. From 2005-2008, Dermer served as Israel’s Minister of Economic Affairs in the United States. From 2009-2013, he served as Senior Advisor to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He is married to Rhoda Dermer and has five children.
Jason Dick is deputy editor at Roll Call and host of its Political Theater Podcast. He was previously the editor of National Journal Daily and a staff writer and editor at Greenwire. An Arizona native, he is the author of the book “Under the Dome.” He lives on Capitol Hill.
Julia Eisenberg is a musician and composer working at the intersection of voice, text and diaspora consciousness. Her music is mostly released with John Zorn’s Tzadik label on the Radical Jewish Culture imprint. Her installation work has been curated into the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco and the Museum of Peace in Uzbekistan; she performs regularly in Europe and the Americas. She has been a visiting artist at CalArts, MIT, and the University of Colorado.
David Elcott has spent the last thirty years at the intersection of community building, the search for a theory of cross-boundary engagement, and interfaith and ethnic organizing and activism. Trained in political psychology and Middle East affairs at Columbia University and Judaic studies at the American Jewish University, Dr. Elcott is the Taub Professor of Practice in Public Service and Leadership at the Wagner School of Public Service at NYU and faculty director of the Advocacy and Political Action specialization at Wagner. His present research is focused in a number of inter-related areas: Launched with Ford Foundation grants, Dr. Elcott addresses how religious leaders can constructively affect civil discourse and democracy, searching for pathways for positive religious involvement in civic affairs.
Jamie Elman is an actor, writer, director, producer and musician. He has appeared on some of television’s most acclaimed series including Mad Men, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and House M.D. and for three seasons of NBC’s critically lauded drama American Dreams. His breakout role was Cody on the FOX/YTV teen sitcom Student Bodies. Along with Eli Batalion, Jamie co-created the award-winning Yiddish web series YidLife Crisis, which has over 3 million online views and four prestigious Canadian Screen Award nominations, including Best Actor and, two years in a row, Best Digital Series. As ‘comedy peacekeepers’, YidLife regularly performs live all over Canada, the US, Europe and Israel, and has twice been named to the Slingshot Guide as one of the Top 50 Most Innovative Jewish Organizations in North America. Jamie recently starred in the Toronto production of the play BAD JEWS, his third run of that show in 3 years.
Alberto Fierro Garza
Alberto Fierro Garza is the current Counselor for Culture and Education at the Mexican Embassy to the United States and Executive Director of the Mexican Cultural Institute. He is a member of Mexico´s Diplomatic Corps since 1993. At the Ministry of Foreign Affairs he has served as Director General for Educational and Cultural Cooperation and Deputy Director General for North America. He was the Consul of Mexico in Orlando Fl and in St. Paul MN. Early in his career he served as Deputy Cultural Attaché at the Mexican Embassy in Washington and as Cultural Attaché at the Mexican Embassy in Canada.
He was Director General for International Affairs at the National Council for Culture and the Arts of Mexico. He also served as Deputy Director for Reading Promotion at said Council.
Mr. Fierro taught social sciences at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City, and served as Director of the Social Promotion Department at the same University.
He has a BA in Sociology from Universidad Iberoamericana and a Master in Latin-American History from Georgetown University.
The former editor of The New Republic, Franklin Foer is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and fellow at the New America Foundation. One of today’s most respected magazine journalists, Foer is also the author of the acclaimed book How Soccer Explains the World as well as World Without Mind. An enlightening and engaging speaker, Foer offers astute commentary on economics, globalization, the tech industry, and our current political climate.
PerformerIsle of Klezbos | Beregovski Suite
Pianist and composer, Uli Geissendoerfer, is a versatile and remarkable musician exploring rhythms and melodies across many styles of music, with a special emphasis on World, Jazz, and improvisation. Originally from Musich, Germany, he now holds dual residency with the US and worked with, among others, Tito Puente, William Cepeda (awarded a Grammy nomination), Groove Collective, Giovanni Hidalgo, Blood Sweat & Tears, Leslie Uggams, Cirque du Soleil, Kofo the Wonderman, Uta Lemper, and David Cassidy.
Ron Gerlitz joined Sikkuy: the Association for the Advancement of Civic Equality as co-executive director in January 2009. In this capacity, he led the development of the Sikkuy model for mapping the barriers to equality and creating policy recommendations, “From Barriers to Opportunities”, and edited six policy papers as part of this series. Ron is an expert on Jewish-Arab relations in Israel and frequently writes op-eds In Hebrew, English and Arabic about the status of relations between the Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel and between the Arab citizens and the state.
Ron is a graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem with a B.Sc. in mathematics and computer science and an MA in public policy, both magna cum laude. He began his professional career in hi-tech, working for six years as software and algorithm team leader, both in Israel and in Silicon Valley, California.
Lex Gillespie is a Peabody and duPont-Columbia Award-winning public radio producer turned film director. For the past 25 years, he’s produced documentaries on music, history and culture. My credits include The Science Sisters, the story of four Latina students who competed in Chicago’s Science Fair; A Kind and Just Parent, about the creation of the first juvenile court in the US; and Whole Lotta Shakin a 10-hour series on the birth of rock ’n roll. The Mamboniks is his first film.
Brian Glassman is an extremely versatile musician, at home in almost any genre of music be it, Classical, Rock, Latin, R&B, Cabaret but he is perhaps best known for his work in Jazz, Cabaret and world music styles such as Klezmer. Some of the artists that Brian has performed, toured and recorded with include; -Jazz greats like; Paquito d’Rivera, John and Bucky Pizzarelli, Lionel Hampton, Sahib Shahab, Kenny Burrell, Benny Golson, Harold Mabern, Randy Brecker, Ken Peplowski, Gene Bertoncini, Billy Cobham to name just a few. Legendary interpreters of the Popular American Song Book such as Margaret Whiting, Michael Feinstein, Karen Akers and Liza Minnelli, and Anne Hampton Callaway. -Klezmer / Yiddish and Jewish music stars such as Andy Statman, Frank London, Zalmon Mlotek, Alicia Svigals, Michael Alpert, Greg Wall, Adrienne Cooper, Neshama Carlebach. Brian has performed nationwide and throughout Europe, The UK, Japan, S. Africa, Brazil, Israel and Russia and has just returned from 2 different month long tours of 12 countries in South Pacific Asia and The Mid-East for Jazz At Lincoln Center and the U.S. Dept. of State Bureau of Educational & Cultural Affairs as a musical ambassador representing the best of American musical styles with The Johnny Rodgers Band.
Dina Gold was born and raised in the UK and is now an American citizen living in Washington, DC. She is on the board of the Edlavitch DCJCC, a council member of the JxJ (Washington Jewish Film and Music Festivals), and a senior editor at Moment, the largest independent Jewish magazine in North America. She began her career at the Investors Chronicle in London as a financial journalist after postgraduate studies at London University and Corpus Christi College, Oxford. She later worked as an investigative journalist and television producer at the BBC.
DirectorBack To Maracanã
Jorge Gurvich was born in Argentina and immigrated to Israel in 1978. He studied Cinema at Tel Aviv University and very quickly became one of the leading cinematographers in Israel, shooting over 80 films (including features, shorts, and documentaries). In the late 90s, he directed several short films and TV dramas that won international awards, among them The Shower, Pesia’s Necklace, and Moments of Grace. In 2011he directed the feature film Mrs Moskowitz & the Cats.
Ricki Gurwitz is a former producer at CTV News Channel. She started her career in New York, where she was a producerat WABC NewsTalkRadio. She moved back to Torontoin 2009where she took over the production of the TheBill Carroll Showand TheJerry Agar Show on Newstalk 1010. In 2011, Ricki made the switch to television, joining CTV News Channel as a segment and associate producer,working with reporters in the field to package news stories, and in the newsroom to cover the headlines of the day. In 2015 Ricki left CTV to produce The Accountant of Auschwitz, her first feature documentary.
SubjectGuestThe 21%: The Lives of Arab Citizens of Israel
In her current role at JDC-TEVET, Suzan Hasan is responsible for developing innovative initiatives for the integration of two main populations into the job market: Arab men and women who are disengaged from the labor force and working for lower wages than the general population, with emphasis on developing interventions and innovative employment opportunities such as telecommuting and e-commerce, and on enhancing capacities and skills relevant to effecting change in the employment field. Suzan has extensive knowledge and experience in the employment of special needs populations, accrued during her research work at the Myers-Joint-Brookdale Institute and accompanying programs for Israeli Arab society and disadvantaged women from their stage of development through their adoption by the government. Suzan also has broad experience advising social and business organizations in the development of employment programs for disenfranchised groups. She has also been a lecturer in career management programs. Suzan holds a Bachelor’s degree in behavioral neuroscience, an additional degree in social work, and a Master’s in Law studies and Criminology – all from Hebrew University.
Lady Irene Hatter
The inspiration for Forgotten Soldier, Lady Irene Hatter galvanised the outstanding research by her brother Jacques, and went on a journey to discover the truth behind her father Sally’s wartime exploits. The only daughter of Sally Noach and Annie Visser, she was born in Holland but moved to London in her early twenties. She is married to the industrialist Sir Maurice Hatter, and together Lady Irene and Sir Maurice have devoted over thirty five years to an extraordinary range of philanthropic work, primarily in education. In particular, they have made an enormous contribution to ORT, the world’s largest Jewish eductional and vocational training charity, specialising in technology. They have also been long-standing patrons and donors to the University of Haifa in Israel, where they have endowed buildings, scholarships and educational programs. Forgotten Soldier will ultimately be included in the curriculum of the University of Haifa’s M.A Program of Holocaust Studies, an international centre of excellence for Holocaust research and education. Irene lives in London and has two sons, Daniel and Elliot, and two grandchildren Zak and Lola.
ModeratorArtist Talk: Zalmen Mlotek
Celeste Headlee is an award-winning journalist, professional speaker and author of Heard Mentality and We Need To Talk: How To Have Conversations That Matter. In her 20-year career in public radio, she has been the Executive Producer of On Second Thought at Georgia Public Radio and anchored programs including Tell Me More, Talk of the Nation, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition. She also served as co-host of the national morning news show, The Takeaway, from PRI and WNYC, and anchored presidential coverage in 2012 for PBS World Channel. Celeste’s TEDx Talk sharing 10 ways to have a better conversation has over 19 million total views to date.
Carletta S. Hurt
Carletta S. Hurt, founder and lead producer at IKAM Productions, is an award-winning producer, passionate educator, and fierce youth advocate. Her film credits include JACQUELINE AND JILLY (feature), THE CATCHER (short), WATER IN A BROKEN GLASS (feature), JACKIE (short), REMEMBER THE TITANS, and DRUMLINE. Carletta has worked at TBS and Cartoon Network during her early days. She also produces theatre and has worked with some of Hollywood’s leading ladies like Jane Fonda, Eve Ensler, Pearl Cleage, and Jasmine Guy.
Carletta is the Immediate Past President of Women in Film & Video DC (WIFV) and a dual member of Women in Film & Television – Atlanta (WIFTA). She was instrumental in honoring filmmaker, Julie Dash, in 2017 as a Women of Vision honoree. Carletta is in the early stages of a webseries that showcases the many facets of the American education system.
A graduate of Oglethorpe University and Georgia State University, Carletta was sought after to assist in creating the Arthur M. Blank Family – Blank Fellows program and lead a film project for them that engaged high school students in creating mini-documentaries about their changing neighborhood. She is dedicated to creating a space for new, unique voices to be heard and a platform to showcase rising talent that deserves a chance especially if they are women.
Carletta is a self-proclaimed SUDKO Champion, word wizard in Scrabble and Words with Friends and enjoys warm pecan pie.
Dara Jeffries is a representative of the Jewish Community of Oporto. She is an attorney, lived most of her life in Portugal, and still has strong ties with the Community there.
Dale Jeffries was the President of the Jewish Community of Oporto. He is a retired Musician.
Maura Judkis is a reporter for the Washington Post, covering culture, food and the arts. She is a 2018 James Beard Award winner, and her work has been honored by the Association of Food Journalists and the Virginia Press Association. She has written about the restaurant industry’s sexual harassment problem, developments in smart kitchen technology, the ubiquity of pumpkin spice, and how social media has changed the way we interact with art and cuisine. She reviews new food trends and products for the Washington Post’s web series, “Is it Good?”
Maura has appeared on local and international TV and radio, including MSNBC, CNN, PBS, Al Jazeera, and National Public Radio. She is a 2007 graduate of the George Washington University, and a 2011 arts journalism fellow with the National Endowment for the Arts and the University of Southern California. She has also written for U.S. News & World Report, TBD.com, ARTnews, the Washington City Paper, and the Onion A.V. Club. She joined the Washington Post in 2011.
Jacob Kader is a writer, director, and producer.
He made his Off-Broadway debut as Co-Author of Food and Fadwa at New York Theater Workshop in 2012. The play has been translated into Arabic and has been produced or had a staged reading in Abu Dhabi, Beirut, Iowa, and Minneapolis.
Jacob’s feature script Small Victories was selected for the Jordan Film Commission/Sundance Institute RAWI Screenwriting Lab in 2009. His short thesis film, Quarter Magic, premiered at the 2011 Twin Cities Arab Film Festival. His projects have received support and development grants from The Jerome, Edgerton, and Robert Sterling Clark Foundations.
He started out as a production assistant on commercials and indie films and can still navigate NYC in a cube truck. Received his MFA from Columbia University and lives in Brooklyn, New York with his family.
PerformerDaniel Kahn and the Painted Bird
Detroit-born, Berlin-based singer/songwriter, polyglot poet, translator and activist Daniel Kahn concocts furious, tender, electrifying and revolutionary Alienation Klezmer. With the Painted Bird, he presents a variety of passionate songs inspired in part by the struggles of Jewish revolutionaries at the turn of the century, and in part by his own intense desire for a better world.The Painted Bird has brought “Yiddish Punk Cabaret” to rock clubs, festivals and shtetls, from Berlin to Boston, Leningrad to Louisiana.
Laura Katz Cutler
Laura Katz Cutler is Managing Director of the Center for Israel Studies at American University. A former commercial banker with Wells Fargo Bank, Ms. Cutler is a community activist and active member of the Washington, DC, Jewish community, where she has been a tireless advocate for innovation in Jewish education. She is past chairman of the board of PANIM: The Institute for Jewish Leadership and Values and was a founding board member of the Partnership for Jewish Life and Learning. Ms. Cutler serves on the board of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. She holds a masters degree in international relations from The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
DirectorThe Spy Behind Home Plate
Aviva Kempner has a mission in life. She makes films that investigate non-stereotypical images of Jews in history and celebrate the untold stories of Jewish heroes. To her list of those heroes, she has now added Moe Berg. Based in Washington, DC, director-writer-producer Kempner boasts a resume of critically acclaimed and award-winning documentaries, including Rosenwald, Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg, and Peabody winner The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg. She also produced another WWII documentary, Partisans of Vilna. She is an avid voting rights advocate for the District of Columbia and is the founder of the Washington Jewish Film Festival.
James Kirchick is a visiting fellow in the Brookings Center on the United States and Europe and Project on International Order and Strategy at the Brookings Institution. A widely published journalist, he is author of “The End of Europe: Dictators, Demagogues and the Coming Dark Age” (Yale, 2017), a columnist for Tablet Magazine, and a frequent contributor to a wide array of publications including the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Politico, Foreign Policy, The Weekly Standard, and Commentary among many others.
Saxophonist and clarinetist Debra Kreisberg performs, composes, arranges and records with the New York City-based Latin-jazz ensemble Los Mas Valientes, and the award-winning klezmer ensembles Metropolitan Klezmer and Isle of Klezbos, with whom she has toured in the U.S., Canada and in Europe. She is the leader of two jazz projects, East Harlem Trio, and The Highliners Jazz Quintet, and is a member of the Latin-jazz big band Bronx Conexión, led by master percussionist/composer Victor Rendón. Debra has performed with MacArthur Fellowship winner Taylor Mac in the world premiere of Taylor Mac’s 24-Decade History of Popular Music; renowned singer-songwriters Natalie Merchant and Jill Sobule; jazz luminaries Harvie S, Chuck Redd, Sheryl Bailey and Tommy Campbell; the Rochester Philharmonic; and the world-blues project Hazmat Modine. Her playing and compositions have been heard on CBS Sunday Morning, CNN Worldbeat, WBGO, SiriusXM Radio, Ebru TV’s Rhythm and Roots and on Showtime’s The L Word.
Rob Lattin is the Associate Regional Director for the ADL Washington D.C. Regional Office (DC, MD, NC, VA). He oversees the management of the Regional Operations Department, to include community relations, incident response, government affairs, law enforcement relations and communications. Prior to joining ADL, he was the National Assistant Director of Communications for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and before that a Policy Analyst and the Deputy Communication Director for the Democrats on the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs. Rob received his Masters of International Affairs from the City College of New York, where he graduated with honors, and his Bachelors of Science in Near Eastern Studies from the University of Arizona, where he graduated with honors. Rob lives in Bethesda, MD with his childhood sweetheart Ma’ayan, a privacy and data consumer protection attorney, and their son Caleb and daughter Eden.
Shira Leibowitz Schmidt
Shira Leibowitz Schmidt is best known for the book she co-authored with Nobel Prize laureate Roald Hoffman, “Old Wine, New Flasks: Reflections on Science and Jewish Tradition.” From her perch in the Chassidic enclave of Kiryat Sanz, where the film Hidden Face was shot, she has interviewed dozens of Holocaust survivors who were helped by the Sanz-Klausenberger Rebbe to rebuild their lives.
Jeremiah Lockwood has played around the world from Montreal Jazz to the Festival au Desert in Timbuktu, Mali, as the leader of The Sway Machinery and as the guitarist in the Balkan Beat Box. Jeremiah was a recipient of a Six Points Fellowship for Emerging Jewish Artists, an Artist-in-Residence for the Forward and a Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra Composer Fellow. He is currently completing a PhD on Khasidic cantorial music at Stanford University.
Celia Lowenstein is a director, writer, and producer of over 50 films whose subjects range from science, religion, art, philosophy, and music. She has been commissioned and made films for the BBC, ARTE, CBS, NBC, PBS, Discovery, NOVA, National Geographic, and Animal Planet.
Guy Mendilow grew up in what seemed like a global game of hopscotch, choosing between three passports in homes in the Middle East, North, Central and South America and Africa. He began his professional stage career at age ten, touring internationally and domestically with the American Boychoir and annually singing some two hundred concerts in venues like Carnegie Hall, Boston Symphony Hall and Lincoln Center.
An artist-in-residence with leading performing arts organizations like Celebrity Series of Boston, Mendilow is a teaching artist at universities across the U.S. from Harvard to the University of Washington. His work has received multiple funding awards from the National Endowment for the Arts on the basis of artistic strength, cultural preservation and the strengthening of communities through the arts.
Judy Meschel is a producer for local PBS station WETA. She produces WETA Arts, a half-hour magazine-style show featuring local art and artists, and Around Town, interstitial guides to local theater, museums and films. Her personal connection to Seder (the rituals observed at Passover) and masochism? She co-writes her own Haggadah (the book that lists the rituals and readings), every year since 1997, with production starting in late October. Some years this involves stapling bindings hours before the start of Seder. She co-hosts first night Seder: never fewer than 21 attendees, one year there were 29. In a single-family townhouse. This year, between starting late and the tornado warning, dinner happened at 9:30 PM. How is this masochism different than all other masochisms? It is Seder. Her interests include musical theater, high-percentage bean-to-bar chocolate by local artisans, and, apparently, Passover.
Zalmen Mlotek is the Music Director and Conductor for the current production of Fiddler On The Roof in Yiddish playing at Off Broadway’s Stage 42 directed by Joel Grey.
He is currently the Artistic Director, Musical Director Conductor of The National Yiddish Theater-Folksbiene (NYTF), America’s oldest Yiddish theater where their production of Fiddler began in June 2018 slated to run 8 weeks which turned into a 6 month sold out run before it transferred Off Broadway in February 2019
NYTF is dedicated to bringing quality performances of the spoken and sung Yiddish word, with accessible translation, all year to new audiences around the country. His vision has propelled classics including NYTF productions of the world premiere of Isaac Bashevis Singer’s Yentl (1998) in Yiddish, Di Yam Gazlonim (2006) (The Yiddish Pirates of Penzance) and the 1923 Rumshinky operetta, The Golden Bride(2016), which was nominated for a Drama Desk Award and listed as a New York Times Critics Pick. Other notable productions include On Second Avenue, an historical musical overview of the heyday of the Yiddish Theater, nominated for two Drama Desk awards and performed in Los Angeles in February 2007, Amerike, The Golden Land, nominated for a Drama Desk Award
Mr Mlotek brought Yiddish- Klezmer music to Broadway and off-Broadway stages as a co-creator, music director, and conductor of Those Were the Days, the first bilingual music honored with a Drama Desk Award and nominated for two Tony Awards. He was co-creator, music director and conductor for the The Golden Land, an off-Broadway hit that toured nationally and was produced in Italy under the sponsorship of Leonard Bernstein.
In 1995, Mr. Mlotek conceived and was musical director for the first All Star Klezmer Extravaganza at Lincoln Center, filmed by PBS for Great Performances and later released on CD and video as In the Fiddler’s House with Itzhak Perlman. Mlotek’s Yiddish choral work can be heard on Mandy Patinkin’s Yiddish language CD Mameloshen on Nonesuch Records and his piano artistry can be heard in over two dozen recordings and films.
Shoko Nagai is a versatile musical artist who improvises and performs with world-renowned musicians on piano and accordion and composes original scores for films and live performances. Since moving to the U.S. from Japan and studying classical and jazz music at Berklee, she has adapted her mastery of the keyboard to prepared piano, accordion, Moog synthesizer, and other instruments. Whether she is performing Klezmer, Balkan or experimental music, Nagai is a charismatic presence onstage, who hypnotizes audiences with her intense focus and virtuoso sound. A veteran of the New York downtown music scene, she performs with John Zorn, Erik Friedlander, Marc Ribot, Miho Hatori (Cibo Matto), Satoshi Takeishi, Elliot Sharp and many eclectic performers.
Bill Newcott is film critic for The Saturday Evening Post and creator of AARP’s Movies For Grownups franchise. His reviews, interviews and videos appear on his website, MoviesForTheRestOfUs.com, which recently won a national Mature Media Award.
His long-running weekly radio show, Movies For Grownups, won the Gracie Award for Best Entertainment Program and his YouTube series of the same name received the 2013 W3 Award. Bill’s TV appearances include repeat guest spots on CBS This Morning and co-hosting an evening of films with Robert Osborne on Turner Classic Movies.
Nina Paley is the creator of the critically acclaimed animated musical feature film Sita Sings the Blues. Her adventures in our broken copyright system led her to join QuestionCopyright.org as Artist-in-Residence in 2008, where she produced a series of animated shorts about intellectual freedom called Minute Memes. Seder-Masochism is her second feature.
DJ Ricky Paul
PerformerEurovision Song Contest 2019
Ricky Paul was born and raised in the East Falls section of Philadephia, PA and Cherry Hill, NJ. He graduated with a B.A. from Rowan University and has steadily worked for over 20 years in all facets of the performing arts including: environmental and improvisational theatre, musical comedy, socially conscious performance art, film, and television. He has performed extensively throughout the U.S. as well the world over. Career highlights include Michael Ogborn’s Regalia at The Duplex NY/NY, the Barrymore Award nominated 1812 Productions Box Office of The Damned at The Arden Theatre, and sharing a regional Emmy Award for Soldiers In The Sky, produced as part of WHYY TV 12’s Philadelphia Performs series.
Michelle Paymar produced, directed, and filmed From Cairo to the Cloud. Her independent work has screened at festivals around the world and she has extensive credits as a director and writer of documentary and non-fiction television programs for NBC, ABC, CBS, PBS, CBC, MTV, CTV, Travel, Discovery, History, and other major broadcasters. Her production company, D-Facto Filmstudio, makes independent documentaries and promotional films for nonprofits and NGOs. Clients include Amnesty International (Canada), Alzheimer’s Services of the East Bay (California), and the Ayubowan Women’s Project (Sri Lanka). Earlier films include her pioneering AIDS documentary, For Our Lives, and Sippie, a documentary about classic blues artist Sippie Wallace (Co-Directed with Roberta Grossman). She received a Master of Fine Arts degree in Film Directing from the American Film Institute and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of California, Berkeley. Paymar is a member of the International Documentary Association and Women in Film.
William Piermattei joined the School of Law in 2010 after 10 years in private practice. In his role as Managing Director of the Environmental Law Program, he directs the Environmental Law Externship Program, advises students pursuing the certificate of concentration in environmental law, is the faculty supervisor for the Maryland Environmental Law Society (MELS), directs Environmental Law Program conferences and events, supervises the Environmental Law Program moot court and negotiation teams, teaches Environmental Advocacy and manages the day-to-day operations of the Environmental Law Program.
Ryan Porush is a documentary filmmaker and journalist based in LA. He’s produced, filmed and edited documentaries and short films around the world, with an emphasis on telling dynamic, character-driven stories that give voice to marginalized communities. He received a BA from UCSB, and an MA in documentary journalism from NYU, where he learned from established documentarians like Kirsten Johnson, Carol Dysinger and Shimon Dotan. Porush’s award-winning first short documentary film, Two Hundred Percent, screened at film festivals in 2016. He has collaborated with VICE, GQ and National Geographic. He founded the production company Far Between Pictures in 2017.
Amal Rihan lives in Jaffa. She is an Arab Muslim woman, and an Arabic Language teacher for Arab and Jewish people.
Bruce Sabath is a New York-based actor, working in theatre, film, TV and commercials – he plays Leyzer-Volf in Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish. Recent NYC credits include: Larry in Company (Tony Award, Best Revival), Cagney (NYC/LA), Follies, Hello Again, The Gig, Platinum, Jerusalem Syndrome. Regional theater credits include: Fiddler on the Roof (Tevye, BWW Award, Stages-St.Louis), Frost/Nixon (Nixon). TV credits include: “Blacklist,” “Elementary,” and “Limitless.”
Sabath is a graduate of Harvard, Wharton and The Esper Studio.
Amy R. Sapkota
Dr. Amy R. Sapkota is the Director of CONSERVE: A Center of Excellence at the Nexus of Sustainable Water Reuse, Food & Health, a multi-institution Center funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture (2016-2020). She is also the Principal Investigator of UMD Global STEWARDS (STEM Training at the Nexus of Energy, Water Reuse and Food Systems), a National Research Traineeship (NRT) program funded by the National Science Foundation (2018-2023). The mission of CONSERVE is to facilitate the adoption of transformative on‐farm water treatment solutions that enable the safe use of nontraditional irrigation water (e.g. reclaimed water, return flows) on food crops. And the overarching goal of the UMD Global STEWARDS program is for graduate trainees to become adept at working and communicating across food-energy-water (FEW) disciplines, enabling transformative discoveries that can only be realized through transdisciplinary approaches and systems-based thinking.
Yolanda Savage-Narva has devoted her professional career to helping people live their best and most healthy lives. For a little over 20 years, Yolanda’s has collaborated with Tribal governments to strengthen public health systems, promoted pedestrian safety and advocacy and coining the phrase, “Walking is a Civil Right” and advancing health equity in states ad territories. Yolanda currently holds the position of Executive Director with Operation Understanding DC, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting understanding, cooperation, and respect while fighting to eradicate racism, anti-Semitism and all forms of discrimination. She is also a member of the JewVNation cohort, a fellowship sponsored by the Union for Reform Judaism, a 2019 Schusterman Fellow, an at-large member of the Religious Action Center’s Commission on Social Action and a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Dr. Baruch Schmidt
Dr. Baruch Schmidt, from a non-religious Jewish family in Texas now makes his home in the Sanz Chassidic community in Netanya. He served as Head of Dept. of Surgery in the Laniado Hospital founded by the late Sanz-Klausenberger Rebbe, the subject of this film. Dr. Schmidt enjoyed a unique, enriching, and multifaceted relationship with the Rebbe. In addition to the towering figure sketched in the movie, Dr. Schmidt can flesh out the portrait of the Rebbe with a wide range of personal experiences.
Dan Shadur is an Israeli filmmaker and writer, a graduate of the Tel Aviv University Steve Tisch School of Film and Television. His debut documentary “Before The Revolution” was funded by Yes Docu and ITVS, premiered in Hotdocs 2013 and featured in dozens of other international festivals. It was the first ever Israeli documentary to be broadcast inside Iran. Shadur also directed short films, music videos and commercials. His articles and stories have been featured in Israel’s leading newspapers and magazines.
SubjectFrom Slavery to Freedom
Natan Sharansky was born in Donetsk, Ukraine. He was a spokesman for the human rights movement, a leader in the struggle for the right of Soviet Jews to immigrate to Israel and a prisoner of Zion, served 9 years in the Gulag. From 1996–2005 he was Minister and Deputy Prime Minister in four successive Israeli governments. From 2009–2018 he served as Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency for Israel. Natan Sharansky is the recipient of Congressional Medal of Honor and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 2018 he received the highest Israeli award – the Israel Prize for promoting Aliyah and the ingathering of the exiles. He is also the author of three books: Fear No Evil, The Case for Democracy and Defending Identity.
Drummer, bandleader and film scholar Eve Sicular formed and leads NYC-based bands Isle of Klezbos all-women’s sextet (since 1998) and Metropolitan Klezmer octet (since 1994). She has produced the two bands’ seven acclaimed CDs, as well as band tours throughout North America and Europe. In the musical documentary theater realm, she created the Off-Off Broadway hit “J. Edgar Klezmer: Songs from My Grandmother’s FBI Files.” Her musical and multi-media archival projects have received accolades from Sparkplug Foundation, Outmusic Awards, Chamber Music America, New York State Council on the Arts, and NYC’s Department of Cultural Affairs. A graduate of Harvard in Russian History & Literature and former Curator of Film and Photo Collections at YIVO Institute, she researched what became the “Yiddish Celluloid Closet” while working on the landmark Museum of Modern Art retrospective “Bridge of Light: Yiddish Film Between Two Worlds.”
ModeratorDifferent From The Others
Dr. Katrin Sieg is Professor of German jointly affiliated with the BMW Center for German and European studies and the German Department at Georgetown University. She holds a Ph.D. in Drama from the University of Washington, Seattle. Her research focses on German and European culture, postcolonial and critical race studies, and feminist studies. The author of three scholarly monographs on German and European theater, performance, and cinema, she has received several awards and grants, among them a Humboldt Fellowship, and two awards for her second book: Ethnic Drag: Performing Race, Nation, Sexuality in West Germany (2002). Professor Sieg teaches the MAGES course on Theorizing Culture at Georgetown, and courses on GDR Cinema, colonial/postcolonial German culture, and popular culture and media studies. For several years, she served as Field Chair of the Culture and Politics Program.
Chuck Smith is a filmmaker, TV producer, and writer who has produced documentaries and TV series for many network and cable stations. Most recently he has been working as a Producer for Vanity Fair Confidential. His Show-running credits include, The Dose with Dr. Billy, Hawaii Air Rescue and Alaska Wing Men. With his own company, Smith Productions, Smith wrote, produced and directed Forrest Bess: Key to the Riddle.
Lucile Smith’s previous credits include the BAFTA-winning centennial anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele and over seventy Holocaust testimonies from Britain’s last living Holocaust survivors, interviews which will be housed for posterity in a new Holocaust Learning Center in the United Kingdom. Forgotten Soldier is Lucile’s feature directing debut.
Micah Smith is an award-winning narrative and documentary filmmaker whose films have been featured on Netflix, and have been screened at international film festivals, the UN, British Parliament, and US Congress. Smith graduated from the Kanbar Institute of Film and Television at New York University’s Tisch School of the Art
PerformerThe Ancient Law
Donald Sosin has been enthralling audiences in the US and Europe with his silent film music for over thirty years. Born in 1951, he grew up in Rye, NY, and Munich. He studied piano with Kyriena Siloti, and is a graduate of the University of Michigan and Columbia University, studying composition with William Albright and Jack Beeson. He was the resident film accompanist at the Museum of Modern Art in the late 70’s, and returns there frequently as a guest pianist.
Toronto’s Eric Stein is a multi-instrumental musician (mandolin, bass, cimbalom) and a leading figure in Canada’s World, Folk and Jewish-roots music scenes. He is founder/leader of the innovative klezmer/world fusion group Beyond the Pale, with whom he has performed across North America, Europe, Brazil and Australia and released four award-winning CDs. Eric also leads the Brazilian choro ensemble Tio Chorinho, is a member of the international supergroup the Ger Mandolin Orchestra, and has performed with a number of other leading world, folk and classical artists, including Socalled, Theodore Bikel, Flory Jagoda, MIke Marshall, Avi Avital, and various Canadian chamber groups and symphonies.
Alicia Svigals was one of the founders in 1986 of the band the Klezmatics, and co-led the ensemble until 2001. With them, she appeared on A Prairie Home Companion, Rosie O’Donnell’s Kids are Punny, Good Morning America, MTV News, Nickelodeon, and NPR’s New Sound and Weekend Edition. As a composer for the group, she provided music for the play A Dybbuk by Tony Kushner, and collaborations with poet Allen Ginsbergand Israeli singer Chava Alberstein. They also performed with Itzhak Perlman on PBS’ Emmy-winning Great Performances documentary In the Fiddler’s House and on the Late Show with David Letterman, and appeared together in concert at Radio City Music Hall, Tanglewood, and Wolf Trap.
From Cordoba, Argentina, vocalist Sofia Tosello draws on her expertise in such Latin American Cancion traditions as Tango, Chacarera, Bolero, Son and Zamba to bring GME vocals alive with bold colours. Part of an exciting group of young transnational artists advancing change in Latin American song, Tosello performs and records worldwide with artists like Horacio “El Negro” Hernández, Alex Cuba, and Marta Gómez. She is a teaching artist at performing arts organizations like NY’s Carnegie Hall and at universities from Reed College to the Swarnaboohmi Academy of Music in Chennai, India.
Dr. Marion Usher has been working with Interfaith Couples for the past 25 years. With her experience of seeing over 700 couples in her workshop, she counsels couples, parents and grandparents to help them construct a new and inclusive religious life.
This year she published her book, “One Couple Two Faiths; Stories of Love and Religion” which tells the stories of interfaith couples and grandparents, helps families discuss the various holidays and presents her thoughts about The New Jewish Family. Her book is for sale at the front of the theater and I highly recommend it!
PerformerYemen Blues | Nani
Noam “Nani” Vazana is an acclaimed international Singer, Composer, Pianist and Trombonist. Official selection WOMEX panel 2018, won the Sephardic Music Award 2017, ranked iTunes Top-20 bestseller 2015, won ACUM album prize . Played Jazzahead DE, North Sea Jazz NL, Roccella Jazz IT, Injazz NL, Blue Note PL, Tanjazz MA Tel Aviv Jazz ISR, Artist in residence Amsterdam Roots Festival, sharing the stage with John Clayton, Terell Stafford, Katie Melua, Bobby Mcferrin & more. Vazana composed music for BBC and NPO documentaries & released 3 albums. The Dutch NPO network released a mini documentary about her work in 2018 and is now making a documentary about her life & music to be released in 2020.
Debra Weinstein is an experienced research development professional, with over 15 years of executive leadership, proposal preparation and project management experience combined with 20 years of laboratory research. She received a Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences with a focus on infectious diseases.
Sonya Weisburd is the Edlavitch DCJCC Director of Social Justice and Volunteer Programs. Sonya joined the EDCJCC’s Morris Cafritz Center for Community Service in 2015 from the American Jewish Committee (AJC), where she was the Assistant Director for International Jewish Affairs working on anti-Semitism and other Jewish advocacy issues world-wide. Prior to AJC, Sonya ran mental health advocacy campaigns on college campuses across the country with Active Minds, Inc. She completed her master’s in social work with concentrations in Children and Families and Management and Community Organizing at the University of Maryland and her undergraduate studies in Political Science, Jewish Studies, and International Studies at Indiana University, graduating cum laude. Sonya has been a religious school teacher, experiential Jewish educator, volunteer manager, and held a variety of other Jewish communal posts in the Washington, DC Jewish community that she calls home. She is thrilled to create a Jewish social justice hub at the EDCJCC, as well as offer the community meaningful and innovative ways to give back through volunteering and direct service.
SpeakerThe Einstein of Sex
Dr. Richard Wetzell is a Research Fellow at the German Historical Institute in Washington DC, editor of the GHI’s Bulletin, and an adjunct faculty member of Georgetown University. He studied at Swarthmore College (BA) and did his graduate work in European history at Columbia University (MA) and Stanford University (Ph.D). He was a Postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University and has taught at the University of Maryland and the Catholic University of America. His publications include Beyond the Racial State: Rethinking the Third Reich (co-edited, 2017), Crime and Criminal Justice in Modern Germany (ed., 2014), and Engineering Society: The Role of the Human and Social Sciences in Modern Societies, 1880-1980 (co-edited, 2012). His main areas of research interest include modern German history, legal history, cultural history, history of science and medicine, history of deviance and social control and history of sexuality.
SpeakerThe Accountant of Auschwitz
Dr. Elizabeth B. (“Barry”) White is a historian in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Division of the Senior Historian, where she serves as an expert on matters related to the Holocaust, post-Holocaust genocides and mass atrocities, and international justice. She has also served as the Research Director of the Museum’s Center for the Prevention of Genocide. Prior to her employment at the Museum, she served at the U.S. Department of Justice as the Chief Historian and Deputy Director of the Office of Special Investigations and, most recently, as Deputy Chief and Chief Historian of the Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section. In both positions, she directed research to develop and support prosecution of perpetrators of genocide, war crimes, Nazi persecution and other human rights violations. Dr. White has a Ph.D. in History from the University of Virginia and is the author of German Influence in the Argentine Army, 1900-1945, as well as numerous articles and papers.
Gili Yalo is one of the most intriguing new musicians in the music scene in Israel. From his base in Tel aviv, Gili Yalo is launching a solo career in a new project that combines Ethiopian roots with Soul, Funk, Psychedelic and Jazz music. Gili Yalo, who has collaborated with top music producers Beno Hendler and Uri Kinrot (Boom Pam), incorporates sounds from traditional Ethiopian music into a contemporary music production. The result is an exceptional, rich, vivid melody accompanied by Gili’s unique voice with lyrics in both English and Amharic.
Carole R. Zawatsky
ModeratorFrom Slavery to Freedom
Carole Zawatsky has been the CEO at the Edlavitch DCJCC since 2011.
She has held leadership roles at many Jewish museums throughout the United States including the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC and The Jewish Museum in New York. Her most recent position was with the JCC of San Francisco where she was the Associate Director of Arts, Ideas and Jewish.
Carole was born and raised in suburban Washington and holds a BA from the University of Maryland and MA from George Washington University.
Alan Zilberman is the film editor for Brightest Young Things, an online nightlife and culture magazine based out of Washington, DC. He is a regular contributor to The Washington Post, The Washington City Paper, Slate, The Atlantic, Indiewire, The Week, Las Vegas Weekly, and other outlets. He is a member of the Washington Area Film Critic Association (WAFCA), and has a Master’s in Public Policy from George Washington University. Follow him on Twitter at @alanzilberman.