Exploring Jewish Culture: The OC Jewish Arts Festival

A Vibrant Celebration of Tradition, Creativity, and Togetherness. November 4-19

The OC Jewish Arts Festival is set to return, promising an exciting celebration of creativity, heritage, and community that should be on everyone’s radar. Jewish culture has long been a source of inspiration and intrigue, and this year’s festival offers an opportunity to delve into its heart and soul.

This festival boasts a wide range of experiences, from culinary delights to a delightful ballerina tea party for the little ones, from thought-provoking films to meetings with renowned cookbook authors. The lineup covers an array of genres, from historical fiction to poignant memoirs, offering engaging readings, book signings, and discussions that explore the themes, histories, and traditions woven into Jewish literature.

Kicking off the festival is “Little Town,” a touching film by award-winning filmmaker Dani Menkin, known for his crowd-pleasers such as “Aulcie,” “On the Map,” “Picture of His Life,” and “Dolphin Boy.” Menkin’s latest work explores the heartwarming tale of a father and son brought closer together by a stranger. Following this, the festival presents “Vishniac,” a documentary paying tribute to Roman Vishniac, the Russian-American photographer celebrated for capturing iconic images of Jewish life in pre-Holocaust Europe. Finally, don’t miss the OC premiere of “Closed Circuit,” a gripping exploration of a terrorist attack through raw security camera footage and eyewitness testimonies, accompanied by a Q&A session with producer Nancy Spielberg and writer/director Tal Inbar.

These early days of the festival emphasize the power of storytelling in preserving and conveying the essence of Jewish culture across generations and geographies.

As the festival unfolds, exciting events await. Dr. Eric Goldman will take a deep dive into Steven Spielberg’s films, dissecting what makes them unique and how Spielberg’s Jewish background has profoundly influenced his cinema. The renowned Chef Michael Solomonov, a champion of Israel’s diverse culinary landscape, will treat attendees to a delectable dinner featuring recipes from his cookbooks “Israeli Soul” and “Zahav,” followed by a cooking demo and Q&A.

Authors Joel Chasnoff and Benji Lovitt, both American-Israeli stand-up comedians, promise laughter as they pull back the curtain on the unique aspects of Israel in their book “Israel 201.” Additionally, American-born novelist, playwright, and journalist Naomi Ragen will lead an informal book club discussion featuring her novel “The Enemy Beside Me,” a powerful exploration of reconciliation over unforgivable crimes of the past.

For families, a special interactive event awaits with Robin Preiss Glasser, bestselling illustrator of the beloved Fancy Nancy series. Children are encouraged to don their fanciest party attire for a fabulous tea party and book reading, followed by a fun art activity.

No festival would be complete without an art exhibit. The “Triumph of the Spirit” exhibit in the Slutzky Family Art Gallery features rare and never-before-seen memorabilia of Jewish Olympic athletes from before, during, and after the Holocaust. The exhibit runs from late October through mid-December, with the opening reception and presentation scheduled for Monday, November 20 at 6 p.m. It’s free and open to the public.

The OC Jewish Arts Festival promises an immersive and enlightening exploration of Jewish culture. Whether you’re a member of the J community or simply interested in learning more about this rich heritage, this festival offers a unique journey of discovery, connection, and celebration. Together, attendees will honor the traditions, stories, and contributions that have shaped Jewish culture throughout history, fostering a deeper appreciation for its enduring legacy. Don’t miss this opportunity to engage with the heart and soul of Jewish culture.

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