Massive Layoffs at Philadelphia’s Jewish Exponent

unnamed%20(1)_2[1]I am horrified to read that the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia has dismissed the entire editorial staff of the Jewish Exponent, including its editor Lisa Hostein, in order to “save money” by turning editorial management over to a non-Philadelphia corporate media-management outfit.

Ms. Hostein has for the last six years transformed the paper from a blind-eyed screed for a small segment of the Philadelphia Jewish community to a much juicier (and Jewcier) expression of and stimulant to Jewish creativity. Her institution of the weekly column Rabbis Uncensored, written by a wide variety of Philadelphia-area rabbis, has been one example of a ruach chadashah — a new breath, a new wind, a new spirit of grass-roots Jewish energy.

The Federation claims that its agreement with the Media corporation requires it to surrender appointment and control of its editorial staff (and therefore policy). A new managing editor is to be hired. How does that save money? Could not the Federation have insisted that the new deal include continuing the award-winning tenure of Ms. Hostein?

This decision is especially sad, given the recent advent of a new Federation CEO who herself has seemed to be open to a much deeper vision of the Federation and the Jewish community that it tries to serve. I hope that deeper vision can survive this blow.

Naomi Adler Picked To Lead Philadelphia Jewish Federation

Naomi Adler

First Female CEO Takes Reins at Charity Group

— by Anne Cohen

The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia has reportedly appointed Naomi Adler as its first female CEO.

Adler, 47, has been selected as CEO, the Jewish Exponent reported.

The wife of a Reform rabbi, Adler left a career in law to pursue a calling in nonprofit fundraising and management. She currently serves as president and CEO of United Way in Westchester and Putnam counties in New York, a post she has held since 2008.

Though new to Philadelphia area, home to an estimated 214,000 Jews, Adler said she was honored, and excited at the idea of moving her family.

“I am extremely excited to partner with our leadership to set a vision for the future as this work is essential to so many in the community,” she said in a prepared statement.

Adler will reportedly take over Federation in early May.

This article originally appeared at, February 3, 2014.
Reproduced from here by permission of the Forward.

Philly Jewish Federation Supports “Buy Israeli Goods” Campaign

— by Ronit Treatman

The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia is encouraging the community to buy Israeli products for Thanksgiving and Hanukkah in the Buy Israeli Goods (BIG) campaign.  

“Not everyone can fly to Israel, or march on Congress, or rally at the U.N.,” the campaign’s founder, Frances Zelazny, said. “But people can make a purchasing decision.” The Federation’s website has lists of Israeli food products and gifts, and local stores and online retailers that carry Israeli items.  

19 Local Synagogues Hold Wine Tasting Event at Federation Building

— by John Oliver Mason

Nineteen Philadelphia-area synagogues joined in a wine tasting party, aimed at Jewish professionals in their 20s and 30s, at the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia building last Tuesday. Ross Berkowitz, executive director of Tribe 12, one of the event’s sponsors, said:

This is an event we have been running for six years now. The one time of the year that Jews in their 20s and 30s think about synagogues, is at the High Holidays. They really do not think about them throughout the year. So we are really trying to catch people now, when they are thinking ‘Where do I want to go for the High Holidays,’ introduce them to the great synagogues that we have in this area, and hopefully create a connection, where they can possibly get free tickets for the High Holidays coming up, and hopefully create a connection for the coming year with one or more synagogues.

More after the jump.
Tribe 12, said Berkowitz, is “an organization that engages people in their twenties and thirties in the Jewish community, finding ways to connect people today so that they will stay involved in the community in the long term.”

Except for Tribe 12, The event was sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, Renaissance Group, Hillel Grad Network of Philadelphia, Moishe House, Gershman Y, the Jewish Exponent, Interfaith family of Philadelphia, the Victor Center, and the Consulate General of Israel in Philadelphia. “We all try to work together, because we know if we work together and create collaborations, we are going to have stronger events and better programs,” concluded Berkowitz.              

The participating Synagogues were:

  • Adath Israel (Conservative), Merion Station;
  • Aish HaTorah Philadelphia (traditional),Bala Cynwyd;
  • Congregation Beth Am Israel (Conservative), Penn Valley;
  • Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir (Reconstructionist), Center City Philadelphia;
  • Congregation Mikveh Israel (Spanish-Portuguese), Center City;
  • Congregation Rodeph Shalom (Reform), Center City;
  • Germantown Jewish Centre (Conservative), West Mount Airy;
  • Har Zion Temple (Conservative), Penn Valley;
  • Historic Congregation B’Nai Abraham (Orthodox), Society Hill;
  • Historic Congregation Kesher Israel, Society Hill;
  • Kesher Shalom (Reconstructionist-based), Rydal;
  • Kol Tzedek (Reconstructionist), West Philadelphia;
  • Mekor Habracha (Orthodox), Center City Philadelphia;
  • Minyan Tikvah (traditional-egalitarian), Center City;
  • Mishkan Shalom (Reconstructionist), Roxborough;
  • Temple Beth Am (Reform), Abington;
  • Society Hill Synagogue (Independent Conservative), Society Hill;
  • Temple Beth-Hillel-Beth El (Conservative), Wynnewood; and
  • Temple Beth Zion-Beth El (Conservative), Center City.

Forward: Philly Federation Faces Crisis as Schwartz Abruptly Leaves

The Forward’s Josh Nathan-Kazis broke an important story on the abrupt resignation of Ira Schwartz, the CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.

Continuity Elusive at Top of Nation’s No. 6 Community
Ira Schwartz, departed abruptly in early May, marking the fourth time the federation has lost its top professional leader since the early 1990s. That’s unusual among big-city federations, where successful executives often last decades….

Philadelphia’s federation announced Schwartz’s departure late on May 3, a Friday afternoon. A statement and story published in the federation-owned Jewish Exponent disclosed no details about why Schwartz was leaving, saying only that the separation was effective immediately.

JEVS Helping Hands Program

Penny Kardon, Director of Career Strategies for the Jewish Employment and Vocational Service (JEVS) in Philadelphia, explains the Helping Hands program as “a program for underemployed or unemployed Jewish individuals up to the age of 65. They are given intense vocational assessment, ongoing career counseling, and opportunities for us to pay for training programs. There’s a free computer program, workshops, lots and lots of support with job placement, (and) it’s a one-year program, it’s of no cost to the participants, and it’s completely funded by the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.”

More after the jump.

The whole goal of Helping Hands, says Kardon, “is to make you more self-sufficient and it’s been working, it’s a wonderful opportunity if you qualify.”

Helping Hands, adds Kardon, helps fifty clients each year, and, she adds, “In general, we’ve (All of JEVS) been very busy.” The poor state of the economy, she adds, “has added clients to us, with Unemployment running out and a tight job market.”

Rhonda Cohen, Coordinator of Community Relations for JEVS Career Strategies, adds, “Our services are not just specifically for Jewish clients, we also take those who are not Jewish into our department, and that’s on a sliding fee scale.”

Helping Hands, says Kardon, is “primarily a career counseling service, we help you do your resume,  and counsel you, but if you want job placement, we have a full-time job developer, and out of those people who wanted job development, we have placed close to seventy percent of those individuals last year, and the year before. So we are placing people, even with the tough market.”  

Prof. Alan Dershowitz Makes Philadelphia’s Case for Israel

— by Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Professor Alan Dershowitz came to the University of Pennsylvania on Thursday evening, February 2, 2012, to accomplish two goals: one, to continue in his role as American’s most outspoken, knowledgeable “celebrity” to “Make the Case for Israel” (the title of his 2003 book); and to tell Penn pro-Israel students, the Penn administration and the larger Philadelphia pro-Israel community, that they are model Israel advocates.  He accomplished both.

Last semester a few students conspired to create an organization on Penn’s campus with the goal of hosting a conference there to promote the boycotting of, divesting from and sanctioning of Israel (“BDS“).   Rather than create panic, however, their efforts forged an otherwise virtual impossibility: a community acting in almost complete unison to showcase Israel and educate those willing to be educated so they too would join the ranks of supporters, rather than vilifiers.  

More after the jump.
There were those in the Philadelphia community who wanted Penn not to support such a conference by granting it use of its facilities, but the school administration refused to go that route, while still very clearly disassociating itself from the BDS message and goals.   A virtual community-wide response was to support the efforts of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia which led the response off-campus, working with Penn Hillel on-campus, which created a myriad of events and initiatives to showcase Israel.  Together the Federation and Penn Hillel brought in Dershowitz as the event unifying the university and the community at large in solidarity with Israel.  It all came together exactly as the planners hoped.

In addition to the Dershowitz event, “We Are One With Israel: An Evening of Unity and Community Solidarity,” before a sold-out crowd of 900 at Penn’s Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on Thursday evening, there were several student-only initiatives, including raising money for an Israeli charity and promoting investment in Israel.  For one massive initiative, “Israel Across Penn,” Penn students hosted a series of Shabbat dinners for more than 800 other students.  The only requirement for attendance was to agree that the dinner conversation would center around Israel.

Students Josh Cooper and Shlomo Klapper were the organizers of the dinners.  Both from New Jersey, each steadfastly refused to say that the dinners or the Dershowitz event were to counter the BDS conference.  They insisted that the BDS supporters had a right to have a conference, but they both agreed the BDS event created a terrific opportunity by galvanizing the Jewish and pro-Israel community.  

“Their goal is to discredit the state of Israel, we have revealed a deep and strong connection to Israel,” Klapper said.

Cooper added, “There is a strong positive energy for Israel on this campus, but sometimes it’s dormant, so this really mobilized us.”

As student and community leaders gathered for a meal in Steinhardt Hall, the Penn Hillel building, and waited for a private chat with Dershowitz, Eric Schorr, a Columbia University student, rose and read an Ivy League Solidarity Statement, which was signed by pro-Israel leaders at all the other Ivy League schools.  “Boycotts are an obstacle to peace,” the statement reads, “BDS fails to recognize Israel’s prior offerings of peace that have been categorically rejected by Palestinian leadership, and merely seeks to vilify Israel.”  

Samara Gordon, a leader in the bi-partisan Penn Israel Political Action Committee said that more than sixty students from organizations across the Penn campus, including the Penn Democrats, the College Republicans, the National Society for Black Engineers, and the Japan Students Association, signed a statement of solidarity with the pro-Israel Penn leadership.  Gordon introduced Dershowitz to the dinner crowd, thanking him for consistently being the “go-to” person in support of Israel, and for being “awesome.”

In a short but upbeat pep talk to the select group Dershowitz made several points he reiterated to the larger crowd later: support for Israel is and must be a bi-partisan issue, all of the Penn community has presented a model of pro-Israel advocacy, the school was right not to prevent the BDS conference from taking place on the campus – so long as there is a single policy, it must be consistently applied – and just as important as it was to allow the conference on campus,  was it for the supporters to respond vigorously with the truth, by making their case for Israel.  

One student lamented the dearth of pro-Israel academics who speak out,  in contrast to the many anti-Israel professors who do.  Acknowledging the imbalance, Dershowitz explained that so many on the hard left have made it seem “politically incorrect” to support Israel.  But, as Dershowitz repeated several times, “I’m a liberal Democrat and I support Israel because of my liberal values.  I support Israel because I am a feminist, I support Israel because I am pro-gay rights, I support Israel because I steadfastly believe in human rights.”  

The dinner crowd joined the hundreds of others who filed into the Zellerbach auditorium at the Annenberg Center.  As the auditorium filled to capacity, the speeches and introduction of the introducers began.  Rabbi Mike Uram, the director of Penn Hillel, set the tone by sharing a little Torah learning with the audience.  

Uram remarked that one of the things Jews thank G-d for in the morning blessings, is for the understanding to discern day from night.  And, he said, that was exactly why everyone was gathered together, to have Professor Dershowitz as a role model helping everyone to “distinguish between those who seek a real, lasting peace and those who simply want to demonize the Israeli people,” he continued, “and between those who search for facts and those who search only for accusations.” 

David L. Cohen, Chairman of the Penn Board of Trustees, as well as a former trustee of the Board of Directors of the Philadelphia Federation, read a statement from Penn President Amy Gutmann.  Gutmann had been subject to heated criticism for allowing the conference to go forward, and for being insufficiently forceful in distancing the university from the conference.  Gutmann’s statement again included a rejection of the message and the goals of BDS, and insisted that, “truth and reason will win the day,” and with a closer the crowd was eager to hear:  “thanks for doing it the right way, Shalom, Amy Gutmann.”

The President of the Philadelphia Federation, Sherrie Savett, welcomed everyone, and introduced the star of the evening, Professor Alan Dershowitz.

True to form, Dershowitz presented a potpourri of articulately delivered bombshells, many that were welcome to most, others that were anathema to some, but most with such aplomb and unassailable logic as to calm down, if not convince, even those who disagreed.

Consistent with his theme of supporting Israel because of his liberal values, Dershowitz stated that he abhors those supporting BDS against Israel because if they really cared about human rights, they would be employing “BDS against Syria, against Cuba, against Iran, against China, against Russia, against Hamas and Hezbollah.”  Because the BDS supporters are ignoring the true violators of human rights across the globe, it makes a mockery of their criticisms of Israel, “the one country in the Middle East with the highest respect for human rights.”  

Going further, Dershowitz slammed the professors who support BDS generally, and those supporting Penn BDS specifically. “Those professors who are supporting BDS in the name of human rights? Shame on you! Iran is murdering dissidents and you are complaining about Israel?  Shame on you – you are abusing the concept of human rights,” Dershowitz thundered, ” You are complicit with evil when you ignore other violators of human rights and focus on Israel – you have to justify yourselves!”  Dershowitz went further: “this anti-Israel campaign is one of the greatest human rights issues of this century, supplying a justification for the oldest hatred.”

Continuing his theme of support for liberal values and human rights dictating support for Israel, Dershowitz invoked one of the greatest icons of liberalism in American history, Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr., who visited Israel during the first violent uprising, in 1988.  Upon his return, Justice Brennan remarked that, “Israel was the only country in the world that could teach the United States how to fight against terrorism with the same concern for human liberties.”  

Although there were several adults who asked questions during the Q and A following the talk, students asked the questions which elicited the most informative responses.

In a nod to current global concerns, Dershowitz was asked about recent news reports that Israel may soon respond to the nuclear threat from Iran.  For the second time that evening Dershowitz carefully explained that if Israel were to strike, it would be a reactive and not a pre-emptive strike.  

“Iran,” he explained, “has already committed acts of war against Israel,” citing the arming of Hamas and Hezbollah, and the 1992 bombing of the Israeli embassy in Argentina.  “Israel is within its legal rights to respond with force to the Iranian threat.”

The final question was one that, while hostile, Dershowitz might have paid someone to ask.  Echoing the November 22, 2011 “Pinkwashing” New York Times op-ed  written by professor Sarah Schulman, a young woman asked “if a ‘Palestinian’ tells me Israel stole her land, what good is it for me to say that ‘Israel is good on gay rights’?”

Warming to the fight, Dershowitz unequivocally rejected the notion of ‘Palestinian’ land having been stolen.   He launched into a brief history lesson on the break-up of the Ottoman Empire, absentee Arab ownership, purchases of the land by Jews, and concluded with by quoting an Arab leader who responded to the Peel Commission in 1937 which attempted to create a Jewish and another Arab State, “There is no such country as Palestine! Palestine is a term the Zionists invented!  We live in Southern Syria.”

The author of the “Pinkwashing” op-ed was one of the presenters at the Penn BDS conference.  And just as Dershowitz exposed her hypocrisy for ruing instead of praising Israel’s openness and freedom for gays by pretending it was merely a front for stealing land from the Arabs, a further irony was made apparent by actions taken by the Penn BDS organizers.  

According to the online agenda of the BDS conference, one of the sessions was devoted to Academic Freedom and addressed freedom of speech.  A reporter for the Philadelphia Jewish Voice was immediately rejected when she applied for a press pass to the conference, and a reporter from the other Philadelphia Jewish media outlet had his press credentials revoked because the organizers disliked an article he had written.

While Professor Dershowitz could not have known about it when he gave his talk here, the refusal to operate openly, and the denial of access to those with potentially opposing viewpoints by the conference organizers were entirely consistent with his point, that the BDS advocates were hypocrites masking their hatred of Israel with a thin veneer of concern for civil rights and freedoms.

Saving the Stiffel Center

“Save Our Stiffel” is the name of a newly-formed group dedicated to keeping the Jacob & Esther Stiffel Senior center, 604 Porter Street in South Philadelphia, from closing due to lack of funds.

Programs held at the Stiffel Center include classes in Yiddish; art, poetry and music classes; cultural and travel experiences; health and exercise programs; traditional holiday programs; daily hot kosher lunches; fitness and wellness classes; medial and legal advice; chaplaincy services; and a thrift shop.

Laurel Katz, actor and radio host, is part of the effort; “No one had organized,” she recalls, “a committee to raise the funds that are needed, because we found  out fairly recently that that Stiffel is operating on a $200 thousand annual deficit, and they need $200 thousand by June 30th, and a promise for future funding, because they want to close it.” The Stiffel Center is a branch of the Klein JCC.

More after the jump.
“There were sort of reasons why,” the Stiffel clients were late in being informed of the closing, adds Katz, “It’s a little confusing and unclear, but the way I went into this is to not think about what happened in the past and what brought us here, but what can we do now, immediately, right away, to remedy this problem, to keep the center open, and that’s my sole focus.”

The committee to save the Stiffel, says Katz, has formed very recently, and “We since have a press release, and we are called ‘Save Our Stiffel’, SOS. No one had really organized something, there wasn’t any organized group, and now there is, and the word is out. We are organized, and we had a very encouraging meeting with a lot of very passionate people, and also people that are very plugged into assorted places in the community. We’re in the process of drawing up a packet to present to people who have the ability to write decent checks, because really, $200 thousand is not a lot of money. If someone wants to write a $200 thousand check, we’ll name the auditorium after them.”

The packet, says Katz, will tell the history of the Stiffel Center, “with the immigrants of South Philadelphia, not just Jews, (but including) the Italian community, and we’re going to get that out to whoever we can.” The packet will focus on people who can write big checks. Along with this will be a more grassroots approach, with such ideas as a concert at the center and a silent auction. “It’s going to be like a blitz,” says Katz, “it has to be because of the time issue.”

Stay tuned to the Philadelphia Jewish Voice for further developments as they occur.

Do you have a song in your heart for Israel?

Enter the Israel 63 Talent Competition and Compete for Cash Prizes

Musically gifted individuals and groups of all ages are invited to compete for $500 cash prizes and the opportunity to perform on stage at Penn’s Landing before thousands of participants in the Israel 63 Independence Day celebration on Sunday, May 22, noon to 5 p.m.  The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia is sponsoring this Israel: A Song In Our Hearts contest and is soliciting entries now through April 1, 2011.  Go to for contest rules and submission information.

“The competition will be interactive and exciting,” said Federation President Leonard Barrack,” explaining that all entries will be posted on Federation’s website and the public will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite between April 15 and May 5.  The three entries receiving the highest numbers of votes in each category will be deemed finalists and will be notified by email on May 10.  All finalists must be available to perform live at the May 22 Israel 63 celebration between 12:15 and 4:45 p.m. before a panel of judges who will determine the winners of the following four categories:

  • Individual performers 17 and under
  • Individual performers 18 and over
  • Multi-person groups-17 and under
  • Multi-person groups-18 and over

More details after the jump.
All entrants must live in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery or Philadelphia counties.  Each competitor may submit one song, no longer than two minutes, in either Hebrew or English.  Israel must be mentioned favorably in song lyrics which may not contain proselytizing or messianic messages.  Text of all song lyrics must accompany entries which may be submitted in either:  MP3, MP4, WMV or MPEG format.  Songs do not have to be original.

All submissions must be accompanied by an entry form signed by the competitor(s).  Competitors who are minors must have their entry forms consigned by a parent or guardian.

Entry forms and complete contest rules and regulations are available at .  For additional information, please call Beth Razin at 215-832-0536.

Blank Rome LLP and the Jewish Exponent are sponsors of this community celebration, which will also include an Israeli marketplace, ethnic foods and refreshments, special children’s activities and booths highlighting the programs and activities of many local community organizations.

15th Annual Israeli Film Festival of Philadelphia

The Matchmaker, directed by Avi Nesher
Saturday, February 26 at 8:00 PM and Sunday, February 27 at 3:00 PM, International House, 3701 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia
(2010, 112 minutes, Hebrew with English subtitles)

Eight Prize Winning Films Over Six Weeks

The Israeli Film Festival of Philadelphia celebrates its 15th Anniversary Season with eight prize-winning films by Israeli filmmakers over a six-week period beginning February 26th with screenings in Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs.  The Festival celebrates Israeli cinema with the aim of enriching the American vision of Israeli culture and society through film.  (See our coverage of the Israeli Film Festival in 2006 and 2009.)

Advanced ticket sales are available online.  There are a limited number of free tickets for high school and college students at each screening. Reservations for student tickets can be made online and must picked up one hour prior to each screening.

According to Nurit Yaron, the Film Festival’s chair,

Each season the Israeli Film Festival presents a slate of feature films and documentaries that are carefully selected to represent a diverse reflection of Israel.  It is our goal to celebrate the creativity of Israeli filmmaking and vibrancy of Israeli culture. Our program includes award-winning feature films and documentaries that have received wide recognition both in Israel and abroad.

The Matchmaker

The Festival opens on Saturday, February 26th with The Matchmaker directed by Avi Nesher.  Winner of the 2010 Israeli Film Academy for Best Actor and Best Actress Awards, The Matchmaker is an enchanting coming-of-age tale about the redemptive power of love and the manifold incarnations of friendship.  Yankele Bride, a Holocaust survivor who makes his living as a matchmaker, hires 16-year old Arik to scout potential clients throughout the bustling port city of Haifa.  The quirky characters Arik meets on the job – Clara, a beautiful, fragile woman whom Bride loves from afar; Sylvia, a survivor of Josef  Mengele’s Nazi experiments who yearns for a husband; and Meir, a librarian – open his eyes to a world of wonder, pain and longing.  Avi Nesher made his feature film debut with The Troup and has since made Turn Left at the End of the World (the biggest grossing movie in Israeli history) followed by The Secrets.  The Matchmaker will have two screenings, both at the Philadelphia International House, on Saturday, February 26th at 8:00 PM and again on Sunday, February 27th at 3:00 PM.

Information and trailers about the other seven film after the jump.

Precious Life, directed by Shlomi Eldar
Sunday, February 27 at 7:00 PM, International House, 3701 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia
(2010, 82 minutes, Hebrew and Arabic with English subtitles)

Precious Life

Precious Life, a searing documentary about Israeli/Palestinian relations by Shlomi Eldar, will screen at the Philadelphia International House on Sunday, February 27th at 7:00 PM.  The movie brings to light the plight of a Palestinian baby who was born without an immune system, a genetic disease that had killed his two sisters.  Eldar helps facilitate funds for a bone marrow transplant through an anonymous Israeli donor whose own son had been killed in the Army.  He also documents the drama of the Palestinian doctor taking the matching blood samples across the border checkpoint.  The winner of the Best Documentary from the 2010 Israeli Film Academy, Precious Life highlights the complex dynamics reflecting the personal and political ambiguities in the region.  

Gei Oni, directed by Dan Wolman
Saturday, March 5 at 8:00 PM, Drexel University, Edmond D. Bossone Research Enterprise Center, Mitchell Auditorium, 3128 Market Street, Philadelphia
(2010, 105 minutes, Hebrew, Yiddish, and Arabic with English subtitles)

Gei Oni – Valley of Fortitude

The Festival continues on March 5th at Drexel University’s Mitchell Auditorium with Gei Oni, directed by Dan Wolman and based on the classic novel by Israeli author Shulamit Lapid.  A historical epic, Gei Oni interweaves the story of the first wave of Jewish European migration to Palestine at the end of the 19th century with an unusual love story.  Fania, having escaped the pogroms of Russia, seeks a new life in late 19th century Palestine.  She meets Yechiel, a widower with two young children.  Agreeing to marriage as a means of survival, Fania follows the farmer to a hard pioneer life in his tiny village near the city of Safed.  Gei Oni is a dramatic narrative of the Jewish dream of returning and rebuilding the land of Zion.  Director Dan Wolman will be the guest speaker following the screening.

Lebanon, directed by Samuel Maoz
Sunday, March 13 at 7:00 PM, Bryn Mawr Film Institute, 824 West Lancaster Avenue, Bryn Mawr
(2009, 94 minutes, Hebrew and Arabic with English subtitles)


The Festival moves to the Main Line’s Bryn Mawr Film Institute on March 13th with Lebanon, directed by Samuel Maoz.  Taking place during the first Lebanon War in 1982, a novice crew of Israeli soldiers enters the ruins of a Lebanese town previously bombed by the Air Force.  Young men who have never fought before find themselves trapped within a tank as they are thrown into a situation that quickly spins out of control.  Winner of the Golden Lion Award from the 2009 Venice Film Festival, Lebanon was also the winner of the European Discovery Award and the Carlo di Palma Cinematographer Award, both from the 2010 European Film Festival, and Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Sound and Best Supporting Actor, all from the 2009 Israeli Film Academy.  Dr. Elna Yadin, a psychotherapist from Byrn Mawr College, will be the guest speaker after the film.

This is Sodom, directed by Adam Sanderson & Muli Segev
Saturday, March 26 at 8:30PM and Sunday, March 27 at 3:00PM
International House, 3701 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia
(2010, 88 minutes, Hebrew with English subtitles)

This is Sodom

The Festival returns to the Philadelphia International House with two screenings of the comedy This is Sodom, directed by Adam Sanderson and Muli Segev, on Saturday, March 26th at 8:30 PM and again on Sunday, March 27th at 3:00 PM.  A delightfully raucous, slapstick comedy, This is Sodom reenacts the moment of the birth of the Jewish people, as the patriarch Abraham bargains with God for the life of his nephew, Lot, supposedly the only righteous person in the infamous city of Sodom, the biblical capital of gambling, sex and corruption.  This is Sodom set the record for the most tickets sold for an Israeli movie in its first weekend.

The Human Resources Manager, directed by Eran Riklis
Sunday, March 27 at 7:00 PM, International House, 3701 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia
(2010, 103 minutes, Hebrew and Romanian with English subtitles)

The Human Resources Manager

Israel’s Oscar entry for Best Foreign Language Film, The Human Resources Manager, will be shown on Sunday, March 27th at 7:00 PM at the Philadelphia International House.  Based on the novel by A.B. Yehoshua and directed by Eran Riklis, The Human Resources Manager won Best Feature Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Soundtrack and Best Supporting Actress, all from the 2010 Israeli Film Academy.  In this touching tragic-comedy, a Human Resource manager at Israel’s largest bakery is blamed for not noticing that one of his employees is missing.  After discovering that the employee is a victim of a suicide bombing, the manager finds himself the unlikely escort of the young woman’s coffin back to her hometown in Romania.  Eran Riklis is the acclaimed director of The Lemon Tree and The Syrian Bride which was screened in Philadelphia at the 2006 Israeli Film Festival.

Missing Father, directed by Yair Elazar
Saturday, April 2 at 8:45 PM, Gratz College, 7605 Old York Road, Melrose Park
(2009, 86 minutes, Hebrew with English subtitles)

Missing Father

Missing Father, a documentary by Yair Elazar, will be screened on Saturday, April 2nd at 8:45 PM at Gratz College.  Decades after the death of Israel’s legendary but discredited Chief of Staff David Elazar (Dado), his youngest son launches a personal investigation into the life of the national celebrity and military genius.  Now a father himself, Yair Elazar feels compelled to understand the father whose many absences from home made him an enigma to his children.  Through a sincere and lucid requiem, the director takes a journey in his father’s footsteps, aiming to penetrate the web of myths shrouding his father’s memory, and to overcome his anger at him for sacrificing family life for a military career.  Yair Elazar will be the guest speaker following the film.

Voices from El-Sayed, directed by Oded Adomi Leshem
Saturday, April 9 at 8:45 PM, Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy, Jewish Federation Campus, 272 Bryn Mawr Avenue, Bryn Mawr
(2009, 75 minutes, Hebrew and Arabic with English subtitles)

Voices from El-Sayed

The Festival concludes on Saturday, April 9th at Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy with Voices from El-Sayed directed by Oded Adomi Leshem, winner of the 2009 Guggenheim Emerging Artist Award.   The Bedouin village of El-Sayed in the picturesque Israeli Negev desert is home to the largest percentage of deaf people in the world.  Hearing and non-hearing residents alike live in silence, and all use a variant of sign language adapted over several generations to local needs and habits.  One member’s decision to get a cochlear implant for his son brings into sharp focus how the gift of hearing may feel like the loss of community and identity.  Director of the film, Oded Adomi Leshem, will be the guest speaker following the film.


For further information about the festival or any of the screenings, please call 484-904-5421 or visit the festival’s website.