The Evening(s) of Jewish Renaissance returns!

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An award-winning chef and an Israeli model/actress, an Israeli settler rabbi and a Palestinian refugee, a Bible scholar and a comedian, a magazine editor and a European activist are all among the presenters at this year’s Evening(s) of Jewish Renaissance.

The program has been reimagined for the times in which we are living and will take place mostly over Zoom, Sunday through Tuesday, Nov. 14 to 16. Previously, the program has attracted hundreds of people every couple of years to an in-person evening featuring programs on a wide variety of subjects. This year, despite the new format, programs will still cover an array of topics.

Comedian Pamela Rae Schuller, who has performed throughout this country and in several others, will use her comedy and storytelling skills to both entertain and to advocate for inclusion when she performs in person and on Zoom on Sunday evening, Nov. 14.

Schuller’s performance will be followed by an interview with Noa Tishby, an Israeli actress, model, producer and activist who has written a book that combines her family’s story with that of Israel, presenting Israel in an easy-to-understand way.

Though Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is no longer with us, her partner on her last big project will be. On Nov. 15, Nicole Epstein, editor of Moment magazine, will discuss many of the 33 Jewish women whom RBG thought were the most inspiring role models for the next generation. Tweens, teens and their families may find this program especially illuminating.

Also on Monday evening, an Orthodox rabbi/settler and a Palestinian refugee will speak about their complex experiences living through the conflict in Israel and how they have learned to work with each other and enjoy each other’s friendship. Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger and Noor A’wad will share their stories and efforts to build a better future for all.

Bible scholar Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg, the author of five critically acclaimed books, will discuss Jacob and his relationships with Rebecca and Rachel through the lenses of midrash, Hassidic thought and psychoanalysis. This discussion will take place as a lunch and learn program on Tuesday.

That evening, Tamás Büchler, a young Jewish leader based in his native Budapest, Hungary, will discuss how young Central and Eastern European Jews, many of whom grew up unaware of their Jewishness, deal with the attractions of assimilation, the threat of anti-Semitism and the urge to rebuild sustainable Jewish communities in Europe. 

Michael Twitty will cap off the Evening(s) of Jewish Renaissance by sharing how an African-American, award-winning chef has come to write a Kosher cookbook, expressing his multiple identities. He will also share from his book in progress, “Kosher Soul,” a successor to “The Cooking Gene,” which won the 2018 James Beard Book of the Year award.

The Evening(s) of Jewish Renaissance is sponsored by the Dr. James Yashar and Judge Marjorie Yashar Fund at the Jewish Federation Foundation. All events are free.

More information about the entire program is available at jewishallianceri.org/ejr. You can also contact Larry Katz at lkatz@jewishallianceri.org. Registration is available online, and Zoom links will be sent to participants via email. Information about in-person events will also be available upon registration. 

LARRY KATZ (lkatz@jewishallianceri.org) is the director of Jewish life and learning at the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island.