$5 suggested donation for members / $8 suggested donation for non-members (unless otherwise noted)
More than seventy years after World War II, some of the most basic questions about the Holocaust remain beyond understanding. Why were Jews the targets and Germans the aggressors? Why did violence escalate to mass murder, and why was extermination so swift and sweeping? Why didn’t Jews fight back more often, and why was such limited help given from the outside? To fail to understand is to refuse the brutal lessons of that era—desperately needed in a world where persecution, inequality, and state-sponsored violence continue to destroy lives, families, and nations. Peter Hayes is Professor Emeritus of Holocaust Studies at Northwestern University and chair of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Academic Committee.
Prof. Mark Rosenblum
Monday, April 16, 1:30 p.m.
From his first international trip, beginning in Saudi Arabia, to recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, President Trump has shaken up American Middle East policy. The president’s actions have helped Prime Minister Netanyahu fight for his political life by mobilizing right-wing support for annexation of large parts of the West Bank. Trump has also embraced a closer relationship with Saudi Arabia, where Crown Prince bin Salman has emerged as one of the most powerful regional leaders, pushing a peace agreement with Israel. What are the implications of Trump’s as yet unclear Mideast agenda? Vladimir Putin has positioned himself as a third key figure in the Middle East. What is Putin’s end game. Most important, is a democratic two-state solution still possible while maintaining a Jewish homeland? Mark Rosenblum is Director of the Ibrahim Student Leadership and Dialogue Middle East Program with Queens College.
At the Forest Hills Jewish Center
Carbon dioxide is rising at an unprecedented rate, chiefly due to fossil fuel use and clearing of forests. Humanity has started an uncontrolled experiment that is like putting our climate on a “hot plate.” With greenhouse gases rising to levels not seen in tens of millions of years, understanding past eras helps us understand our future. A Professor of Earth and Environmental Science at Queens College, Dr. Pekar will talk about what the Earth’s climate was like when the level of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide was as high as predicted for this century. Dr. Pekar’s research has taken him on expeditions around the world, including Antarctica, to understand climate and oceanographic changes 16 to 45 million years ago and what that means for humanity’s future. He will also discuss what we can do as individuals to create a more sustainable world.
In 2008, American journalist Jere Van Dyk was kidnapped by the Taliban in Pakistan and held for ransom for 45 days. Once released, Van Dyk was haunted by questions about why he had been taken, how he was released, and why his employers and government employees refused to give him a full account of what they knew. In his determination to understand what happened, he returned to Pakistan and Afghanistan in 2014 and met with some of the key leaders of jihadist groups and with the families of Americans held hostage. In his new memoir, Van Dyk reveals what he learned about what he calls the Trade, the lucrative international business of political kidnappings by terrorist groups.
At the Turkish Cultural Center
Join us for a panel discussion about the changing role of women in our religions within the context of modern culture. How has each of our religious traditions viewed women differently from men and how is that changing? Some religious denominations prescribe specific traditional roles and modest dress for women. What does modesty mean and is it a choice? Most basic, how important is individual choice? Or is fulfilling an obligation that is seen as sacred more important? Does having a different role make that role special or lesser? Our panel will include representatives from the Abrahamic faiths, and we’ll leave time for questions and discussion. FREE.
Monday, April 30, 1:30 p.m.
We are all familiar with stories of Jewish immigrants clambering up the ladder of social and economic mobility. But YIVO Exhibitions Director Eddy Portnoy has written an underground history of downwardly mobile Jews, exposing the seamy underbelly of pre-WWII New York and Warsaw, based on true stories from the Yiddish press. Portnoy introduces us to Jewish drunks, thieves, murderers, wrestlers, poets, and beauty queens. There's the Polish rabbi blackmailed by an American widow, mass brawls at weddings and funerals, and a psychic who specialized in locating missing husbands. His book is a paean to the bunglers, the blockheads, and the just plain weird—Jews who were flung from small, impoverished European shtetls into the urban shtetls of New York, where their bread landed butter side down in the dirt.
Monday, May 7, 1:30 p.m.
Sana Krasikov’s new novel is based on the true story of an idealistic young American Jewish woman who left America for the Soviet Union in 1934. Krasikov will talk about the little known phenomenon of American Jews who emigrated to Stalinist Russia in search of a utopian life, lived an exciting expatriate life for a time, and ultimately found themselves trapped in one of the most murderous and anti-Semitic periods of the Soviet regime. For many, the story included time served in Gulag for the parents and years in state orphanages for their children. How did these people who had emigrated later see their own past choices, and how did those who returned to America so many decades later feel on returning? Sana Krasikov, who emigrated from the Soviet Union to NY, has received numerous awards for fiction, including the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature.
Monday, June 4 and June 11, 1:00 p.m.
Don’t miss our mini festival of outstanding short films, on two Mondays in June, that highlight different aspects of Israeli life. In one film, Israeli soldiers travel with a Palestinian prisoner, when their jeep breaks down in the desert. In another film, a waitress, closing up the restaurant for the evening to go to her birthday celebration, is detained by an encounter with a grieving customer and a young boy. In a third film, on the day of her sister’s wedding, Zohara steals her sister’s blessing, transforming the dynamic of the siblings’ relationship. Each of our six films tells a very full story, with a hint of how much lies beneath the surface, all within the limits of the art of the short film. Participants will vote for the Audience Favorite.
Thursday, June 14, 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Yes, our extremely popular Chelsea Gallery Walking Tour with art historian Harry Weil is back! New York is the center of the art world, and the art galleries in Chelsea set the tone for what is in and out of style. Harry will once again lead a guided walking tour through a selection of galleries, showcasing painting and sculpture, installation, and video art. We’ll explore what makes an artist ‘hot’ in the art world, looking at both established and emerging artists. Afterward, we’ll relax together with an optional light lunch at a lovely and affordable restaurant (not included in $16 price).
Transportation available. Space is very limited so reserve early!
$16 per person. $8 additional for van.
Share dinner and conversation with your neighbors at a "Break the Fast" Ramadan Dinner, while learning about Ramadan customs. This year we are very glad to participate in the Turkish Cultural Center’s big outdoor event in Sunnyside. We will also have a limited number of spaces in homes of families who are hosting Iftar dinners.
Space is limited and RSVP is strongly suggested.
Location & date TBD. FREE.
Sunday, June 3, 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Jewish Book Council