UA Modern Israel Conference will address a changing nation

Asher Susser, a professor emeritus of Middle Eastern history at Tel Aviv University, signed on as the Stein Family Professor of Modern Israel Studies at the University of Arizona four years ago. He is the moderator for the Arizona Center for Judaic Studies’ second annual Modern Israel Conference, “Balancing Unity & Diversity: Israel’s Changing Society & Politics,” which will be held later this month.

“It is an occasion for people in Tucson, in the university and the general community, to be exposed to a caliber of expertise on Israel in particular which is not usually available,” says Susser, who launched the event with J. Edward Wright, director of the center.

Read the entire Arizona Jewish Post article here.

Originally published on Nov. 18, 2016.


Loft film fest bound to stir celluloid fever

W. Eugene Smith, renowned American photojournalist, spent eight years documenting the greatest jazz icons between 1957 and 1965 at the Jazz Loft. The infamous, run-down musical sanctuary was tucked away in the heart of New York City’s fashion district. During his experimental process, which included installing microphones throughout the tenement space, Smith recorded 4,000 hours of audio tape and captured 40,000 images. Currently, this extraordinary collection is housed at the University of Arizona Center for Creative Photography.


Alex Cox, director of “Repo Man” and “Sid and Nancy,” is finishing his dissection of the Gunfight at the OK Corral, filming his latest project at Old Tucson Studios. There’s only one place in town who is screening Cox’s work-in-progress dubbed, “Tombstone Rashomon.”

And Chilean director Pablo Larrain created a visual journey into the pleasantly putrid mind and musings of cultural icon Pablo Neruda in the feature film “Neruda.”

Which movie house is brave enough to serve the Old Pueblo such a delectable cinematic smorgasbord: The Loft Cinema.

The7th annual Loft Cinema Film Fest will run from Wednesday, Nov. 9 through Sunday, Nov. 13. The films will range from a documentary about the militarization of American police forces, to a 70mm screening of Slimer and the original ghostbusting crew. General admission seats cost $10 per film, and adults tickets for Loft Cinema members are $8. Passes for the entire event will set you back $125, or a cool $110 for current members.

The election cycle has chilled the air and so has the month of November. It’s high time to unwind and brace for the stateside nuclear winter with cinematic style.

Four days of presidential musing

smWhat does it really matter, I asked myself. Plenty of folks won’t cast a ballot in four days, my thoughts furthered. It’s Friday, Nov. 4, and it feels far from the precipice of a chilly weekend.

Presidential hopeful Donald J. Trump touts to his base in Hershey, Pennsylvania. The live broadcast by The Washington Post caught 104 viewers. Conversely, Fox News could brag about the 14,800 plus consumers glued to Trump’s rhetoric. And it’s hard to defend Hillary Clinton, or claim she’s a better choice. Clinton is business as usual; American politicians policing the world and destroying their home in the process.

The contrast in numbers on these two competing news organizations says a lot. I was foolish enough to believe Trump was losing steam when I noticed how few were watching him via the Post. Then I came to, switched my feed to Fox, and enjoyed my hope disappear while sipping my glass of merlot.

According to the Bipartisan Policy Center, on average, about 58.6 percent of Americans have bothered to vote in a presidential election since 2000. In 2012, a mere 57.5 percent of Americans cast a vote for president, which is a larger turnout than the 2000 race where only 54.2 percent elected their commander in chief.

But our lives, and happiness, are our responsibility. No matter who wins this bloody election, and decides to devour this sad, egotistical country — we’re doomed. Most days I can only rationalize enough energy to hope we don’t get what we deserve.  

Handmaker builds program on strong spiritual foundation

Jill Rosenzweig, a local Jewish philanthropist and former board chair at Jewish Family & Children’s Services, enrolled in Handmaker Jewish Services for the Aging’s post-hospital treatment program for physical therapy following back surgery last August. She recently returned to the care facility for further treatment.

Rosenzweig initially chose Handmaker’s program because it’s a partner in the Jewish community. “I really wanted to see what Handmaker was like,” she says, “and I found the physical therapy to be outstanding.”

“The therapists are engaging and very respectful,” says Rosenzweig. “They give you ownership of the whole thing, but they push you. And for me it was just the right combination.”

Read the entire Arizona Jewish Post article here.

Originally published on Nov. 4, 2016.

Green Valley congregation looks to expand programs, services

The Beth Shalom Temple Center, Green Valley’s self-proclaimed “reconformadox” Jewish congregation, recently hired its first membership coordinator. Steve Levine was attracted to his new position for professional and personal reasons, and began his new job in September.

“The Jewish community has been very good to me over the years, and it’s fitting that I take some of my skills and expertise that I have developed through a professional career and give something back,” he says.

Read the entire Arizona Jewish Post article here.

Originally published on Nov. 4, 2016.