Next year’s Jewbilee will be Sunday, January 31, 2021

Immerse yourself in a Jewish learning experience. Jewbilee is an annual day of Jewish learning at the JCC.  The day is divided into sessions, with many classes, workshops and performances happening simultaneously during each session. YOU choose what you want to do. Hundreds of participants, and dozens of teachers, artists, educators, speakers, and performers

The theme of Jewbilee 2020 was “The Stories We Tell,”  with professional storyteller Joel Ben Izzy as the keynote speaker. The theme of Jewbilee 2021 will be “Social Justice and Social Action.”

For more information, contact

Jewbilee 2020 Schedule (click the arrows to view each section)

Jewbilee 2021 schedule will be coming soon!

1:30pm Keynote

Photo of Joel Ben Izzy

International Jewish Stories and Music with Joel Ben Izzy and Musicians from Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra
In a program specially designed for Jewbilee, a panoply of stories and historic music celebrates the rich humour of diverse communities across our planet. Recommended for ages 5 and up.

Joel ben Izzy, Storyteller
Lisa Grodin, baroque violin
Farley Pearce, baroque cello
Peter Maund, percussion

These activities will be available in the lobby throughout the afternoon.

• Communal Collage art activity

• 6-word memoirs activity

• Stories from Birthright Israel trip

• Books, Inc. book stand

These performers will be in the lobby from 4:30-6:30pm.

• “Every Song Tells a Story” with The SUBs (Shannon, Uri, Byron), a 3-piece light rock band affiliated with Temple Emanu-El. They play mostly classic rock and blues.

These workshops are all offered concurrently during Session 1. You get to choose which workshop to attend.

The Secret Stories within Ruth’s Story
Esti BenDavid, Hebrew & Jewish Studies Educator
How do we understand the nature of Naomi and Ruth’s relationship? Is it Ruth’s story, or should we say Naomi’s story? How did Naomi truly feel about Ruth? Did Ruth love Naomi? Is this love reflected in the text? We will examine selected verses from Megilat Ruth and discuss personal perspectives, inspired by scholars’ views and by works of art related to the text.

The Stories Behind the Stories
Joel ben Izzy, Professional Storyteller
In addition to his storytelling, Joel is an award-winning author of two books, The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness and Dreidels on the Brain. He’ll be sharing a few of the stories behind the books as well as signing copies before and after his talk.

The Stories That We Dance
Phil Hankin, Education Director at Temple Emanu-El
In this dance workshop, we will explore the history of Israeli dance and the stories that the early Chalutzim (pioneers) told about their experience living and working the land. Prepare to schvitz!

What is Between the IAF, JNF and Teens with Disabilities
Oren Hefetz, Jewish National Fund USA
Major (res) Oren Hefetz tells his story of being a pilot in the IAF, through his involvement in “special in uniform” project, and becoming an Emissary for JNF USA in the Bay Area.

A Reform Jew’s Pilgrimage Through the Lens of Today’s Polish Jewish Revival
Susan Moldaw, Community Leader/Journalist
Moldaw will share the story of her 2018 journey to Krakow and Warsaw and to interview Jews integral to Poland’s Jewish revival. Listening to their stories gave her a window into Jewish life in Poland today, as well as insight into her own renewed embrace of Judaism. She looks forward to sharing stories about contemporary Polish Jews — our commonalities, differences, and kinship. Please come prepared to share what’s inspired you in your Jewish life.

Beyond The Pale: A Solo Show
Sherri Rose, Writer/Actor
Meet the Evil Eye! A demented, delightful demon with major control issues! Follow her centuries-old tug of war with one immigrant Jewish family as they transplant, assimilate, and seek salvation in Silicon Valley. Written and performed by Sherri Rose, “Beyond The Pale” is a solo show based on her family’s journey from the Pale of Settlement in Russia to the United States. As a story teller, Rose is both masterful and engaging.

Lessons We Can Learn from Jewish Folktales & Humor
Rabbi Marvin Schwab, Past President of Pacific Association of Reform Rabbis
Jewish folktales have the capacity to lift the spirit, warm the heart, make us laugh and challenge our beliefs all at the same time. Sometimes tales can be spiritual, sometimes filled with street smart wisdom, and sometimes they use humor as a means of dealing with the uncomfortable realities of day-to-day life. Some may seem quaint, and some inappropriate, but whether they entertain us or offend us, they will certainly engage us. Come for the stories and stay for the conversations they will stimulate.

Paper Cut Parasha – A Fun, Artistic Way to Delve into the Torah Portion of the Week
Judy Schultz and Jamie Zimmer, Yavneh Day School
A hands-on art activity. A fun, artistic new way to delve into the parashat hashavua (Torah portion of the week) using both our hands and our hearts at the same time.

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra Musicians
Baroque Violinist Lisa Grodin and Percussionist Peter Maund
Grodin and Maund will demonstrate their rare instruments and share their personal stories about the ways in which their background and Jewish affiliation has influenced their music.

Blue Jeans: A San Francisco Story
Sigal, Jewish Educator
Discover the history of Jewish San Francisco and blue jeans as told through the story and archives of Levi Strauss, the 19th century Jewish immigrant who invented blue jeans in San Francisco.

This Changes Everything: Disruptive Stories from the Talmud and Zohar
Rabbi Peretz Wolf-Prusan, HAMAQOM
The power of parabolic storytelling to open new pathways of thought is the Jewish people’s secret to success. We will share narratives from the Talmud, Midrash and Zohar whose revolutionary intent may not be evident until revealed. Brace yourself!

These workshops are all offered concurrently during Session 2. You get to choose which workshop to attend.

Stories from the Talmud — The Oft Told and the Rarely Noticed
Rabbi Melanie Aron, Congregation Shir Hadash
The Talmud is not only a source of Jewish law, it also abounds in great stories. We will consider some of the very famous stories the rabbis tell which offer insight into how they understood themselves and also consider some stories that are rarely shared, particularly those involving women.

Ghost Stories
Rabbi Josh Berkenwald, Congregation Sinai
Did you know that Judaism has a rich history of stories about ghosts, witches, demons, and sorcery? We will explore some of these stories from biblical times up to the present. Prepare to be scared!

Don’t Jewish You Were Funny? – Improv Session
Julia Cinnamon, Experienced Improviser
Regain your childhood wonder and imagination as we explore how Judaism and comedy intersect through improvisational comedy. Everyone’s welcome. No prior improv experience required. Laughter guaranteed.

Dana Greitzer Gotlieb, DDA-WZO
A perspective on Israel through the fascinating stories behind the voices of Israeli female trailblazing songwriters in 2019. Featuring the latest of Netta Barzilai, Narkis, Marina Maximilian, Nasrin Kadri, Noga Erez, and Ester Rada.

Sticking to My Story _- The Magical Influence of Storytelling
Donna Griffit, Corporate Storyteller
A story is your secret weapon for success — learn how to harness it! The simple yet powerful principles of storytelling can be harnessed to enliven any message, pitch or presentation to drive desired results whether you’re a seed stage startup or a seasoned organization.  Learn how to apply the simple principles of the age-old art of storytelling to your modern-day messages to win the hearts and minds of your audience.  Griffit, a Corporate Storyteller for more than 15 years, will talk about the winning ingredients of a brief, powerful story and how it can be formatted into any type of oral or written presentation. You will emerge with a simple, powerful tool to create stories in many formats, repeatable with any type of content in any medium.

The Jason Cake: Sibling Rivalry
Jason Harris, HAMAQOM
It’s as old as the Hebrew Bible and can be triggered by birthright, money, land, power, or even a special birthday cake: sibling rivalry and its corresponding narratives say a lot about how we understand ourselves, our relationships, and our history. We’ll look at what Jewish tradition and history can tell us about navigating our relationships. Participants should feel free to share stories about beloved siblings behaving badly.

The Stories That Bind Us
Aviv Matzkin, Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School
Modern research supports what the Torah has always known: telling a specific kind of story about the history of your family increases resilience, strength and connection in your immediate and extended family. Come study with us the texts, both ancient and modern, that reveal these secrets.

My Summer Vacation: The Jews of Uganda
Rabbi Laurie Matzkin, Jewish Educator
Learn about the Abayudaya Jewish Community of Uganda through a multi-media slideshow, seen through the eyes of Rabbi Matzkin’s longstanding friendship with Rabbi Gershom Sizomu, the Chief Rabbi of Uganda, and her summer trip to visit the community.

Our Founding Stories: Fact or Fiction?
Michal Strutin, Author
Enduring stories, such as the Jewish people’s founding stories, are multidimensional. Thus, the Hebrew Bible can be viewed through many lenses: archeological facts, literary brilliance, the natural history of the land itself, and the mythic Hero’s Journey writ large…for a whole people. A few questions: Who left Egypt? How many of them were there? Did they eat only manna for nearly 40 years? How important are facts?

Jewish Humor
Igor Yevelev
Jewish comedians have entertained, joked, and charmed people for centuries, and even scared and enlightened them. Yevelev will present a collection of Jewish humor and poetry.

These workshops are all offered concurrently during Session 3. You get to choose which workshop to attend.

Playback Theater — Bringing Real-life Stories to Life
Roni Alperin, Playback Theater
Playback Theater creates theater from real life stories, on the spot, using music, movement, ritual and spoken improvisation. Playback builds communities based on empathy.

The Agnonian Short Story, an Introduction
Edna Aphek, Yavneh Day School
S.Y. Agnon is the only Israeli author to win the Nobel Prize for literature. Professor Aphek will acquaint you with the writer and his unique use of the Hebrew language and Jewish sources as manifested in the Book of Deeds and Agnon’s short love stories.

Moses and Marx – Is Socialism a Jewish Value?
Rabbi Shaya Bernstein, Chabad at SJSU
From Karl Marx to David Ben Gurion and beyond, Jews have often been in the forefront of trying to create a socialist society. But is socialism a Jewish value? What can we learn from the story of Joseph when he ruled Egypt and the socioeconomic system he set up?

How Israeli Teens Honor the Memory of the Holocaust
Shay Cohen and Shahar Bali, Community Volunteers from Israel
Shahar will talk about her experience visiting Poland with a group of other Israeli teens to learn about the tragedies that happened there. Shay will talk about her experience spending time with Holocaust survivors and the impacts they had on each other. Shay and Shahar are volunteers from Israel doing a year of service by working in the Los Gatos community.

Song, Soul and Story: A Nigun Gathering
Rabbi Laurie Matzkin, Jewish Educator
Celebrate and meditate through sharing music together. Join our circle of song, using words and melodies that inspire us spiritually, with a pause between for breathing and quieting the mind. Some songs might be familiar and others fresh and new. No experience necessary, just an open heart and willingness to open your voice.

The Early Stories of Etgar Keret
David Mesher, Professor at SJSU
Etgar Keret is a critically acclaimed writer of fiction, memoirs, graphic novels, and screenplays, whose very short stories often touch on important issues in Israeli culture in a satirically ambiguous way. This is particularly true of his second collection, Missing Kissinger (געגועי לקיסינגר, 1994), which will provide the texts for our discussion. Keret himself will be speaking at the JCC in May. This is a great introduction to his work.

Gallery Walk: What Stories Do These Pictures Tell Us?
Larry Shapiro, Los Gatos-Saratoga Camera Club
An informal walk through the Los Gatos-Saratoga Camera Club exhibit currently on display in the JCC’s art gallery hallway, where we will discuss the photographer’s intent and whether or not you as a viewer feel that the photographer has been successful in telling their story.

The Mystery of Wisdom
Carlos Wiggen, Ph.D. Philosophy/The History of Ideas
The structure of wisdom according to the Proverbs of King Solomon. Wisdom” is a word that gets used a lot, but where does it come from and what did it mean 2000 years ago? We’ll back to the times when King Solomon was gone, the book of Genesis found its final form, and intellectual giants like Sirach warned that their land and hard-earned identity was about to be smothered under the pressure of the Hellene Seleucids; the Romans waiting in the wings. Among hotheads like Judas Maccabeus, “hochma” (wisdom) was urgently needed. We start there.

The Story of Jewish Feminism
Yael Yechieli, Educator & Activist
Feminism was always a latent element in the Jewish tradition, appearing periodically and challenging the powers that be, many times successfully. In this textual workshop we will engage with sources from the distant past to contemporary times and investigate the current tests and challenges of Jewish feminism in Israel, from the Daughters of Zelophehad to the Women of the Wall.

Stories from the Afterlife
Rabbi Hugh Seid-Valencia, Rev. Nancy Palmer-Jones, Ankita Jain, and Imam Tahir Anwar
Storytelling is a perfect medium to capture the murkiness and aspirations of human thought around Olam Ha-Ba—the Afterlife. Whether based on clear or transforming theology, our religious stories about the afterlife help us confront death, argue with it, and perhaps make peace with it. The stories presented on this panel, organized in partnership with SiVIC (Silicon Valley Interreligious Council) and representing Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Unitarian faith traditions, make connections between life and death. Stories from the Hassidic masters about visions of and visits from the afterlife, the Hindu story of Princess Savitri who brought her husband back from the dead, the Muslim story of the conversation about death between Mohammad and his daughter Fatimah, and a Unitarian reflection on the personal experience of the passing of a beloved mother, shared together portray a broad set of religious beliefs and imagination about the afterlife, that ultimately inspire how we live in the here and now.

Thank You To Our 2021 Jewbilee Sponsors

Jewbilee Day of Learning is made possible by the following sponsors: Consulate General of Israel to the Pacific Northwest SF, Dianne Portnoy Endowment for Jewish Life & Learning, Los Gatos Memorial Park, Darling Fischer Family Mortuaries, and Bonnie Slavitt. The APJCC is proud to be a part of the Koret Initiative on Jewish Peoplehood, and is supported further by the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life & Culture.

To become a sponsor, please contact