Guide for students: Jewish arts and culture

From the country’s largest Jewish book festival to a world-class Jewish film festival to a renowned Jewish theater company, St. Louis has much to offer to the Jewish community – including students – when it comes to culture and the arts.

32nd annual Jewish Book Festival

This year’s 32nd annual Jewish Book Festival will take place Nov. 7-18th and include more than 30 authors, comedians, journalist and world figures. The festivities will kickoff with a pre-festival event featuring Rabbi Harold Kushner on Oct. 28. Then, on Nov. 7, legendary Hollywood movie and music producer Jerry Weintraub officially opens the festival at the Jewish Community Center’s Staenberg Family Complex. The format will be a lively on-stage storytelling session with co-author Rich Cohen, who helped write Weintraub’s recent memoir, “When I Stop Talking, You’ll Know I’m Dead.”

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As a longtime producer, Weintraub’s films include classics such as “Nashville,” “Diner,” “Oh, God!” and (the original) “The Karate Kid,” as well as the more recent “Ocean’s” movies and the new “The Karate Kid.” Together, these films have grossed billions of dollars worldwide.

Other festival speakers include: Ambassador Nancy Brinker; Miss Manners Judith Martin; Abraham Foxman; Joan Nathan; Brad Meltzer; Judith Viorst; Len Berman; Cathleen Schine and Martin Fletcher.

For more information and a complete schedule and ticket information, go to www.stljewishbookfestival.org

Jewish Film Festival/Jewish Film Society

The Jewish Film Festival is slated for June 12-16, 2011. Student film buffs who have already left school for the summer might consider joining the Jewish Film Society, which meets six Sundays, starting at 5:45 p.m., from September through May, at the Staenberg Family Arts & Education Building. Participants watch thought provoking films and then take part in a group discussions. The dates are Sept. 19, Oct. 17, Dec. 12, March 3, April 3 and May 1.

For prices and more information, call 314-442-3169 or go to www.jccstl.org.

New Jewish Theatre

Established in 1997, the New Jewish Theatre presents theatrical shows that examine universal themes and issues filtered through the lens of the Jewish experience.  NJT will stage five shows during its 2010-2011 season. They are:

“My Name is Asher Lev,” Oct. 6-24, a coming-of-age story about a young man’s struggle between his religious upbringing and drive to become an artist.

“The Last of the Red Hot Mamas,” Dec. 1-26, about the legendary Sophie Tucker, the Queen of Vaudeville, burlesque theatre and the jazz age, who had a career that spanned a sensational 60 years.

“Sirens,” Feb. 16-March 6, an empty-nest story about a husband and wife and the hit love song he wrote for her which became an instant hit. They married and lived off the song’s proceeds for the next 25 years.

“Awake and Sing!” Apr. 20-May 8. The play is set during the Great Depression when war looms, anti-Semitism is on the rise, capitalism is corrupt, the American economy is shaken, immigrants are uneasy and the family unit is in upheaval – all issues as relevant today as when it premiered in 1935. 

“The Immigrant,” June 1-19. This is the (mostly true) story of two Eastern European Jews who immigrated to a small Texas town in 1909.

For more information, including ticket purchase and prices, go to www.newjewishtheatre.org.