Discover Culture


November 1 – 17, 2020

Each November, the JCA celebrates its annual Jewish Cultural Arts Festival and this year features a variety of virtual events including films, short films, and literature. Now in its 24th year, the Cultural Arts Festival provides access to renowned authors and events all featured virtually!

We’ll also have our popular pop-up bookstore, available virtually this year, to complement the event. Authors’ books are for sale, and a great selection of books curated by the Jewish Book Council will be available for a nominal donation to the JCA. All events are free and open to the entire community. For additional details about the festival or how to get involved, contact Lior Spring at (904) 730-2100 ext. 318 or

Additionally, this year, we’ve partnered with San Marco Books and More as our festival bookseller. To purchase visiting authors’ books directly through our local book shop, please visit With each book sold, San Marco Books and More will generously make a donation to the JCA. You can select to ship the books to your home or free in-store pickup.


Thank you to our generous sponsors:



And to our partners for their support:



Monday, November 2 at 7 pm

OMG WTF Does the Constitution Actually Say?

This witty and highly relevant annotation of our founding document is the go-to guide to how our government really works (or is supposed to work). Written by political savant and entertainment veteran, Ben Sheehan, and vetted for accuracy by experts in the field of constitutional law, OMG WTF Does the Constitution Actually Say? is an entertaining and accessible guide that explains what the Constitution actually lays out and gives readers the info they need to be effective voters in the November election and beyond.

Ben Sheehan is a former award-winning executive producer at Funny Or Die. He founded OMG WTF to teach voters about state-level races during the 2018 midterms.

Wednesday, November 4 at 7 pm

Once a Girl, Always a Boy

Jo Ivester’s son, Jeremy, is transgender. Thirty years ago, he was welcomed into the world as what she thought was her daughter. Jeremy had surgery to remove his breasts and began taking hormones to lower his voice and give him a beard. Once a Girl, Always a Boy, is the story of Jeremy’s difficult yet joyful journey against discrimination. This is a story of acceptance in a world not quite ready to accept.

Jo Ivester is an LGBTQ speaker and advocate with degrees from MIT and Stanford. She serves on the boards of Equality Texas, the ADL, and GLSEN.


What We Will Become

Mimi Lemay tells the story of her transgender child’s odyssey, and her journey outside the boundaries of the faith and culture that shaped her. From a young age, Jacob, born “Em,” told his family he was a boy. Mimi struggled to understand that her child may be transgender. Mimi was raised in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish family and was prepared to help her son forge a new life—at a time when there was little consensus on how best to help young transgender children. Dual narratives of faith and motherhood weave together to form a heartfelt portrait of an unforgettable family.

Mimi Lemay is a graduate of The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. As an advocate for transgender rights, Mimi has published op-eds in The Boston Globe and appeared on TV and radio.

Thursday, November 5 at 6 pm

Red Sea Spies

In the early 1980s, on a remote part of the Sudanese coast, a new luxury resort opened for business. Catering to divers, it attracted guests from around the world. Little did the guests know that the staff were undercover spies, working for the Mossad—the Israeli secret service. What began with one cryptic message pleading for help, turned into the secret evacuation of thousands of Ethiopian Jews and the spiriting of them to Israel. This true story inspired the recent Netflix drama The Red Sea Diving Resort.

Raffi Berg is the Middle East editor of the BBC News website, and has extensive experience reporting on Israel and the wider region. His article, scratching the surface of this story, was the most-read original feature in the history of the site, with more than 5 and a half million readers to date.

Monday, November 9 at 7 pm 

The Newish Jewish Encyclopedia

Deeply knowing, highly entertaining, and just a little bit irreverent, this unputdownable encyclopedia of all things Jewish and Jew-ish covers culture, religion, history, habits, language and more. Refresh your knowledge of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, the artistry of Barbra Streisand, the significance of the Oslo Accords and the meaning of words like balagan and bashert. Remind yourselves why you need to read Hannah Arendt, watch Seinfeld and listen to Leonard Cohen. Even discover the secret of happiness (see “Latkes”)!

Stephanie Butnick is the deputy editor of Tablet and has written for The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. She has a bachelor’s degree in religion from Duke and a master’s in religious studies from NYU. She lives in New York with her husband and their cat, Cat Stevens.

Liel Leibovitz is a senior writer for Tablet and the author of several books. He has a Ph.D. in video games from Columbia, a fact that makes his seven-year-old self very happy. He lives in New York with his wife and their two children.


Wednesday, November 11 at 8 pm

When the World Feels Like a Scary Place 

FESTIVAL FIRST! Parenting Night

An urgent and necessary book that brings solutions to a problem that is only getting worse—how to raise engaged and confident kids despite the bad things happening in the world. Dr. Abigail Gewirtz offers a clear and practical guide to having the kind of tough conversations with your kids. The heart of the book is a series of scripts, with actual dialogue, talking points, prompts and insightful asides, each tailored for different ages and centered around different issues. Dr. Gewirtz also teaches how to check in with yourself to make sure your own anxiety doesn’t color the conversation.

Abigail Gewirtz is a child psychologist and a leading expert on families under stress. She is a professor in the University of Minnesota’s College of Education and Human Development. She has consulted to national and international organizations including the U.S. Congress and UNICEF, on parenting. She has been invited to speak widely, in the U.S. and across the world, on parenting in times of stress.

Thursday, November 12 at 7 pm

The Genius of Women

We tell girls that they can be anything, so why do 90% of Americans believe that geniuses are almost always men? Janice Kaplan explores the forces that have rigged the system—and celebrates the women geniuses past and present who have triumphed anyway. Even in this time of rethinking women’s roles, we define genius almost exclusively through male achievement. Kaplan set out to determine why the extraordinary work of so many women has been brushed aside. She makes surprising discoveries about women geniuses who ignored obstacles and broke down seemingly unshakable barriers.

Janice Kaplan has enjoyed wide success as a magazine editor, television producer, writer and journalist. The former editor in chief of Parade magazine, she is the author or coauthor of fourteen books, including two New York Timesbestsellers.

Monday, November 16 at 7 pm

The Watergate Girl

Obstruction of justice, impeachment and sexism: Jill Wine-Banks takes us inside her trial by fire as a Watergate prosecutor. It was a time when Americans feared for the future of their democracy, and women stood up for equal treatment. At the crossroads of the Watergate scandal and the women’s movement was a young lawyer named Jill Wine Volner (as she was then known), barely thirty years old and the only woman on the team that prosecuted the highest-ranking White House officials. Called “the mini-skirted lawyer” by the press, The Watergate Girl is a revelation about our country, politics and society.

Jill Wine-Banks is an MSNBC legal analyst. She was one of three assistant Watergate special prosecutors in the obstruction of justice trial against President Nixon’s top aides. She has also served as general counsel of the U.S. Army, deputy attorney general of the state of Illinois, and EVP and chief operating officer of the American Bar Association. In each case, she was the first woman to hold the position.

Tuesday, November 17 at 7 pm

Wandering Dixie

Wandering Dixie explores how the history of Jewish southerners converges with the region’s complex, conflicted present. Author Sue Eisenfeld discovers unexpected ways that race, religion and hidden histories intertwine. She visits small towns where Jewish people once lived, talks with the remaining Jews in these “lost” places and goes to areas with no Jewish community left—except for an old temple or overgrown cemetery. Eisenfeld follows her curiosity about Jewish Confederates and casts an unflinching eye on southern Jews’ participation in slavery. Her travels become a journey of revelation about our nation’s fraught history and a reckoning with the true nature of America.

Sue Eisenfeld is a literary nonfiction writer who weaves together history, nature, travel, adventure, culture and personal stories. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Forward and many other publications. Originally from Philadelphia, she has lived in Virginia for nearly 30 years.


Enjoy cinematic creativity with multiple showings of acclaimed Jewish-themed films currently screening at festivals across the country. All films are subject to change.

Sunday, November 1

SAUL AND RUBY, TO LIFE!  USA – 2019 – 80 min – Documentary

Saul and Ruby, To Life! Is about an inseparable pair of sprightly Holocaust survivors bringing their tuneful call for peace and healing from assisted living facilities in Florida to the world stage, in this uniquely uplifting tribute to the human spirit.

Tuesday, November 10

INCITEMENT  Israel – Hebrew with English subtitles – 2019 – 123 min – Drama

A psychological thriller, the film Incitement follows the year leading to the assassination of Israel’s Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, from the point of view of the assassin. The film details, for the first time, the forces that act upon the assassin, including the religious and political incitement, the personal and the interpersonal turmoil. It is a psychological portrait of a political assassin seeking to kill democracy. It is also a portrait of a torn society on the brink of civil war.

Sunday, November 15


Aulcie is the inspiring story of Aulcie Perry, a basketball legend who led Maccabi Tel Aviv to an upset win in the European Championship. After the season, to the surprise of many, Aulcie Perry converted to Judaism, adopted a Hebrew name, and became an Israeli citizen. This inspiring film tells the story of this remarkable athlete who captured the spirit of a nation.

A Selection of Award-Winning Film Shorts as Part of the Sunday Afternoon Shorts Series

Sunday, November 8

Wig Shop USA – 16 min – Drama

Emily Mortimer is outstanding in this film about an LA Orthodox woman who uncovers some surprising truths while being fitted for a wig.

Sunday, November 8

A Jew Walks Into a Bar USA – 24 min – Documentary

Ultra-orthodox Finkelstein is a man attempting to find his place in the world – from his views on faith to his social awkwardness – using jokes as the compass to navigate the unknown. the depth of character and humanity will resonate far beyond the punchline.

Sunday, November 8

The Chop USA – 16 min – Comedy

A young and charismatic Kosher butcher loses his job. Unable to find work at other Kosher butchers, he pretends to be Muslim and goes to work for Halal butchers.

For Young Families

Jewish cultural arts program presented in partnership with the JCA Theatre Department.

Sunday, November 8 at 2 pm

The Book of Secrets

Ben and Rose, brother and sister, receive a strange book of stories from their beloved but missing Bubbe and Grandpa. The siblings searching for clues that will help them find their grandparents. But they are not the only ones searching. As more and more characters from the book start showing up in real life, Ben and Rose must figure out whether the book is coming to life or if they are getting lost in the story. Follow Rose and Ben as they search for their missing grandparents, aided by a mysterious book and their wits.

Mat Tonti is a teacher and an artist who strives to make art that is inspirational and educational, including comics and illustrations. When not teaching or making art, he can be found playing in the woods.

Sunday, November 8

Ms. Sneacher’s Storytime | Children’s event in partnership with JCA Theatre Department!

This program is for ages up to 10 years and will be available via Facebook Live.

The JCA’s beloved Shelly Higgins Hughes reprises her famous Ms. Sneacher character with a reading of a favorite children’s classic.


Sherrie Saag


 Lisa Ansbacher, Karen Backilman, Susan Becker, Nicole Brown, Regina Chaskin, Susan Elinoff, Sunny Gettinger, Bruce Goldring, Stacey Goldring, Kelsi Hasden, Hazzan Jesse Holzer, Dan Kossoff, Iris Kraemer, Mark Kraemer, Whitney Kuvin, Danielle Leder, Rachel Morgenthal, Thelma Nied, Sandy Oasis, Jennifer Plotkin, Edrea Porter, Jackie Simms, Michele Steinfeld, Rachel Walker, Barry Zisser and Eunice Zisser

Dear JCA Valued Members, We are thrilled to welcome you back to the JCA as our doors reopened on June 1 for limited fitness and recreation programming! Please note the following as we embark on this next stage of our multiphase plan to safely reopen the JCA.Read More