San Francisco Jewish Film Festival 37

Screen Shot 2017-06-27 at 2.15.31 PMCBS is delighted to announce that we are co-sponsoring four films in this year's 37th SF Jewish Film Festival!

The oldest Jewish film festival in the world is back! This highly regarded festival runs from July 20 to August 6, and we invite you to check out as many movies as you can.

If you can only catch a few of the screenings, CBS is happy to invite you to four films we are co-presenting - details below!



Screen Shot 2017-06-28 at 9.21.19 AMHarmonia
Writer/director Ori Sivan’s elegant and understated backstage musical drama is a modern adaptation of the Book of Genesis. Sarah is a talented harpist performing in the Jerusalem orchestra of her conductor and husband, Abraham (Alon Aboutboul). Into their childless marriage enters the enigmatic Hagar, a Palestinian horn player who offers to provide the Israeli couple with a child. The film’s finale is an unforgettable and emotional call for harmony between Arabs and Jews. (Israel; 2016; 98 minutes)

Screening locations & dates:
Castro Theatre | Friday, July 21, 8:55 p.m.
Cinearts | Saturday, July 22, 8:55 p.m.
Albany Twin | Wednesday, August 5, 2:30 p.m.
Smith Rafael | Thursday, August 6, 12:00 p.m.



Screen Shot 2017-06-29 at 8.51.31 AM Rabbi Wolff: A Gentleman Before God
Willy Wolff escaped the Nazis, became a renowned British journalist, and didn’t go to rabbinical school till he was in his 50s. Now in his 80s, he leads two Jewish communities in Germany and still finds time for yoga, learning Russian, and enjoying the racetrack. We go behind the scenes to see the beautiful and sometimes heartbreaking life of a deeply religious man who is rarely seen without a twinkle in his eye. (Germany; 2016; 95 minutes)

Screening locations & dates:
Cinearts | Saturday, July 22, 11:30 a.m.
Castro Theatre | Sunday, July 23, 11:10 1.m.
Roda Theatre | Sunday, July 30, 4:00 p.m.



Screen Shot 2017-06-28 at 8.44.24 AMBen Gurion: Epilogue
Featuring never-before-aired footage from a 1968 interview with Israel’s founding Prime Minister, filmmaker Yariv Mozer (Snails in the Rain, SFJFF 2014) pays homage to one of Israel’s first generation of political leaders. The resulting film begs the question, what would Ben-Gurion do given the current political climate in the Middle East? Viewers can hazard a guess when Ben-Gurion discusses trading land for an enduring peace. (Israel, 2016, 61 minutes).

Screening locations & dates:
Cinearts | Sunday, July 23, 12:00 p.m.
Castro Theatre | Saturday, July 29, 1:45 p.m.
Albany Twin | Sunday, July 30, 12:00 p.m.



Screen Shot 2017-06-28 at 9.54.21 AM1945
August, 1945. Two Orthodox Jews arrive at a remote Hungarian train station. When the town gets wind of their arrival, rumors and fears spread that they may be heirs of the village’s denounced and deported Jews who will want their stolen property back. Shot in elegant black and white with a minimal evocative score, 1945 is a subtle and nuanced study in collective guilt, paranoia, and anti-Semitism in a postwar Hungary. (Hungary; 2017; 91 minutes)

Screening locations & dates:
Castro Theatre | Wednesday, July 26, 6:20 p.m.
Roda Theatre | Saturday, July 29, 6:20 p.m.
Cinearts | Thursday, July 27, 6:10 p.m.
Smith Rafael | Sunday, August 6, 2:10 p.m.



This summer, join CBS to celebrate community and storytelling at the 37th Jewish Film Festival. For ticket information, contact the box office at 415.621.0523 or visit the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival website to learn more.

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Mishpatim -- Exodus 21:1–24:18

Facebook_CoverDesign_MishpatimConsider this audacious claim: halacha is inextricably intertwined with Kabbalah or, put another way, the law is intertwined with mysticism. Could this really be so? Are there many areas of Jewish life in which kabbalistic practice entered mainstream halachic practice? If so, what effect might this reality have upon this week’s otherwise seemingly dry articulation of 23 imperative and 30 prohibitions?

As Jewish historian Jacob Katz (born November 15, 1904, in Magyargencs, Hungary, and died May 20, 1998, in Israel) insisted in his book Halakhah and Kabbalah: Studies in the History of Jewish Religion, its Various Faces and Social Relevance (1984), Jewish law is indeed intertwined with Kabbalah. As we have been learning in our second year of Zohar study in our Lehrhaus Philosophy Circle of the Bay Area, a fruitful way to address this legal layering of Torah is to turn to the Jewish mystics, also known as Kabbalists. The Zohar is a mystical masterpiece that is set up as a commentary to the weekly Torah readings, and the mystical Kabbalists turn to the law as a speculum through which their minds as well as their souls can be illumined.

In this week’s reading, the Kabbalists turn to the unseen protagonist of Mishpatim, known simply as Sava de-Mishpatim or the “Old Man of the Law." In contemplating the deeper spiritual purpose that dwells within the law, this long Zoharic narrative relates an encounter between two study partners, Rabbi Yose and Rabbi Hiyya, and their aged, wandering donkey-driver, who turns out to be more than he seems. On the journey, much Torah is shared between the rabbis and their driver as they interrogate each other through riddles. Finally, they are all dumbfounded by a riddle of the beautiful maiden without eyes, her body at once hidden and revealed. The parable is then explained: the beautiful maiden is the indwelling spiritual energy of Torah known as the Shechinah. She emerges in the morning and is concealed by day, only revealing herself to those who are truly in love with Her [rihemu d’orayta].

Keep that parable in mind, then, and return to this week's parsha, when, upon hearing the initial words of the Decalogue at the Sinai theophany, the people gathered round the foot of the mountain all respond, “All that God has said, we will do” (19:8). Later in the text, after Moses relates specific divine rules to the people, they again say, “All of the things that God has said, we will do” (24:3). A few verses later, after Moses writes and reads aloud the words of the Torah, the people utter the phrase na'aseh v'nishma, or “We will do and we will understand” (24:7).

What we are challenged to really understand here is that interwoven with the legislative nomos of penalties for murder, kidnapping, assault, theft, torts, and loans, is a narrative. That narrative is a love story. Our relationship to Judaism can only be a true spiritual practice when it is wrapped in deep and abiding love for Torah. Only then can we, if we so desire, express that love in a deeper commitment as critical kabbalists…

- Rabbi Aubrey Glazer

Artwork note: This week's artwork is a response to Exodus 24:10: "...and they perceived the God of Israel, and beneath His feet was like the forming of a sapphire brick and like the appearance of the heavens for clarity." What does it mean to perceive G-d as a Jew? Just as some of us write "G-d" with a hyphen to represent the grand and incomprehensible essence of deity, so, too, can abstraction gesture toward that which is unfathomable and profound. Illustration by Christopher Orev Reiger.