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What led to the Rep’s ‘Weekend With Picasso’?

April 7, 2010 Leave a comment
By Yvonne Greenberg and Paul Greenberg 
SAN DIEGO–The premise of the San Diego Repertory Theatre’s new play, Weekend With Picasso, is that Pablo Picasso must produce six paintings and three vases over the weekend at his villa in France for a wealthy American client. But what the play really attempts to do is give the audience a better understanding of and insight into Picasso, the great artist and complicated man, by having Picasso, played by Culture Clash’s immensely talented Herb Siguenza in a virtual tour de force, tell stories and teach art through a multi-media presentation that includes painting on stage, singing, drawing, dancing, sculpting, clowning, and impersonating a matador, minotaur, and satyr. 
 
Todd Salovey, now in his 20th season as the REP’s Associate Artistic Director, brings his valuable expertise and  guidance to the play as Director.
 
Everything about Pablo Picasso (born October, 25.1881 in Malaga, Spain and died April 8, 1973 in Mougins, France) is grandiose. One of the best-known figures in 20th century art, his full name consists of almost a dozen names, and  his talent was so evident at a very early age that it made his father stop painting and dedicate himself solely to his son’s art.  . 
 
As he experimented with different ideas, techniques, and theories, his style changed. His most famous work, the painting  Guernica (1937) in the artistic new cubist movement he co-founded, depicts the German bombing of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War.
 
Interestingly, Picasso became a favorite of American art collectors Leo and Gertrude Stein.  Picasso painted portraits of Gertrude Stein and her nephew Allan Stein.  Gertrude Stein became Picasso’s principal patron, acquiring his drawings and paintings and exhibiting them at her home in Paris.
 
He was also well-known for his numerous affairs.
 
Picasso’s artistic accomplishments brought him fame throughout the world and immense fortunes throughout his life. 

In the following interview, director Todd Salovey tells the background of the play.  He also provides information on forthcoming projects.

 
1.  How did you get involved in directing the play?
 
When Herbert Siguenza was in San Diego last year acting in the play Water and Power he asked if he could meet with Sam (Woodhouse, producing and artistic director of San Diego Rep) and I to talk about a project that he was interested in developing.  What he brought was a book which was about a photographer who was allowed intimate access to Picasso’s life and his painting and his family. Herb had found this book when he was seven years old and read it and decided  he wanted to live a life like Picasso, so needed and so happy and so playful and so childlike, even though he was in his 70’s.  And the idea stayed with Herb for many years and Herb described things we didn’t know him, in fact, that he was a visual artist before he was an actor and he said he could paint like Picasso on stage.  So we were very excited about the idea of Herb acting as Picasso and painting as Picasso.  Herb happens to be one of my favorite character men, I think one of the most talented character actors in the country right now.  And so having been excited about developing the piece, of course whenever you start a piece you have no idea what it is going to turn in to.  So what we did was schedule three workshops and in each workshop Herb brought more and more of the play and so we could tell that the play was going to be very interesting and very compelling and so I thought it would be a real interesting project to work on.  So I think my work is very often either about spiritual ideas but also artistic ideas.  I have always been very enamored by the process of creativity and the chance to look at the creative life and the talent and the process of one of the most influential artists of the 20th Century.  I thought it would be really exciting to work on. 
 
2. What did you find most challenging and rewarding about directing the play?
 
The play is written and tries to explore the idea of how can you do a cubist’s portrait of a famous artist.  By cubist I mean, looking at the artist from multiple perspectives and because the play is structured trying to look at many different sides of a great artist but a complicated man.  The question was, how would presenting all these sides of Picasso work for an audience.  And we didn’t find that out until we put it in front of people and saw that people found it was fascinating. What’s interesting is after each performance people come up to me and ask me for a copy of the script because they think a lot of what Picasso is saying is so profound that they want to have it and study it after the show is over.
 
3.  Did you prepare for directing by reading up on Picasso, doing research?
 
Yes, I read up on Picasso but in particular I studied his paintings.  I wanted to figure out what my response to his painting was and so I could present that for the audience.  One of the really exciting things we do in this production is show close to 100 paintings of Picasso projected in video or slides during the play.  So I think the audience gains an appreciation for Picasso the man and Picasso the artist during the process of seeing the play.
 
4. How much of the play is fictionalized?
 
The play is 80% drawn from the actual words of Picasso that were found from books and interviews.  So that the structure of the play is that this was a weekend where Picasso would have to paint six paintings and three vases for a wealthy American client is a made-up pretense.  And several things that happen in the play are made-up scenes.  But most of the play is Picasso’s actual words and I think the audience has an experience of being taught art and told stories by Picasso himself. 
 
5.  Have you worked with Herbert Siguenza before?
 
I  have never directed Herbert before but he is part of Culture Clash and I have seen them many times.  And I have been trying to interest him as an actor in many of my projects for more than 10 years. 
 
What do you most like about working with Herbert?
 
Herbert is probably the most creative actor I have ever worked with.  Well, one of the two most creative actors I have ever worked with.  The other is Jefferson Mays, who won a Tony. But Herb is an actor who, when anything goes wrong, always comes up with a great idea. I think the idea of an actor who can paint like Picasso is a really exciting idea.  He is a very exciting talent. This is a life’s dream for him to play this role and he works at it day and night and he has really dedicated all of his talents and skills to making this an exciting play.
 
6.  What in this play could you equate to the Jewish culture?
 
I think the Jewish idea of this play is that God gives us talents and it is our obligation to commit ourselves to contributing to the world through these talents.  And, in Picasso’s case, he was looking at things what he thought were wrong in the world and tried to create art that was not just pretty pictures on the wall, but that would have an impact and would make the world better but make people think differently, feel different, and be more respectful of the marvel of each human being through his art.  So I think there is a parallel for the way that we value the sacredness of life and the specialness of people, and our obligation to work hard to develop our God-given talents.
 
I think the Steins were Jewish and I also think that Picasso’s dealer was Jewish. 
 
7. Your impression of the Guernica.
 
The thing that’s really interesting about Guernica, which is a central image of the play, in fact the play starts in Paris at the World’s Fair in 1937 with Picasso unveiling Guernica.. It established Picasso as a political artist, but was his response to warfare which had been mechanized to the point that animals, women, and children were all of a sudden part of the battlefield and it was his response to the slaughter of innocents in what he considered to be an unjust war.  That painting is the central motif of the play.   
 
The play has just been extended until April 18th.  It has been very well-received and we hope that it will have a very healthy life starting in San Diego and then be seen at other theaters in the country afterwards.
 
8.  Do you have any ideas for filming this?
 
Not really. What we actually think is that not only will it play in theaters but it will play in art venues and art museums and galleries afterwards. 

9.  Jewish Arts Festival
 
We’ve chosen the projects this year for the Jewish Arts Festival and one of the really exciting projects we’re doing is a brand new dance theater piece about Marc Chagall that is going to be danced and choreographed by the Malashock Dance Company with original music by Yale Strom.
 
Todd Salovey  has directed many acclaimed REP shows, is on the acting faculty at the University of California, San Diego, the artistic director of the Lipinsky Family Jewish Arts Festival, and also produces many REP surround events.
 
Herbert Siguenza (Pablo Picasso, Playwright) is a founding member of Culture Clash, the country’s most prominent Chicano/Latino performance dance troupe whose work has been produced by the nation’s leading regional theaters.  Among his many works, in 2003 he wrote and starred in Cantinflas!, a tribute to Mexico’s greatest comedic film star who is considered one of the greatest comics of the 20th century.  Siguenza has a BFA in printmaking from CCAC.  He is currently teaching and directing at UC Irvine and is a mayor-appointed Commissioner for the city of Los Angeles.
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Yvonne Greenberg is a free-lance journalist based in San Diego.  Paul Greenberg, who contributed to this article, is a free-lance journalist based in San Diego.
 
 

San Diego Jewish Film Festival preview: ‘Off and Running’

February 5, 2010 1 comment

 Following is an interview with Nicole Opper about her film Off and Running, to be shown at The San Diego Jewish Film Festival’s Joyce Forum –A Day of Emerging Filmmakers

By Yvonne Greenberg 

LA JOLLA, California–Nicole Opper, selected as one of  the top 25 independent filmmakers to watch in the United States by Filmmaker Magazine, grew up in San Diego,  graduated with honors from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

She will have her critically acclaimed first documentary feature film, Off And Running, which she directed, co-wrote and co-produced, shown at the AMC La Jolla on Monday, February 15 at 8:00 PM as part of the 20th Annual San Diego Jewish Film Festival’s Joyce Forum –A Day of  Emerging Filmmakers.  Off and Running will be the Main Feature of the Joyce Forum and  Opper is scheduled to appear in person.

 The main character in the film, Avery, a black teenager, is adopted by two Jewish lesbians from Brooklyn along with an Asian younger brother and a mixed race older one and raised Jewish. She is a talented runner who is closing in on being awarded a college scholarship. Avery’s re-connecting with her birth mother prompted by the search for her identity causes her to rebel against her family by skipping school, staying away from home, and looking for new peers.  This rebelling in order to connect with her black roots also causes Avery to put at risk the loss of the college scholarship. But for the first time, she feels she is exploring her identity and deciding to make sense of her upbringing and realizes the genuine love her  adopted parents have given her.

In a recent phone interview from New York,  Opper  enthusiastically talked about Off and Running and other subjects.

1. Why are you in New York and why are you so excited?

 The film Off and Running is playing theatrically right now at the IFC Center.  I am deep in the midst of press interviews and promoting the film and making sure that audiences come see it here in New York.  And today we just found out it has been held over for at least one more week.  So it will have a nice long run here.   

2.  Did you write the script and do all the filmmaking?

It isn’t exactly a script because it is a documentary,  but we did write in the sense that we were shaping the film constantly in the edit room and creating outlines.  I actually  collaborated with my teenage subject of the film, Avery, on the writing.  And she has been awarded for her work by the Writers Guild of America, so there is a degree of writing that goes on in a documentary.

 3. What is Avery doing now?

She is doing very, very well running track on a full scholarship  at Delaware State University and most recently she has been here in New York  participating in question and answer sessions for audiences at the IFC Center.  So that’s been really fun because we are always very excited to hear from her.    

4.  Do you decide where the film will run?

We are working with a distributor, First Rate Features. They are also based here.  We collectively decide what makes the most sense, but the San Diego Jewish Film Festival committed to showing the film quite a long time ago, I think even before we had distribution, I’m not sure, but I am a long-time fan of the festival in San Diego. I love everybody who runs it. I grew up there, I’ve known the festival, and have been close to it for a long time. I grew up watching films at the San Diego Jewish Film Festival as a kid.

5. Where did you go to high school here?

I went to Point Loma High School. 

6.  Did any teacher have an impact on you in filmmaking and writing?

Absolutely.  I would say that Priscilla Allen, who passed away recently and taught the acting program at Point Loma High School,  had a very deep and meaningful impact on me as an artist. She was really the person who taught me to listen to my creative impulses and follow them and believe in my own vision,  And also Larry Zeiger, who recently retired, gave me wonderful support, and he’s busy writing people to come to The San Diego Jewish Film Festival right now.

7.  What about the story made you think it would work well as a feature film?

It all came down to Avery, the charisma that she exuded and her willingness to speak so openly about even the most vulnerable and private parts of her life.  I really felt very compelled by what she had to share so early in life and I sensed that other young people were going to benefit from hearing her story and, in fact, we hear from teenagers all the time who thank Avery for participating in this film because they see themselves reflected in her and it is helpful to see yourself reflected in the media when you’re growing up, especially particularly when you are growing up in a kind of non-traditional family.

8. What are Avery and you up to now?

Avery is majoring in criminal justice and really just likes to be somebody on Law and Order.  So she’s busy with that and still racing very regularly and doing quite well as a distance runner.

I’m traveling with the film and gearing up for my trip to Mexico where I’ll be headed in a month to begin my next documentary film about three teenage boys growing up in a home full of abandoned children in Mexico, a coming of age in a different kind of family.  It’s a really special home, it’s self-sustainable, and the boys all work right there on the premises in order to support themselves and they also attend school nearby and most of them graduate and go on to lead successful lives. So we are going to explore what it is that they are doing  right and why this place has created such a beautiful family. 

9.  Has  Off and Running led to more film opportunities for you?

Yes, actually I’m developing a fiction film, a narrative film about a young African-American  Jewish woman who goes to Mexico to study abroad  for a semester after losing her mother in a car accident and she develops a powerful relationship with her home stay mom.  And I think you will see a lot of Avery in this character.  

10.  Which award had the greatest impact on you?

The most important award that we have been honored with is the Writer’s Guild of America Award simply because they recognized the value of Avery’s contribution as a teenager.  I got to stand there as her former teacher, because our relationship began as student and teacher, and to see her come full circle, enjoy the fruits of her labor, and watch people appreciate what she has given.

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Yvonne Greenberg is a freelance writer based in San Diego.

San Diego Jewish Film Festival preview: ‘Zrubavel’

February 3, 2010 Leave a comment

By Yvonne Greenberg

LA JOLLA, California — The first film ever made by Ethiopian Israelis,  Zrubavel, a drama, provides great insight into their way of life, about which many Israelis have had  heretofore little interest in exploring.  Kudos to Shmuel  Beru, also an Ethiopian Israeli and its filmmaker, writer, and director, who at the age of eight courageously walked across the Sudanese desert with many Ethiopian Jews to immigrate to Israel.

Zrubavel involves an Ethiopian Jewish family that immigrated to Israel.  The film focuses on their religiosity and caring for and about their children and grandchildren and their future. We sense their friendly nature, as they share the Shabbat dinner with friends and friends of friends. 

The movie begins with aspiring adolescent filmmaker Yitzak (Daniel Beru) introducing his family and describing his street where black, white, and red people live, and his resentment over the overbearing presence of police in case there is trouble. His orthodox dad wants him to become a rabbi. Mom wants him to be a soccer star.  Grandfather Gite, who used to be a colonel, is now a street cleaner in Israel.  There is a very moving scene where Yitzak, feeling sorry for grandpa, finishes the street cleaning, and sends him to eat

Grandpa wants his son Gil to become a pilot in the Israeli Air Force, but the doors close to them at every school they go to, even cooking school, because of discrimination based on their color.

Gite’s daughter, Almaz, wants to become a singer and choose her own husband.  She has a boyfriend who is a distant cousin, and the family insists on knowing exactly how they are related.    

We delight in Almaz’s  PG love scene with her boyfriend.

However, Beru also shows scenes in his portrayal of the family that are not so sweet.  

The musicality, from rhythmical hand clapping and street dancing to a smaller and even larger combo of Almaz’s boyfriend, where she sings, adds great vibrancy to the film. 

Much more goes on with the family which is culturally enriching and certainly worth seeing.  

In 2008, at the closing ceremonies at the Haifa Film Festival,  Zrubavel won the Sharon Amrani Television Drama Award.  That award is considered by those who made Zrubavel the achievement of an entire Ethiopian community!     

Zrubavel is the first film Beru ever wrote.  He hopes that it will break down the barriers between Israelis and the Ethiopians. 

Zrubavel, in Hebrew and Amharic with English subtitles, will be shown  at the AMC La Jolla on Thursday, February 18, at 7:30 PM as part of the 20th Annual San Diego Jewish Film Festival.

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Yvonne Greenberg is a freelance writer based in San Diego.

Preventing teen dating violence

January 27, 2010 1 comment
By Yvonne Greenberg
 
SAN DIEGO–With the subject of relationship violence so much in the news recently,  it is certainly timely that Dr. Marni Greenberg, Psy.D., an educator and clinician who is currently working with Project SARAH  (Stop Abusive Relationships at Home), the domestic violence program of Jewish Family Service of San Diego, will be making a presentation on “Preventing Teen Dating Violence”  this Sunday, January 31,  at 10:15 am-11:15 am during San Diego’s Community Day of Learning (Yom Limmud).
 
Yom Limmud, presented by the Agency for Jewish Education, will be held at the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center, Jacobs Family Campus, at 4126 Executive Drive, La Jolla, from 8:15 am -3:15 pm.  It will include programs, activities, and movies for individuals ages five and up.
 
For more information on the Day of Learning, call 858-268-9200.  Online registration is available at www.ajesd.org.
 
In a phone interview, Dr. Greenberg previewed her upcoming talk and answered other questions related to teen dating violence.
 
 
1.   How, when, and why did you first develop an interest in preventing teen dating violence?
 
I’ve actually been working with teens and families for several years that started before graduate school, working with at-risk youth, a thing that I continued to do through the years. And I actually just recently began working with Jewish Family Service again. I worked there as an intern in graduate school, and they received a grant for a domestic violence program to focus on this issue of teen dating violence and I was the lucky one to get to work on the educational aspects and also the clinical aspects, and I also actually work with children and teens who have been exposed to domestic violence in their homes.  So, although this wasn’t something that I saw myself specifically focusing on, that is what I have been given the opportunity to do at Jewish Family Service.
I think the reason why this grant was developed was because teen dating violence was just as prevalent in the Jewish community as the greater community and I think that is something our community might not realize, that this is something that affects out teens as well, and part of that is I think this is something we just don’t talk about, about healthy relationships and what that looks like, when some one at risk is so deeply into a relationship you don’t really see the warning signs. I’ve become so attracted to this topic and learning about the wall of teen dating violence, there are so many organizations working on this issue and so it has been really exciting to get to meet this community and get to spread this education.   
 
 
2.  What strategies do you recommend for preventing such violence? 
 
I will talk about some of the things that we will talk about at the Day of Learning.  A little bit of what we are going to talk about what teen relationship violence is because I’m not sure people really have a clear idea about what that looks like, and we are going to talk about the prevalence, because one in three young adults report knowing a friend or a peer who has received some sort of physical violence.  We also have a number that one in five high school girls report seeing abuse by a boyfriend, and I have all kinds of stats like this, and these kind of statistics are actually pretty shocking. 
 
3.  Do girls have a history of abusing boyfriends?
 
 Absolutely, actually some of the statistics have historically focused on the abuse of men against women, but certainly there is a greater rise in violence on the side of women, and it is not just romantic relationships, but also friendships and bullying, and I think that all falls under this topic, and there is also women against women. We are going to talk about some of the warning signs that parents, educators, and even teens should be concerned about.  And we are also going to talk about talking with your children and your students, and it is actually both very uncomfortable for both parents and for kids because it is just not something they are used to talking about.  So, we are going to try to break that barrier, talk about some different tools for how parents can talk to their kids, and also how to understand kind of what they are going through, developmentally and biologically, in order to kind of understand what their barriers might be and why this topic is difficult for them. I would also like to try to do a little bit of a practice dialogue, a little bit interactive, so it is not just me talking at people because I don’t like to do that. I will present a little bit of a video that talks a little bit about teen dating violence in the Jewish community, specifically. It has some girls talking about their experiences of what was expected in their family, about the partner they eventually found, about how pressures really contributed to their wanting to stay in the relationship even when it got dangerous.          
 
 
4.   Do you think such violence has increased both in frequency and severity during the past years?
 
 
I can’t really answer that question because I only started getting involved in teen dating violence about August 2009, so because I am not working directly in the youth centers and that kind of thing or collecting the numbers, I don’t know if it has increased.
 
5.  Is there an increased awareness?
 
I hope so, and I will be working to increase the awareness. I think be invited to speak is huge. It is not just about the kids knowing what to do and what to see, but also those supporting them, their parents and teachers, they need their help, they can’t do it on their own, and one of the big things that we talk to teens about is talk to someone you really trust, you have a relationship with, who can help you.  At this age a lot of kids don’t feel like they can talk to the adults around them and don’t feel they will understand, so it is just as much our responsibility to raise the awareness amongst the adults in their lives so they know that they can go to them and they will know how to talk to them about and they won’t minimize the struggles that they are reporting, they will be able to recognize the warning signs instead of someone just struggling and trying to figure out how to be a friend and what their identity is.      
 
6.  Do females engage in different kinds of violence than males?
 
That is a really good question.   Actually, there have been studies done on this.   The kind of violence that women typically engage in is kind of a more relational kind of violence, things like using jealousy in their relationships, using sabotage, and their social status to impact someone’s lives, so although they are not hitting them or punching them or screaming at them, it is more of trying to make other women feel like they are not as connected to those around them, which for women, especially teenage girls, is one of the most important things in their lives.   That is something that has been looked at, so I do think girls have a different way of hurting those around them.
 
7.  Do females engage in different kinds of violence than males?
 
  I am not sure if their physical or verbal looks different, it may. I definitely think it is received in the same way, violence is violence, and no matter how it is dished out, it is I think it is felt the same way.  But it is definitely focused more on that kind of relational aspect, especially with teen girls, sabotaging relationships and contributing to other girls’ isolation by feeling their own greater power. I think that  women experience their power more, perhaps.. 
     
 
8.    Is there any difference in violence of gays and lesbians and Jewish people
or Hispanics, blacks, lower class, poor students, or it doesn’t matter?
 
That is a good question.  Violence in adult relationships and teen relationships actually occurs across the board with similar numbers.  The only thing that we could say is there is no typical profile of someone who has violent relationships, however, when there are people who are more upper class and live in bigger houses, I think that is something we don’t see as frequently.  Someone who lives in a big house and has a big yard the neighbors aren’t going to hear the violence, they are not going to see it, and typically and when someone is the perpetrator of abuse they are really trying to use their power and control to maintain their relationships, so they really do all they can do to make sure that no one else can find out, which can be very isolating.  I think if you live in a more lower class neighborhood or smaller apartment or something like that I think it is easier for people to hear and to see.   And typically when someone is being abusive, especially physically, they try to do it in places where people won’t see.  So it is something that it won’t come out, they can still use their power and control.  So, in all different cultures and communities abuse happens at the same rate, so I think this is a crisis of our knowing how to interact with each other, and knowing what healthy relationships look like and what they don’t look like, and really educating ourselves on what that means, and what we do about it with our teens.       
 
9.  Is there a factor of control when the abuser uses it?
 
Absolutely.   When we talk about violent relationships we always talk about the aspects of power and control that abusive relationship isn’t just something where they just get really upset or they were drinking and it was just a one time thing.  That may happen sometimes, and certainly alcohol contributes, but there is always this aspect of power and control and we always talk about those topics because that is something that starts more subtly, and as the relationship grows it increases in frequency and severity. There are different ways that someone will assert their power and control over someone else. Those are the two main contexts that underlie and reinforce those relationships.
 
10.  Is the history of an absent parent, history of being a victim of parental or other abuse, is someone more likely to be in an abusive relationship later? 
 
If children are exposed to violence in their relationships as children then studies do show they are more likely to be involved in a violent relationship in the future either as a victim or as an abusive person.  If someone learns that someone uses violence or control to get what they want or to work out problems in their relationship that is what they learned as a way of dealing with those things. We try to teach what you do to have a healthy relationship, we are all human and make mistakes and sometimes we hurt the people we love.  But how do we work those things through and what do we do in those situations, what different ideas do we have, to expand our toolkit on how to deal with relationships.  We are under the impression that they are easy and we all know how to have healthy ones, and they don’t get complicated.  
 
11. Which psychological  factors are associated with being a repeat victim of such violence?
 
If someone has low self-esteem or a history of dependency, isolated from the people that they love, all those kinds of things that can take away someone’s resiliency and can contribute to their ability to get through and out of a relationship.  And lot of the things that keep a violent relationship going are the things that make it hard to leave.  In addition, something that something people don’t often want to acknowledge is that their love in these relationships. That love just doesn’t disappear when there is abuse.  In fact, in the cycle of violence there is always a honeymoon phase which is what creates this aspect of “they are apologizing and they really love me and they really care about me, they say they will never do it again, they say they didn’t mean to do it, it was an accident.”  And this phase is what really maintains these relationships, because when you develop something with someone you really believe them, and you love them, and you want to keep that going, so that is something that is very intriguing, it makes it hard to leave.  There are also other aspects, other challenges, mental health issues, and or any  kinds of disabilities, it makes it really difficult to leave a relationship with somebody that in some ways, you lack the support outside of the relationship, and that is something that happens in the relationships, it is the isolation, which is intended. Having access to those around you, having relationships with your family and loved ones, and knowing that they are there for support, and that is something that a lot of people in relationships lose because they have been so isolated within that relationship.  There are different mental health factors and other different factors that contribute to it. 
 
 
12. What you are telling me seems very important to what is being taught in schools. Do you see any future in that?
 
Absolutely. I  just came from a teen relationship violence parental community yesterday.  There were a whole lot of different agencies, different agencies, the legal system.
 
What we are trying to do is get this education as part of the general curriculum in different schools and I  think we have been successful in a lot of ways, and that there also have been barriers that we have had to face.  Personally, with my program we have gone out to junior high schools, different congregations, high schools, and we are working with San Diego Jewish Academy to try to create and be part of the curriculum.  The schools already have so much that they need to teach that it is hard to fit it in, basically.  I think there is an awareness amongst a lot of educators that this is a really important topic, a lot of educators are very passionate about spreading this education, and so that is something that we do really work on in this community.  It is not a special interest kind of thing, it is something that affects everyone, and all of our kids in some ways.  I think it should be part of general education.
 
My talk will be for parents and teens and I also wanted to add that educators are welcome and it is very applicable to educators as well.  So  I just wanted them to know that they can come and that I think it would be helpful for them as well.  

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Dr. Greenberg graduated with a doctorate in clinical psychology in 2008 from Alliant University/California School of Professional Psychology. Dr. Greenberg his eight years of experience working with children and families in a variety of settings, and she currently works with children and teens who have been exposed to domestic violence in individual and group therapy, and provides educational workshops to the community on teen dating violence, the dynamics of unhealthy relationships, and how to create healthy relationships.
                                                                                                                                                                                        Yvonne Greenberg is a freelance writer based in University City.  She isn’t related to Dr. Marni Greenberg

San Diego Jewish Film Festival preview: ‘Brothers’

January 13, 2010 Leave a comment

By Yvonne Greenberg

LA JOLLA, California–The film Brothers won last year’s Audience Choice Award in two European countries, and best actress and actor in another overseas location. 

Now the film in Hebrew and Spanish with English subtitles will be shown at the 20th Annual San Diego Jewish Film Festival (sponsored by the Mizel Family Foundation) at the AMC La Jolla  on Thursday, February 11, at 7:30 PM and at UltraStar La Costa on Saturday, February 13, at 7:30 PM

 
The movie explores the disagreements between the secular and orthodox Jews in Israel today through its two main characters, Dan and Aharon. Igaal Niddam, the Israeli filmmaker, has this conflict develop when two brothers meet after 25 years of separation that involved no contact whatsoever. They are shocked by their totally different lifestyles and viewpoints, and their relationship is cold and distant.
 
Dan, a macho type, is a shepherd in a secular kibbutz living a peaceful, content life in Israel with his beautiful wife and his two young children.  
 
Aharon is an Orthodox rabbi and New York attorney who has come to Israel to defend the right of Orthodox yeshiva students to be exempt from military service.
 
From their very first meeting, there is absolutely no understanding of each other’s lifestyles, attitudes, or viewpoints.  The brother’s relationship  mirrors the  lack of understanding between secular and orthodox Jews on a variety of issues in modern Israeli society.
 
The script delves deeper into the psychological makeup of the principals when they have face-to-face talks. However, trying to change the laws dealing with military service in Israel cause havoc, even an unexpected murder.

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Adams, author of ‘From Ghetto to Ghetto’ relates his journey

November 12, 2009 Leave a comment

By Yvonne Greenberg

LA JOLLA, California — In  From Ghetto to Ghetto: An African American Journey to Judaism, Dr. Ernest H. Adam’s new book, he movingly describes his childhood living with his family in squalor in a basement apartment  in Harlem, his coming of age during the Black Power Era as a young adult, and his journey to Judaism.  He converted to Conservative Judaism, fittingly had a Bar Mitzvah at age 50 on Martin Luther King’ Jr.’s birthday, and converted to Orthodox Judaism four years ago.

The 62 year-old Adams, who earned his doctorate in clinical psychology from Columbia University and his law degree  from New York University, delivered a serious lecture sprinkled with humor at the JCC on November 8th as part of the San Diego Jewish Book Fair.

Adams, his mom (who became a Jehovah’s Witness), dad, and two sisters lived in The Basement, which was also inhabited by mice, roaches, leeches, and had leaking pipes.  It had a putrid smell because it was where garbage was dumped.  As bad as The Basement was as a place to live, his parents always tried to keep it clean and livable.

He spoke of first encountering racism at the tender young age of 10 during the Jim Crow Era, when, craving a hamburger, he was unable to enter a White Castle restaurant because, as the sign outside warned, “Whites Only.”   He retrospectively determined that the assassination of JFK, which occurred when he was 17, had a profound impact on him.  He went to an Automotive Trades High School, which he admittedly had no interest in. In fact, his teachers told his parents that he was too intelligent for that school.  After high school he went to work on Wall Street and sported a large afro and wore dashikis to emphasize his Black identity.

He was admitted to NYU as an undergraduate, where he suffered “an intellectual crisis of confidence,” because he felt he was unprepared academically even though he did well in the required courses for the university. 

At  NYU Law School, he met Meyer Goldstein, with whom he became good friends. Like all good relationships, Adams’ and Goldstein’s friendship  flourished  because of a mutual capacity to listen and hear, but not judge. His friend’s father, Rabbi Baruch Goldstein, survived Auschwitz but his family perished in the Holocaust.  “I could see that Blacks in the United States were subject to the biological theory of race,  just like the Jews were subject to such a theory in Germany during the time of  Hitler.” 

Adams attended Friday night dinners with the Goldsteins “but I couldn’t understand why they had to light the candles and not just turn on the lights.”   The rabbi treated Adams like a son, once telling him “even if I had another child I couldn’t do any better.”

Two of  his Jewish friends warned him that Orthodox  Judaism was racist and rigid, but he discovered that to be untrue, and found the Orthodox to be very welcoming to him. 

Adams believes the Torah is the heart of being a  Jew and persuasively made the case during his lecture that God’s helping the Israelites was the first example of affirmative action. 

During his initial conversion to Judaism from being a “stone cold atheist,” the Rabbi asked Adams whether he had been circumcised.  When he replied yes, the Rabbi responded, “Thank goodness!” “In 2005, he converted to Orthodox Judaism.  He has visited Israel eight times and has always been well-received there.

Q and A

Why did you chose Judaism when there are other universal religions?

“The Goldsteins opened the door to me.  I attended many life cycle events where I got to see Jews up-close- and-personal and these encounters destroyed myths that I had about Jews and Judaism.   There is no rational reason why I chose Judaism.  I  just did.”

In a personal interview he clarified that he belongs to both Conservative and Orthodox synagogues.

He is married to Karen Ruth Sander, a white, Jewish-born  Reconstructionist, who at first felt uncomfortable attending the Orthodox services because she didn’t understand Hebrew, but really liked the people.  They had a child together, Eliot Akiva Adams, who will be two years old next month.

Adams stressed that they both make compromises with regard to Judaism, except that Adams  insists on a kosher kitchen.