Shorts: arts, culture & judaica

Author Waldman to tell stories of motherhood

Ayelet Waldman will read from her forthcoming book “Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities and Occasional Moments of Grace” at

2 p.m. Sunday, March 1 at Congregation Beth Sholom, 301 14th Ave., S.F.

The Berkeley-based novelist and blogger has written pieces for and New York magazine in addition to several books, which include “Love and Other Impossible Pursuits” and “Daughter’s Keeper.” Her reading is part of the Beth Sholom event “Living at the Top of Your Lungs: Privacy, Publicity and Jewish Parenting in the 21st Century.”

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, call (415) 221-8736. For more on Waldman, visit

Play about Petaluma chicken farmers at Berkeley theater

Brookside Repertory Theatre in Berkeley will present a new production of Mae Ziglin Meidav’s “Basha Rubenchek from Minsk, Comrade of Petaluma,” a play about Jewish socialist chicken farmers in Petaluma. The production premieres next month at the  Berkeley City Club.

Based on a true story, the play received a California Living History Center Award. Meidav, winner of a California Arts Council Playwrights Fellowship Award, also runs the Brookside Rep’s writers’ workshop.  

“Basha Rubenchek from Minsk, Comrade of Petaluma” opens March 26 and runs through May 3 at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Ave., Berkeley. Tickets available through Brown Paper Tickets, (800) 838-3006. For more information, visit

Yiddish Book Center launches online library

After years of planning and scanning, more than 10,000 works of Yiddish literature can now be read, downloaded, and printed at the National Yiddish Book Center’s Steven Spielberg Digital Library.

This free online resource — 3 million pages in all — is the fruit of an alliance between the Yiddish Book Center and the S.F.-based Internet Archive.

Scholars, students and readers may now access most of the novels, stories, drama, poetry and nonfiction titles published in Yiddish over the past 150 years. To access the National Yiddish Book Center’s digital library or for more information, go to

NAACP honors Simmons for his black-Jewish work

The NAACP gave Russell Simmons its Vanguard Award in part for the hip-hop impresario’s work leading a black-Jewish group.

“Russell is deserving of this prestigious award because he has used the power of hip-hop to reach and inspire our nation’s youth,” a news release from Simmons’ Foundation for Ethnic Understanding quoted Clayola Brown, the civil rights group’s Image Awards chairwoman, as saying. “Combined with his ongoing commitment to strengthening relations between ethnic communities and his generous charitable spirit, Russell was a natural choice to receive this honor.”

Simmons chairs the foundation; Rabbi Marc Schneier is its president. In recent years the group has branched out from black-Jewish relations and reached out to Muslim groups as well.

Vanguard Awards are presented to “a person whose groundbreaking work increases our understanding and awareness of racial and social issues.”

Simmons received the award Feb. 12 during a live broadcast of the NAACP Image Awards in Los Angeles. Previous honorees include Prince, Steven Spielberg and Aretha Franklin. — jta