Lectures & workshops

The reality maven

TV executive and late-night talk show host Andy Cohen has taken pop culture to new places with his knack for reality TV. He’s the force behind “Top Chef,” “The Real Housewives” franchise, “Project Runway” and much more. Cohen also hosts Bravo’s nightly “Watch What Happens: Live,” in which he names a “mazel of the week” (and a “jackhole”). When designer Isaac Mizrahi was on the show, the two debated which of them was more gay or more Jewish. Cohen will be in San Francisco to share stories about his life and being at the top of his game.

7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 16 at Castro Theatre, 429 Castro St., S.F. $10-$25. www.commonwealthclub.org


“400 Miles to Freedom.” Talk and presentation of clips by Ethiopian Jewish filmmaker Avishai Meckonen about his journey from Ethiopia to Israel as a child and his kidnapping in Sudan. At Museum of the African Diaspora, 685 Mission St., S.F. 2 p.m. Included with admission. www.moadsf.org. Also May 14 at JCC of San Francisco, 3200 California St., S.F. 7 p.m. $10-$20. www.jccsf.org.


“Miss Representation.” Film and panel discussion on the media’s portrayal of women and girls. At Oshman Family JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto. 6:30 p.m. Sold out; check on cancellations at (650) 223-8605. (See story, 6)

“Moses, Marijuana, and Violence: Stories of Return.” Author and lawyer Joshua Safran shares stories from his forthcoming memoir on his return to Jewish tradition. At BJE Jewish Community Library, 1835 Ellis St., S.F. 7 p.m. Free. www.bjesf.org/adults_events.htm.

Luncheon for seniors. Workshop on the early history of Eastern European Jewry, with kosher box lunch. At Creekside Clubhouse 3, Rossmoor, Walnut Creek. 12 p.m. $8. RSVP to (925) 964-2063.

Book talk by Haley Tanner. Author discusses her novel “Vaclav & Lena,” about two 10-year-olds in Brooklyn’s Russian émigré community. At Addison-Penzak JCC, 14855 Oka Road, Los Gatos. 7 p.m. Free. www.siliconvalleyjcc.org.


“50 Years of Jewish Laughs.” KQED Radio’s Michael Krasny hosts a night celebrating Jewish humor. At Congregation Kol Shofar, 215 Blackfield Drive, Tiburon. 7:30 p.m. Free. RSVP to [email protected]. www.kolshofar.org.

“Batya Gur’s Mysteries.” Discussion and documentary about the popular Israel mystery writer. At Congregation B’nai Tikvah, 24 Hillcroft Way, Walnut Creek. 6:30 p.m. Free. www.tikvah.org.


Israel education and advocacy training workshop. To help prepare teens for life as Jewish college students. Sponsored by StandWithUs and Jerusalem Online University At Oshman Family JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto. 9 a.m. $18 per family. www.paloaltojcc.org.

“Theological Responses to the Holocaust.” Video lecture by history professor David Ruderman of the University of Pennsylvania. At Albany Community Center, 1249 Marin Ave., Albany. 4 p.m. Free. www.kolhadash.org.


“Stand with God, Against Man.” Granddaughter of Aristides de Sousa Mendes, the Portuguese diplomat who saved thousands of refugees during World War II, tells her family’s story. At Congregation Beth David 19700 Prospect Road, Saratoga. 7:30 p.m. Free. www. beth-david.org.

“The Realities of Modern Israel.” Talk by Israeli Consul General Akiva Tor. At Tehiyah Day School, 2603 Tassajara Ave., El Cerrito. 7 p.m. Free, but RSVP required to [email protected]. (510) 233-3013.


Israeli Green Party. Alon Tal, party chairman, gives overview of environmental issues in Israel. At Peninsula Sinai Congregation, 499 Boothbay Ave., Foster City. 7 p.m. Free. (650) 349-2816.

“Perspectives on Israel.” Talk by J Street’s S.F. Bay Area chair and national board member Molly Freeman. At Congregation Beth El, 1301 Oxford St., Berkeley. 7:30 p.m. Free. www.bethel-berkeley.org.

“Muslims, Jews, and a New Song.” Tricia Hellman Gibbs discusses her journey back to Judaism and findings from the Koran, as well as her novel “A New Song” (written under the pen name Sarah Isaias), in conversation with author Nafisa Haji. Includes performance of Middle Eastern music by the Yuval Ron Trio. At Osher Marin JCC, 200 N. San Pedro Road, San Rafael. 7 p.m. $12-$15. www.marinjcc.org.


“The Extraordinary Story of Anne Frank’s Family.” Buddy Elias, Anne’s first cousin and close friend, shares family stories. At JCC of San Francisco, 3200 California St., S.F. 7 p.m. $10-$25. www.jccsf.org.

“Reclaiming Jewish Activism: Rediscovering Voices of Our Ancestors.” Presentation and discussion by Jewish activists Julie Gilgoff, Rae Abileah and Elaine Elinson. At Congregation Sha’ar Zahav, 290 Dolores St., S.F. 7 p.m. Free. www. shaarzahav.org.

“Speaking of Israel: Promised Land or Polluted Earth?” Talk by Alon Tal, Israeli Green Party chairman and professor at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev’s Jacob Blaustein Institutes of Desert Research. At Urban Adamah, 1050 Parker St., Berkeley. 7 p.m. $5. www.urbanadamah.org.