Emanu-El retools its annual program into a spring festival

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It was time to plan Temple Emanu-El’s annual scholar-in-residence program, and adult education co-chairs Elizabeth Zerwekh and Doug Kellerman were feeling a little restless.

“Calling a program ‘scholar-in-residence’ gives it a gravitas we didn’t think it needed,” said Zerwekh, a librarian and archivist from Huntington Woods. “We wanted to create something that seemed like more fun.”

Instead of the same old-same old, they and their committee developed the first Temple Emanu-El Spring Festival, a series of six events that will start on Thursday, April 20, and continue through Sunday, April 30.

“It was time to do something new, something different that would grab not only our congregation, but also the community,” said Kellerman, a retired educator from Beverly Hills.

The theme of the inaugural festival is “Jews and the Arts.”

Speakers include Elliot Wilhelm, curator of film at the Detroit Institute of Arts; Rabbi Joe Klein, Temple Emanu-El’s rabbi emeritus; popular art lecturer Wendy Evans; Jack Lessenberry, news analyst and head of the journalism program at Wayne State University; and Jan Durecki, Leo Franklin Archivist at Temple Beth El.

Wilhelm will speak at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 20, on “Anger, Passion and Genius: Three Jewish Screenwriters Shaped by the Cold War.” The program will be followed by an afterglow sponsored by the Beatrice and Louis Weinstein Adult Education Fund.

Lessenberry will present the award-winning feature film Trumbo and lead a discussion afterward, with an afterglow sponsored by the Weinstein Adult Education Fund. The program starts at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 22.

Klein will speak at 9:30 a.m. Sunday, April 23, on “Superman’s Secret Identity: The Jewish Origins of Our Comic Book Superheroes” at a buffet breakfast co-sponsored by the Temple Emanu-El Brotherhood.

Evans’ talk, “L’Chaim: An Introduction to Jewish Artists,” will start at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 27, followed by an afterglow sponsored by the Temple Emanu-El Sisterhood.

Durecki will speak on Saturday, April 29, at 12:30 p.m. at a luncheon co-sponsored by the Weinstein Adult Education Fund. Her topic is “Motown Mensches: Jewish Connections.”

Wendy Evans
Jack Lessenberry
Elliot Wilhelm
Rabbi Joe Klein
Jan Durecki

The festival will end on Sunday, April 30, at 10:45 a.m. with a “Motown Revue” presented by the V-Jetts Vocal Jazz Ensemble from Cass Technical High School in Detroit. A continental breakfast will be served. The program is co-sponsored by the temple’s Music Committee.

All programs take place at Temple Emanu-El, 14450 W. 10 Mile Road in Oak Park.

Five of the six programs are open to the public for $15 each ($10 for students). Lessenberry’s presentation is limited to sponsors ($100) and patrons ($250); they will receive tickets to the other events as well.

“It’s a real bargain,” Kellerman said. “For just $100, you can attend six events and enjoy two breakfasts, a lunch and two really nice dessert receptions.”

Working with Zerwekh and Kellerman on the Spring Festival Committee are Jackie Bean, Ruth Hurwitz, Harvey Hurwitz, Marcia Meisner, Ruthanne Okun, Mary Paquette-Abt, Rozanne Sedler, Dan Steinhardt and Richard Strausz.

Barbara Lewis Contributing Writer

To register for programs or to become a sponsor or patron, go to the festival website at tiny.cc/tsj8hy.

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