Safa Abu-Rabia, Speaker, Sand Storm
Dr. Safa Abu-Rabia is a Palestinian-Bedouin from the South of Israel. Currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Anthropology department at Harvard University, Safa is Fulbright and Israel Institute Fellow for 2016-2017. Her research examines Bedouin collective memory and representations of 1948 and the subsequent struggle over land from a gender perspective. She is a faculty member and Leadership program director at the Mandel Center for Leadership, a lecturer at Ben-Gurion University and Sapir College, and a social activist in the Negev. She reguarly publishes her research as well as articles, including a regular column in the journal HaMakom.
Tova Ascher, Director, A.K.A. Nadia
Tova Ascher is a director and film editor. A.K.A Nadia is her debut feature film. Ascher’s editing credits include Time of Favor (2000), Lemon Tree (2008), Syrian Bride (2004), and The Human Resources Manager (2010). She has won numerous grants and awards including Best Film Editor, Israeli Film Academy (2000). She is currently working on her second feature film.
Uri Ben Assa, Speaker, Disturbing the Peace
Uri Ben Assa is a peace activist serving as the Israeli Director of Combatants For Peace, is a member of the management and the steering committee of the movement. He is also an active member of the Nablus – Tel Aviv group of the movement. Uri was an officer in the Israeli Army, ranked Captain. Uri is also the a member of the steering committee of IPI, Israeli Peace Initiative, acting to influence the Israeli government to adopt the Arab Peace Initiative as the basis for regional peace agreement between Israel, Palestine and the Arab world. Uri is an high tech entrepreneur and business coach and lives in Ramat Hasharon.
Mary Bonauto, Speaker, The Freedom to Marry
Mary L. Bonauto is the Civil Rights Project Director at GLAD. She has litigated in the state and federal courts of New England on discrimination issues, parental rights, free speech and religious liberty, and relationship recognition. Mary litigated in many important cases leading to the legalization of same-sex marriage, including Obergefell v. Hodges (which established the freedom to marry for same-sex couples nationwide), Baker v. State of Vermont (which led to the nation’s first civil union law), Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, (which made Massachusetts the first state where same-sex couples could legally marry in 2004). Mary’s work has been recognized with numerous awards, including the 2014 MacArthur Fellowship. She is the Shikes Fellow in Civil Liberties and Civil Rights and Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, serves on an advisory board for the American Constitution Society and has also served as co-chair of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Committee of the American Bar Association’s Section on Individual Rights and Responsibilities.
Natalie Bormann, Moderator, Germans and Jews
Natalie Bormann, Associate Teaching Professor in Political Science at Northeastern University, explores questions of identity, trauma and memory in the context of the Holocaust. She teaches courses on Genocide and Political Theory, and leads a five-week Holocaust and Genocide Studies program to Germany and Poland each summer. Her upcoming book is entitled The Ethics of Teaching at Sites of Trauma: Student Encounters with the Holocaust (with Palgrave, forthcoming).
Julie Burros, Speaker, Who’s Gonna Love Me Now?
Julie is the Chief of Arts and Culture in Boston. She joined the City of Boston in December 2014 after serving as the Director for Cultural Planning for over 15 years with the City of Chicago.
James Carroll, Moderator, The Last Laugh
James Carroll is the author of eleven novels and eight works of non-fiction. Carroll served as Catholic Chaplain at Boston University from 1969 to 1974, then left the priesthood to become a writer. Carroll’s memoir, An American Requiem: God, My Father, and the War that Came Between Us, received the 1996 National Book Award in nonfiction and other awards. His book Constantine’s Sword: The Church and the Jews: A History, was a New York Times bestseller and won numerous awards. Carroll has held many distinguished positions including being a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University; a Fellow at the Center for the Study of Values in Public Life at the Harvard Divinity School; The Richman Visiting Professor at Brandeis University; a trustee of the Boston Public Library; and A Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at The Center for European and Mediterranean Studies at New York University. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and an Associate of the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard University and holds honorary degrees from many universities.
Jan Darsa, Moderator, Karski & The Lords of Humanity
Jan Darsa is Director of Jewish Education at Facing History and Ourselves. She has facilitated Facing History workshops, institutes, and other professional development programs for educators across the United States and in Israel, Mexico and South Africa and developed curricula designed for educators in Jewish day schools and congregational schools. Jan has researched the Warsaw Ghetto, the artists of Terezin, and European Jewry before the 1930s and has published numerous articles and essays on Holocaust education. Prior to working at Facing History, she taught English and social studies in middle and high schools and at Tufts University. Darsa received a B.A. in English literature from the University of California at Berkeley and an M.Ed. from Boston University and studied Hebrew and Jewish Studies at the World Union of Jewish Students in Israel. She is a Jerusalem Fellow and was a scholar-in-residence in South Africa. In 2010 she received the Covenant Award for excellence in Jewish Education.
Robert Edwards, Producer, The Last Laugh
Robert Edwards is a writer/director based in New York. His most recent film One More Time (aka When I Live My Life Over Again) starring Christopher Walken and Amber Heard, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2015. A graduate of Stanford University’s Master’s Program in Documentary Film, Edwards won a 2001 Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for his first script, Land of the Blind. He has written scripts for directors including Bennett Miller, Mark Romanek, and Mike Newell, and for producers such as Plan B, John Davis, and HBO. He is currently at work on a miniseries for executive producer John Woo and collaborating on a new script with director Ray Tintori. Edwards is also developing The Bomb in My Garden, a film based on the memoir of the chief scientist in Saddam Hussein’s uranium enrichment program.
Lisa Fishbayn Joffe, Speaker, Sand Storm
Lisa Fishbayn Joffe is associate director of the Hadassah Brandeis Institute at Brandeis University and directs the Project on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law. The mission of the GCRL Project is to produce scholarship that explores the tension between women’s equality claims and religious laws. Dr. Fishbayn Joffe‘s publications include Gender, Religion and Family Law: Theorizing Conflicts Between Women’s Rights and Cultural Traditions (with Sylvia Neil, Brandeis University Press, 2012); The Polygamy Question (with Janet Bennion, Colorado University Press, 2015); Women’s Rights and Religious Law (with Fareda Banda, Routledge Press, 2016) and a special issue of Nashim on New Historical and Legal Perspectives on Jewish Divorce (with Haim Sperber, Volume 31,forthcoming 2017). She is editor, with Sylvia Neil, of the Brandeis University Press Series on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law. She received her LL.B. from Osgoode Hall Law School and LL.M. and S.J.D. from Harvard Law School.
Karen Frostig, Ph.D., Speaker, Germans and Jews
Karen Frostig is Director, Producer, and lead Artist of The Vienna Project. She is also an Associate Professor at Lesley University and a Resident Scholar at Brandeis University’s Women’s Studies Research Center. Karen holds dual citizenship in the United States and the Republic of Austria. The Vienna Project was the first inclusive and differentiated naming memorial in Vienna and the first naming memorial in Europe to recognize seven different victim groups of National Socialism and to tell a national narrative of persecution, genocide, and murder. Karen exhibits her work in the US and Europe, is a frequent speaker and keynote speaker at international conferences and has received multiple awards, including grants from National Fund, ZukunftsFonds, and Massachusetts Cultural Council. Publications include co-editing Blaze: Discourse on Art Women and Feminism, and numerous books chapters and journal articles on topics dealing with memory, genocide, activism, and visual culture.
Gisela Geiger, Speaker, Germans and Jews
Born in Pomerania (formerly part of Germany, now belonging to Poland), to which her mother had been evacuated, Geiger was raised and educated in Bremen, where part of her family lived for many generations. She has many early memories of the war and of questioning her parents about the Holocaust when hearing about the Nürnberg Trials over the radio. After high school, Geiger spent a Gap Year in Paris and first the first time, as a German abroad, had to answer questions about guilt and responsibility. Geiger has lived in Boston since 1967 where she worked as a Physical Therapist at Boston’s Children’s Hospital, and privately as therapist and consultant. She joined the German-Jewish Dialogue Group in Boston, founded under the leadership of Dr. Larry Lowenthal and Dr. Irene Hinrichsen, Consul of Germany, when it started in 1993. The group has been meeting at Geiger’s home since 1997.
Slawomir Grünberg, Director, Karski & The Lords of Humanity
Slawomir Grünberg is an Emmy Award winning documentary producer, director and cameraman is a graduate of the Polish Film School in Lodz. Born in Poland, he immigrated to the US in 1981 and has since directed and produced over 45 documentary films including: Don’t Cry When I’m Gone, Karski & The Lords of Humanity, Shimon’s Returns, and The Legacy of Jedwabne. Grunberg’s film School Prayer: A Community At War, which screened on PBS received an Emmy Award and The Jan Karski Award, a competition designed to recognize and award outstanding television documentaries produced on the theme of moral courage. Grunberg is a recipient of Guggenheim Fellowship, the New York Foundation for the Art,s and Soros Justice Media Fellowships. His credits as director of photography include: Legacy (Academy Award nomination for best documentary feature in 2001), and Sister Rose’s Passion, which won best short doc at Tribeca Film Festival in 2004 and received an Academy Award nomination for best documentary short in 2005.
Alexandra Herzog, Speaker, Song of Songs
Alexandra Herzog is from Geneva, Switzerland, where she received her B.A. in Biblical Hebrew and B.A./M.A. degrees in both French Literature and English Literature with a specialization in American Studies from the University of Geneva, as well as a joint M.A. in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies from Brandeis University. In 2014, she received her PhD in Jewish Studies from Brandeis University and is currently a Post-Doctoral fellow and lecturer in the Core Curriculum and the Elie Wiesel Center for Judaic Studies at Boston University. Dr. Herzog specializes in Modern Jewish Literature and Culture, Yiddish Literature, Women’s and Gender Studies as well as American Studies. She is currently working on her book manuscript entitled Erotic Underworld: Gender, Sexuality and Religion in the Work of Isaac Bashevis Singer.
Maisie Jacobson, Director, Billsville
Maisie Jacobson is a Toronto-based writer, director and producer of both documentary and narrative films. Her work investigates obsession, intimacy, and the often messy and awkward business of being human. She studied art history at McGill University and creative writing at the University of Toronto. Her writing has been shortlisted for PRISM International’s Creative Non-Fiction Contest. Her directorial debut, the short film Flush, was awarded a BravoFACT grant, won an Industry Choice Award at Toronto Youth Shorts film festival, and is currently in the middle of its international festival run. Billsville, her first documentary, was commissioned by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Maisie currently has a television crime drama series in development at Temple Street Productions (Orphan Black), as well as several other short film projects on the go.
Tamar Korn, Singer, Gary Lucas’ Fleischerei
For over a decade, Tamar has been a full-time New York-based vocalist playing a repertoire steeped in traditional New Orleans and early jazz, western swing, and American roots music. Formerly of the Cangelosi Cards, she now leads A Kornucopia, sings in the Brain Cloud, and The Grand Street Stompers, and is an extended member of Baby Soda Jazz Band. She also often joins stride and ragtime pianist Terry Waldo, and semi-regularly joins Irish folklorist and tenor banjo and bouzouki player Mick Moloney. And she is quite honored to play on occasion with the renown violinist Mark O’Connor. Tamar has traveled for music throughout North America, as well as to Scandinavia, Europe, Lithuania, China, Israel, the Caribbean, and India.
Marek Lesniewski- Laas has been Poland’s Honorary Consul for Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine since 1994. Lesniewski-Laas practices law with his wife Elizabeth. His firm assists foreign individuals and companies navigate the US legal system and helps US firms and individuals do business in Poland. Mr. Lesniewski- Laas served for six years as the Massachusetts Assistant Attorney General enforcing both state and federal laws governing the health care industry. He served as the Depurty Commissioner for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Department of Medical Security, managing a health care financing fund, developing new health care initiatives and negotiating multi million dollar agreements with insurers and suppliers. Lesniewski- Laas has an AB from Bowdoin College and a JD from Boston University Law School.
Larry Lowenthal, Speaker, Germans and Jews
Larry Lowenthal has enjoyed two distinctly different careers—college professor and organizational director. Larry taught Literature at Western Washington State University, New York University, and Gettysburg College before moving to Israel with his family. From 1970-1975, Larry taught English and American Literature at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and at Tel Aviv University. Upon his return to America in 1975, Larry became Executive Director of various Jewish organizations in Boston, including the American Zionist Federation, The Israel Cultural Center, The Metro West Jewish Federation and the New England Region of the American Jewish Committee (AJC). As Jewish organizational director, Larry became known as an intergroup relations specialist, bringing together members of the Boston Jewish community with groups African- Americans, Latinos, Germans, Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims, and more. Retired from the AJC since 2008, Larry is currently an Adjunct Professor at Northeastern University in Boston.
Gary Lucas, Musician/Speaker, Gary Lucas’ Fleischerei
Gary Lucas is a world class guitar hero, a Grammy-nominated songwriter and composer, an international recording artist with over 30 acclaimed solo albums to date, and a soundtrack composer for film and television. Lucas has won awards including a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Premio Ciampi Festival in Tuscany and has been dubbed “The Thinking Man’s Guitar Hero” by The New Yorker, “The world’s most popular avant-rock guitarist” by The Independent (UK), and “One of the five best guitarists in the world” by the national Czech newspaper Lidove Noviny. Gary Lucas tours the world relentlessly both solo and with several different ensembles, including his longtime band Gods and Monsters, whose ranks once included the late singer Jeff Buckley. Gary co-wrote two of Jeff Buckley’s most famous hits, “Grace” and “Mojo Pin.”Other notable Lucas albums include his recently reissued 2001 album “The Edge of Heaven”, an album of Gary’s lush arrangements of 30’s Chinese pop songs, which made #1 on the World Music charts and received rave reviews around the world. To date he has released over 20 acclaimed albums in multiple genres, and performed in over 40 countries.
Lt. Colonel Katri Maoz, Speaker/Protaganist, Who’s Gonna Love Me Now?
Katri was born in Bnei Brak on the outskirts of Tel-Aviv and was then a member of the Sdeh Eliyahu Kibbutz for 30 years. He served in the IDF as a career officer in the paratrooper brigade and retired a Lt. Colonel serving as the deputy commander of the brigade. After his discharge he served as the executive director of the Ein Gedi Field School. Katri currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem, a National Heritage and Memorial site that educates hundreds of thousands a year in the values of a liberated Jerusalem and teaches them the morals of the Six Day War in 1967.
Dmitry Milkin, Director/Producer, Curpigeon
“I seek to make entertaining films with socially conscious themes. I call it hiding the peas in the mashed potatoes.” Dmitry Milkin was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia. He immigrated to the US a year after the fall of communism, as a Jewish refugee. Watching movies and cartoons helped him learn English and sparked his love for story. Dmitry graduated from Emerson College with a B.A in film and moved to LA where he worked in at Warner Bros. Studios, CBS, Comedy Central and Disney. He now lives in San Francisco. He says the film Curpigeon was designed to help children cope with grief in a time where tragedy seems to be everywhere. The film’s message focuses on the power of community support.
Ferne Pearlstein, Director, The Last Laugh
Ferne Pearlstein is a prize-winning cinematographer, feature film editor, and writer/director whose work has been screened and broadcast around the world. Pearlstein holds post-graduate degrees in documentary film and photography from Stanford University and the International Center of Photography. She is one of only a handful of female cinematographers featured in Kodak’s long-running “On Film” ad campaign in the pages of American Cinematographer magazine. Committed to shooting in film, she has shot documentaries in places as diverse as Haiti, Uganda, and Guyana, and snuck her 16mm camera from the Karen refugee camps of Thailand across the border to film in the rebel bases of the Karen Liberation Army in Burma. Among her other credits are: cinematographer on Freakanomic; DP on Ruthie and Connie and DP on The Voice of the Prophet (where she met her longtime collaborator and husband Robert Edwards, who had hired her to shoot the film).
Eddie Rosenstein, Speaker, The Freedom to Marry
Eddie Rosenstein is a documentary filmmaker, living in New York City. His films are about a wide range of subjects, but are mostly about regular people doing extraordinary things, often against great odds. His previous work includes: A Tickle in the Heart (producer, 1996) about the world’s greatest Klezmer musicians, who were ‘discovered’ as senior citizens; Waging a Living (co-director, 2003) for which Rosenstein followed three low-wage families for three years as they attempted to extricate themselves from poverty; School Play (co-producer/director 2008) a hilarious tale of fifth graders pushed to the limit by their grade school play; Sandhogs (producer/director, 2008) about the legendary and wild band of urban miners, without whom New York city could not possibly exist; and Boarlift (Producer/Director, 2011) a short film narrated by Tom Hanks which tells the epic tale of the 9/11 boatlift which evacuated half a million people from the stricken seawalls of Lower Manhattan. Eddie has also produced television programming for networks including A&E, TruTV, History, Discovery ID, HBO. PBS and AMC, and has won dozens of international film festival prizes and been nominated for an Emmy. Rosenstein teaches documentary filmmaking at the New York Film Academy, lectures frequently, and lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife and two sons.
Nader Sadre, Director, Rothman
Nader Sadre is a New York-based producer and director whose previous work includes documentaries about political pollster Marty McGough and the Vermont secessionist movement. He is currently working on a project about deposed kings.
Jip Smit, Actress, Moos
Jip graduated from the Amsterdam Theatre & Small Musical Arts Academy in 2012. She has been in many different theatre productions since then, most recently in Medea from the renowned Toneelgroep Amsterdam, directed by Simon Stone. Jip also guest starred on various Dutch television series. Moos is her first leading role in a film.
(Photo Credit: Laurien Riha)
Daniel Sokatch, moderator, Sand Storm
Daniel J. Sokatch is the Chief Executive Officer of the New Israel Fund (NIF), committed to equality and democracy for all Israelis. Before joining NIF, Sokatch served as the Executive Director of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties. Prior to his tenure at Federation, he served as the founding Executive Director of the Los Angeles based Progressive Jewish Alliance. In recognition of his leadership, Sokatch has been named to the Forward newspaper’s “Forward 50,” an annual list of the fifty leading Jewish decision-makers and opinion-shapers, in 2002, 2005 and 2008 and 2010. Daniel has an MA from the Fletcher School at Tufts University, a JD from Boston College Law School, and a BA from Brandeis University. He is married with two daughters and resides in San Francisco.
Karin Von Trotha-Cohen, Speaker, Germans and Jews
Karin was born and raised in Germany. She is a graduate of Ludwig Maximilian University Munich and came to Boston during her Sabbatical year, attaining an MA in Technology in Education from Lesley University. Karin is an educator, a writer and an oral historian, developing numerous history projects in German schools and institutes, in and around Hamburg. She was active in the Stolpersteine Project in Hamburg, creating media presentations and implementing teacher-training workshops. Karin also founded the “Zeitzeichen Agency” dedicated to co-authoring memoirs with Germans, documenting personal stories before, during, and after WWII with a special focus on National Socialism. She is the producer of “Staged Readings,” both in Germany and in Poland as part of conferences, dealing with resistance against the Nazis in Germany and Poland. Early in her career, Karin was a teacher of German Literature in Hamburg as well as creating and teaching a curriculum for illiterate immigrant students. Using Facing History and Ourselves inspiration she engaged students in reflective discussions about German culture, before, during and after Nazism. Karin was an original member of the German Jewish Dialogue Group in Belmont.
Rabbi Moshe Waldoks, Speaker, The Last Laugh
Reb Moshe Waldoks is the Senior Rabbi at Temple Beth Zion (TBZ) an independent congregation in Brookline, MA. He is the co-editor of The Big Book of Jewish Humor (HarperCollins) now in print for 35 years. He is a child of Holocaust survivors
Dov Waxman, Speaker, The Settlers
Dov Waxman is Professor of Political Science, International Affairs, and Israel Studies, and the Stotsky Professor of Jewish Historical and Cultural Studies at Northeastern University. He is also the co-director of the university’s Middle East Center. His research focuses on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israeli foreign policy, U.S.-Israel relations, and American Jewry’s relationship with Israel. He received his Ph.D. and M.A. from Johns Hopkins University and his B.A. from Oxford University. He has previously taught at the City University of New York, Bowdoin College, and the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey; and he has been a visiting fellow at Tel Aviv University, Bar-Ilan University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Oxford University. He is the author of three books: The Pursuit of Peace and the Crisis of Israeli Identity: Defending / Defining the Nation (Palgrave, 2006), Israel’s Palestinians: The Conflict Within (with Ilan Peleg, Cambridge University Press, 2011), and Trouble in the Tribe: The American Jewish Conflict over Israel (Princeton University Press, 2016). He is a frequent commentator in print, on radio, and on television, and he has lectured widely in the United States and abroad.
Andrew L. Young, Director/Cinematographer, Disturbing the Peace
Andrew Young is an acclaimed filmmaker whose work has received an Academy Award nomination, two Emmy Awards, seven Emmy nominations, and five awards at the Sundance Film Festival including the “Grand Jury Prize.” He has directed and photographed over a dozen documentaries, including Children of Fate, Cutting Loose, Americanos, The Last Royals, Deadly Messengers, Lives in Hazard, Madagascar: A World Apart, and Glacier Bay: Alaska’s Wild Coast. Young is also an award-winning cinematographer who has received the Excellence in Cinematography prize at Sundance three times as well as a Cinematography Emmy Award and the Cinematography Prize at the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival. His work has been exhibited theatrically and on HBO, Cinemax, National Geographic, the BBC and PBS.