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You and the CJL

The Mission of the Center for Jewish Life is to maximize involvement of Omaha’s Jewish community in imaginative, compelling and meaningful Jewish experiences.

Visit this page often and watch for emails and Jewish Press articles providing you with details for upcoming events.


Omaha Jewish Film Festival

August 2, 9, 11, 16, 23  |  All films begin at 7:15 pm in the JCC Theater
The Omaha Jewish Film Festival presents five nights of entertaining and thought-provoking film.  Now a collaboration of the Center for Jewish Life and the Institute for Holocaust Education, the series presents a range of works that highlight the best of contemporary Jewish film.  This year's films are presented at a reduced cost of $5 thanks to the generous sponsorships provided by Todd and Betiana Simon, the Henry Monsky Lodge B’nai B’rith plus the following funds of the Jewish Federation of Omaha Foundation: The Klutznick Chair of Jewish Civilization at Creighton University; Special Donor Advised Fund; Samuel & Bess Rothenberg Memorial Endowment Fund and Avy L. & Roberta L. Miller Foundation by Lindsey Miller-Lerman. The showing on August 11th is free.


Sunday, August 2nd  |  7:15 pm  |  JCC Theater
A 2014 release from the United Kingdom in which the faltering business of an ageing Jewish baker is inadvertently saved by his young Muslim apprentice, Ayyash. The boy works in the bakery while selling marijuana on the side to help his struggling mother. When he accidentally drops his stash into the dough, the challah starts flying off the shelf and an unlikely friendship forms between the baker and his young apprentice. Dough is a warm-hearted humorous story about overcoming prejudice and finding redemption. (2014, Directed by John Goldschmidt, United Kingdom, English, 94 minutes).  To view the trailer, click here.

24 Days
Sunday, August 9th  |  7:15 pm  |  JCC Theater
It is January of 2006 and a beautiful young woman walks into a Parisian cellphone shop. She browses, asks for the sales attendant’s phone number, and calls the young man later that evening asking to meet. The next time 23 year-old Ilan’s family hears from him is as they are preparing for a group meal – and are shocked to learn of Ilan’s abduction. His parents go to the police, who unfortunately fail to recognize the anti-Semitism behind the attack. The film depicts the next 24 days during which time the Halimi family receives over 700 threatening phone calls from Ilan's kidnappers. Tensions rise between the family and the police assigned to their case, as days go by without Ilan's safe return. The film is a chilling depiction of the real-life events surrounding the attack, and presents a commentary on growing anti-Semitism in France. The film is “one of the most wrenching and politically astute films to come out of France” (Screen Daily). (2014, Directed by Alexandre Arcady, France, French with English subtitles, 108 minutes.) To view the trailer, click here.

Besa: The Promise    FREE ADMISSION
Tuesday, August 11th  |  7:15 pm  |  JCC Theater
The movie tells the story of heroism found in Albania during WWII through the actual journeys of two men. One is Norman Gershman, a renowned Jewish-American photographer who travels to Albania, determined to document first-person accounts of those who rescued Jews during the Holocaust. The other is Rexhep Hoxha, a Muslim-Albanian trying to fulfill the promise his father made to a Jewish family during the Holocaust and return a set of Hebrew books they left behind. For Rexhep the promise is part of his “besa” — an honor code that pledges all Albanians to offer safe harbor to refugees. Rexhep’s quest takes him to Bulgaria and Israel, and brings about discoveries of faith and family. Through the stories of Rexhep and his fellow Muslims, comes a story of a nation of everyday heroes different from the narrative of violent Islam and anti-Semitism portrayed in media today. Besa: The Promise presents stories of gratitude from Jewish survivors to Muslim rescuers that have gone unheard for almost seventy years. It is a story that bridges generations and religions, uniting fathers and sons, Muslims and Jews. The film was underwritten by a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. (2012, Director Rachel Goslins, United States, English, 90 minutes.) To view the trailer, click here.

The Last Mentsch
Sunday, August 16  |  7:15 pm  |  JCC Theater
The film tells the tale of Marcus Schwartz, an old man who has been hiding his real identity since the day he survived the horrors of Auschwitz. Now that he wants to be buried in a Jewish cemetery, Marcus must prove that one thing he denied for many decades – his Jewishness. With no synagogue, Jewish friends or family, the old man has done such an effective job of creating a new identity that, when faced with his own mortality, the rabbis refuse his about-face appeal to be buried in a Jewish cemetery. The only record that remains is the faded tattoo on his forearm. Marcus’s only hope is to return to the Hungarian village where he grew up to try to find proof of his birth. The young Turkish woman he enlists to drive him there turns out to have a past of her own, and the journey is one that will change both their lives forever. The Last Mentsch is an emotional narrative of friendship and healing that explores the cost of forgetting the past, and the power in remembering it. (2014, Director Pierre-Henry Salfati, Germany, German with English subtitles, 93 minutes.)  To view the trailer, click here.

Above and Beyond
Sunday, August 23  |  7:15 pm  |  JCC Theater
In 1948, just three years after the liberation of Nazi death camps and the end of WWII, a group of Jewish American pilots answered a call for help. In secret and at great personal risk, they were smuggled out of the U.S., trained behind the Iron Curtain in Czechoslovakia and flew for Israel in its War of Independence. As members of Machal – “volunteers from abroad” – this make-shift band of brothers not only turned the tide of the war, they also embarked on personal journeys of discovery and renewed Jewish pride. Above and Beyond does more than retell the history of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. It examines the motivations of the foreign volunteers – both Jews and non-Jews. It explores the tension between the Israelis and Machal soldiers. The film recounts the personal stories of the young pilots, their life-altering experiences in Israel, and the critical role they played in the country’s survival. (2014, Directed by Roberta Grossman, Israel and the United Kingdom, English, 90 minutes.)  To view the trailer, click here.

Friday Learning Series

August 14, 21, 28

Friday Learning Series with Eliad Eliyahu - Diversity in Israel - 11am - 12pm in the Kripke Jewish Federation Library.  You may not realize the beauty of Israel and the diversity of the ethnic groups living there in harmony with one another, but Eliad Eliyahu knows it very well. In many cities, Jews, Muslims, and Christians share apartment buildings and help each other just as neighbors in any other city of the world.  In fact, Israel has a population of approximately 8,296,000 inhabitants as of the end of 2014. Of these people, 75% percent of them are Jewish (about 6,218,000 individuals), 20.7% are Arabs (about 1,719,000 individuals), while the remaining 4.3% (about 359,000 individuals) are defined as "others." Political office is held not only by Jews but by Arabs as well. Eliad is always delighted to tell the story of his homeland and he invites you to share with him in three one hour sessions of the Friday Learning Series to hear and see all about it.

Dorothy Kaplan Book Discussion Group

August 21
The Dorothy Kaplan Book Discussion Group discusses Tapestry of Fortunes, a novel by Elizabeth Berg.  Remember that new members are always welcome to the group.  Contact Shirly Banner at (402) 334-6462 or for more information.  To read more about this selection, click here.

Exploring Judaism

October 12 extending weekly through March 7

Scott Littky, Program Director at Temple Israel, will teach Exploring Judaism for 2015-2016. This is a 20 session course divided into four major sections:
      • Judaism as a Religion
      • Judaism as History
      • Judaism as a Way of Life
      • Judaism as it is Practiced
Exploring Judaism was originally designed to provide basic information about Judaism to those considering conversion. In recent years the course has been modified and enhanced to also provide a great opportunity for anyone in the Jewish community to revisit the principles of their faith and the richness of the practices of Jewish living. Over the past year, Scott Littky has evaluated and added materials to help ensure that each topic is covered in a comprehensive manner.

Scott began his career in 1985 as religious school educator. From 1988 until 1996 he served the (then) Bureau of Jewish Education of Omaha as a Community Teacher. He has taught at Friedel Jewish Academy, and served a total of 17 years as an Education Director in Omaha, NE, Ann Arbor, MI and Alexandria, VA.

Classes are held at the Jewish Community Center in the Kripke Jewish Federation Library. They are from 7-8:30 pm. Classes are free for those contributing to the Annual Campaign of the Jewish Federation of Omaha, tuition is $180 for all others. Contact Mark Kirchhoff at (402) 334-6463 or for additional information and to register. Click here to obtain a copy of the brochure. You may complete the registration section and return it to the address indicated. You may make payment at any time. Full payment is due by the first class.

Exploring Judaism is presented through the Center for Jewish Life whose mission is to maximize involvement of Omaha's Jewish community in imaginative, compelling and meaningful Jewish experiences. There are several more months before the end of the year, and the Center for Jewish Life has even more programs being developed. Visit this web page, read the Jewish Press, and watch your inbox for information. If you are not currently on our email list and would like to sign up, contact Mark Kirchhoff at (402) 334-6463 or

Keep Visiting our Website
There is a lot of time before the end of the year, and the Center for Jewish Life has many more events and classes planned.  Our mission is to maximize involvement of Omaha's Jewish community in imaginative, compelling and meaningful Jewish experiences. If you have any questions about our programs or would like to be added to our email list, contact Mark Kirchhoff at (402) 334-6463 or

New Arrivals
Hustle on over to the Kripke Jewish Federation Library and check out the new arrivals as of February 10.  Click here to read all about them.

The library is available to the entire community.  If you haven't used the library before, stop by, register your name, address, phone number and email address and you are all set to enjoy library materials.  All we ask is that you bring them back.