JCCSF Podcasts -

Welcome to Arts & Ideas Podcasts! Every year, we bring dozens of the country's most innovative and inspiring artists, thinkers and writers to the JCCSF  stage and to our program on KALW, Binah. Now we're bringing them to your computer, MP3 player or mobile device, too!

Whether you missed an event or simply want to experience it again, you can now listen to some of the outstanding speakers presented by the JCCSF through our podcasts. Want to see the entire list of authors from the last four Arts & Ideas seasons? Just select "List by Author". Check the "Recent Recordings" tab for podcasts as they become available, and/or subscribe to get the newest lectures as soon as they're posted. And, of course, you can always join us and enjoy the excitement of being part of the live audience at an upcoming  lecture!  

Mandy Aftel



Natural perfumer Mandy Aftel kept a crowd riveted with stories about the origins, lore and sensibilities of five key scents (cinnamon, mint, frankincense, ambergris, jasmine), while her friend Daniel Patterson (Coi) brought out wonderful, unexpected connections between them and other aromas.  The experience was augmented by scent strips.  A fascinating, fun, and sensual evening.

Modern Family’s Steven Levitan



Modern Family show runner Steven Levitan took the audience behind the scenes of his Emmy-award-winning sitcom, showing clips not only from the show but also home movies that inspired several episodes. It was an evening filled with laughter and affection for the multi-generational unconventional gay/straight/Asian/Latino family that has won the hearts of TV watchers everywhere.

Steven Pinker


Cognitive Scientist Steven Pinker is one of the world’s leading authorities on language, mind, and human nature. His latest book is The Sense of Style, which looks at writing in the 21st Century and why good writing is so difficult. His lecture was witty and irreverent, and included some great examples of classic prose. One explanation for why academic writing is sometimes gobbled is what he calls the Curse of Knowledge, or, when you know something, it’s hard to imagine what it’s like for someone not to know it.

The Daily Show’s Aasif Mandvi


Actor, writer, and Daily Show correspondent Aasif Mandvi took a break from filming his HBO series The Brink to sit down with comedian Rajiv Satyal to discuss his new memoir No Land’s Man and what is was like growing up Indo-British-Muslim-American. From start to finish, they had the audience rolling. Great audience, great rapport, great evening.

David Bezmozgis


David Bezmozgis sat down with Zoetrope: All Story’s editor Michael Ray to talk about his latest book The Betrayers, and offer his insights into contemporary Israel, Zionism, and the nature of the connection between Ashkenazi Jews and the lands of the former Soviet Unions. As The Betrayers completes the trilogy that began with Natasha, it was particularly fitting that Michael Ray conducted the interview, as All Story was the first journal to publish David ten year ago. Definitely a very special, full circle moment.

Charmian Gooch


Global Witness’s Charmian Gooch is a firebrand.  She’s spent the last 20 years working to expose those who exploit our natural resources and hide behind an anonymous corporate facade…and to change laws here and abroad to ensure such connivery can’t happen so easily in the future.  Her passion in unmasking these scoundrels who traffic in blood diamonds and illegal logging engaged the audience and inspired many to ask how they can get involved.

Jason Segel


The Lisa & Douglas Goldman Lecture
Made possible through the generous support of the Lisa & Douglas Goldman Fund

Actor, writer, musician, and generally adorable person Jason Segel says the things we’re most afraid of are the things that make us strong. Jason read from his new middle school novel Nightmares! and talked with Kait Steele from 826 National about why his parents sent him to acting classes, why the Muppets are amazing role models, and what he hopes young adults take away from Nightmares! and the second and third books in the planned trilogy.

Yotam Ottolenghi


Yotam Ottolenghi charmed a sold-out Kanbar Hall audience to celebrate the release of his new book Plenty More, a continuation of the vibrant, flavorful, and amazing vegetable recipes he shared with the world in his bestselling cookbook, Plenty, and his Guardian column. He was joined in conversation by the always-amazing Peter Stein. They discussed everything from Yotam’s early taste memories to his current focus on ingredients a bit further afield than those of his native Israel.

Stephin Merritt



Magnetic Fields troubadour Stephin Merritt charmed his fans with the stories behind (and a dramatic reading of) his new book, 101 Two-Letter Words, a collection of poems using all the two-letter words allowed in Scrabble. He made everyone’s night when he pulled out his ukulele and sang a few songs, including a special audience request.

Peter Thiel

PeterThiel_1of1_WEB_klZero to One

Peter Thiel, the entrepreneur and investor behind many of Silicon Valley’s biggest success stories, sat down with Pandodaily’s editor-in-chief Sarah Lacy to discuss some of the ideas in his #1 NYT Bestselling book Zero to One, his PayPal days with Elon Musk and Max Levchin, and why monopolies, not competition, breed innovation and ultimately, human progress.