Richard Ravitch, former New York Lieutenant Governor, played a central role in rescuing New York City from bankruptcy in the 1970′s. Appearing in conversation with David Crane, former special advisor to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ravitch turned his attention to how other cities and states can dig themselves out of financial crisis.
Bob Saget charmed a multi-generational audience with tales of his life and career, ranging from his time on Full House and America’s Funniest Home Videos to his cameo appearances in Entourage and his stand-up specials. While the crowd braced itself for his well-known profanity, he mostly kept it in check, explaining that, “it wouldn’t be appropriate in this context.” This kind of restraint, from the man who titled his memoir Dirty Daddy, gave insight into the man behind the potty mouth– a kind, thoughtful, smart– yes– family man.
Timothy F. Geithner was the seventy-fifth secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury (2009-2013) and is the author of Stress Test. Appearing in conversation with Dr. Laura Tyson, Haas Professor and former Chair of the US President’s Council of Economic Advisers during the Clinton Administration, Geithner candidly explained the “very bad choices” required to save the U.S. economy from the financial crisis. Recorded live at Congregation Emanu-El on May 29.
We welcomed Uri Blau and Barton Gellman to the JCCSF on April 7, 2014 for the third and final program of the Manovill Conversations. The discussion brought out distinctions between how the Israeli and U.S. governments treat whisteblowers, as well as illustrated how differently Blau and Gellman have been treated by the public and their peers for bringing classified documents to light. Just a few days after the program, it was announced that Gellman had been awarded a Pulitzer Prize (his third) for his work on the NSA story for the Washington Post.
Meg Wolitzer is the type of novelist you want to be BFFs with. She’s utterly hilarious, warm, incredibly sharp and insightful, a natural born teacher, and comes up with the best turns of phrase. She sat down on April 22 with Molly Antopol, author of the UnAmericans, to talk shop, share stories about her own camp experiences and how it shaped her, and discuss characters and themes of her fabulous 10th novel, The Interestings.
Katie Hafner’s description of what happened when she moved her aging mother in to live with her and her teenage daughter (Mother, Daughter, Me)inspired a largely female audience members) to reflect on their own relationships with their mothers. A funny, sad, moving evening and perfect pre-Mother’s Day event.
It’s hard to believe it’s been four years since David Grossman’s last visit to the JCCSF. We caught up with him on Friday, May 9 when he came to town to talk to Peter Orner about his meditation on parental grief, Falling Out of Time. Stripped of conventional narration and description, Grossman’s book reads more like a play than a novel, but with all the dialogue written in free verse. He read passages in the original and in translation and spoke about the limits of language, as well as caught us up to date on the situation in Israel. It was a moving evening.
In 2009, three University of California, Berkeley graduates were arrested on espionage charges in Iran when they were lured over the border from Iraqi Kurdistan, where they were hiking. Imprisoned for as long as 26 months, they became known as “the hikers,” and their story captivated the world. Shane Bauer, Joshua Fattal, and Sarah Shourd joined the JCCSF for a sold-out conversation on their experiences, as recounted in their beautifully-written memoir A Sliver of Light. There was so much to discuss—from the dramatic facts of their capture and imprisonment, to the psychological toll of solitary confinement, to their strong inner resolve and terrific recent work as advocates for prisoners worldwide. The conversation was expertly moderated by UCSF professor Chanan Tigay.
KISS fans filled Kanbar to capacity and greeted Paul Stanley with a thunderous ovation when he appeared April 25 in conversation with the Chronicle’s pop music critic Aidin Vaziri. Stanley spoke frankly about being born with only one ear and the impact that had on his life, the break-up of the original band, and his feelings (cynical at best) about KISS’s acceptance into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. Funny, thoughtful, candid, he was a very classy rock star. And very generous with fans afterwards as he posed for pictures up till the minute he was whisked away to fly back to L.A.
On March 19, Simon Schama was joined onstage by Adam Hochschild to talk about The Story of the Jews, Mr. Schama’s multimedia account of Jewish history from 1000 BCE to present times. He also showed clips from the five-part PBS documentary series. Although Judaism is the only religion that commands us to remember for future generations, Mr. Schama is determined to portray Jewish history not as a history of suffering or Jews as a people apart. It was an entertaining evening with two charming intellectuals on subjects usually discussed reverentially.