Welcome to the Gershman Y


Thursday, February 23: Mark-Raoul Molnar and the “Separation of Synagogue and State” will explore Israel’s challenges as a Jewish democracy

With a program whose title is a riff on the American phrase “separation of church and state,” the Shaliach of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, Mark Raoul Molnar, will discuss several fascinating dilemmas facing Israel. Real-life hypothetical situations will initiate conversations in a round-table context: Should public transportation run during Shabbat? Should theaters be open during Shabbat? Should non-Jews, including school-age children, be deeply familiar with the Israeli national anthem? Molnar will discuss the role of the Rabbinical Court, the Orthodox authorities that oversee marriage, divorce, and death. He’ll also engage with participants on the Israeli classification of Jewish identity (one tied to the Nazis’ classification), the challenge of different “streams” of Judaism in politics, and more. RSVP HERE!

Thursday, March 9: Purim Party with The Schlep Sisters and DJ Robert Drake!

The Gershman Y is delighted to host featured guests, The Schlep Sisters, for a night of Purim revelry, with costumes and assorted libations. Some think of Purim as a Jewish Halloween or Jewish Mardi Gras, precisely the vibe the Y will conjure in the Levitt Auditorium. The Schlep Sisters are Darlinda Just Darlinda and Minnie Tonka, fabulous Jewess burlesque performers who deliver Jewish-themed stripteases. Think: “Hava Nagila” with pasties and lots of leg, not appropriate for Bar and Bat Mitzvahs!

In addition to Jewish burlesque, the Gershman Y is excited to welcome DJ Robert Drake spinning a retro-flavored, ’80s dance party. Drake’s been on air at Philly’s WXPN-FM since 1988 and has produced America’s longest-running daily radio show for kids, Kids Corner. Since 2003, Drake has re-introduced Philadelphia to new wave and authentic ‘80s music with his monthly party, Sex Dwarf, now every second Friday at Club Mousai. Named “Best DJ in Philly” in 2014 by Philadelphia Magazine, Drake is ready to turn this Purim celebration into a joyous dance party. Get your tickets TODAY!

Through March: A Close Look Inside James Shuler Memorial Boxing Gym: Photographs by Jano Cohen (through March 8) and Letters from My Grandparents: The Art of Ruth Schreiber (through March 30)

When first commissioned to photograph a fundraising event for the PA Golden Gloves in Chester, PA, artist Jano Cohen discovered James Shuler Memorial Boxing Gym, a community treasure well respected in the Philadelphia boxing world at Athens and Brooklyn Streets in West Philadelphia. Impressed by a sense of safety and a friendly welcome, Cohen was instantly drawn into the lives of the members and their work. Exploring the mixture of respect, camaraderie, tenderness and tough love, this series of photographs shares the artist’s newly-found knowledge about boxing with a focus on one gym’s sense of home and family.

In 2004, Ruth Schreiber’s aunt Esther died, and her children found a box of letters she had kept. The letters were written by Schreiber’s grandparents, between January of 1939 and August of 1942, to the three of their five children whom they had managed to send to England (two as part of the Kindertransport) to survive the Nazi onslaught. The remaining two siblings, Sophie and Jeni, were smuggled out of Rivesaltes, a Vichy French camp, after their mother’s death in 1941 and eventually found their way to safety in Switzerland in 1943. The letters, last written by their father Samuel, continued until he was gassed in Auschwitz in August of 1942.

These powerful dispatches, written in German, Yiddish, English, and French, declare a steadfast faith, admonish their children to continue to practice Judaism, and of course, to look after each other. These are the raw materials that inspired Ruth Schreiber’s multi-media art, and the Gershman Y is honored to house such powerful works.