Fall Virtual Cultural Arts & Jewish Heritage Speakers & Authors


Now you can use your lunchtime and evening to learn something new and stay connected to your community. Your registration fees help to fund these programs and Commonpoint Queens’ Services to the community.


Upcoming Fall 2021 Speakers:

All fall speakers are $8 members / $10 non-members

Raffi BergRaffi Berg
RED SEA SPIES: The True Story of Mossad’s Fake Diving Resort
Monday, October 4, 2021 – 1:00pm

In the early 1980s on a remote part of the Sudanese coast, a new luxury holiday resort opened for business. Catering to divers, it attracted guests from around the world. Little did the vacationers know that the staff were undercover spies working for the Mossad – Israel’s intelligence agency. Red Sea Spies, written by longtime BBC Middle East correspondent Raffi Berg, tells the true story of what began with one cryptic message pleading for help and turned into a secret evacuation of thousands of Ethiopian Jews in refugee camps, spiriting them to Israel. These events inspired the recent Netflix drama The Red Sea Diving Resort.

Harold KoplewiczHarold Koplewicz
THE SCAFFOLD EFFECT: Raising Resilient, Self-Reliant, and Secure Kids in an Age of Anxiety
Thursday, October 14, 2021 – 7:00pm

Just as sturdy scaffolding is needed when building a structure that then comes down once the structure is stable and built, good parenting provides children with steady, warm, emotional nourishment on the path toward independence. Never-ending parental problem-solving and involvement can have the opposite effect, enabling fragility and anxiety over time. World-renowned child psychiatrist Harold Koplewicz will explain how to prevent and counteract the anxiety and emotional fragility prevalent in children and teenagers today, introducing a new parenting philosophy and strategies that give children the tools to flourish on their own.

Ami AyalonAmi Ayalon
FRIENDLY FIRE: How Israel Became Its Own Worst Enemy
Monday, October 18, 2021 – 12:00pm

As with each conflict that Israel endures, opinions and biases abound among those in Israel and in the Diaspora. Retired Admiral Ami Ayalon, a former director of Israel’s Shin Bet security agency, shares his own thoughts and philosophy about what Israel needs to do to achieve relative peace and security and to sustain itself as a Jewish homeland and a liberal democracy. In Friendly Fire, Ayalon shares his deeply personal journey of discovery, seeking input and perspective from both Palestinians and Israelis whose experiences differ from his own and from each other. Join us, along with Prof. Mark Rosenblum who will moderate the discussion, to hear how Ayalon has come to realize that the sustainable and democratic Jewish homeland for which he repeatedly risked his life can only be realized side-by-side with a Palestinian state whose citizens have genuine hope for their own bright future.

A former Flotilla 13 (Israel’s Navy SEALS) commando, a commander of the navy, cabinet minister, and Knesset member, Ami Ayalon was the recipient of the Medal of Valor, Israel’s highest military decoration.

An expert on the Middle East, Mark Rosenblum is Director of the Ibrahim Student Leadership and Dialogue Middle East Program with Queens College, and Director Emeritus of the Center for Jewish Studies and the Center for Ethnic, Racial, and Religious Understanding.

Kristallnacht Event
Gwen StraussGwen Strauss

THE NINE: The True Story of a Band of Women Who Survived the Worst of Nazi Germany
Monday, November 1, 2021 – 12:00pm

The Nine tells the story of nine women under thirty who joined the resistance during World War II and eventually became a close-knit group of friends. They smuggled arms through Europe, harbored parachuting agents, coordinated communications between regional sectors, trekked escape routes to Spain, and hid Jewish children in scattered apartments. They were arrested by French police, interrogated and tortured by the Gestapo, subjected to a series of French prisons, and deported to Germany. Gwen Strauss shares with us the true story of her great aunt Hélène Podliasky, who led this band of female resistance fighters on a daring escape from a German forced labor camp and a ten-day journey across the front lines of WWII back to Paris.

Leah GarrettLeah Garrett
X TROOP: The Secret Jewish Commandos of World War II
Monday, November 15, 2021 – 12:00pm

In June 1942 the Third Reich had cast a horrific shadow across Europe. In desperation, Winston Churchill and his chief of staff formed an unusual plan: a new commando unit made up of Jewish refugees who had escaped to Britain – a motley group of intellectuals, artists, and athletes, mostly from Germany and Austria, who had to take on fake British names and personas. Trained in counterintelligence and advanced combat to deliver decisive blows against the Nazis, this top-secret unit became known as X Troop. Acclaimed scholar Leah Garrett draws on extensive original research, including interviews with the last surviving members of X Troop, and follows this unique band of brothers from Germany to England and back, to British internment camps, the beaches of Normandy, the battlefields of Italy and Holland, and the hellscape of Terezin concentration camp – the scene of one of the most dramatic rescues of the war.

For more information, contact us at [email protected]

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