31st Annual Virginia Festival of Jewish Film

One of the nation’s longest-running Jewish film festivals, the Virginia Festival of Jewish Film, presented by Alma & Howard Laderberg, entertains, educates, and engages the Tidewater community by presenting world-class films, repertory cinema, and associated programs that are inspired by Jewish or Israeli history, heritage, and values.

A Celebration of Israeli Short Film

In memory of the victims of October 7
Sunday, February 18 • 2:30 pm
Simon Family JCC, Sandler Family Campus, 5000 Corporate Woods Drive, Virginia Beach

The Virginia Festival of Jewish Film holds in its thoughts the tragic events of October 7, 2023 when more than 1,200 people were murdered in southern Israel. Additionally, those thoughts extend to the hostages who died in captivity in Gaza and to the members of the IDF who have fallen in the line of duty, defending the people of Israel since the start of the war. In their honor, the Festival presents these four short films.

The Boy was written and directed by filmmaker Yahav Winner, who was murdered by Hamas terrorists while helping his wife and their newborn daughter escape. All of these films, born from the depths of Israeli reality, provide an unfiltered glimpse into what daily life is like in Israel.

The Boy

Director Yahav Winner z”l • 25 min • Israel • 2023 • Hebrew with English subtitles

Avinoam and Barak, father and son from a kibbutz bordering the Gaza strip, face an approaching war each in their own way. Barak wants to stop everything, and Avinoam wants to stop Barak. One night, when Barak disappears, Avinoam is forced to accept that his child needs help.


Director Erez Tadmor • 22 min • Israel • 2017 • Hebrew with English subtitles

As missiles rain down on Tel Aviv, a frustrated Israeli couple faces a series of misadventures after an early morning call from the fertility doctor in this frantic, funny, and surprise-filled Israeli Academy Award winner for Best Short Film.

Asa Turns 13

Director Sali Elimelech • 30 min • Israel • 2017 • Hebrew with English subtitles

As Asa prepares for his bar mitzvah, he must also cope with his mother’s death. He embarks on a sad and sometimes humorous journey through the neighborhoods of Netivot, a southern Israeli town where his mother’s grave, which he has never visited, is waiting for him at the end of the street.

Dear God

Directors Erez Tadmor and Guy Nattiv • 13 min • Israel 2014 • Hebrew with English subtitles

Dear God depicts romantic Jerusalem seen through the eyes of Aaron, a guard at the Western Wall. One day, a beautiful, mysterious woman puts a note between the holy stones and Aaron decides to fulfill her deepest wish.


Thursday, February 22 • 1:30 pm and 7:30 pm
Cinema Cafe Kemps River • 1220 Fordham Drive, Virginia Beach

Director Benny Fredman • 111 min • Israel • 2023 Hebrew, Yiddish with English subtitles

A young and recently married Orthodox man’s dream to open a computer store in an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood in Jerusalem turns into a violent nightmare when the entire neighborhood sees him as an existential threat. Turning his entire world upside down, the threat enters his home and puts his marriage to the test as he faces the reality of his own free will within a predetermined world.

Remembering Gene Wilder

Includes a conversation with the film’s director, Ron Frank, followed by a dessert and champagne reception
Sponsored by Bank of America

Saturday, February 24 • 7:30 pm
Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art • 2200 Parks Avenue, Virginia Beach

Director Ron Frank • 92 min • United States • 2023 • English

Born Jerome Silberman to an assimilated Milwaukee Jewish family, his childhood buddies called him Jerry—but the world would come to know him as Gene Wilder. The endearing comic genius starred in an extraordinary string of films, from the timid Leo Bloom in Mel Brooks’ The Producers to the strange and magical title role in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, to the comedy classics of Blazing Saddles, The Frisco Kid, and Young Frankenstein. Now, in this affectionate and touching documentary, the full measure of Wilder’s gifts is on display – as a comedic actor, writer, director, and mensch.

The Catskills

Preceded by the short film, The Peacock That Passed Over, and followed by a conversation with documentary subject Steve, Gold.

Sunday, February 25 • 2:30 pm
The Samuel C. Johnson Theater at Norfolk Academy • 1585 Wesleyan Drive, Norfolk

Director Lex Gillespie • 86 min • United States • 2023 English

With a trove of lost-and-found archival footage and a cast of characters endowed with the gift of gab, The Catskills journeys into the storied mountain getaway north of New York City that served as a refuge for Jewish immigrants fleeing poverty as well as a lavish playground for affluent Jewish families. Bungalow colony proprietors, guests, waiters, comedians, hoteliers, and beauticians share colorful tales of Catskill farms, boarding houses, and luxury resorts, painting a picture of vibrant American Jewish life and culture in the 20th century.


Monday, February 26 • 7:15 pm
Naro Expanded Cinema • 1507 Colley Avenue, Norfolk

Director Ady Walter • 109 min • Ukraine • 2023 Yiddish with English subtitles

Photographed in a shtetl that the production team constructed outside Kyiv, this single-shot film is entirely in Yiddish. Set in the 24 hours before the Nazi invasion of Ukraine, SHTTL tells a story about life, love, and hope in an unnamed Yiddish Ukrainian village at the border of Poland. Amid communal tensions between tradition and modernity, two young men fight over a woman they both desire to marry.

The Story of Annette Zelman

Presented in partnership with the Holocaust Commission of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater

Wednesday, February 28 • 2:30 pm and 7:30 pm
Beach Cinema Alehouse • 941 Laskin Road, Virginia Beach

Director Philippe Le Guay • 93 min • France • 2023 • French with English subtitles

What begins as a charming wartime romance between Jean—a sweet Catholic boy in Paris—and Annette—his feisty Jewish artist girlfriend—turns into a gripping tale of star-crossed lovers in this handsomely realized drama based on actual events. Set in Nazi-occupied Paris, The Story of Annette Zelman is a tale of love and resistance that plumbs the depths of human passion, prejudice, and betrayal.

🎦 Thank you to the Virginia Festival of Jewish Film Screening Committee

Anne Fleder, chair, Arts + Ideas
Beth Scharlop, chair, festival
William Laderberg, co-chair, screening
Mark Robbins, co-chair, screening
Rob Copeland
Scott Levin
Neil Rose
Gloria Siegel
Shelly Stein
Evalyn Horowitz
Amy Levy
Judit Roth
Larry Stein
Herb Zukerman

🎦 Ticket Pricing

The BIG Saturday Night Celebration of Jewish Film: $25
Celebration of Israeli Short Film: Suggested donation of $18 (All funds raised will benefit UJFT’s Israel Emergency Fund)
Tickets for all other films: $12

🎦 Kids Night Out

Kids Night Out babysitting is available at the Simon Family JCC for the BIG Saturday Night Celebration of Jewish Film. Registration is required in advance. Space is limited. Register at JewishVA.org/KNO.

🎦 For tickets and additional information: JewishVA.org/FilmFest

🎦 The Virginia Festival of Jewish Film is presented by the Alma & Howard Laderberg Virginia Festival of Jewish Film Restricted Fund of the Tidewater Jewish Foundation and funded in part by the citizens of Virginia Beach through a grant from the City of Virginia Beach Arts and Humanities Commission.

🎦 Support those in need while enjoying a night out.

The Virginia Festival of Jewish Film is supporting Jewish Family Service of Tidewater’s Community Food Pantry.
Donations to the food pantry will be accepted at the check-in table for each film. Learn more about JFS’s food assistance programs at JFSHamptonRoads.org/Services/Food-Assistance.
The pantry needs:

  • Cleaning products (dishwashing liquid, laundry detergent, disinfectants, Clorox wipes, etc.)
  • Personal hygiene products (shampoo, body wash, bars of soap, deodorant, etc.)
  • Toilet paper and paper towels
  • Cooking oil
  • Condiments (ketchup, mustard, pickles, and relish, etc.)
  • Snack foods (cookies, crackers, pretzels, etc.)