The 30th Annual Virginia Festival of Jewish Film continues

by | Feb 23, 2023 | What’s Happening

Five films are slated to hit big screens in Tidewater in celebration of United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s and Simon Family JCC’s Virginia Festival of Jewish Film, presented by Alma and Howard Laderberg. The five films span continents, time periods, and languages, and all celebrate the diversity of Jewish and Israeli films.

The festival begins with Karaoke, an Israeli film directed by Moshe Rosenthal on Thursday, Feb. 23 at 7:30 pm at Cinema Café Kemps River. The film depicts a couple —Meir and Tova—who have been married for 46 years and are finding that their marriage lacks the excitement it once had. When the pair meet Itzik, their new bachelor neighbor, they begin to see new joys in the love they share for one another.


While Tova and Meir are excited to “get with the times,” the protagonist of the festival’s second screening, iMordecai, finds himself at odds with today’s changing technology. Mordecai (played by Judd Hirsch) is a Holocaust survivor living in Miami with his wife, Fela (Academy Award-nominated actress Carol Kane). When Mordecai’s son convinces him to buy a new cell phone, he begins taking lessons from a young tech store employee, whom herself has a complicated history with the Holocaust. The unlikely pair both teach each other more than they could have anticipated. iMordecai will screen at Zeiders American Dream Theater on Saturday, Feb. 25 at 7:30 pm, as part of the festival’s Big Saturday Night Celebration of Jewish Film. Tickets to iMordecai include a conversation following the film with actor Nick Puga, and a dessert and champagne reception accompanied by klezmer music by the band Bagels & Fraylox.


A uniquely Virginian film, The Levys of Monticello tells the story of Jewish commodore Captain Uriah P. Levy and his family who purchased President Thomas Jefferson’s iconic Monticello estate in 1834, saving it from ruin. A deep admirer of Jefferson’s scholarship and dedication to religious liberty, Levy and his family owned Monticello for nearly a century—far longer than Jefferson and his descendants. Screened in partnership with Congregation Beth El, the film will be shown at the Samuel P. Johnson Theater at Norfolk Academy on Sunday, Feb. 26 at 2:30 pm. The afternoon includes a conversation with one of the film’s producers, Lisa Stark, and the author of the book that inspired the documentary, Marc Leepson. Vice-Admiral Herman A. Shelanski, US Navy (retired), who is featured in the film, will moderate the discussion.

The Levys of Monticello

The festival continues with a screening of the classic 1970s film, Next Stop, Greenwich Village on Monday, Feb. 27 at 7:15 pm at Naro Expanded Cinema. Dedicated to longtime friend of the festival Mal Vincent, and introduced by Rabbi Michael Pantiz, Greenwich Village tells the story of a young man yearning to make it as an actor.

Next Stop, Greenwich Village

Closing out the festival’s 30th season is Farewell, Mr. Haffman. This French film tells the story of Joseph Haffmann, a jeweler working in Nazi-occupied Paris in 1941, and the tensions that take place when he asks his employee, Francois, and his wife, Blanche, to hide him. A gripping tale of greed, survival, and courage, it’s not to be missed. Farewell, Mr. Haffmann will play at Beach Cinema Alehouse on Wednesday, March 1 at 7:30 pm.

Tickets to the 30th annual Virginia Festival of Jewish Film are available at for $12 for each film; tickets to the Big Saturday Night Celebration are $25. Kids Night Out Babysitting is available at the Simon Family JCC for the Saturday screening. Visit for more information.

For more information about the festival, contact Hunter Thomas, director of Arts + Ideas, at

-Hunter Thomas