Today’s Building Hours: 5:30 AM - 10:00 PM

Mayerson JCC Jewish & Israeli Film Festival

Award-winning films from around the world will light up screens across Cincinnati during the Mayerson JCC’s popular month-long festival. The festival features the best of the thriving independent film industry, showcasing established and emerging filmmakers and provocative, humorous, inspiring, and enlightening films.

Please Note: These films are not rated and are recommended for mature audiences. Times listed include lengths of feature films only.

Get Tickets Become a Sponsor View Sponsors Newsletter Sign-Up Program Book

Opening Night

The Unorthodox
Thursday, January 23, 7:30pm
Mayerson JCC
2018 • Comic Drama • 92 minutes • Hebrew • Eliran Malka

Yakov Cohen has no political experience, no money, and no connections. But when his daughter is expelled from school because of her ethnic origin, he decides to fight back. Yakov bands together with two friends to run in the city elections, starting the first ethnic political group in Jerusalem, Sfarad’s Guards. These political rookies improvise along the way, capturing voters’ hearts and forever changing the face of Israel. This exhilarating, moving, laugh-out-loud film based on a real story highlights the power one person can yield to create real social change.

Watch Trailer

OPENING NIGHT ticket includes a reception and one complimentary drink per person.

SPECIAL FEATURE: Experience what it’s like to vote in Israel and engage in discussion with Amnon Maggid, Community Shaliach (Emissary) from Israel at the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati, and Jackie Congedo, Director, & Justin Kirschner, Associate Director of JCRC.

In partnership with the We Need to Talk series which is presented by Jewish Federation of Cincinnati and its Jewish Community Relations Council. This series of book discussions, roundtables, and speaker events works to facilitate open and honest, and sometimes difficult, discussions about Israel.

Picture of His Life
Tuesday, January 28, 7:30pm
Kenwood Theatre
2019 • Documentary • 71 minutes • English, Hebrew, Inuit • Dani Menkin, Yonatan Nir

World renowned wildlife photographer Amos Nachoum has developed a unique approach that puts him face to face with his subjects. Fascinated by the most fearsome creatures on Earth, he is about to face his ultimate challenge: to swim, unprotected, with a polar bear. As Amos dives into a world being rapidly erased by a changing climate, he contemplates the series of unspoken events that drove him here, to the end of the world.

Watch Trailer

SPECIAL FEATURE: Short film screening of Layam by Assaf Machnes. Discussion led by Dan Marsh, Director of Education at Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.

In partnership with Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.

Those Who Remained
Thursday, January 30, 7:30pm
Esquire Theatre
2019 • Drama • 83 minutes • Hungarian • Barnabás Tóth

Aldo lives a solitary life as a doctor in Budapest; Klara lives reluctantly with her great-aunt, holding on to hope that her father and mother will return. The two meet, and soon find something in each other that has long been absent in their lives. This lyrical story of the power of love in the midst of conflict, loss, and trauma reveals the healing process of Holocaust survivors through the eyes of a young girl in post-World War II Hungary.

Watch Trailer

SPECIAL FEATURE: Discussion led by Jodi Elowitz, Director of Education & Engagement at Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center.

In partnership with Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center.



The Spy Behind Home Plate
Monday, February 3, 7:30pm
Mayerson Hall (at the Skirball Museum on the Historic Campus of Hebrew-Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion)
2019 • Documentary • 101 minutes • English • Aviva Kempner

Brilliant scholar-athlete Moe Berg was a Princeton and Columbia Law School graduate fluent in a half-dozen languages, and a beloved player and coach for five MLB teams during baseball’s Golden Age. Upon the acceleration of WWII, Berg began spying overseas. Rare historical footage and revealing interviews drawn from the worlds of history, sports, and spy craft reveal the unlikely story of this incredible Major League Baseball player-turned-spy.

Watch Trailer

SPECIAL FEATURE: Check out a selection of art and artifacts from the Skirball Museum’s collection related to Moe Berg’s life and times.

In partnership with Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Skirball Museum.

The Passengers
Wednesday, February 5, 7:30pm
Mariemont Theatre
2019 • Documentary • 70 minutes • English, Hebrew, Amharic • Ryan S. Porush

Telling the story of more than 9,000 Jews surviving within a temporary and harsh reality in Ethiopia, Demoz and Gezi take a fateful trip to America as spokesmen in a grassroots advocacy campaign for their abandoned community to immigrate to Israel. The campaign soon finds itself at the center of a deteriorating political relationship. As forces in Israel mobilize on their behalf, Demoz and Gezi must reconcile unexpectedly diverging paths.

Watch Trailer

SPECIAL FEATURE: Discussion led by Megan Iverson, Program Director at RefugeeConnect.

Night of Short Films
Thursday, February 6, 7:30pm
Esquire Theatre

An evening of short films, both documentary and narrative, that will make you think, laugh, and possibly even shed a tear. From moving stories of relationships past and present, to personal growth and changes of heart, to the absurdities of life, these films will showcase the best of short-form storytelling.

SPECIAL FEATURE: Panel discussion featuring community member, filmmaker and Jerusalem Film Workshop participant Seth Friedman, and Film Festival committee members.

In partnership with Cincinnati Hillel.

Love in Suspenders
Sunday, February 9, 3pm
Kenwood Theatre
2019 • Romantic Comedy • 102 minutes • Hebrew • Jorge Weller

Tami and Beno, both widowed, confront their losses in very different ways. Optimistic Tami still talks to her husband, years after his death; Beno puts up a tough front, but suffers internally from the loss of his wife. An encounter between two people with such different lifestyles and personalities has to result in a nightmare…but love has its own rules.

Watch Trailer

In partnership with Cedar Village Care & Community and AgeWell Cincinnati.

Tuesday, February 11, 7:30pm
Mariemont Theatre
2019 • Documentary • 120 minutes • English, Hebrew • Dani Menkin

Content Warning: Drug references

The highly anticipated follow-up to On the Map, this inspiring film tells the story of Aulcie Perry, the last to be cut from the NY Knicks in 1976 who soon found himself playing for Israel. He became a basketball legend, playing for Maccabi Tel Aviv. This remarkable athlete captured the spirit of a nation, became victorious against all odds, and put Israel on the map.

Watch Trailer

In partnership with Jewish Cemeteries of Greater Cincinnati – Guardians and Friends. 

Attendees will have the opportunity to win Club Level tickets to the University of Cincinnati Men’s Basketball game on February 19, courtesy of Jewish Cemeteries of Greater Cincinnati.

Thursday, February 13, 7:30pm
Cincinnati Art Museum (Fath Auditorium)
2018 • Drama • 95 minutes • Spanish • Isaac Cherem

Content Warning: Nudity and sexual content

A young woman from Mexico City finds herself torn between her Syrian-Jewish family and forbidden love in this intimate drama. She is forced to negotiate the labyrinth of familial pressure, religious precedent, and her own burgeoning sentiment as she discovers the world outside the bubble of her community and struggles to find the right path on this journey of self-discovery and female empowerment.

Watch Trailer

SPECIAL FEATURE: Short film screening of The Outer Circle by Adam Baroukh. Discussion led by Valerie Weinstein, Associate Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Cincinnati.

In partnership with Cincinnati Art Museum.

Family in Transition
Monday, February 17, 7:30pm
Esquire Theatre
2018 • Documentary • 70 minutes • Hebrew • Ofir Trainin

The lives of a family in small-town Israel change completely after their father announces that he’s transitioning to become a woman. But one journey of identity leads to another. This family story changes what we thought we knew about gender, parity, and parenthood. But most of all, it is a story about a family that redefines the limits of recognition, acceptance, and love of those closest to us.

Watch Trailer

SPECIAL FEATURE: Discussion led by Jessica Cicchinelli, Founder of Living With Change.

In partnership with Over-the-Rhine International Film Festival, organized by LADD, Inc.



Working Woman
Wednesday, February 19, 7:30pm
Mariemont Theatre
2018 • Drama • 94 minutes • Hebrew • Michal Aviad

Trigger Warning: Sexual harassment and assault

Ambitious and capable thirty-something Orna takes to her new job in the high-end real estate business with zeal and thrives despite the challenges facing her at home. As she proves her worth and her professional fortunes rise, so do unwanted advances from her older, high-powered boss. This nuanced portrayal of gray work-place scenarios offers thought-provoking insight during the era of #MeToo.

Watch Trailer

SPECIAL FEATURE: Discussion led by Ronna Greff Schneider, a Professor of Law at the University of Cincinnati College of Law and President of the Jewish Community Relations Council.


The Mamboniks
Sunday, February 23, 3pm
Mayerson JCC
2019 • Documentary • 90 minutes • English, Spanish • Lex Gillespie

In the 1950s, a group of free-spirited, mostly Jewish dancers from New York City fell in love with a sultry dance from Cuba called the mambo, earning them a nickname: the mamboniks. Set in New York, Miami Beach, the Catskills and Havana, this little-known story reveals the power of music and dance to bring people together, bridging cultures and communities.

Watch Trailer

SPECIAL FEATURE: Community introductory mambo class led by Salsannati.

In partnership with Jewish Federation of Cincinnati – Silver Circle Society and Create Your Jewish Legacy.

Pre-event reception and tickets available for Create Your Jewish Legacy and Jewish Federation Silver Circle donors. Please contact Reagan Kuhn, 513.985.1526, for information and to RSVP.

Witness Theater
Tuesday, February 25, 7:30pm
Union Terminal (Reakirt Auditorium)
2018 • Documentary • 74 minutes • English • Oren Rudavsky

More than 70 years ago, Aron, Eazek, and Claudine lost their entire families during the Holocaust before coming to the U.S. and settling in New York City. Now they are sharing their stories with high school students in a program led by a drama therapist. The result is a story that imparts insights into the effect of the past on multiple generations of Jews, while also illustrating the power of transmitting experience from one generation to the next.

Watch Trailer

SPECIAL FEATURE: The Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center, in partnership with the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, have been working with young people to help them develop skills including creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, communication and collaboration. Readings from this collaboration will be performed after the screening.

In partnership with Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center.

Closing Night

Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles
Thursday, February 27, 7:30pm
20th Century Theater (Valet Parking available)
2019 • Documentary • 92 minutes • English • Max Lewkowicz

The origin story behind one of Broadway’s most beloved musicals, Fiddler on The Roof, has its creative roots in early 1960s New York, when “tradition” was on the wane as gender roles, sexuality, race relations and religion were evolving. The tremendous success and worldwide impact of Fiddler and its subsequent film adaptation is revealed in interviews with industry stars and international productions, detailing how audiences worldwide see themselves in the residents of Anatevka.

Watch Trailer

SPECIAL FEATURE: Introduction about Fiddler on the Roof led by Rabbi Ken Kanter, historian in the field of Jewish contribution to American Popular culture. Community sing with music featured in Fiddler led by Rabbi Kanter, Cantor Alane Katzew, and Matthew Umphreys, piano.

Tickets on sale now!

Get Tickets