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SJFF 2016 Guests

Danni AskiniDanni Askini

Danni is a candidate for Washington State Representative, Dirstrict 43 and Executive Director of the Gender Justice League. She lives in Capitol Hill and works to promote leadership in the transgender community, increase access to health care, provide education programs and advocate for transgender rights in Washington.

Adler-Eli-headshotjpgEli Adler

Eli Adler brings more than thirty years' experience to his work. Awarded CINE Golden Eagle and two Emmy Awards® for his work, Adler is known for the short, HOPE OUT OF THE ASHES (1985) and LOOSENING THE GRIP (1999). Adler recently finished photography on a video for the Contemporary Jewish Museum's exhibit "California Dreaming." 



is a Seattle-based women's vocal ensemble specializing in the a cappella folk music of Eastern Europe. Founded in 2005, Dunava is made up of singers from diverse musical backgrounds who all share a passion for complex and beautiful harmonies. The choir's repertoire includes songs from the Balkans as well as other Slavic countries and the Caucasus. Upcoming performances.

Warren EtheredgeWarren Etheredge

Warren is well known in the film community as the host of KCTS 9's Reel NW and the Emmy®-nominated program The High Bar and has conducted over 3,000 interviews in his professional career. Warren is a producer, educator, author, playwright and one of the founding faculty members of TheFilmSchool and The Red Badge Project.

BlairGBlair Gershkow

Before co-Producing and directing Surviving Skokie, Blair Gershkow was mainly known as the Editor of dozens of independent documentary features.  Included is the 9 part PBS series Keeping Score, The Judge and the General, the Emmy award winning documentary Fox 2/5 for ABC Nightline, The New Gold Rush for CNN,and Saving the Bay - a 4 part PBS series. Gershkow has also edited for numerous television programs like NBC Dateline and 60 Minutes.


Aviva Kempner

Aviva Kempner (born December 23, 1946) is an American filmmaker. Her documentaries investigate non-stereotypical images of Jews in history and focus on the untold stories of Jewish heroes. She is most well known for The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg. In 1981, Kempner founded The Ciesla Foundation to promote educational materials relating to the Holocaust and Jewish resistance to it. Since then, the foundation has expanded its mission to produce and distribute films to educate the public on general social issues of the past and present.

Devin-Naar-v2Devin Naar

Dr. Devin E. Naar is the Isaac Alhadeff Professor in Sephardic Studies, Assistant Professor of History, and faculty at the Stroum Center for Jewish Studies in the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington. Born and raised in New Jersey, Dr. Naar graduated summa cum laude from Washington University in St. Louis and received his Ph.D. in History at Stanford University. His forthcoming book with Stanford University Press, Jewish Salonica: Between the Ottoman Empire and Modern Greece, based on his prize-winning dissertation, explores the impact of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the rise of modern Greece during the 19th and 20th centuries on the Jews of Salonica (Thessaloniki).

Neghaban headshot

Navid Nagahban

Navid Negahban, though sometimes called "the man of a thousand faces," is still most widely regarded for his portrayal of "Abu Nazir" on the Emmy award‐winning Showtime Series HOMELAND opposite Claire Danes, Mandy Patinkin, and Damian Lewis. Among his many fans are Israeli president Shimon Peres and U.S. president Barack Obama. Navid's star continues to rise on the big screen. He currently stars in the independent film BABA JOON, inspired by director Yuval Delshad's life.

Reimer headshotGail Reimer

Gail Reimer began her professional career as a faculty member of Wellesley College. Reimer served as Associate Director of the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, Reimer conceived and co-edited two anthologies of Jewish women's writings – Reading Ruth: Women Reclaim a Sacred Story and Beginning Anew: A Woman's Companion to the High Holy Days. This work led to the founding of the Jewish Women's Archive in 1995.

Deborah-Rosen-v2Deborah Rosen 

Deborah's professional career has been dedicated to education and youth mentorship. She co- founded Basic Education Tutors, Inc, the first private tutoring business in the region, which operated for 27 years and specialized in tutoring students with dyslexia and other special needs. Deborah currently serves on AJC's National Board of Governors, College Success Foundation, and the Seattle Public Library Foundation. She was the founding chair of SJFF when it was a program of AJC, and continues her involvement. She enjoys the challenge of new endeavors, and of working on behalf of organizations which improve and enrich lives. Deborah graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. in Psychology, and Elementary, Secondary, and Reading Specialist Certification from UCLA, and received a M.Ed. from Harvard.

michaelsMichael Solomonov

James Beard Award-winning Chef Michael Solomonov was born in G'nei Yehuda, Israel and raised in Pittsburgh, PA. At the age of 19, he returned to Israel. With no Hebrew language skills, he took the only job he could get – working in a bakery – and his culinary career was born. A 2011 James Beard Award winner for "Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic" and 2015 winner for "Outstanding Chef," Solomonov is known for his extraordinary skill at transforming simple foods into artful culinary masterpieces. In addition to the James Beard Award, Chef Solomonov has been recognized for his many accomplishments by The New York Times, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Esquire Magazine, Condé Nast Traveler, and Travel + Leisure. Zahav Website

Spiro-headshotMark Spiro

Rabbi Mark Spiro brings more than 25 years of teaching and counseling experience to bear in his role as Executive Director of LivingJudaism. His clear, insightful and caring approach has helped thousands of individuals discover a Judaism that is both profoundly deep and refreshingly relevant to the most important issues and concerns in their lives.


Avi Vaknin

Avi Vaknin is a singer, composer, writer and music producer, born and raised in Sderot, Israel. His critically acclaimed debut album Square of the Lost was published in the summer of 2008. Music critic Amos Oren wrote: "A pearl in a sea of attempts by unknown artists. Vaknin has a unique voice that sounds rough and angelic, with fragile vocals and delightful melodies, with ethnic colors and soul music." For ten years, Vaknin managed Sderock, a music club and rehearsal space for teenagers that cultivates young artists in Sderot.  


Jake Witzenfeld

Jake Witzenfeld is a British film director and producer. Born and raised in Essex, England, Jake graduated from the University of Cambridge with a degree in Middle Eastern Studies in 2012. Shortly thereafter, he relocated to Tel Aviv where he discovered the story that became ORIENTED. Jake co-founded a creative agency and has launched an international production company with 10 projects in development, both documentary and scripted. ORIENTED is Jake's debut film.