Guests

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Erin Barr

Panelist

Erin Barr, LCSW, has worked at JFCS since 2003, starting as a Foster Care / Adoption Caseworker where she worked with youth of all ages and their families around issues of loss, trauma, identity, and permanence. Next, she moved to the JFCS Career Development Center where she served as a social worker for a job-readiness program for young people aging out of the foster care system and then as a program specialist for after-school programs. In 2020 Erin became the UpStreet clinical coordinator, where she oversees all UpStreet programs and works with JFCS leadership to evaluate program outcomes and strategize about the future of the initiative. Erin has a bachelor of arts degree from Allegheny College and a master’s degree in social work from the University of Pittsburgh. Watch Erin's pre-recorded discussion following the film, Ezra, May His Memory Be For A Blessing.

Ehud Bleiberg

Producer

A key figure in international independent cinema, Ehud Bleiberg has produced more than 50 films over the past three decades. Bleiberg’s extensive management and creative background have allowed him to develop, finance and produce films that run the gamut in terms of budget and genre. In addition to Image of Victory, which was the largest ever local Israeli production, coming up on Bleiberg’s slate is the Liam Neeson action thriller In the Land of Saints and Sinners directed by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Robert Lorenz (The Marksman). Watch Ehud's Q&A following his film, Image of Victory

Shanee Epstein

Panelist

Shanee has a unique relationship to suicide. Twelve years ago, her son Ezra—just a month shy of his 17th birthday—took his life. Shanee has also made 3 attempts on her life. She understands suicide from both sides. As an educator of 40 years, Shanee has a keen understanding of learning. She asks the right questions and listens well. As an artist, Shanee uses collage, a very friendly medium, to facilitate conversation. In Brooklyn, NY, Shanee earned her MFA at Pratt and in 2005 cofounded 440 Gallery, still a thriving Artist space 17 years later! Shanee now splits her year between Deerfield, MA and Yafo, Israel. Shanee lives and believes in living life with joy, connections and gratitude. Watch Shanee's pre-recorded discussion following the film, Ezra, May His Memory Be For A Blessing.

Dr. Michal R. Friedman

Film Schmooze

Dr. Michal Rose Friedman (Columbia University, PhD 2012) is the Jack Buncher Endowed Chair in Jewish Studies in the Department of History at Carnegie Mellon University. She specializes in Jewish Diasporic history, especially that of Sephardi communities, and in Spanish history and culture. She is the author of multiple book chapters and journal articles on the Jewish re-encounter with modern and contemporary Spain, as well as a guest editor of “Genealogies of Sepharad,” Quest: Issues in Contemporary Jewish History (2021) and of a special forum on Abraham Shalom Yahuda in The Jewish Quarterly (JQR) (Summer 2019.) She is currently preparing a book manuscript titled “Recovering ‘Jewish Spain’: Politics, Historiography and Institutionalization of the Jewish Past in Spain, 1848-1968.” Michal will lead the Film Schmooze for The Replacement on Sunday, May 1, at 4pm. 

Patrice O'Neill

Director

Patrice O’Neill is a filmmaker and CEO of the Oakland, CA-based non-profit strategic media company, The Working Group, and leader of Not In Our Town. Her film Not In Our Town began as a half-hour PBS special and turned into a dynamic movement to stop hate and build inclusion in communities across the U.S. and around the world. Recognized as a pioneer in impact media producing, O’Neill’s PBS films and community engagement campaigns have focused on stories about local communities working together for change. Join Patrice's live & in-person Q&A following the screening of her film Repairing the World: Stories from the Tree of Life on Thursday, May 5, at 7pm. 

Walter Schlomann

Director

Walter Schlomann is an award-winning filmmaker, content creator, and founder of Heritage Media Group, a boutique company that produces video biographies depicting the remarkable lives of 'ordinary' people. He has been a friend of Moshe and Shanee’s for nearly 20 years and will never forget Ezra’s kind heart and inimitable smile. Watch Walter's pre-recorded discussion following the film, Ezra, May His Memory Be For A Blessing.

Joni Schwager

Panelist

Joni Siff Schwager is the Executive Director of the Staunton Farm Foundation, a regional family foundation that has been awarding grants in the field of behavioral health in ten counties in southwestern Pennsylvania since 1937. She has helped the foundation distribute over 40 million dollars during her 20+ year career. She most recently was awarded Pitt’s Social Alum of the year. Joni has served on several boards of directors and is most interested in legalizing effective harm reduction efforts, decriminalizing behavioral health and women’s health. A Buffalo, New York native, she has lived in Pittsburgh since she came here to attend Pitt’s graduate School of Social Work in the early 1980’s. Watch Joni's pre-recorded discussion following the film, Ezra, May His Memory Be For A Blessing.

Moshe Weidenfeld

Panelist

Moshe is Ezra's father, conceiver of the film Ezra, May His Memory Be For A Blessing, musician and educator. Moshe grew up in a musical family in Massapequa, NY and moved to Amherst, MA at age 11, where he had the opportunity to learn and perform with great musicians and educators such as Roland Wiggins, Dr. Billy Taylor, Archie Shepp, Max Roach, Ray Copeland and others. Moshe taught in NYC for over 30 years and is one of the authors of the NYC Dept. of Education ‘Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in Music’. Moshe splits his time between Deerfield, MA and Yafo, Israel. In Deerfield he spends a lot of time walking in the woods with his dog friend George and hanging out with his son Rafi. In Yafo, Moshe can often be found walking on the beach, scooting around Tel Aviv, visiting with family and exploring Israel with his wife, Shanee. Watch Moshe's pre-recorded discussion following the film, Ezra, May His Memory Be For A Blessing.

Jonathon Zisook

Film Schmooze

Jonathan Zisook is a Visiting Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Pittsburgh, where he also serves on the faculty of Jewish Studies. Jonathan is a sociologist and a scholar of the Holocaust and its aftermath in East Central Europe. He is currently working on a monograph on the politics of Holocaust memory in contemporary Poland and is co-editing a volume on the history and memory of National Socialist camps and killing sites. Jonathan’s research has been supported by the Polish-U.S. Fulbright Commission, the Museum of Jewish Heritage–A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, and the American Joint Distribution Committee. Jonathan received a PhD in Sociology from the City University of New York and an MA in Modern Jewish History from Yeshiva University. Jonathon will lead the Film Schmooze for Three Minutes – A Lengthening on Sunday, May 1, at 4pm. 

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