Jews, Culture & the Comics

Comics aren’t just kid stuff! One look at the popular culture shows comic book heroes and story lines filling movie screens, television programming, and retail shelves. Riding a resurgence over the past 30 years, comics have broken into the mainstream – but where did they begin?  Join us for a program that looks at the Jewish roots of comic books, their heroes, and their creators.

On June 16, Temple Sinai, along with Saratoga Jewish Community Arts and the 8th Annual Jewish Cultural Festival, made possible by a generous grant of the Jewish Federation of Northeastern NY, present Simcha Weinstein, Rabbi, lecturer, and author (including the well-known book, Up, Up and Oy Vey); Rob Kovach, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York; and Matthew Neugroschel, artist, writer, and instructor at SUNY Albany, as they join together to present a stimulating and enjoyable evening exploring Jews, Comics, and Culture. “What they share,” says Phyllis Wang, Coordinator of the Festival, “is a passion for the graphic medium we grew up knowing as ‘the comics.'”

Telling stories through pictures has been an effective teaching tool for centuries. We will look at how powerful messages have been passed down through pictorial imagery down to the establishment of the popular comic book in New York City in the 1930s. The creators of these stories and heroes were, more often than not, Jewish and their history and culture played a commanding role in the formation of this new medium and the popularity of its heroes. 

But why did Jews gravitate to this industry? What influenced them and the stories they would tell? Further, what is the role these Jewish roots play in modern comics and graphic novels? What influence do they have, in the United States and internationally, and what messages do they send? No, comics aren’t “just” for kids anymore – or maybe they never were!

Jews, Comics and Culture: June 16, 7 pm, at Temple Sinai, 509 Broadway, Saratoga Springs.  Dessert reception included. $5 donation requested. For reservations, call 518-584-8730, option 2.