The Edlavitch DCJCC’s Words and Ideas program aims to be the premier gathering space in the nation’s capital for inspiring a world of ideas, thought, and contemporary questions through a Jewish lens. Presenting a diverse and interdisciplinary range of the most innovative leaders of our time, Words and Ideas will foster opportunities for meaningful dialogue that challenge our assumptions and create lively conversations around the most pressing issues of the day.

Purchase a Symposium Pass and get full access to all four event at a deep discount.

Tickets will be available for purchase at the door but online purchase ahead of time is strongly encouraged.

Saturday, October 28 at 7:30 PM
Sheila Nevins: “You Don’t Look Your Age ... and Other Fairy Tales"

Join us for a revealing and hilarious evening with Sheila Nevins, President of HBO Documentary Films. A titan of the industry for over four decades, Nevins has overseen more than 1,000 documentaries and personally won over 30 Emmys. In writing her collection of stories, essays, and anecdotes “You Don’t Look Your Age ... and Other Fairy Tales," Nevins has crafted a work that is part memoir, part confessional, part user’s manual to anyone pursuing a life in what she calls a sexist, ageist industry. In this no-holds-barred evening, Nevins will speak about being “old out loud.” Molly Smith, Artistic Director of Arena Stage, will appear in conversation with Nevins.


Sunday, October 29 at 2:00 PM

Roz Chast: “Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant?”

For almost forty years author and artist Roz Chast has chronicled the hilarities and indignities of modern, urban life in her distinctive cartoons for The New Yorker and other publications. In her graphic memoir, “Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant?” she brings to life the experience of aging in America, mostly through the (often bewildered) eyes  of her aging parents, who lived into their late 90s. Join us for a lively evening, complete with graphics, in which Chast brings her signature wit and unflinching gaze to the topics we’d all rather avoid. Following a visual presentation, Chast will appear in conversation with producer Barbara Lane.

Sunday, October 29 at 4:00 PM
Peter L. Stein: Beyond Grumps and Spinsters: American Movies Take On Aging

Despite representing 20 percent of the American population, seniors have been barely visible over the long history of American movies.  When older characters are prominent, they're often reduced to dispiriting stereotypes.  Why has American cinema had such difficulty portraying aging in multi-dimensional, authentic ways? And might we finally be entering a golden age for “silver” movies? In this lively talk, brimming with film clips, curator and Award-winning documentary director Peter L. Stein presents an entertaining look at the way films have reflected and influenced American perceptions of aging. Clips will include films such as Sunset BoulevardWhatever Happened to Baby Jane?Harold and Maude About Schmidt, Nebraska, and A Serious Man.

Monday, October 30 at 7:30 PM
Alan Alda: “If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?”

After a lifetime of depicting stories and emotions as an actor and director, Alan Alda wanted to delve even deeper into the subject of human communication. His search took him to scientific laboratories, theatrical rehearsal rooms, and college classrooms—and led to surprising revelations about the way we relate to each other. With his trademark humor and candor, Alda shares what he’s learned about communicating clearly in an ever changing world and across generational and social divides.

Alda will be joined in conversation with Shankar Vedantam, NPR's social science correspondent and host of the Podcast Hidden Brain.