Family Papers: A Dialogue on Sephardic Jewish History

Tuesday April 6, at 7 p.m., the Santa Monica Public Library presents UCLA Historian Sarah Abrevaya Stein discussing her 2019 book Family Papers: A Sephardic Journey Through the Twentieth Century with writer/arts administrator Stacey Ravel Abarbanel.

Family Papers uses the Levy family’s remarkable archives to trace their history as they were dispersed from the Ottoman Empire across Europe, Asia, and the Americans, and into modernity. It was named one of the best books of the year by The Economist, a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice, and was a National Jewish Book Award finalist.

Sarah Abrevaya Stein is the Director of the Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies at UCLA and holds the Viterbi Family Chair in Mediterranean Jewish Studies in UCLA’s History department. She has written and edited several acclaimed books and has received three National Endowment for the Humanities grants and a Guggenheim Fellowship, among other recognition.

Stacey Ravel Abarbanel works as a consultant to museums and other arts and cultural institutions. Before launching her own practice, she worked for the UCLA Fowler Museum, Getty Publications, and Architectural Digest. She has published essays and arts journalism and is a board member of the Santa Monica Arts Foundation.

This event will be held on Zoom. Registration is free and open to all at

While the Library buildings remain closed to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Santa Monica Public Library is still here to assist you. Contactless curbside pickup service is available. We encourage you to visit our Online Library and access our many digital services 24/7. Questions? Call us at (310) 458-8600 or email Staff are available Monday through Friday, 10:00AM to 4:00PM, and look forward to connecting with you.

Submitted by Jeff Schwartz, Reference Librarian


City and Chamber of Commerce Launch Effort to Support Small Business Grants

The City of Santa Monica and the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce have partnered to expedite recovery for local small businesses through the SaMo Small Business Recovery Grant Program. Donations are now being accepted through the We Are Santa Monica Fund with the goal of raising funds to support 1,000 small businesses with grants of up to $10,000.

“Our community’s economic recovery depends on the vibrancy of the small businesses that we love and adore,” said Interim City Manager Lane Dilg. “As the City of Santa Monica and our Chamber of Commerce remain committed to helping these businesses weather their severe revenue losses, through the We Are Santa Monica Fund, we are drawing on the strength of our whole community to fill gaps and boost recovery. If you are a large business located in Santa Monica and the lives of your customers and workforce are made better by our full economic diversity, we hope you will join us in boosting our shared recovery.”

The SaMo Small Business Recovery Grant Program will provide urgent rescue funds to support our local small businesses who are struggling to survive. While some have been able to secure federal loans or other sources of support, there is still a great need for local grants to help keep small businesses afloat. Grants could be used to help businesses make payroll, retain employees, assist with overhead costs, and pay back rent during the required closures. The City and Chamber have contributed $225,000 in seed funding to launch the program.

“Our small local businesses are in crisis. After the challenges of the past twelve months, many are hanging on by a thread,” said Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Laurel Rosen. “These businesses are the lifeblood of our community. They are our friends and neighbors, our community gathering spots, the sponsors of our schools and charities. It is so incredibly vital that we step up and support these businesses, so they can survive to the end of this pandemic, and be there for us on the other side. Whatever people can give will go a long way toward supporting a robust and equitable recovery for Santa Monica.”

Since the pandemic began, Santa Monica has lost 130 small, locally owned businesses and a recent City business survey indicates that many more are facing closure in the months to come. The SaMo Small Business Recovery Grants Program is stepping in to help fill a gap to preserve the small businesses that add to the character of the Santa Monica community and business districts. 88% of Santa Monica’s business community is comprised of small businesses.

To donate, visit Type SaMo Small Business Recovery Program in the Comment section, and select Business Recovery under Area of Support.

The SaMo Small Business Recovery Grants are not yet available for businesses to apply for. Once sufficient funds are raised, a process will be initiated with an independent third-party to select eligible small businesses with grants of up to $10,000. Updated information will be shared at

Submitted by Constance Farrell, Santa Monica Public Information Officer


Spring 2021 Environmental Film Series Opens Online April 5

Santa Monica College (SMC) is pleased to present the Spring 2021 Green Screen Series, an informative series of free film screenings and discussions hosted by SMC film studies professor Sheila Laffey as an extension to her course, Green Screen: Films on the Environment and Transformation.

All presentations in the series are free and will be held online. A link to each presentation is available in the Green Screen Series listings on the SMC Events calendar at

The Green Screen Series is sponsored by SMC Global Citizenship.

The Spring 2021 Green Screen Series lineup is:

• Monday, April 5 at 3 p.m. – “Fantastic Fungi: Screening and Talk with Director Louie Schwartzberg, Hosted by SMC Film Studies Professor Sheila Laffey.” A time-lapse journey, seen through the eyes of mycologists like Paul Stamets and Suzanne Simard and narrated by Brie Larson, reveals the magical, mysterious, and medicinal world of fungi and their power to heal, sustain, and contribute to the regeneration of life on Earth. Award-winning cinematographer, director, and producer Louie Schwartzberg specializes in breathtaking imagery using his time-lapse, high-speed, and macro cinematography techniques. His theatrical releases include the 3D IMAX film Mysteries of the Unseen World with National Geographic, the documentary Wings of Life for Disneynature, and America’s Heart and Soul for Walt Disney Studios. Sponsored by SMC Global Citizenship.

• Monday, April 26, at 3 p.m. – “Kiss the Ground: Screening and Talk with Producer Bill Benenson and Compost Culture Founder Patrick Latting, Hosted by SMC Film Studies Professor Sheila Laffey.” Directed by Josh and Rebecca Tickell and narrated by Woody Harrelson, the film documents a revolutionary group of activists, scientists, farmers, and politicians who band together in a global movement of “Regenerative Agriculture” that could balance our climate, replenish our water supplies, and feed the world. Producer Bill Benenson is an award-winning filmmaker of several eco documentaries, including Dirt! The Movie, which premiered at Sundance Film Festival and was shown nationally on PBS for the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. Patrick Latting is a high school senior who started Compost Culture, which composts 1,700 lbs. of food waste per week in the Pasadena area. Sponsored by SMC Global Citizenship.

• Monday, May 10, at 3 p.m. – “Gather: Screening and Talk with Director Sanjay Rawal, Hosted by SMC Film Studies Professor Sheila Laffey.” A portrait of the growing movement among Native Americans to reclaim their spiritual, political, and cultural identities through food sovereignty, the film follows Nephi Craig, a chef from the White Mountain Apache Nation (Arizona), opening an indigenous café as a nutritional recovery clinic; Elsie Dubray, a scientist from the Cheyenne River Sioux Nation (South Dakota), conducting landmark studies on bison; and the Ancestral Guard, a group of environmental activists from the Yurok Nation (Northern California), working to save the Klamath River. Director Sanjay Rawal spent 15 years working on human rights campaigns globally. His first feature, Food Chains (2014), won numerous awards. He has also explored nontraditional filmmaking, applying narrative cinematic technique as he directed a sweeping expedition film — 3100: Run And Become — released theatrically in the U.S. in 2018. Sponsored by SMC Global Citizenship.

All programs are subject to change without notice, and new presentations may be added to the series. Up-to-date details are posted at and available by calling 310-434-4100.

Submitted by Grace Smith


SMMUSD Financial Oversight Committee Accepting Applications

The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District’s Financial Oversight Committee (FOC) is seeking qualified candidates who can put their financial and/or management expertise to work in support of the school district. There are four upcoming vacancies with three-year terms beginning July 1, 2021.

The role of the FOC is to review significant financial matters impacting the district, to assist in communicating school finance issues to the community, to provide oversight for various district financing measures and agreements, and to review SMMUSD’s annual budget, financial projections, and audited financial statements. For more information about the FOC, its structure, and its work, please visit

Ideal candidates will have significant professional finance and/or accounting experience, or a deep familiarity with public education operations and finance. Candidates should also be committed to fostering an inclusive and equitable learning environment for SMMUSD students.

FOC meetings are currently scheduled at the District Office at 7 p.m. in the Testing Room, otherwise noted. Following is the schedule of meetings (subject to change) for the 2021-22 year:

• Wednesday, September 8, 2021

• Thursday, October 28, 2021 – Malibu City Hall, Multipurpose Room

• Thursday, December 2, 2021

• Thursday, January 6, 2022

• Thursday, February 24, 2022

• Tuesday, March 23, 2022– Malibu City Hall, Multipurpose Room

• Wednesday, May 11, 2022

• Thursday, June 16, 2022

• TBD (July 2022) * Please note: This is a Joint Meeting / Study Session with the Board of Education – SMMUSD District Office Board Room, 1651 16th Street.

FOC application forms are available via the District’s website: and can be scanned and emailed to The deadline for applications is Monday, April 12, 2021.

Submitted by Gail Pinsker