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Springfield JCC

1160 Dickinson Street
Springfield, MA 01108

The mission of the Springfield Jewish Community Center is to build community and nurture wellness through physical, intellectual, social and spiritual means in an inclusive environment defined by Jewish values and culture. For ValleyGivesDay, we are highlighting our Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival.
The Origins of the Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival (a program of the Springfield JCC)

Howard Polonsky was one of two film enthusiasts who founded the Northampton Film Festival in 1995. By happenstance, the film festival screened several Jewish films. The L’Chaim! Jewish Film Series branched out from there - it was still part of the Northampton festival, but highlighted separately.

“In Northampton, people would attend a screening and join up at a coffee shop afterwards to discuss the film,” recalls Howard. “The Jewish film festival model is an excellent social gathering for non-affiliated Jews. Those of us who do not attend services at a synagogue can gather in a place that feels like home.”

Special live presentations with famous actors such as Judd Hirsch and Ed Asner, as well as special events including a "Fiddler on the Roof" sing-a-long, supplemented the film screenings. But the series ended when the Northampton Film Festival was passed on to new directors in 2002.

L'Chaim! returned as a self-standing Jewish film festival in 2004, when it joined forces with the JCC. It would eventually transition to its modern brand, the Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival (PVJFF) which operated under the aegis of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation through 2013.

Today, PVJFF is the cultural gem of the JCC, presenting nearly 3 weeks of films in the upper and lower Pioneer Valley at more than a dozen venues. Held in the Spring and having completed its 12th year, attendance has grown to more than 2,000 people. PVJFF offers a diverse line-up of entertaining, engaging, and thought-provoking films -- including many regional premieres -- that provide audiences with a multifaceted exploration of Jewish identity, community, history, and politics.

“The PVJFF gets better every year,” says Howard. “My baby has grown up and is doing great!”

Visit to view the scope of this festival (a program of the Springfield Jewish Community Center).

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