The Gershman Y is a vibrant Jewish arts and culture center located in Center City Philadelphia on the Avenue of the Arts. The Gershman Y’s mission is to be an urban community center that nurtures Jewish heritage and identity by presenting diverse arts, culture, and educational programs for audiences of all ages. Committed to sharing the universality and breadth of the Jewish experience, The Gershman Y welcomes persons of all ethnic backgrounds and religious affiliations to explore, participate, and contribute to our rich roster of Jewish arts and cultural programs and community initiatives.
The Gershman Y traces its origins back to the Young Men’s Hebrew Association (YMHA), originally formed in 1875 to serve as a cultural, educational, and social meeting place for the Jewish community. In 1924, the YMHA merged with the Young Women’s Hebrew Society and moved to the corner of Broad and Pine Streets, where it remains today. Since then, The Gershman Y has been one of Philadelphia’s mainstays for experiencing a rich array of arts, cultural, and educational programs. In September 2009, The Gershman Y separated from the Jewish Community Centers of Greater Philadelphia, of which The Gershman Y had been a constituent site, and became an independent organization.
Since its independence, The Gershman Y has grown and thrived as a home for secular Jewish arts and culture. The Gershman Y has three areas of programming: the Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival (PJFF), the Borowsky and Open Lens Art Galleries, and arts and cultural programming. The Gershman Y offers over 100 unique programs every year, including book readings, classes, holiday celebrations, film screenings, gallery exhibits, and performing arts events.
The Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival (PJFF) seeks to educate and engage the Philadelphia cultural community, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, by focusing on films and programs that explore Jewish issues, history, and values. Now in its 32nd season, the critically acclaimed PJFF is the second-longest running series of its kind in the United States. Each year, PJFF presents a Fall Festival, Documentaries and Dialogue Series, and New Filmmakers Weekend.
The Borowsky and Open Lens Galleries present eight art exhibits every year. The Borowsky Gallery is devoted to art shows in all media, while the Open Lens Gallery is dedicated exclusively to photography exhibits. The Gershman Y Galleries aim to add new and innovative viewpoints and artwork to the already thriving artistic environment in Philadelphia and the surrounding areas.
The Gershman Y’s popular holiday events, including Latkepalooza, The Moo Shu Jew Show, and The Philadelphia Seder, welcome the entire Philadelphia community to celebrate Jewish holidays, while our books programs and classes offer opportunities to gain in-depth knowledge about popular books and current topics, while. In spring 2013, The Gershman Y will be launching the first Philadelphia Jewish Music Festival to expand Jewish music within Philadelphia and to enhance the city’s music scene.
The Gershman Y presents the Philadelphia community with high caliber arts programming that reflects the wide array of Jewish culture and revitalizes Jewish arts. By presenting work in a variety of formats and mediums, The Y engages as many individuals as possible and shares this rich cultural history with the local community. The Gershman Y’s programs continue to evolve as we examine and rethink Jewish arts and culture for a new generation of Jews who are seeking to define what it means to be Jewish.