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Wed August 16, 2023 @ 8:00 am - Wed March 18, 2026 @ 5:00 pm

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CONVERSATIONS! Show Host Chuck Newman

To watch past shows click on the buttons below.




Yalcin Yanıkoğlu, Sergio Martinez-Beltrán, Bob Chunn and Mark Brewer

Now that the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission has issued new maps, come learn what that means for you and for future elections. Guests on Conversations! will be Sergio Martínez-Beltrán, Capital Reporter for Bridge Magazine, Bob Chunn and Yalcin Yonikoglu of Next Vote and Mark Brewer of Goodman Acker P.C.



Dr. Richard Solomon and Rebecca Newman

Often called “The fun doctor,” Rick Solomon M.D., Medical Director at Ann Arbor Center for Development and Behavioral Pediatrics, will be one of the guests on Conversations! where he will answer questions and discuss the latest advances in autism. Dr. Solomon is a developmental pedriatician. His widely admired PLAY Project Autism Intervention Model helps young children improve their language, development, and autism severity and his book, “Autism: The Potential Within”, details the intervention. He will be joined by Rebecca Newman who will describe her life as someone with autism.



Attorney Alan Levine

Our guest on Conservations will be Alan Levine, one of a trio of pro bono heroes who scored a $26-mln verdict against Charlottesville rally organizers.
Hear the inspiring story of how he spent 4 weeks in “a bubble of hate and violence” as he cross examined the white supremacists that organized and led the antisemitic and racist violence that resulted in the death of Heather Heyer and the injuring of dozens of others, including seven of the plaintiffs in the suit.



Terry Swartzberg

Terry Swartzberg, a Jewish “Ethical Campaigner” who has lived in Germany for 45 years, speaks with us from his home in Munich Germany. Terry Swartzberg became a reporter for the International Herald Tribune. Terry talks about the time he met with Presitent Vladimir Putin and the profound effect the invasion of Ukraine is having on Germany.

Terry answered questions about his experiences openly wearing a kippah in Germany for the last 9 years as well as his involvement with the Stolperstein project, the world’s largest distributed commemoration project. The project has installed over 100,000 concrete cubes bearing a brass plate inscribed with the name and life dates of victims of Nazi extermination or persecution in the sidewalks in front of their last place of residence before becoming victims of the Nazis.





Nurit Gery, Christina, Te’ena and Hussein

Guest speaker Nurit Gery, director of Givat Haviva International School in northern Israel along with students Christina, Te’ena and Hussein from GHIS which is a coed boarding high school that brings together promising young students from diverse communities and varying economic backgrounds. Over three years they train to become leaders for cross-cultural cooperation and conflict resolution.

Their stories are fascinating and will give you hope.





Shanay Watson-Whittaker and Renee Chelian

Learn why the loss of abortion rights in Michigan is a real possibility and what’s being done about it.  It happened in Texas and other states and it most likely will happen in Michigan.

Shanay Watson-Whittaker of Reproductive Freedom for All  and Renee Chelian of the Northland Family Planning Centers illustrate why this freedom for women is so important.  They share personal stories, why it’s in jeopardy and how it can be avoided.



Derrick Miller and Nataliya Starak

Derrick Miller is the Executive Director of the Community Action Network in Ann Arbor Michigan and he felt he had to do something to help the people of Ukraine.  The experience was intense, to say the least, but it was also highly impactful.  While he was there he was assisted by Nataliya Starak who has fascinating and heartwarming stories to share with us.

On Conversations they will touch on experiences at 2 refugee centers, a hostel with nearly 300 Ukrainian women and children, multiple border crossings, and hundreds of interactions with a myriad of foreign volunteers, refugees, Polish and Ukrainian authorities and even the pets of Ukrainian refugees.



Nancy Wang – Executive Director of Voters Not Politicians

What are the very real possibilities that it will become much more difficult to vote in Michigan and how the Promote the Vote ballot initiative can block the current effort to suppress the vote?




Who pedals a bike with a piano on the back the length of the Mississippi and why?

Learn about Mark’s adventures including putting the bike with the piano on a boat and towing it with the help of volunteer swimmers from St. Ignace to Mackinac Island.

Mr. B is a blues and boogie-woogie pianist who has become one of the premiere purveyors of a vanishing art. Having learned his craft first-hand from the early masters, he is a rare living link to the first generation of blues and boogie pianists.

Steeped in the rich legacy of this tremendously exciting music, Mr. B learned directly from blues and boogie legends like Little Brother Montgomery, Boogie Woogie Red, and Blind John Davis.



Ed Surovell and his passion for books

Listen to Chuck as he interviews Ed Surovell and explores his passion for books and his career as the founder of Edward Surovell Realtors. His amazing collection includes rare books about Ann Arbor, Michigan, Native Americans and some even dating back to the 1800s.


“I was destined to buy books – I couldn’t escape the things. I was born to them and married them. They come whispering to me in the middle of the night.” – Ed Surovell.





Aghogho Edevbie, Michigan State Director of All Voting

Join Chuck as he chats with Aghogho Edevbie, Michigan State Director of All Voting is Local, about how a Republican legislature can determine who receives Michigan’s electoral votes – not the voters.





Eli Neiburger, Director of the Ann Arbor District Library

Watch this great interview with Chuck Newman and Eli Neiburger about his vision for the role that public libraries can play in the digital age. Neiburger is regarded as a visionary when it comes to the role of public libraries, and he  shares how the Ann Arbor District Library became the 7th best library system in the United States. The AADL has also been rated the best among communities the size of Ann Arbor.




Rich Retyi, Author of The Book of Ann Arbor: An Extremely Serious History Book

The 41 stories in the book include a suicide submarine parade. Ann Arbor’s top 10 astronauts. Shakey Jake, The Embassy Hotel, and stories of trains crashing into buildings. The birth of Iggy Pop. Punching Nazis. The day the dictator came to town. The music mobile, the naked mile, and a brief history of poop. Rich and his book are truly fun!



Adam Grant, Executive Director of A Brighter Way

Based in Ypsilanti, A Brighter Way empowers formerly-incarcerated individuals to return to the community to achieve purpose-filled lives. With the help and guidance of an experienced and supportive team, people find opportunity, community, and acceptance. In less than a year as the Executive Director of A Brighter Way, Adam has doubled the number of returning citizens served and maintained the organization’s record of never having any of them return to prison. His success, in part, is due to his spending 27 years in prison himself.




Heather Booth, Founder of JANE

“When somebody says to you ‘You can’t get anything done in Washington, I don’t know why you try’…just say, ‘thank you, Heather.'”

– Senator Elizabeth Warren

Don’t miss the interview with Heather Booth, the founder of JANEan underground abortion service in 1965, before Roe v Wade. She is the most influential person you’ve never heard of.




Gwen Strauss discusses her book THE NINE,  the story, the writing of the book and her own fascinating life story.

The Nine fol­lows the true sto­ry of the author’s great aunt Hélène Podliasky, who led a band of nine female resis­tance fight­ers as they escaped a Ger­man forced labor camp and made a ten-day jour­ney across the front lines of WWII from Ger­many back to Paris.



Joe Spaulding, Michigan Elections Strategist

Interview with Joe Spaulding, the highly regarded Michigan elections strategist and political messaging expert, explores why the candidates in Michigan won or lost, identifies trends in the electorate, and predicts if one can expect similar results in the future. This is a rare opportunity to learn from someone who makes his living by understanding how elections are won and lost.




Kerry and Theresa Plank

Increasingly, school board and library elections are being contested with candidates funded and recruited by out of state organizations who have a divisive, radical, ideological driven agenda. In the midterm election, many of these candidates were elected. Kerry and Theresa Plank describe how they organized to convincingly defeat a slate of misinformation spewing ideological driven candidates.

Anyone who is interested in defending public schools and other local institutions should watch and learn from their success.



The views expressed by Chuck Newman and his guests are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Ann Arbor JCC.

Can’t wait to join the conversation? Please email Noemi Herzig at [email protected] to request the Zoom link.

CONVERSATIONS! is presented by the Jewish Cultural Arts and Education (JCAE) department of the Ann Arbor JCC. For more information on this or other JCAE programs, please contact Noemi Herzig, director of Jewish Cultural Arts and Education, at [email protected].


Wed August 16, 2023 @ 8:00 am
Wed March 18, 2026 @ 5:00 pm
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