Member-led Forums (MLFs) are a volunteer-driven division of Commonwealth Club programming. These diverse and timely programs cover a wide range of topics on an ongoing basis throughout the year. They range from large events to intimate discussions with speakers, from art shows and restaurant visits to book discussion groups. MLFs are volunteer-run, organized by Club members who coordinate programs within specific areas of interest.
The Middle East Forum covers the Middle East, North Africa and Afghanistan. That’s about 25 countries in all, from Algeria to Yemen. The forum not only sponsors programs, it has a monthly discussion group. Over the 10-plus years she has been coordinating programs and leading the Middle East Discussion group, the present chair has found that it’s best not to debate. Instead the discussion group has exchanges of ideas and opinions, about often provocative political and cultural issues, employing civility and respect for others and their opinions.
Celia Menczel was born in London, England, in 1940, weeks before the Blitz began. Her greatest influences were her mother, who had escaped from Vienna to London with the aid of righteous gentiles, and her English father, who had volunteered in the British Army and was terribly wounded in Normandy. Her mother emphasized the importance of forgiving but not forgetting the Holocaust, while her father taught the futility of war. As a result of the suffering she witnessed and her Jewish faith, Menczel has tried to be a pacifist and to better understand ”the other.” After the war, her family emigrated to Canada, where she was educated, became a nurse and emigrated to the United States in 1962. She worked in Washington, D.C., Virginia, and in California for the Veterans Administration and Kaiser. She has also been a book store owner and a foster parent—but the role closest to her heart is that of grandmother.
The leading national forum open to all for the impartial discussion of public issues important to the membership, community and nation. The Commonwealth Club of California is the nation's oldest and largest public affairs forum. Each year, we bring nearly 500 events on topics ranging across politics, culture, society and the economy to more than 25,000 members and the public, both in-person and via an extensive online and on-air listenership and viewership.
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