Charles LeWarne

It’s a sign of how long you’ve lived in Seattle, or when you were a child here, as to what reaction the name “Love Israel” inspires. During the hippie heyday of his communal compound on Queen Anne Hill during the ’70s, parents were frantic that he and his free-lovin’ followers might kidnap and brainwash their kids. Love Israel? Run away! But his commune moved up to its compound near Arlington in 1984 after allegations of sexual impropriety and financial mismanagement. Some 400 followers dwindled to a handful by 2003, when the commune finally declared bankruptcy and dispersed. So it’s a fascinating yet somewhat forgotten chapter of Northwest utopianism that local historian Charles P. LeWarne relates in The Love Israel Family: Urban Commune, Rural Commune (University of Washington Press, $24.95). LeWarne helped filmmaker Eric Johannsen with his SIFF 2009 documentary It Takes a Cult, about the director’s upbringing as On Israel. What happened to other members of the Israel family? “They still have their ties,” LeWarne told me. Scattered in Bothell and the northeast corner of the state, “There’s still a community of former members.” Some may attend tonight’s presentation. BRIAN MILLER

Thu., Jan. 21, 6:30 p.m., 2010

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