By Deb Silverthorn
Bookmarks are being placed in and out of the page turners of the 2019-2020 Aaron Family JCC’s Margot Rosenberg Pulitzer Dallas Jewish BookFest. Opening October 24 and running through May 11, 15 authors will present some of this year’s best storytelling and non-fiction publications. Unless otherwise noted, all events begin at 7 p.m. and are hosted at the Aaron Family JCC.
“I am honored to chair this year’s BookFest and excited about the breadth of authors lined up for this year and I hope we’ll have record breaking audiences. There is something for everyone including subjects of cooking and historical fiction to business entrepreneurship and fantasy,” said JCC BookFest Chair Marcy Helfand. “It is wonderful that our JCC offers our community the opportunity to hear from these authors whose presentations include anecdotes about their writing process, question and answer sessions, and more.”
BookFest events are partnered with Congregation Anshai Torah, Congregation Shearith Israel SISterhood, the Dallas Jewish Historical Society, Interabang Books, the Jewish Book Council, the Women’s Philanthropy Division of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, Temple Emanu-El Women of Reform Judaism, the Tycher Library of the Center for Jewish Education of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas and Whole Foods Market.
Aaron Family JCC Director of Israel Engagement and Jewish Living Rachelle Weiss Crane and Jewish, Cultural, and Outreach Coordinator Adina Weinberg heard the pitches of nearly 250 authors at a presentation of the Jewish Book Council in New York. The two returned to Dallas, narrowing the list, and with Helfand and a dedicated committee, determined the final 15.
“Every year I think we have the best lineup – and I absolutely am sure of it again this year. We are introduced to the books and authors with a two-minute pitch and somehow, we have again narrowed down to a list of really special books,” said Weiss Crane. “We are thrilled to welcome Marcy as our chair, following in the strong and incredible footsteps of Liz Liener, and we look forward to continuing to earn the reputation our JCC has built as a BookFest.
The Opener: Oct. 24
A double header opens BookFest on Oct. 24 with Lynda Loigman and her “Wartime Sisters,” and Renee Rosen and her “Park Avenue Summer.” Dallas’ Andrea Peskind Katz, reviewer of GreatThoughts.com and behind the Great Thoughts Great Readers Facebook book salon with nearly 5,000 readers and authors, will lead a conversation, addressing the roles of Jewish women during and just after WWII, with the authors.
“Wartime Sisters” is the tale of two estranged sisters, one living in relative ease on the Armory campus as an officer’s wife, the other a war widow, and each with their own secret, who are reunited in the early days of WWII.
“Park Avenue Summer” is set in 1965 and told from the perspective of Alice Weiss, assistant to Cosmopolitan magazine’s Helen Gurley Brown. The novel, toasted as “Mad Men” meets “The Devil Wears Prada,” offers a window into Brown’s tumultuous efforts to reshape the magazine.
The Tycher Community Read: Oct. 28
The Tycher Community Read, on Oct. 28, presents author Jillian Cantor and her “In Another Time.” Cantor’s book is a historical novel that spans Germany, England and the United States following a young couple torn apart by circumstance leading up to World War II and the family secret that may prove to be the means for survival. Told in alternating viewpoints, Max Beissinger in the years leading up to WWII, and Hanna Ginsberg in the ten years after is about love and survival, passion and music, across time and continents.
Shearith Israel SISterhood Event: Nov. 6
Naomi Ragen returns to BookFest on Nov. 6 at Congregation Shearith Israel with her “Unorthodox Match.” The novel of faith shares the story of Yaakov, a father, a Talmud scholar, and a widower who struggles both financially and spiritually and Lola, a woman from the secular world who has suffered terrible tragedy and hardship in her life who turns to God and the Orthodox community in Brooklyn.
Israeli Cookbook At Whole Foods: Nov. 19
On Nov. 19, at Whole Foods (Preston/Forest) cookbook author Adeena Sussman brings her “Sababa: Fresh Sunny Flavors from My Israeli Kitchen” to Dallas (location to be announced). “Sababa” is a celebration of Israeli cooking, showcasing Sussman’s highly personal take on the Israeli kitchen and its diverse, delicious, and vibrant culture. “Sababa’s: 120 recipes, including Honey Harissa Chicken Thighs, Stuffed Grape Leaves with Quince and Barberries and Zucchini, Dill and Feta Shakshuka provide a full complement of salads, main courses, and desserts.
Business Insights at Anshai Torah: Dec. 9
Michael J. Coles arrives on Dec. 9 with his “Time to Get Tough: How Cookies, Coffee, and a Crash Led to Success in Business and Life.” This event at Congregation Anshai Torah, Rabbi Stefan Weinberg will lead the discussion with Coles, co-founder of the Great American Cookie Company and former CEO of Caribou Coffee. In his book, the author reflects on his life, sharing a wealth of knowledge and tips gathered over the years as a community and business leader, recounting his failures and successes.
Learn about Jewish name changing: Jan. 9
“A Rosenberg By Any Other Name” and its author Kirsten Fermaglich come to the J on Jan. 9, with a history of the practice of Jewish name changing in the twentieth century. Fermaglich’s book demonstrates how historical debates about immigration, anti-Semitism and race, class mobility, gender and family, the boundaries of the Jewish community, and the power of government are reshaped when name changing becomes part of the conversation.
Clean up your finances: Feb. 6
On Feb. 6, a program exclusive to young professionals, author Ashley Feinstein Gerstley will present “The 30-Day Money Cleanse.” Feinstein Gerstley’s system advises how to eliminate all money stressors, know where your money is going, break panic-inducing bad money habits, learn basics of how and where to invest and how to make a plan to not only live with but enjoy.
“The number of young Jewish professionals in Dallas is growing and so are the networking, social and religious opportunities in the Metroplex,” said the J’s Weinberg. “The J is happy to present events, including our November 11 Jewish Film Festival screening of Chewdaism, exclusively for this population. “The 30-Day Money Cleanse” explores shifting perspectives for us all to get what we want out of our financial situations.”
History of American Jewish Women at Temple Emanu-El: Feb. 11
On Feb. 11, at Temple Emanu-El, the Dallas Jewish Historical Society and the Temple Emanu-El Women of Reform Judaism will present author Pamela Nadell and her “America’s Jewish Women: A History from Colonial Times to Today.” Nadell brings together stories from the colonial era’s matriarch Grace Nathan and her great-granddaughter poet Emma Lazarus to union organizer Bessie Hillman and the great justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The book profiles activists, workers, wives, and mothers whose names linger on among their communities and families which left deep footprints in the history of the nation they call home.
Tycher Spring Read: March 5
On March 5, the Tycher Library’s Spring Read arrives in the form of “Gateway to the Moon,” Mary Morris’ story of Luis de Torres, a Spanish Jew and interpreter of Christopher Columbus. Over the centuries, de Torres’ descendants travel from Spain and Portugal to Mexico, finally settling in the hills of New Mexico and, 500 years later, it is Miguel Torres, a young amateur astronomer, who finds himself trying to understand the mystery that surrounds him and the town he grew up in.
Learn about The War Refugee Board: March 12
On March 12, Dr. Rebecca Erbelding brings “Rescue Board: The Untold Story of America’s Efforts to Save the Jews of Europe.” For more than a decade, a harsh Congressional immigration policy kept most Jewish refugees out of America, even as Hitler and the Nazis closed in. In 1944, Franklin D. Roosevelt created the War Refugee Board putting a young Treasury lawyer named John Pehle in charge. Holocaust historian Erbelding pieces together years of research and newly uncovered archival materials to tell the dramatic story of America’s little-known efforts to save the Jews of Europe.
A gritty novel on politics and the #MeToo Movement: March 17
Jessica Yellin comes to the J on March 17 with her “Savage News.” The heart of the story navigates ratings wars, workplace sexual harassment and an international political crisis in order to prove herself. The political climate, the world of social media and the #MeToo movement all weave their way as journalist Natalie Savage figures out that having it all doesn’t mean giving up everything she stands for.
An intergenerational page turner: April 2
Author Sarah Blake brings her “The Guest Book” to Dallas on April 2. Moving through three generations and back and forth in time, the story of a family and a country that buries its past in quiet, until the present calls forth a reckoning, Blake’s “The Guest Book” asks how we remember and what we choose to forget. It shows the untold secrets we inherit and pass on, unknowingly echoing our parents and grandparents.
In depth look at Elie Wiesel: April 23
On April 23, author and Rabbi Ariel Burger will be in conversation about his Witness: Lessons From Elie Wiesel’s Classroom with Executive Director, Center for Jewish Education and Rabbi in Residence, Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, Rabbi Mordechai Harris. In his book, Burger, who met Wiesel at age 15 and then became his student and teaching assistant, shares Wiesel’s remarkable exchanges in and out of the classroom, chronicling intimate conversations on matters of intellect, spirituality, and faith, while Burger navigated his own journey from boyhood to rabbi and teacher.
Anti-Semitism and higher education: May 11
This year’s BookFest closes on May 11 with Dr. Perry Brickman’s “Extracted: Unmasking Rampant Antisemitism in America’s Higher Education.” In 2006, Brickman and his wife Shirley attended a history of Jewish life exhibit at Emory University, viewing documents that strongly suggested that Brickman and others had been failed out of Emory’s dental school because they were Jewish. The couple embarked on an uncharted path to uncover the truth, exposing the human element of the rampant anti-Semitism that affected the dental profession in twentieth-century America, the personal tragedies, faces, and individual stories of shame and humiliation. Brickman identified, interviewed and recorded the victims, ultimately presenting his documentary to Emory officials who apologized.
Tickets are $10/advance and $15/door except for October 28’s “In Another Time,” February 6’s “The 30-Day Money Cleanse” and March 5’s “Gateway to the Moon.” To confirm location details, or for more details or to order tickets, call 214-739-2737 or visit jccdallas.org/special-events/bookfest Young professionals interested in the Young Professionals’ event should email firstname.lastname@example.org.