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BookFest brings rich, engaging lineup

BookFest brings rich, engaging lineup

Posted on 12 October 2017 by admin

By Deb Silverthorn
Special to the TJP

The Aaron Family JCC’s Margot Rosenberg Pulitzer Dallas Jewish BookFest brings to Dallas’ “People of the Book” authors, works of fact and fiction, prose and power.  Beginning Oct. 26 it’s a series of stories and histories.

Submitted photo This year’s BookFest begins Oct. 26.

Submitted photo
This year’s BookFest begins Oct. 26.

“It’s both exciting and meaningful to be part of a program that focuses on Jewish books and authors that educates and entertains our community,” said JCC BookFest Chair Liz Liener, in her fifth year as lay leader.  “Named for Margot Rosenberg Pulitzer, of blessed memory, a wonderful woman who was beloved and respected by her family, friends, and community for the exemplary life she led and her love of life throughout, the BookFest shares books, and authors, who carry her spirit.”
Partnering with the JCC this year are Baylor Scott & White Health, Congregation Anshai Torah, Dallas Holocaust Museum Center for Education and Tolerance, Dallas Jewish Historical Society, the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, the J’s Lieberman Family Wellness Center and Tycher Library, the Women of Reform Judaism at Temple Emanu-El, and the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth.
“We’re honored to have so many community partners on board allowing us to engage audiences with fun and laughter as well as some very serious topics,” said JCC’s Director of Israel Engagement and Jewish Living, Rachelle Weiss Crane.  “Our program has a wonderful reputation and it’s very exciting to, in addition to our extensive review and search each year, to have the industry reaching out to us wanting to come to Dallas.”
A week of meeting with or listening to more than 250 authors presenting their books through the Jewish Book Council in New York, resulted in the culling of the year’s catalogue. Liener, Weiss Crane, and a team of dedicated volunteers read many titles, their combined efforts narrowing the tally to 10.
Nicole Krauss’ Forest Dark opens the series at 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 26.  Krauss weaves a tale about personal transformation interweaving the stories of an older lawyer and a young novelist — whose transcendental search leads them to the same Israeli desert.
The Tycher Library Community Read, Beneath a Scarlet Sky, will be at 7 p.m., Monday, Oct. 30. Based on the true story, Mark Sullivan’s best-seller, which will be made into a feature film is based on the life of Pino Lella, an Italian teenager who during WWII is forced by his parents to enlist as a German soldier which they believe will keep him out of combat.  After he is injured, he’s recruited to become the personal driver for Adolf Hitler’s left hand in Italy, simultaneously spying for the Allies inside the German High Command, ultimately helping to save the lives of many Jews.
At 7 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 7, at Temple Emanu-El, author Maggie Anton will speak about her famed Rashi’s Daughter’s series, Rav Hisda’s Daughter: Apprentice, Enchantress, and the recently released What the First Rabbis had to say About You Know What.
I Wrote That One, Too…: A Life in Songwriting from Willie to Whitney is featured at 7 p.m., Monday, Nov. 13, with Congregation Anshai Torah a capella Kol Rina choir members Bruce Katz and Rusty Cooper moderating author Steve Dorff’s musical and book-sharing visit. Dorff chronicles his 40-plus years as the writer of numerous Top 10 hits for artists including Celine Dion, Kenny Rogers, Barbra Streisand and Whitney Houston as well as television scores and his forthcoming Broadway musical Josephine
Martha Hall Kelly and her debut novel Lilac Girls are scheduled at 7 p.m., Monday, Dec. 4,.  In her debut novel, the author brings to life New York socialite Caroline Ferriday who has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon; Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager who senses her carefree youth disappearing as she is drawn deeper into her role as courier for the underground resistance movement; and German doctor, Herta Oberheuser, who is hired for a government medical position finding herself trapped in a male-dominated realm of Nazi secrets and power.
The new year brings The Widow of Wall Street author Randy Susan Meyers to a free event at 7 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 11, at Congregation Anshai Torah.  Community member and Great Thoughts website book reviewer Andrea Peskind Katz will lead the discussion with the bestselling author about her story of the seemingly blind love of a wife for her husband as he conquers Wall Street and her extraordinary, perhaps foolish, loyalty during his precipitous fall.
Ten Dollars to Hate author Patricia H. Bernstein comes to BookFest at 7 p.m. , Thursday, Feb. 1, bringing the story of the Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s, the most “successful” incarnation since its inception in the ashes of the Civil War, and the first prosecutor in the nation to successfully convict and jail Klan members.
Paula Shoyer’s The Healthy Jewish Kitchen has all the ingredients of a great night beginning at 7 p.m., Monday, Feb. 26.  Shoyer dispels the notion that healthy can’t be delicious connections to our ancestor’s kitchens, using only natural ingredients, offering a fresh, nutrient-dense spin on cooking, offering more than 60 Ashkenazy and Sephardy classic recipes.
Israel’s 70th anniversary is celebrated early through the presentation of Angels in the Sky at 7p.m., Wednesday, March 7. The gripping story is of fewer than 150 volunteer airmen from the United States, Britain, Canada, France, and South Africa arrived — many WWII veterans, one-third of whom were not Jewish — who flew, fought, died, and, against all odds, helping defeat five Arab nations, during Israel’s war of independence protecting the fledgling Jewish state.
The BookFest closes with a chapter of history that began in Dallas as Alexandra Zapruder arrives at 7 p.m., Thursday, April 12, with her Twenty-Six Seconds.  Fifty–five years after her grandfather Abraham Zapruder captured the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the author tells the story of the film, and its journey, demonstrating how one man’s unwitting moment in the spotlight shifted the way politics, culture, and media intersect.
Events are at the Aaron Family JCC unless otherwise noted and tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at thedoor except for the  Oct. 30 Beneath the Scarlet Sky and the Dec. 4 Lilac Girls events which are free of charge.  For more details or to order tickets, visit


‘New Passover Menu’ strives for liberation from perceived culinary slavery

‘New Passover Menu’ strives for liberation from perceived culinary slavery

Posted on 26 March 2015 by admin

By Robert Gluck/

For those who feel that Passover cooking can be as restrictive as their ancestors’ enslavement in Egypt, pastry chef and author Paula Shoyer says her new book “has arrived to set you free.”

A former practicing attorney, Shoyer has appeared on the Food Network and Martha Stewart Living Radio and works as a consultant to kosher bakeries. Her latest undertaking is “The New Passover Menu,” a book released on Feb. 3.

The cover of “The New Passover Menu,” by Paula Shoyer. Credit: The New Passover Menu.

“Jews who host the holiday often feel that preparing the house and food for Passover makes them feel a little too much like the Israelite slaves,” Shoyer writes in the book’s introduction.

The recipes offered in the book, Shoyer hopes, will change that feeling. Bread, rice, corn, oats, rye, spelt, barley, legumes and pasta all fall under the category of chametz — foods that are forbidden on Passover. But rather than dwelling on prohibited items, Shoyer suggests focusing on what you can eat on Passover.

Known for her desserts, Shoyer’s book includes triple-chocolate biscotti, pistachio and strawberry roll, and meringue fruit tarts. “The New Passover Menu” also features an updated Ashkenazic seder menu (with items like fresh salmon gefilte fish loaf with arugula; brisket osso buco; and asparagus, zucchini, and leek kugel), an international seder menu (including Middle Eastern charoset, whole chicken with dried fruit stuffing, and Moroccan spiced short ribs), a Shabbat menu, a Yom Tov menu, a French dairy menu, and more desserts.

Shoyer has traveled globally and spent significant time in Switzerland and Paris, where she graduated from the Ritz Escoffier pastry program in 1996. Fittingly, her book has an international flair.

“In my travels I would meet people who told me they loved my desserts, but that I should write a food cookbook,” Shoyer told “Everywhere I went, people asked me about savory food, but specifically Passover foods. They mentioned how hard it is, the food is terrible, the desserts are terrible. They made it sound like it was such a misery to cook for Passover. For me it is not. I realized I needed to write a cookbook and focus on what you can eat, instead of what you cannot eat.”

Shoyer teaches classes on French pastry-making and Jewish cooking in the Washington, DC, area, and holds demonstrations around the world. Her goal is to make traditional Jewish desserts more contemporary, more interesting, and healthier. Many of her desserts are dairy-free, sugar-free, gluten-free, and vegan.

On March 25 at New York City’s 92nd Street Y, Shoyer will give a presentation on her updates to traditional dishes, contemporary Passover recipes, and her personal journey as part of the Y’s Kitchen Arts and Letters series. Referencing Shoyer’s previous books—2010’s “The Kosher Baker: Over 160 Dairy-free Recipes from Traditional to Trendy” and 2013’s “The Holiday Kosher Baker: Traditional & Contemporary Holiday Desserts”—Christine Chen, the 92nd Street Y’s director of adult programs, said Shoyer “literally wrote the book on kosher baking.”

Paula Shoyer, pictured here holding challah, is the author of a new book that includes anything but challah—“The New Passover Menu.” Credit: The New Passover Menu.

The Y is looking forward to hearing “some tales from [Shoyer’s] unusual career journey and even some tidbits from her experience competing on the Food Network’s ‘Sweet Genius’ [program],” Chen told

Shoyer is planning to write more books, including one on Shabbat cooking and another on desserts, and she also intends to introduce a new frozen Jewish dessert. But for now, her focus is on “The New Passover Menu,” with three book events coming up in Chicago in March on top of the 92nd Street Y program. Recently, when visiting Israel to attend a family bar mitzvah, Shoyer held what she called a “food tour” that kicked off at U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro’s residence in Herzliya Pituach. Eighty attended the event, at which Shoyer demonstrated desserts from her three books.

In Israel, Shoyer said she was also researching a forthcoming article about the best bakeries in the Jewish state. Asked to divulge a few of those bakeries, she told that her top three are the Pe’er bakery and Ness Patisserie in Jerusalem, as well as Tel Aviv’s Careme.

Besides offering contemporary recipes, Shoyer’s book includes personal anecdotes such as one titled “Italian Vegetarian Menu,” which is dedicated to her father, Reuben Marcus, who served in the U.S. Army in Italy during World War II.

“In 1945, just prior to Passover, the Rochester Jewish Welfare Board shipped a massive amount of Passover essentials—matzah, wine, gefilte fish—to the base where he was stationed in northern Italy,” Shoyer writes. “My father and his Jewish buddies decided to organize two seders, but they needed more supplies, and most importantly, a large enough venue to host them. The Jewish chaplain convinced the quartermaster to supply the required items. Searching the area, they found an old abandoned farm building. They cleaned it out and convened a seder for three to four hundred Jewish soldiers. My father says this story proves that with a little bit of dedication and moxie, you can turn nothing into something, and that it is truly possible to hold a Passover seder anywhere.”


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