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2013 Ann Katz Festival of Books

October 15, 2013 by Reader's Connection

This year’s Ann Katz Festival of Books and Arts at the Jewish Community Center runs from October 28th through November 17th. Here’s a list of the authors who will appear.

There is a $8.00 charge for each program ($5.00 for JCC members). Tickets are available on the JCC website, and will be available at the events, BUT BE AWARE that on November 3rd you can gain admission with ten cans of tomato products, and that on November 13th you can see three authors for the price of one.


Letty Cottin Pogrebin | Mon, Oct 28 | 7 pm

How to Be a Friend to a Friend Who’s Sick

How to Be a Friend to a Friend Who’s SickA cancer survivor channels her ordeal into reflections on the nature of empathy and friendships. Ms. magazine founding editor Pogrebin offers sound counsel to those comforting ailing friends. In 2009, a routine mammogram revealed a suspicious mass that not only changed the author’s relationship to her body, but also the interactions with her friends, some of whom were hesitant to visit. Pogrebin’s text serves her well as both an informative guide and an autobiographical chronicle. Evenly distributed throughout are personal interludes from her battle with breast cancer combined with helpful sections guiding those who are conflicted “when your role in the relationship is no longer easy or obvious.” For many, she writes, worry for a friend’s sudden or prolonged illness can be an intimidating, touchy subject, and communicating genuine concern could understandably be met with either graciousness or an irritable “Thank you for caring. Now leave me alone.” . . . A useful refresher course on navigating the complicated territory of compassionate companionship. — Kirkus Reviews


Dara Horn | Wed, Oct 30 | 7 pm

A Guide for the Perplexed

A Guide for the Perplexed


I reviewed this novel in my previous post, but failed to mention the feel of the Library of Alexandria, or the way the character Josephine, when kidnapped, relates to her captors. Didn’t mention her husband or daughter. Left out almost everything about Solomon Schechter and the way he enters the Cairo
Genizah–that room of holy documents.

Read the book.





 Miriam Rubin | Sun, Nov 3 | 2 pm

Tomatoes: A Savor the South Cookbook 

Tomatoes: A Savor the South Cookbook

In Tomatoes, Miriam Rubin gives this staple of southern gardens the passionate portrait it deserves, exploring the tomato’s rich history in southern culture and inspiring home cooks to fully enjoy these summer fruits in all their glorious variety. Rubin, a prominent food writer and tomato connoisseur, provides fifty vibrant recipes as well as wisdom about how to choose tomatoes and which tomato is right for which dish. Tomatoes includes recipes that celebrate the down-home, inventive, and contemporary, such as Stand-over-the-Sink Tomato Sandwiches, Spiced Green Tomato Crumb Cake, Green Tomato and Pork Tenderloin Biscuit Pie, and Tomato and Golden Raisin Chutney. Rubin also offers useful cooking tips, lively lessons on history, cultivation, and preserving, and variations for year-round enjoyment of the tomato. — University of North Carolina Press

Bring in 10 cans of tomato products for free admission! — JCC website


John Green’s visit on November 4 has been sold out.


Rabbi Arthur Green | Thu, Nov 7 | 7 pm

Radical Judaism : Rethinking God and Tradition

Radical Judaism : Rethinking God and Tradition

Radical Judaism is nothing less than a call to re-envision the Jewish God and, by extension, Jewish practice and belief. This is not new although previous attempts, from Maimonides to the Zohar, the Baal Shem Tov, Ahad ha-Am, and even Martin Buber, did so without the openly claiming to undermine what preceded them. Even Ahad Ha-Am and Buber, both quite radical in their assessment of Judaism, still maintained that their positions were extensions of previous traditional threads. Living in the era of New Age religion (a movement Green never openly identifies with but one that I believe informs his entire project) Green, among others, has less need to tie his radicalism to the past. — Shaul Magid, from an essay that appeared on Zeek. Used with the author’s permission.


David Harris-Gershon | Mon, Nov 11 | 7 pm

What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist who Tried to Kill Your Wife?

What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist who Tried to Kill Your Wife?In this courageous memoir, Harris-Gershon stares down the thorny Palestinian-Israeli crisis. The complex conflict becomes a deeply personal matter when his wife is seriously injured in a Jerusalem terrorist bombing. The author, a blogger for Tikkun magazine, takes us through the lives of his wife, Jamie, and Hamas bomber Mohammed Odeh in the hours before the explosion at the Hebrew University’s cafeteria. He then describes the horrible aftermath of the explosion, Jamie’s agonizing journey of healing, and the death of her friends. While Harris-Gershon’s friends and family think he should be outraged, he clings to his Hebrew faith, seeking meaning from the ordeal, concluding that the terrible act was “the inevitable consequence of living in Israel.” His assured narrative pace–an excellent hybrid of moral confessional and reporter diary–measures the emotional and spiritual impact of his wife’s recovery and his decision to find Odeh’s family in East Jerusalem. Harris-Gershon seeks solace in the terrorist’s remorse upon his arrest. Full of unexpected surprises and insight, this book serves up a treasure of possible options of compromise, forgiveness, and political cooperation. — Publishers Weekly


John Schwartz | Tue, Nov 12 | 7 pm

Oddly Normal : One Family’s Struggle to Help Their Teenage Son Come to Terms With His Sexuality

Oddly Normal : One Family's Struggle to Help Their Teenage Son Come to Terms With His SexualityA family’s memoir of raising a gay son. Schwartz enlightens readers on the difficulties he and his wife faced while trying to help their son, Joe, accept his homosexuality. From a very early age, Schwartz and his wife suspected Joe might be gay . . . However, because they had raised all three of their children in a gender-neutral environment, with dolls, action figures and trucks available to both their older son and daughter, they simply assumed Joe was just different. When Joe started school, though, behavioral problems developed. Because he was an avid reader at an early age, his parents suspected boredom; Joe’s teachers suspected mental issues and suggested therapy . . . Thanks to Internet research, the coming-out of TV personalities and new acceptance and legislation for homosexuals, the author was able to provide Joe with a safe home environment for him to reveal his “secret.” . . . Definitely defined as “not a self-help book,” Schwartz’s frank discussion of a subject many still find taboo will be helpful to parents of LGBT children as one example of how to accept a natural condition with dignity and love. — Kirkus Reviews


Michael Dahlie, Allison Lynn, Ben Winters | Wed, Nov 13 | 7 pm

Authors, respectively, of The Best of Youth, The Exiles, and Countdown City, which is Book 2 of The Last Policeman, and about which I raved in August .

The Best of Youth

The Exiles

Countdown City

From the JCC website: These three young authors are true professionals who have each written thoughtful and highly readable novels that look at our world from unique perspectives. Whether it is the story of a young couple exiled from New York City with baggage they dare not even share with each other, a lost young millionaire trying desperately to find himself amongst a cast of wacky characters who generally do not respect him, or a determined detective who almost inexplicably continues his work despite the fact that the world is literally coming to an end, each of these authors tells tales full of creativity, empathy and integrity. In conversation with Lev Rothenberg, Director of Arts and Education, JCC.


 Matthew Levitt | Sun, Nov 17 | 7 pm

Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon’s Party of God 

Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon’s Party of GodThe word Hezbollah (“Party of God”) derives from the Koranic term hizb Allah, referring to the body of Muslim believers who will triumph over hizb al-Shaytan (“the Devil’s party”). There are several political/religious movements that carry this name, but the largest and most significant of them is Lebanon’s Hezbollah, an important political force in Lebanese politics today, participating in the government and carrying out military operations against its domestic and foreign enemies. Notwithstanding the group’s significance in today’s Middle East, there are few books in English on Hezbollah’s genesis and development . . . this book by Levitt is different in that it focuses on Hezbollah’s global reach as seen from “inside the beltway” and in official Washington circles. Relying on interviews with various U.S. and other officials (not from Hezbollah), court documents, declassified intelligence reports, and secondary Western sources, Levitt’s is a wide-ranging portrait of Hezbollah’s activities on five continents and its actions, both real and alleged. VERDICT A valuable resource for studying Washington’s perception of Hezbollah. — Library Journal



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