UJFT & the Simon Family JCC’s Lee and Bernard Jaffe Family Jewish Book Festival 2020–2021

by | Oct 23, 2020 | Trending News

*Events shown only through November 15

All events are open to the community with RSVP or tickets required and will take place virtually until further notice.

For more information about the Festival, to register, sponsor, or volunteer, contact Patty Shelanski at 757-452-3184 or Pshelanski@ujft.org or jewishva.org.


Michael Ian Black author of A Better Man, in conversation with Meredith Jacobs, author of Just Between Us: Mother & Son
Wednesday, November 4, 7:30 pm, free

A Better Man is a poignant look at boyhood, in the form of a heartfelt letter from comedian, actor, father, Michael Ian Black to his teenage son before he leaves for college, and a radical plea for rethinking masculinity and teaching young men to give and receive love. Black explores the damage and rising violence caused by the expectations placed on boys to “man up,” and searches for the best way to help young men be part of the solution.

In Just Between Us, advice, guidelines, and prompts by author Meredith Jacobs and her son pave the way to discussing everything exciting and scary about growing up, from friendships and school to positive masculinity. With plenty of free space to write, draw, or make lists, this journal will open the lines of communication and help strengthen mother-son relationships.

Michael Ian Black is a multi-media talent who’s starred in numerous films and TV series, written and/or directed two films, and is a prolific author and commentator.

Meredith Jacobs, Jewish Women International’s CEO, is an award-winning journalist and former editor-in-chief of Washington Jewish Week. She is the author and co-author of multiple books including The Modern Jewish Mom’s Guide to Shabbat: Connect and Celebrate—Bring Your Family Together with the Friday Night Meal.

Erica Katz author of The Boys Club
Monday, November 9, 7:30 pm, free
Girl’s Night In!
In partnership with the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s Women’s Cabinet

Sweetbitter meets The Firm in this buzzy, page-turning debut novel—already optioned to Netflix—about sex and power in the halls of corporate America. One of Buzzfeed’s Most Anticipated Books of 2020, Cosmopolitan’s Best Summer Reads of 2020, and New York Post’s 30 Best Summer Books.

Alex Vogel has always been a high achiever. Accepting a dream offer at a prestigious Manhattan law firm she promises her sweet and supportive longtime boyfriend that the job won’t change her. Yet Alex is seduced by the firm’s money and energy. As her clients’ expectations and demands on her increase, she begins to question everything—including herself. She knows that reaching the top means playing by different rules. But who made those rules? And what if the system is rigged so that women can’t win, anyway?

Erica Katz is the pseudonym for a graduate of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and Columbia Law School who began her career at a major Manhattan law firm.


Gavriel Savit, author of The Way Back
Sunday, November 15, 6:00 pm, free
In partnership with Strelitz International Academy Alumni

For the Jews of Eastern Europe, demons are everywhere: dancing on the rooftops in the darkness of midnight, congregating in the trees, harrowing the dead, even reaching out to try and steal away the living. When the Angel of Death comes strolling through the shtetl of Tupik one night, two young people are sent spinning off on a journey through the Far Country where they will declare war on Death himself, and maybe—just maybe—find a way to make it back alive.

An author and actor, Gavriel Savit’s award-winning writing for young adults has been featured on the New York Times Best Seller list and who has appeared on and off-Broadway, and on stages around the world.

Presented in partnership with the National JCC Literary Consortium

Mike Leven, author of Can’t Do It Yourself: How Commitment to Others Leads to Personal Prosperity
Thursday, October 29, 8 pm
Tickets for this virtual event: $11 or $36 with book (includes shipping). A limited number of signed copies are available.
Presented in partnership with the National JCC Literary Consortium

Mike Leven, a storied hotel executive and respected Jewish leader, served at the helm of the Days Inn, Holiday Inn, Las Vegas Sands, and other noteworthy hospitality businesses and most recently as the CEO and chairman of the Georgia Aquarium.

In his new book, Can’t Do It Yourself, Leven takes the reader on a journey through his life, from growing up in a multi-generational household with Russian immigrant grandparents in a close-knit Jewish community in Boston, to an executive for some of the most noteworthy hotel chains. Each chapter ends with 11 different lessons to live by in business and life.


Natan Sharansky and Gil Troy, authors of Never Alone, in conversation with Nadia Bilchik, media personality, author, and noted speaker
Sunday, November 8, 1 pm
Tickets for this virtual event: $6 or $36 with book (includes shipping).
A limited number of signed books are available.
Presented in partnership with the National JCC Literary Consortium

In 1977, Natan Sharansky, a leading activist in the democratic dissident movement in the Soviet Union and the movement for free Jewish emigration, was arrested by the KGB. He spent nine years as a political prisoner, convicted of treason against the state. Sharansky fought for individual freedom in the face of overt tyranny, a struggle that would come to define the rest of his life.

Never Alone reveals how Sharansky’s years in prison, many spent in harsh solitary confinement, prepared him for a very public life after his release. As an Israeli politician and the head of the Jewish Agency, Sharansky brought extraordinary moral clarity and uncompromising, often uncomfortable, honesty.

With frankness, affection, and humor, Natan Sharansky and leading presidential historian and former two-time Israel Today expert, Gil Troy, offer profound insights from a man who embraced the essential human struggle: to find his own voice, his own faith, and the people to whom he could belong.


Why Did I Come Into This Room? with author Joan Lunden in conversation with Holly Firfer, CNN journalist
Sunday, November 8, 8 pm
Via Zoom, pre-registration required.
Tickets for this virtual event: $11 or $36 with book (includes shipping).
Presented in partnership with the National JCC Literary Consortium

Why Did I Come into This Room? is a funny ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’ for the aging woman..… In her most candid and revealing book yet, acclaimed broadcast journalist, and Baby Boomer Joan Lunden delves into the various phases of aging that leave many feeling uncomfortable, confused, and on edge. Women in their 40s, 50s, 60s, or older will find plenty of helpful information to embrace—or at least prepare for—the inevitable.

Through her poignant and often laugh out loud funny personal experiences, Lunden candidly shares her anxieties and breakthroughs and how she’s coping with the realities of aging. She’s talking about the good, the bad, and the ugly, elevating the conversation on topics often considered “taboo.” As Lunden says, “Aging ain’t for sissies…you better be prepared.”

An award-winning journalist, bestselling author, motivational speaker, and women’s health and wellness advocate, Joan Lunden has been a trusted voice in American homes for more than 30 years.


Dale Berra author of My Dad Yogi
Tuesday, November 10, 8 pm
Via Zoom, pre-registration required.
Tickets for this virtual event: $11 or $24 with book (includes shipping).
Presented in partnership with the National JCC Literary Consortium

Everyone knows Yogi Berra. The American icon was the backbone of the New York Yankees through 10 World Series Championships, managed the National League Champion New York Mets in 1973, and had an ingenious way with words that remains an indelible part of American’s lexicon. But no one knew him like his family did. My Dad, Yogi is Dale Berra’s chronicle of the unshakeable bond with his father and an intimate portrait providing a unique perspective on one of the great sports figures of the 20th Century.

Dale Berra is a former Major League Baseball infielder who played from 1977 to 1987 for the Pittsburgh Pirates, the New York Yankees, and the Houston Astros. He is one of the principles of LTD Enterprises, which maintains the brand and legacy of his Hall of Fame dad.