Jewish Book Festival 2019-2020

Stirring up Good Trouble. The Science of Snacking. Israeli Innovation. Groundbreaking Genetics and Profit Meets Purpose.

The annual celebration of Jewish writers, books, and ideas, Simon Family JCC’s Lee & Bernard Jaffe Family Jewish Book Festival provides opportunities to engage with talented authors about their latest books and projects.

The Simon Family JCC is a member of the Jewish Book Council, a group that supports more than 120 organizations across North America, including JCC’s, synagogues, Hillels, Jewish Federations, and cultural centers.

Books by prominent and emerging authors will be featured in a pop-up bookstore in the Simon Family JCC’s Copeland Cardo. Emmy Award-winning writers, New York Times bestselling authors, visual artists, and popular journalists are all part of the Festival’s 2019–2020 line-up.

Good Trouble

Lessons from the Civil Rights Playbook

Christopher Noxon
Monday, November 4, 6 pm

Christopher Noxon’s vivid pen and watercolor drawings provide a moral imagination map for activists and communities seeking inspiration and guidance.

Expect some pre-election day thoughts when Noxon speaks about the importance of confrontation, joy, and faith.

This event marks Noxon’s first gallery-style exhibition where he will display illustrations from Good Trouble, as well as feature art created expressly to reflect Tidewater’s and Virginia’s Civil Rights history.

A journalist, illustrator and civil rights champion, Christopher Noxon’s work appears in the New Yorker, the Atlantic, Salon and the New York Times.

Book proceeds are donated to the Center for Popular Democracy, a nonprofit advocacy group devoted to racial justice, health care, and poverty issues.

Proceeds from the sale of art will benefit Simon Family JCC’s Arts + Ideas Department and Center for Popular Democracy.


Why Israel is a Hub of Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Inbal Arieli
Wednesday, November 6, 7:30 pm

A former officer in the Israeli defense forces Elite Intelligence Unit 8200, Inbal Arieli is the keeper and teller of secrets about Israel’s rise to dominance. A tiny country with the highest concentration of start-ups per capita worldwide, Israel boasts a significant number of entrepreneurs.

Her message to aspiring entrepreneurs is compelling, counter-intuitive, and points to reframing the concept of rule-breaking chutzpah.

In conjunction with the Community Relations Council of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, including UJFT’s Society of Professionals. Learn more about Israel Today at Today.

Hacking Darwin

Genetic Engineering and the Future of Humanity

Jamie Metzl
Tuesday, November 12, 7:30 pm

A leading geopolitical expert and technology futurist, Jamie Metzl shares a groundbreaking exploration of the many ways genetic engineering is shaking the core foundations of our lives–sex, war, love, and death.

Open to discussion (and up for debate) is that slippery slope between breathtaking advances in human well-being and the descent into a potentially deadly genetic arms race and Dystopian society.

Tidewater Reads!

Local Authors Present

Sunday, November 17, 1:00 pm

Lisa Barr, Outsmart your Pain

Alan Bartel, Family, Faith and Love: Beyond Immigration

Abbot Grandoff, Crowns of Gold

Michael Weissman, Therapy According to God

The Cast: A Novel

Amy Blumenfeld
Monday, November 18, 7:30 pm

Amy Blumenfeld brings to life alternating perspectives of five characters, with an eye on authenticity and the role that the passing of time plays in shaping our friendships and ourselves in The Cast.

Blumenfeld is an award-winning writer and national reporter whose work is published in the New York Times, O, the Oprah Magazine, Hadassah and People, among others. She is also a recipient of the James A. Wechsler Award for National Reporting.

Register your Book Club for a special meet and greet with author, reserved seats, and more.

Contact Patty Shelanski at

In partnership with United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s Women’s Cabinet and Young Adult Division.

A Field Guide to the Jewish People

Dave Barry, Adam Mansbach, Alan Zweibel
Wednesday, December 4, 2019, 7:30 pm

Susan S. Goode Fine and Performing Arts Center
Virginia Wesleyan University
5817 Wesleyan Drive, Virginia Beach

$18 admission; $40 admission and book. Special bundle of admission and signed book closes November 27. Limited seating. Advance tickets strongly suggested.

Almost nothing is off limits when an original Saturday Night Live writer, author of New York Times bestseller, Go the F**K to Sleep, and the inspiration for Dave’s World, take one stage.

Sarcasm, self-deprecation, paranoia, wisdom, and culture have never clashed so delectably.

Alan Zweibel, Adam Mansbach, and Dave Barry will rekindle your love of Jewish culture and fill your cup with new things to worry about.

Presented by the Milton “Mickey” Kramer Scholar-in-Residence Fund’s Tidewater Together series.

Here All Along

Finding Meaning, Spirituality, and a Deeper Connection to Life—In Judaism (After Finally Choosing to Look There)

Sarah Hurwitz
Sunday, December 8, 10:00 am
Temple Emanuel with Congregation
Beth Chaverim

Michelle Obama’s former speechwriter, Sarah Hurwitz, was born Jewish, but wasn’t sold on Judaism’s place in her life until recently. It took a bad break up to create the opening for exploration that lead to a profound spiritual journey. Stepping outside the synagogue, Hurwitz rediscovers her long-lost connection to Judaism in the place where Jewish law co-exists with everyday questions like how to feed your animals or start a business.

Hurwitz encourages us to experience our own rediscovery as she helps us answer the essential question: Why Does Judaism Matter?

Presented by the Milton “Mickey” Kramer Scholar-in-Residence Fund’s Tidewater Together series.

Shadow Strike

Inside Israel’s Secret Mission to Eliminate Syrian Nuclear Power

Yaakov Katz
Monday, December 9, 7:30 pm

Shadow Strike tells, for the first time, the story of the espionage, political courage, military might and psychological warfare behind Israel’s daring operation to stop one of the greatest known acts of nuclear proliferation.

Before he took on the role of editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post, Yaakov Katz spent two years as a senior policy adviser to Israel’s Minister of Economy and Minister of Diaspora Affairs.

In conjunction with the Community Relations Council of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, and community partners’ Israel Today series. Learn more about Israel Today at

In partnership with United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s Society of Professionals.


LatkePalooza — Sunday, December 15

Goodnight Bubbala

A Joyful Jewish Not-so-Quiet Parody of Goodnight Moon

Sheryl Haft
11:30 am

Sheryl Haft pours her infectious affection for Yiddish and Jewish culture into her new picture book Goodnight Bubbala.

This zesty parody is full of love, kvelling, and of course, noshing. Treat yourself and your kids to this festive mix of music, puppets, storytelling and latkes.

Gina from Siberia

Jane Bernstein
1:30 pm

Jane Bernstein is an award-winning author and professor at Carnegie Mellon University. She co-wrote Gina from Siberia with her daughter Charlotte Glynn.

Based on the true story of Jewish immigrants, determined not to leave their beloved dog behind, Victor becomes a ‘rescue’ dog who finds Gina the terrier, and gives her a new leash on life.

Gina from Siberia is a timely story about immigration, acceptance and upheaval, the value of connection, and the process of finding a home in a very different place.

Gittel’s Journey

An Ellis Island Story

Lesléa Newman
2:00 pm

Lesléa Newman is the author of the groundbreaking story Heather Has Two Mommies. Gittel’s Journey: An Ellis Island Story is based on a pivotal time in her life.

Gittel’s Journey is about a small girl, a big ship and a huge country, and a nine-year-old starting life over in a strange place, completely alone.


The Face Tells the Secret

Jane Bernstein
Monday, December 16, 12:00 pm
Beth Sholom Village, 6401 Auburn Dr., Virginia Beach

$12 lunch/$21 lunch and book. Bundled registration for lunch and signed book closes December 9.

Navigating challenging relationships is at the heart of The Face Tells The Secret. How does compassion for others co-exist with self-love?

Love comes at a high price for Roxanne, a single 40-year-old product designer who lives in Pittsburgh and is estranged from her family in Tel Aviv. The cost of a meaningful relationship that has long eluded her means facing her past, and acknowledging ways she’s been shaped by it.

Jane Bernstein is also an essayist, a lapsed screenwriter, and a member of the Creative Writing program at Carnegie Mellon University.

Unlocking Greatness

Charlie Harary
Wednesday, January 8, 2020, 7:30 pm

Author, attorney, and CEO, Charlie Harary presents a unique combination of science, self, emotion, spirituality, and practical tools to manifest greatness.

Harary doesn’t believe that MIT grads working in Silicon Valley or entrepreneurs are the only people born to innovate. ‘Everyday innovator’ reflects Harary’s belief that anyone can innovate—they just need a few tools and tips.

Harary is a best-selling author and is regarded internationally for his charismatic and forward-thinking lectures, seminars, and keynotes.

Presented by the Milton “Mickey” Kramer Scholar-in-Residence Fund’s Tidewater Together series in partnership with the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s Society of Professionals.

What to Eat When

A Strategic Plan to Improve Your Health & Life Through Food

Michael Roizen
Thursday, January 16, 2020, 12:00 pm

$12 lunch/$31 lunch and book. Bundled registration for lunch and a signed book closes by January 9.

Michael Roizen will empower you, A NEW VERSION OF YOU, to make food the best weapon to live better, longer. Whether its eating meals that help you look and feel younger, or snacks that prevent disease, there’s a science governing the wisdom behind these choices.

Dr. Michael Roizen is the chief wellness officer at the Cleveland Clinic. He is the co-author of five New York Times bestsellers, including You: The Owners Manual.

In partnership with Simon Family JCC’s JFit, United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s Society of Professionals, and Jewish Family Service of Tidewater.


Lessons from Elie Wiesel’s Classroom

Ariel Burger
Monday, January 27, 2020 7:30 pm
Congregation Beth El

Elie Wiesel was a master of thought, words, and deeds in equal measure. His powerful presence inspired lifelong student, rabbi, and artist Ariel Burger to apply those teachings to urgent questions of the day.

Presented by the Milton “Mickey” Kramer Scholar-in-Residence Fund’s Tidewater Together series in partnership with the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s Holocaust Commission, in honor of international Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Renegade Women in Film and TV

Elizabeth Weitzman
Thursday, February 6, 2020 12:00 pm

Includes free lunch with RSVP.

In Renegade Women in Film and TV, Elizabeth Weitzman does more than honor remarkable women in film and television. With charming illustrations and a storytelling twist, she brings icons and overlooked pioneers to life, and shows what it really means to be a renegade in the business.

The book features recognizable faces and names such as Amy Poehler, Oprah, Ellen, Shonda Rhimes and Nora Ephron, among others.

Expect Weitzman to surprise and enlighten you with truths about a brilliant cast of women who chose to rock their industry with bold moves, both in front of the camera and behind the scenes.

Illustrations on exhibit in the Simon family JCC’s Leon Family Gallery throughout January and February, leading up to the 27th annual Virginia Festival of Jewish Film, which begins on February 20, 2020.

Live! Unorthodox Podcast — The Newish Jewish Encyclopedia

Alana Newshouse, Stephanie Butnick, Liel Leibovitz, Mark Oppenheimer

Thursday, March 19, 7:30 pm

Zeiders American Dream Theater
4509 Commerce Street, Virginia Beach

$18 Admission/$50 Admission and both books. Special bundle of admission and both signed books ends March 12. Limited seating. Advance tickets strongly suggested.

Join a live taping of Tablet magazine’s leading international podcast, Unorthodox.

Dishing on all-things-Jewish with equal parts profundities, profanities, snarkiness and sincerity, podcaster hosts-turned-authors put their collective stamp on contemporary Judaism in The Newish Jewish Encyclopedia, offering every reader their own starting point of connection with the culture, the tradition, and the religion.

The 100 Most Jewish Foods

A Highly Delectable List

Alana Newhouse, Editor-in-Chief Tablet magazine

The 100 Most Jewish Foods gives context to and celebrates the one thing everyone can relate to in Jewish life: food.

Dare to Matter

Your Path to Making a Difference

Jordan Kassalow, Jennifer Krause

Thursday, May 14, 2020, 7:30 pm
Ohef Sholom Temple 

It’s not every day a female rabbi gets a chance to collaborate on a ‘big idea’ book project with her optometrist.

VisionSpring Founder and “NY’s Hippest Rabbi” bring their complementary ideas and perspectives to a modern template for living in service to others and making a real difference, without losing sight of personal, family, and financial commitments.

In the book’s Forward, Warby Parker, co-CEO and co-founder Neil Blumenthal, refers to Kassalow as his boss, mentor, and friend, and writes about the many ways his work has been inspired by Kassalow.

Presented by the Milton “Mickey” Kramer Scholar-in-Residence Fund’s Tidewater Together series in partnership with United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s Society of Professionals.

Blood, Sweat and my Rock ’n’ Roll Years

Steve Katz

Thursday, June 4, 2020, 7:30 pm
Simon Family JCC Pool

LIVE Concert with music icon, Steve Katz

$18 or Free with gift to United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s 2019-2020 Annual Campaign.

Ever wonder how it feels to be a Jewish rock star?

UJFT’s Year End Event and concert with Music Icon Steve Katz!

The founding member of Blood, Sweat and Tears, and music producer who worked with rock renegade Lou Reed, Katz writes openly about being a Jewish ‘rock star’ and the 60s and 70s music scene.