United Jewish Federation of Tidewater & the Simon Family JCC’s Lee and Bernard Jaffe Family Jewish Book Festival 2020–2021*

by | Nov 5, 2020 | Trending News

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.

To register for events, go to Jewishva.org/bookfest

*events shown only through December 16

The Way Back with author Gavriel Savit
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.


As Needed For Pain: A Memoir of Addiction with author Dan Peres
Monday, November 16, 7:30 pm, free

As Needed for Pain is a raw and riveting—and often wryly funny—addiction memoir from one of New York media’s most accomplished editors, Dan Peres. The book explores his story of opioid addiction and the drastic impact it had on his life and career. Peres’ career as an editor at W magazine and Details is well known, but little is known about his private life as a high-functioning drug addict. In As Needed for Pain, Peres lays bare the extent of his drug use—at one point a 60-pill-a-day habit.

Peres’s story is a cautionary tale filled with unforgettable characters and breathtaking brushes with disaster. But the heart of the book is his journey from outsider to insecure insider, what it took to get him there, and how he found his way back from a killing addiction.


Wandering Dixie: Dispatches from the Lost Jewish South with author Sue Eisenfeld in conversation with Dr. Amy K. Milligan
Wednesday, November 18, 7:30 pm, free

Sue Eisenfeld is a Yankee by birth, a Virginian by choice, an urbanite who came to love the rural South, a Civil War buff, and a Jewish woman. In Wandering Dixie, she travels to nine states, uncovering how the history of Jewish southerners converges with her personal story and the region’s complex, conflicted present. Eisenfeld follows her curiosity about Jewish Confederates and casts an unflinching eye on early southern Jews’ participation in slavery. In the process, she discovers the unexpected ways that race, religion, and histories intertwine.

Eisenfeld’s work has been listed five times among the “Notable Essays of the Year” in The Best American Essays and has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Forward, Civil War Times, Washingtonian, and other publications.


Israel Today
Israel Story in conversation with world renowned author Etgar Keret
Thursday, November 19, 12 pm, free

Join the co-founders and hosts of Israel’s most popular podcast, Israel Story, as they sit down with the Tidewater community for an intimate conversation with Etgar Keret.

Equal parts Franz Kafka and Kurt Vonnegut, and suffused with inimitable and absurdist hilarity, Israeli writer Etgar Keret is a singular voice in contemporary literature. At once dark and delightfully comedic, his masterful short stories capture human experience in all of its inspiring beauty and perplexing shortcomings and bewitch readers with their surreal worlds.

Born in Tel Aviv in 1967, Keret is a favorite author of Israel’s younger generation, as well as an international success for his short stories (Suddenly a Knock on the Door); his children’s stories (Dad Runs Away with the Circus); graphic novels (Pizzeria Kamikaze); and short movies (Jellyfish).

Keret’s books have been published in 31 languages in 35 countries. He has received numerous awards, including the Book Publishers Association’s Platinum Prize and the Ministry of Culture’s Cinema Prize. In 2007, Keret and Shira Gefen won the Cannes Film Festival’s “Camera d’Or” award for their movie Jellyfish. In 2010, Keret was honored in France with the decoration of Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He lectures at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.


Konikoff Center for Learning
Can Robots Be Jewish: Inspirational Rabbis Answer Pressing Questions of Modern Life with Moment Magazine’s editor of “Ask the Rabbis” Amy Schwartz
Wednesday, December 2, 7:30 pm, free

When Moment Magazine arrives, loyal readers turn to its long-running ​“Ask the Rabbis” feature. In this column, rabbis of different denominations consider some of the most provocative questions of the day. Their responses span the range of modern Jewish thought. Sometimes they agree, but not often.

In these Solomon-like deliberations, the rabbis answer some of modernity’s pressing questions: Do science and Judaism conflict? Are there things that cannot be forgiven? Is Judaism good for women? Is there a Jewish way to parent? Should we edit our children’s genes? Can a robot be Jewish? Does Jewish law forbid racism? Do Jews believe in an afterlife? Should there be an 11th commandment and if so what should it be?

Amy E. Schwartz is a longtime editorial writer and op-ed columnist at The Washington Post, is Moment Magazine’s Books and Opinions Editor, as well as editor of the magazine’s popular Ask the Rabbis section. Schwartz is president of the multi-denominational Jewish Study Center in Washington, DC.


The Last Kings of Shanghai with author Jonathan Kaufman
Monday, December 7, 12 pm, free

In the 1930s two powerful Jewish families, the Sassoons and the Kadoories, rival one another in wealth and influence. Originally from Baghdad, these families stood astride Chinese business and politics for more than 175 years, profiting from the Opium Wars; surviving Japanese occupation; courting Chiang Kai-shek; and losing nearly everything as the Communists swept into power. At the height of World War II, these families joined together to rescue and protect 18,000 Jewish refugees fleeing Nazism. Though their stay in China began as a business opportunity, the country became a home they were reluctant to leave, even on the eve of revolution.

Jonathan Kaufman is a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter, editor and author, and served as the Wall Street Journal’s China Bureau Chief, based in Beijing. As a reporter, Kaufman covered race and class issues in the workplace and on college campuses and race and women’s issues in the 2008 presidential campaign.


PJ Library
Going Rogue (At Hebrew School) with author Casey Breton
Sunday, December 13, 11:30 am, free

Ten-year-old Avery Green has always hated Hebrew School. And why shouldn’t he? Not only does it mean he has to spend extra time inside of a classroom, but also Hebrew school has absolutely nothing to do with his three most favorite things: Star Wars, science, and football. But everything turns upside down the day Avery begins to suspect that the mysterious new rabbi just might happen to be…an actual Jedi master! Armed with nothing more than a curious mind and an endless supply of questions, Avery sets out to reveal the truth about Rabbi Bob.

Casey Breton lives in Gloucester, Massachusetts with her husband and three sons. A former elementary school teacher, Breton is a recipient of the PJ Our Way Author Incentive Award, and the 2020 Storyteller-in-Residence for Gloucester’s Fish Tales, a series of live storytelling events for grown-ups.


The Ninth Night of Hanukkah with author Erica Perl
Tuesday, December 15, 6 pm, free

Erica Perl will share her new book, The Ninth Night of Hanukkah, and lead everyone in song and movement activities that will get the entire family up and moving.
Perl writes picture books, novels, chapter books, plays, and articles. Her books have received accolades and awards, including the National Jewish Book Award, and the Sydney Taylor Honor. They’ve also landed on State Book Award lists, “Best Books” lists, and library lists. Her author visits—in person and virtual—are energetic, educational, and engaging. This may be because she has a theater background, a law degree, and an ice cream truck driver’s license.

In The Ninth Night of Hanukkah, it’s Hanukkah, and Max and Rachel are excited to light the menorah in their family’s new apartment. But, unfortunately, their Hanukkah box is missing. So now they have no menorah, candles, dreidels, or, well, anything. Luckily, their neighbors help, offering thoughtful and often humorous stand-in items each night. And then, just as Hanukkah is about to end, Max and Rachel, inspired by the shamash (“helper”) candle, have a brilliant idea: they’re going to celebrate the Ninth Night of Hanukkah as a way to say thanks to everyone who’s helped them!

The story is heartwarming and fun, as well as an invitation to join in a beautiful new Hanukkah tradition.


Jewish Community Relations Council
Saving Free Speech…From Itself with author Thane Rosenbaum
Wednesday, December 16, 12 pm, free

In an era of political correctness, race-baiting, terrorist incitement, the ‘Danish’ cartoons, the shouting down of speakers, and, of course, ‘fake news,’ liberals and conservatives are up in arms both about speech and its excesses, and what the First Amendment means. Speech has been weaponized. Everyone knows it, but no one seems to know how to make sense of the current confusion, and what to do about it.

Thane Rosenbaum’s provocative and compelling book helps make clear this important issue at the heart of society and politics.

Rosenbaum is an essayist, law professor, and author. His articles, reviews, and essays appear frequently in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, CNN, Haaretz, Huffington Post, and Daily Beast, among other national publications. He serves as the Legal Analyst for CBS News Radio and as a Columnist for the Jewish News Syndicate—JNS.