Florida JCCs Book & Author Series

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November 12:

Jennifer Steinhauer, The Firsts
Marlene Trestman, Fair Labor Lawyer

Moderated by Sheila Katz, CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW)

Jennifer Steinhauer The Firsts: The Inside Story of the Women Reshaping Congress

In November 2018, the greatest number of women in American history entered Congress, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and “the Squad”, “the Badasses,” the first two Native Americans, and the first two Muslim women. All diverse in background, age, professional experience and ideology, they were swept into office on a wave of grassroots support. Jennifer Steinhauer follows their first year in the 116th Congress, probing the question: Would Washington, with its hidebound traditions, change the change-makers or would this Congress, representing today’s America, truly be the start of something new? Vivid and smart, The Firsts delivers fresh details, inside access, historical perspective, and expert analysis as these women — inspiring, controversial, talented, and rebellious — do something truly surprising: make Congress essential again.

Jennifer Steinhauer has covered high profile beats in her 25-year reporting career at The New York Times.

Marlene Trestman The Fair Labor Lawyer: The Remarkable Life of Bessie Margolin
Before there was a “Notorious RBG,” there was an “Audacious Bessie M.” Trestman's Fair Labor Lawyer recounts Bessie Margolin's thrilling and inspirational journey from the New Orleans Jewish Orphans Home through the New Deal to the nation's highest courts, where she defended the New Deal’s Tennessee Valley Authority, drafted the rules for American Military Tribunals for Nazi war crimes at Nuremberg, and shepherded the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 and the Equal Pay Act of 1963. Margolin opened doors for women, one courtroom at a time. The book also reveals her carefully guarded and risky clandestine romances with high-profile government officials who won her heart - but never her hand in marriage.

Margolin and Trestman shared life-changing childhood experiences which prompted them to meet. Trestman is a former Special Assistant to the Maryland Attorney General. She and her husband, Henry Kahn, live in Baltimore.


December 10:

Gavriel Savit, The Way Back

This is a sweeping historical fantasy that follows two teens on a journey through the Far Country, a Jewish land of spirits and demons. 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 to steal away the living. But the demons have a land of their own: a Far Country peopled with the souls of the transient dead, governed by demonic dukes, barons, and earls. When the Angel of Death comes strolling through the little shtetl of Tupik one night, two young people will be sent spinning off on a journey through the Far Country. There they will make pacts with ancient demons, declare war on Death himself, and maybe– just maybe–find a way to make it back alive.

Gavriel Savit is an author and an actor. His award-winning writing has appeared on The New York Times bestseller list and has been translated into 18 languages. As a performer, he has appeared on and off-Broadway and on stages around the world.


January 14:

Alina Adams, Nesting Dolls
Charles Belfoure, The Faberge Secret

Alina Adams Nesting Dolls
Spanning nearly a century from 1930s Siberia to contemporary Brighton Beach, this page turning, epic family saga centers on three generations of women in one Russian Jewish family ― each striving to break free of fate and history, each yearning for love and personal fulfillment, and the consequences of their choices rippling through time. Odessa, 1931. Marrying the handsome, wealthy Edward Gordon, Daria has fulfilled her mother’s dreams. But to survive the crushing power of Stalin’s repressive Soviet state, she is forced to rely on the kindness of a man. Odessa, 1970. Natasha Crystal is determined to study mathematics but the Soviets do not allow Jewish students ― even those as brilliant as Natasha ― to attend the prestigious Odessa University. With her hopes dashed, Natasha finds a new purpose that leads her into the path of a dangerous young man. Brighton Beach, 2019. Zoe Venakovsky has worked hard to leave the suffocating streets and small minds of Brighton Beach behind ― only to find that what she’s tried to outrun might just hold her true happiness. Moving from a Siberian gulag to the underground world of Soviet refuseniks to Brooklyn, The Nesting Dolls is a redemptive story of circumstance, choice, and consequence.

Alina Adams was born in the Soviet Union and is now a New York City mom of three school-age children. She is a contributing writer to TODAY Show Parenting and Mommy Poppins.

Charles Belfoure The Faberge Secret
Like most gentiles in Russia, Prince Dimitri Markhov, a member of the Imperial Court, cares nothing for Jews. But when he sees the carnage of the Easter Sunday pogrom in Kishinev in 1903, he wonders what these people had done to deserve such brutality. His close friend, Tsar Nicholas II, tells him that the Jews brought it on themselves because of their innate avarice but Dimitri meets a Russian doctor, Katya Golitsyn, who acquires a personal connection to these oppressed people when she learns that her great-grandfather had converted from Judaism to Christianity. Dimitri and Katya, who fall in love, are both transformed by the revolutionary movement to overthrow the tsar and his autocracy realizing that tsarist rule is responsible for Russia’s misery, including the pogroms. Dimitri must make a choice between his loyalty to Nicholas and the revolution that will bring justice to millions of Russians.

Charles Belfoure is an American writer, architect and historian specializing in historic preservation, author of several histories and fiction works, including The New York Times best-selling novel The Paris Architect.

February 11:

Jason Brian Rosenthal, My Wife Said You May Want to Marry Me

In Conversation with Briana Schwarz, Florida Regional Director of Sharsheret, the Jewish Breast & Ovarian Cancer Community

On March 3, 2017, Amy Krouse Rosenthal penned an op-ed piece for The New York Times’s “Modern Love” column — “You May Want to Marry My Husband.” It appeared ten days before her death from ovarian cancer. This creative play on a personal ad, in which a dying wife encouraged her husband to go on and find happiness after her demise, quickly went viral worldwide. This inspiring memoir of life, love, loss and new beginnings by the widower of bestselling children’s author and filmmaker, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, is heartbreaking, wry and brutally honest. Jason describes his commitment to respect Amy’s wish even as he struggled with her loss. Surveying his life before, with, and after Amy, Jason ruminates on love, the pain of watching a loved one suffer, and what it means to heal — how he and their three children, despite their profound sorrow, went on. Jason’s emotional journey offers insights on dying and death, the excruciating pain of losing a soulmate and a reflection on Amy’s gift to him — a fresh start to fill his empty space with a new story. 

Jason B. Rosenthal is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dear Boy, co-written with his daughter, Paris. He is the board chair of the Amy Krouse Rosenthal Foundation, which supports childhood literacy and research in early detection of ovarian cancer.


March 11:

Janice Kaplan, The Genius of Women

In Conversation with Susan Gladstone Pasternack, Executive Director of the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU
Girls are told that they can be anything, so why do 90 percent of Americans believe that geniuses are almost always men? Kaplan explores the powerful forces that have rigged the system, and celebrates the women geniuses past and present who have triumphed anyway. Even in this time of rethinking women’s roles, genius is almost exclusively defined through male achievement — think Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, Steve Jobs. As for great women? In one survey, the only female genius anyone listed was Marie Curie. Kaplan set out to determine why the extraordinary work of so many women has been brushed aside. Using a mix of memoir and narrative, she discovers women geniuses throughout history in fields from music to robotics. Such women as Nobel Prize winner Frances Arnold and AI expert Fei-Fei Li prove that genius isn’t just about having talent; it’s about ignoring obstacles and breaking down barriers so that one’s talent is recognized, nurtured, and celebrated.

Janice Kaplan has enjoyed wide success as a magazine editor, television producer, writer, and journalist.


May 13:

Bess Kalb, Nobody Will Tell You This But Me
Dara Kurtz, I Am My Mother's Daughter

In Conversation with Zibby Owens, creator and host of the award-winning podcast Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books. Zibby, named “NYC’s Most Powerful Book-fluencer” by New York Magazine’s Vulture, conducts warm, inquisitive conversations with authors, making her show a top literary podcast as selected by Oprah.com in 2019 and 2020.

Bess Kalb Nobody Will Tell You This But Me: A True (As Told To Me) Story

Bess Kalb saved every voicemail her grandmother Bobby Bell ever left her. Bobby was a force— irrepressible, glamorous, unapologetically opinionated. At ninety, Bobby died. But in this debut memoir, Bobby is speaking to Bess once more, recounting family lore, family secrets and the stories of four generations of indomitable women - and the men who loved them. There was Bobby's mother, who traveled alone from Belarus to America in the 1880s; Bess's mother, a 1970s rebel; then Bess, who left New York for the rough-and-tumble world of L.A. television. Bobby reminds Bess of the experiences they shared, their phone calls, texts, and unforgettable heart-to-hearts brought vividly to the page, and her signature wisdom (If the earth is cracking behind you, you put one foot in front of the other; Never. Buy. Fake. Anything; I swear on your life every word of this is true). With humor, poignancy, and great imagination, Kalb gives portrays the special bond that can skip a generation and endure beyond death.

Bess Kalb is an Emmy Award-nominated writer for the Jimmy Kimmel Live! television show and journalist with The New Yorker magazine.

Dara Kurtz I Am My Mother’s Daughter: Wisdom on Life, Loss and Love
For most of her adult life, Dara Kurtz kept a Ziploc bag of letters written by her mother, who passed away from cancer when Dara was twenty-eight years old. The bag also included letters written by her long-departed grandmothers. She often longed to ask her mother and grandmothers for advice, especially when she, like her mother, was diagnosed with cancer at age 42. Dara has passed down family traditions and wisdom to her two daughters, who now carry on the legacy contained in the Ziploc bag, bridging the generations of women in their family. Dara shares a glimpse into their lives and personalities, their wisdom, the incredible love between Jewish mothers and daughters and the life lessons that helped her overcome cancer. Refocusing her life, she has launched a successful blog, Crazy Perfect Life, to inspire others to make the most of every day.

Dara Kurtz is also the author of the Amazon best seller, Crush Cancer. "It's the book I needed when I was diagnosed that wasn't there."

Cultural Council Discover The Palm Beaches