Florida JCCs Book & Author Series

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April 21:
Iddo Gefen, Jerusalem Beach: Stories

At once compassionate, philosophical, and humorous, Jerusalem Beach is a foray into the human condition in all its contradictions. Through a series of snapshots of contemporary life in Israel, Gefen reveals a world that’s a step from the familiar. A man’s grandfather joins an army platoon of geriatrics looking for purpose in old age. A scheming tech start-up exposes the dire consequences of ambition in trying to share human memories. An elderly couple searches for a beach that doesn’t exist. And, a boy mourns his brother’s death in an attempt to catch time like flies in his fist. Entirely heartfelt and infused with pathos, Jerusalem Beach is an exploration of both technology and the brain. Whether ruminating on the stakes of familial love or pitching the reader headlong into the absurdity of success and failure, Gefen leaves the reader intrigued throughout.

Iddo Gefen was born in 1992 in Israel and cur­rent­ly resides in Tel Aviv. He is an author and neu­rocog­ni­tive researcher at the Vir­tu­al and Aug­ment­ed Real­i­ty Lab at the Sagol Brain Insti­tute. There, he leads an inno­v­a­tive study to diag­nose aspects of Parkin­son’s dis­ease using sto­ry­telling and aug­ment­ed real­i­ty. His first book, Jerusalem Beach, received the Israeli Min­is­ter of Cul­ture’s Award in 2017.

Tuesday, April 19:
Phyllis Chesler, Requiem for a Female Serial Killer

This psychological crime thriller takes us inside the mind of a unique female serial killer, a prostitute who murdered seven adult men—a case with which the author was intimately involved. The issues raised by this high-profile criminal case remain unresolved to this day. Women, even prostitutes, have the right to self-defense in theory, but in practice, the story is more complicated. This book will challenge everything you ever thought about prostitutes, serial killers, and justice in America. Aileen Wuornos is a damaged soul, a genuine American outlaw, a symbol of women's rage, a symbol of what can happen to severely abused children, and of how our justice system fails women. Chesler's involvement with a serial killer has haunted her ever since. She speaks in Aileen Wuornos' voice, as well as in her own, and delivers an incisive, original, and dramatic portrait of a cognitively impaired, traumatized, and alcoholic woman who had endured so much pain in her short life. When she'd had enough, the results were deadly. This is a poignant, sometimes humorous, never-before-told behind-the-scenes tale. Wuornos' story is handled with great sensitivity, but also with realistic detachment by Chesler as she probes the telling moment, the telling phrase. Was Wuornos suffering from post-traumatic stress after a life lived on a "killing field?" Was she also "born evil?" So many prostitutes have been torture-murdered by serial killers—how did Wuornos, once prey, become a predator? Requiem for a Female Serial Killer will also haunt you. It won’t let you put it down.

Dr. Phyl­lis Chesler is an Emeri­ta Pro­fes­sor of Psy­chol­o­gy and the author of 20 books, one of which, An Amer­i­can Bride in Kab­ul (2013−2014), won a Nation­al Jew­ish Book Award. Her books include Women and Mad­ness (1972), Moth­ers on Tri­al: The Bat­tle for Chil­dren and Cus­tody (1986), The New Anti-Semi­tism (2003) and her newest book, Requiem for a Female Ser­i­al Killer (2020).

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