Florida JCCs Jewish Book Fest

Three weeks in October

Not included with virtual memberships, $75 for the series, $10 per program

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Opening Event

Thursday, October 8, 7:30 pm: Thane Rosenbaum interviewed by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Saving Free Speech … From Itself

Interviewed by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush

In an era of political correctness, race-baiting, terrorist incitement, and, of course, “fake news,” both liberals and conservatives are up in arms about speech and its excesses, and what the First Amendment means.

Thane Rosenbaum argues that certain limits on free speech are not only constitutional and in line with previous case law, but are essential for the maintenance of civil society. Thane Rosenbaum is an essayist, novelist, and Distinguished University Professor at Touro College. He is a Legal Analyst for CBS News Radio and moderates "The Talk Show" at the 92nd Street Y, an annual series on culture, world events, and politics.


Sunday, October 11, 7:30 pm:

Jill Wine-Banks, The Watergate Girl: My Fight for Truth and Justice Against a Criminal President

Interviewed by Dr. Antonio Fins, Palm Beach Post Politics Editor

Obstruction of justice, the specter of impeachment, sexism at work, and shocking revelations: Jill Wine-Banks takes us inside her trial by fire as the only woman on the team of Watergate prosecutors. Jill Wine-Banks opens a window on this troubled moment in American history while telling her personal story – that of a young woman seeking to make her professional mark while trapped in a failing marriage, buffeted by sexist preconceptions, and harboring her own secrets.

Jill Wine-Banks is an MSNBC legal analyst. She was the first woman to hold the positions of general counsel of the US Army, Deputy Attorney General of Illinois, and EVP and Chief Operating Officer of the American Bar Association. A graduate of the University of Illinois and Columbia Law School, she lives in Chicago.


Monday, October 12, 1:00 pm:

Florida Author Spotlight

Moderated by Les Standiford, Author and Founding Director of the Creative Writing Program at Florida International University

Presented by the Miami Book Fair

*This event only is FREE; registration required. To register, please click on the Purchase Tickets link at the top of this page.

John Gregersen, Yamato Colony: The Pioneers Who Brought Japan to Florida
Celebrating the lives of ordinary men and women who left their homes and traveled an enormous distance to settle and raise their families in Florida, this book brings to light a unique moment in the state’s history that few people know about today.

Rick Kilby, Florida's Healing Waters: Gilded Age Mineral Springs, Seaside Resorts, and Health Spa
Kilby's book spotlights a little-known time in Florida history when tourists poured into the state in search of good health. Kilby shows how Florida’s natural wonders were promoted and developed as restorative destinations for America’s emerging upper class. The rapid growth in tourism infrastructure that began during the Gilded Age lasted well into the twentieth century, and Kilby explains how these now-lost resorts helped boost the economy of modern Florida.

Amy Paige Condon, A Nervous Man Shouldn't Be Here in the First Place: The Life of Bill Baggs
In this fiirst biography of this influential editor of the Miami News, Amy Paige Condon retraces how an orphaned boy from rural Colquitt, Georgia, bore witness and impacted some of the twentieth century’s most earth-shifting events: World War II, the civil rights movement, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the Vietnam War. From bombardier to reporter then accidental diplomat, Baggs, a white editor of a prominent southern newspaper, championed unpopular ideas and used his daily column as a bully pulpit for social justice and wielded his pen like a scalpel to reveal the truth.


Monday, October 12, 7:30 pm:

Cameron Douglas, Long Way Home and Dan Peres, As Needed for Pain: A Memoir of Addiction

Interviewed by Cindy Krischer Goodman, South Florida Sun Sentinel Health Reporter

Cameron Douglas, Long Way Home

From the scion of Hollywood royalty—son of Michael Douglas, grandson of Kirk Douglas—comes a moving, often shocking memoir detailing Cameron Douglas's struggle to regain his dignity and humanity after many years of drug abuse and almost eight years in prison. Born into wealth and privilege, his life seems golden...but by the age of thirty, he has become a drug addict, a thief, and a convicted drug dealer. Eventually, he will understand his psychological turmoil and successfully reenter society. Douglas has written a raw and unstintingly honest recount of his harrowing, remarkable, and inspiring life story.

Dan Peres, As Needed for Pain: A Memoir of Addiction
This is a raw, riveting, and often wryly funny addiction memoir that explores Peres's never-before-told story of opioid addiction and the drastic impact it had on his life and career as an editor at W and Details magazines. A gifted writer and shrewd cultural observer, Peres lays bare the extent of his drug use—at one point a 60-pill-a-day habit. His story is a cautionary coming-of-age tale, a glimpse into the rarefied world of wealth, power, and influence and a brilliant dissection of a life teetering on the edge of destruction, and what it took to pull back from the brink.


Wednesday, October 14, 1:00 pm:

Esther Amini, Concealed: Memoir of a Jewish-Iranian Daughter Caught Between the Chador and America and Jonathan Kaufman, The Last Kings of Shanghai

Interviewed by Tudor Parfitt, historian, writer, broadcaster, traveler and adventurer

Esther Amini, Concealed: Memoir of a Jewish-Iranian Daughter Caught Between the Chador and America

Esther Amini grew up in Queens, New York, during the freewheeling 1960s in a Persian-Jewish household, with parents who had fled Iran. This is a story of being caught between two worlds, a dutiful daughter of traditional parents who hungers for self-determination. In this poignant, funny, uplifting memoir, Amini documents how family members build, wound, and save one another across generations; how lives are shaped by the demands and burdens of loyalty and legacy; and how she rose to the challenge of deciding what to resist and what to accept.

Jonathan Kaufman, The Last Kings of Shanghai
This Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist's epic, multi-generational story details two rival dynasties who flourished in Shanghai and Hong Kong in 20th Century China. By the 1930s, the Sassoon and Kadoorie families, both originally from Baghdad, had been doing business in China for a century, profiting from the Opium Wars, surviving Japanese occupation, courting Chiang Kai-shek, and losing nearly everything as the Communists swept into power. This remarkable tale of opium smuggling, family rivalry, political intrigue, and survival tells how these families participated in China's economic boom but were blind to the country's deep inequality and political turmoil. The long-hidden odysseys of the Sassoons and the Kadoories hold a key to understanding modern China's modernization and global power.


Sunday, October 18, 11:00 am:

Michael Ian Black, A Better Man: A (Mostly) Serious Letter to My Son and Cleo Stiller, Modern Manhood

Interviewed by Rabbi Dan Horwitz, CEO of Alper JCC designated by The Forward as one of America’s Most Inspiring Rabbis

In Michael Ian Black's inspiring and deeply personal book, this comedian, actor, and father gets (mostly) serious about the trouble with masculinity. In the form of a heartfelt letter to his college-bound son, he reveals his own complicated relationship with his father, explores the damage caused by the expectations placed on boys to "man up" and searches for the best way to help his son become part of the solution, not the problem. Part memoir, part advice book, Black delivers a poignant answer to an urgent question: How can we be, and raise, better men? A Better Man is for parents but also for everyone navigating the complex gender issues of our time.

Michael Ian Black is an actor, comedian, writer of award-winning books for children and adults, and stand-up comedian. He lives in Connecticut with his wife and two children.

Cleo Stiller, Modern Manhood
Journalist Cleo Stiller's fun(ny) and informative collection of advice and perspectives about what it means to be a good guy in the era of #MeToo uses conversations that real men and women are having with their friends, their dates, their family, and themselves. Free of judgment, preaching and sugarcoating, Modern Manhood is engaging and provocative, and ultimately a great resource for gaining a deeper understanding of what it means to be a genuinely good man today.

Cleo Stiller is an award-winning journalist, speaker and television host. She speaks around the country about her work and social impact, most recently at New York University Global Affairs: Women's Global Health Conference.


Sunday, October 18, 4:00 pm:

Jo Ivestor, Once a Girl, Always a Boy and Mimi Lemay, What We Will Become

Interviewed by Jeanette Jennings, LGBTQ activist and mother of Jazz Jennings

Jo Ivestor, Once a Girl, Always a Boy: A Family Memoir of a Transgender Journey

Jo Ivestor's book is the story of her son's difficult yet joyful journey. Her son, Jeremy, is transgender. Thirty years ago, she welcomed him into the world as a daughter. As a child, Jeremy preferred "masculine" toys and clothes; in his twenties, he had sex reassignment surgery. The book is told from multiple perspectives: Those of the siblings who struggled to understand the brother they knew as a sister, and of the parents who joined him in the battle against discrimination. This is a story of acceptance in a world not quite ready to accept.

Mimi Lemay, What We Will Become
This courageous book teaches us to listen to our children, remove preconceptions and see the world through a child's eyes. It chronicles a family's journey of losing a daughter named Em and gaining a son named Jacob - and of three generations of seekers learning to forge their own paths, just as Jacob had when he resolutely declared himself a boy at age two. In accepting Jacob for who he was, the author's nuclear family moved through emotional turmoil to peace and understanding, grounded on a solid foundation of love.

Tuesday, October 20, 12:00 - 4:00 pm:

Fiction Forum: A Novel Idea...4 Hours! 8 Great Authors!

Moderated by Lauren Zimmerman, owner of Writer’s Block Bookstore, Orlando

Jennifer Rosner, The Yellow Bird Sings

Jennifer Rosner's debut novel follows Roza and her young daughter, Shira, who flee the Nazis during World War II, staying alive through sharing memories and their love of music. With the constant threat of discovery from their first hiding place, they depart on separate paths - Shira to a convent orphanage while Roza is left to fend for herself in the woods - both enduring hunger, discomfort, mental anguish, confusion and denial. Rosner portrays the parallel survival journeys of these nuanced and complex characters and brings to light the burden of Holocaust survivor guilt while showing that life goes on — with life-affirming passions like the music this mother and daughter shared.

The Yellow Bird Sings is Jennifer Rosner's debut novel. Her previous books include the memoir If A Tree Falls: A Family's Quest to Hear and Be Heard about raising her deaf daughters, and the children's book The Mitten String.

Jan Eliasberg, Hannah’s Song
Veteran film and television writer Jan Eliasberg's first novel explores the wartime life of a brilliant Jewish female physicist, Dr. Hannah Weiss, based on a real and largely unsung genius named Lise Meitner. Part love story, part Holocaust tale, part thriller, the book begins in the Kaiser Wilhelm Laboratory in 1938 Berlin as Jews gradually became non-persons. Hannah's complicated relationship with German fellow scientist Stefan Frei, who comes to value her genius, continues after the war when in New Mexico of 1945, she is working on the Manhattan Project with Robert Oppenheimer. Hannah is suspected of sending atomic bomb secrets to Frei — an act of treason for which she faces execution. Are her notes to Stefan helping the Nazis? Or are Stefan and Hannah purposefully giving the Nazis misleading information? The novel deals with physics, espionage, and Jewish tragedy but is also a deeply affecting emotional tale of redemptive love.

Jan Eliasberg is an award-winning writer and prolific director of dramatic pilots for CBS, NBC, and ABC including Miami Vice and Wiseguy; countless television series episodes including Bull, Nashville, Parenthood, The Magicians, Blue Bloods and NCIS: Los Angeles. Eliasberg also has a storied career as a screenwriter.

Max Gross, The Lost Shtetl
What if there were a Jewish town that Hitler missed? For over fifty years, Kreskol, a tiny Polish shtetl, has existed virtually untouched and unchanged, spared of the Holocaust and Cold War, enjoying an isolated peace. But then a marriage dispute spirals out of control. Pesha, in a loveless, arranged marriage, summons the courage to escape Kreskol. When her husband pursues her, panicked town leaders, protecting their own secrets, send orphaned outcast Yankel, woefully unprepared and functionally illiterate, to bring them home. Then Yankel's story comes out and is splashed across the covers of Polish newspapers. Ready or not, Kreskol is suddenly rediscovered and brought into the 21st century. Torn asunder by disagreement between those embracing change and those clinging to its old-world ways, the town may soon be forced to make a choice or disappear altogether.

Max Gross is a staff reporter for the New York Post, where his article "Schlub You the Right Way" was published. His occasional column, The Hapless Jewish Writer, appears in The Forward. He lives in Queens, New York.

David Hopen, The Orchard
A poignant coming-of-age story, in The Orchard a devout Jewish high school student's plunge into the secularized world threatens everything he knows of himself. In ultra-Orthodox Brooklyn, Ari Eden's lonely days were dedicated to intense study and religious rituals. So, when his family moves to a glitzy Miami suburb, Ari seizes his chance for reinvention in a new, opulent Jewish academy. Entangled in the school's most exclusive and wayward group, Ari is stunned by his peers' dizzying wealth, ambition and shameless pursuit of life's pleasures. Influenced by their charismatic rabbi, the group begins testing their religion in unconventional ways, pushing moral boundaries and careening toward a perilous future in which the traditions of their faith are repurposed to mysterious, tragic ends. Mesmerizing and playful, heartrending and darkly romantic, The Orchard probes the conflicting forces that determine who we become: the heady relationships of youth, the allure of greatness, the doctrines we inherit, and our concealed desires.

David Hopen is a student at Yale Law School. Raised in Hollywood, Florida, he earned his master's degree from the University of Oxford and graduated from Yale College. The Orchard is his debut novel.

Leslie K. Barry, Newark Minutemen
Barry's 1930s fictionalized true story is about Jewish American boxers backed by the FBI and Mafia who fight American Nazis when no one else will. The Nazi party is on the rise, led by a charismatic, dangerous, self-styled American Hitler. Thousands of Americans have joined a campaign of rabid nationalism and antisemitism that threatens American democracy. While the Party is planning its biggest expansion ever, Yael Newman, a young Jewish boxer fighting for an FBI-formed militia and run by prominent Jewish gangsters, infiltrates the Party disguised as a Storm Trooper. Along the way, a forbidden love affair with American Nazi Krista Brecht, spies and assassination complicate his journey, noticeably alongside the echoes of a Nuremberg-like cry that calls for German Americans to rise up and "Make America Great."

Leslie K. Barry is a screenwriter, author, and executive producer. She has had executive positions with major entertainment companies including Turner Broadcasting, Hasbro/Parker Brothers and Mattel Mindscape Video Games. She lives in Tiburon, CA with her husband, four kids and a dog.

Linda Kass, A Ritchie Boy
Set during the dawn of World War II and the disruptive decade to follow, A Ritchie Boy features Eli Stoff, a young Jewish immigrant from Vienna who escapes to America with his parents. Within five years, he has joined the US Army and, thanks to his understanding of the German language and culture, joins thousands of others like him who become known as Ritchie boys, young men who work undercover in Intelligence on the European front to help the Allies win the war. The narrative is written as a series of interrelated stories, each told by different characters who follow Eli from Vienna to New York, from Ohio to Maryland, and then to war-torn Europe before he returns to his new country to set down roots. The circumstances and people in these stories help shape Eli's journey from Europe to America, and from boyhood to manhood.

Linda Kass is the author of Tasa's Song, and is the owner of Gramercy Books, an independent bookstore in central Ohio, where she is known for her extensive public service.

Meg Clayton, The Last Train to London
Based on true events, The Last Train to London tells the story of Dutchwoman Truus Wijsmuller who, working with British and Austrian Jews, risks her life to rescue thousands of children from Nazi-occupied Vienna, a dangerous mission after the borders close to refugees desperate to escape. In 1936, the Nazis are little more than brutish bores to fifteen-year old Stephan, a budding playwright and son of a wealthy and influential Jewish family, and his best friend, brilliant Žofie-Helene, a Christian whose mother edits a progressive, anti-Nazi newspaper. The two adolescents' carefree innocence is shattered when the Nazis take control. After Britain passes a measure to take in child refugees, "Tante Truus" dares to approach Adolf Eichmann in a race against time to bring Stephan, his brother Walter, Žofie-Helene and others on a perilous journey to an uncertain future.

This national bestseller in the U.S., Canada, and Europe will be published in over a dozen countries. Clayton's screenplay for the novel was chosen for the esteemed Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman.

Hallie Ephron, Careful What You Wish For
Emily Harlow is a professional organizer who helps people declutter their lives; yet she's married to a man who stops at every yard sale. Like other decluttering professionals, Emily has devised a set of ironclad rules. When working with couples, she makes clear that the client is allowed to declutter only his or her own stuff, a stipulation that has kept Emily's own marriage intact. But the larger his "collection" becomes, the deeper the distance grows between them. Emily has two new clients to distract her: a widow whose husband left behind a storage unit, and a young wife whose husband won't allow her stuff into their house, with whom Emily's meeting takes a detour when they end up fantasizing about how much more pleasant life would be without their collecting spouses. But the next day, Emily finds herself in a mess that is too big to clean up.

Hallie Ephron is The New York Times bestselling author of Never Tell a Lie, Come and Find Me, There Was an Old Woman, Night Night, Sleep Tight and You'll Never Know, Dear. The daughter of Hollywood screenwriters, she grew up in Beverly Hills, and lives near Boston.


Tuesday, October 20, 7:30 pm:

Erica Katz,The Boys' Club and Anna Solomon, The Book of V

Interviewed by Marcie Tennen, member of BookSmart, a book consulting and bookfair business

Erica Katz, The Boys' Club

This debut novel is optioned to Netflix and is a Cosmopolitan Best Summer Read of 2020. Alex Vogel - high achiever with a Harvard Law School degree - accepts a dream offer at a prestigious Manhattan law firm, promising her boyfriend the job won't change her. Yet she is seduced by the firm's money, energy and particularly by a handsome coworker. As she begins to question everything — including herself and the dark reality of the firm is revealed, she must do what's right, even if it means exposing the shocking truth.

Erica Katz is the pseudonym for a graduate of Columbia Law School who is employed at a large law firm in Manhattan.

Anna Solomon, The Book of V
This Good Morning America Book Club pick intertwines the lives of three women across three centuries. In 2016, Lily, a mother, daughter, second wife and would-be writer, grapples with sexual and intellectual desires. Vivian Barr, political wife to an ambitious husband in Watergate-era Washington DC refuses his demand of a humiliating favor, which changes her life. Esther is an independent young woman in ancient Persia, living a tenuous existence. When an innocent mistake results in devastating consequences for her people, she is offered up as a sacrifice to the King to save them. These characters' overlapping stories illuminate how women's lives have and have not changed over the years.

Anna Solomon is the author of Leaving Lucy Pear, and The Little Bride, a two-time winner of the Pushcart Prize. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband and two children


Thursday, October 22, 7:30 pm:

Ruth Behar, Letters from Cuba

Interviewed by Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff, Holocaust Educator

The situation is getting dire for Jews in Poland on the eve of World War II. Esther joins her father, who has fled to Cuba. Heartbroken to be separated from her beloved sister, Esther writes down everything that happens until they're reunited, both good and bad: the kindness of the Cuban people and her discovery of a valuable hidden talent; the fact that Nazism has found a foothold even in Cuba. Esther's evocative letters are full of her appreciation for life and reveal her determination and rare ability to bring people together, the while striving to get the rest of her family out of Poland. Based on Ruth Behar's family history, this compelling story celebrates the resilience of the human spirit in the most challenging times.

Ruth Behar, anthropologist, poet, filmmaker and writer, was born in Havana to an Ashkenazi and Sephardic family grew up in New York, and became the first Latina to win a MacArthur Genius Grant. Letters from Cuba is inspired by her grandmother's story of escaping Poland to make a new life in Cuba. A graduate of Wesleyan and Princeton, Behar lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.


Closing Event

Sunday, October 25, 4:00 pm: Brad Meltzer and Illustrator Christopher Eliopolos, I am Anne Frank | I am Benjamin Franklin

Interviewed by Mitchell Kaplan, owner of Books & Books and co-founder of Miami Book Fair

The 21st and 22nd books in the New York Times bestselling series of biographies about heroes tells the story of Benjamin Franklin, scientist and one of the Founding Fathers of the US who helped draft the Declaration of Independence, and Anne Frank, the young Jewish girl who documented her life while hiding from the Nazis during World War II, whose courage and hope during a time of terror are still an inspiration for people around the world today. Each friendly, fun biography series focuses on the traits that made our heroes great—traits that kids can aspire to in order to live heroically themselves for the youngest nonfiction readers. The hero's childhood influences, photos, and timelines are included.

Brad Meltzer is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Inner Circle, The Book of Fate, and seven other bestselling thrillers and the host of the hit History Channel series, Brad Meltzer's Decoded. Brad lives in Florida with his wife and three children.

Christopher Eliopoulos began his illustration career as a letterer for Marvel and has worked on thousands of comics, all of which he wrote and illustrated. He has illustrated all of the bestselling Ordinary People Change the World series of picture books. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and their identical twin sons.

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