Category Archives: Coming Events

Jewish Book Festival Launches Fifth Season

By Phil Jason, Greater Naples Jewish Book Festival Co-Chair

Beginning in November and concluding in March, the 2019-20 Greater Naples Jewish Book Festival will offer a dazzling series of author events, building upon the highly regarded and jam-packed 2018-19 season. The festival, a project of the Jewish Federation of Greater Naples in cooperation with the Jewish Book Council, will once again provide an outstanding contribution to the cultural life of our community. The festival will offer 12 events at several venues, covering 19 books with 22 visiting authors. 

Many of the festival events will feature two authors matched by a common theme or genre. Other events will feature a dynamic solo presenter. One event will feature a book created jointly by three talented authors, all of whom will be on hand.

Be at the Hilton Naples on Tuesday, November 5 at 7:00 p.m. for the festival’s lead-off speaker, Elyssa Friedland, who will discuss her novel The Floating Feldmans. Annette Feldman, hoping to inspire family unity, has chosen to celebrate her 70th birthday on a cruise ship with her entire family. It’s a high-risk piece of wishful thinking that troubled relationships will be healed and that proximity will foster togetherness. Pathos and humor blend as rivalries re-emerge, secrets are revealed and surprises abound. This opening event will feature a 15-minute preview of the entire festival. The event features cruise-themed fun, with prizes for the best cruise photos; book and ticket giveaways; music; drinks and light bites; and other surprises.

On Monday, November 11 at 1:00 p.m., enjoy a fiction session at the Naples Conference Center. Best-selling thriller writer Andrew Gross will talk about his terrifying work of historical fiction, The Fifth Column. A huge Nazi rally in New York’s Madison Square Garden eerily suggests Hitler’s popularity in the winter of 1939. Charles Mossman, despondent from losing his job and family, strikes out at a Nazi group. Two years later, still struggling as the threat of war grows, Mossman finds himself in a world in which Nazi spies are everywhere and his daughter Emma’s life is in jeopardy. Former New York Congressman Steve Israel’s novel, Big Guns, takes us behind the scenes into the political mayhem of the gun debate. After the mayor of a small Long Island town passes an ordinance to ban guns, he is countered by an arms manufacturer’s scheme to promote a recall election. As with Gross’s book, the possible future is horrifying and what seems absurd may come to pass.

On Monday, December 2 at 11:30 a.m., a special food-related event comes to town. Alana Newhouse’s book, The 100 Most Jewish Foods: A Highly Debatable List, becomes the inspiration for lunching at the Hilton. The James Beard Foundation nominee for innovative storytelling is informative, passionate, quirky and rich with layers of tradition and history. Which Jewish foods are the most significant, culturally and historically, to the Jewish people? Find out from this book, brimming with recipes and thoughts from a gallery of important contributors. Newhouse is the founder and editor of Tablet, the daily online magazine of Jewish news, culture and issues.

History lessons continue with the hilarious A Field Guide to the Jewish People by Dave Barry, Adam Mansbach and Alan Zweibel. Return to the Hilton on Monday, December 9 at 7:00 p.m. as the authors let us in on such critical information as why yarmulkes are round and who was the first Jewish comedian. Finally, you can learn why random Jewish holidays keep springing up at unexpected times. Floridians are long familiar with Pulitzer Prize-winning Barry. Mansbach has several bestselling titles and an award-winning novel, The End of the Jews. Zweibel, who wowed us during the 2017-2018 festival, has won five Emmy awards for his work on The Late Show with David Letterman and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

On Thursday, December 19 at 7:00 p.m., come back to the Hilton for a non-fiction duet. Hear Adam Chandler expound on America’s romance with fast food as described in Drive-Thru Dreams. It’s been at least a century since the bond between American life and fast food took hold. The food has been addictive; the operations of the major players have been questionable. Chandler reveals the industry’s history through heartfelt anecdotes and fascinating trivia. From its White Castle beginnings to its international charisma, Chandler provides food for thought and thought for food. Stephen M. Silverman, who has written 13 books, takes readers on the ultimate nostalgia trip with his captivating history of The Amusement Park. He tells the story through tracing the lives of the characters who envisioned and built these parks. Have a reading vacation with him as you visit Sea World, Coney Island, Tivoli Gardens, Six Flags, Dollywood, Riverview and all the rest. Silverman’s work appears in such topnotch periodicals as Harper’s Bazaar, The London Times and Vogue. Enhancing their presentations, both authors will use photos and graphics projected on large screens in the Hilton ballroom.

Jenoff

On Wednesday, January 8 at 1:00 p.m., Temple Shalom will be the venue for a historical fiction session. In Pam Jenoff’s The Lost Girls of Paris, a seemingly abandoned suitcase is found by a woman who discovers that it holds photographs of 12 different women. Through a series of setting and point-of-view shifts, Jenoff reveals that the woman who misplaced the suitcase was the leader of a cadre of women who served as secret agents during World War II. They did their work in Occupied Europe as couriers and radio operators. Several of these women are profiled in detail and their fates are revealed. Melanie Benjamin’s Mistress of the Ritz is a fictionalized representation of Blanche Auzello’s amazing life. This Jewish-American woman used forged papers to create a new life as an undercover Resistance worker. Her cover was playing hostess to the invading Germans at the legendary Ritz in Paris. Both authors have several bestselling books. 

Monday, January 13 brings the festival to the Naples Jewish Congregation for a memoir session beginning at 1:00 p.m. Marra B. Gad’s The Color of Love relates the experiences of a mixed-race woman who, after 15 years of estrangement from her racist great-aunt, helps bring her home when Alzheimer’s strikes. This inspirational story probes what people inherit from their families: identity, disease and, in the best case, love. Gad holds an advanced degree in modern Jewish history from Baltimore Hebrew University. Angel Himsel’s A River Could Be a Tree tells of being the seventh of 11 children growing up in southern Indiana in an apocalyptic, doomsday Christian faith. A trip to Israel to learn what’s behind the church’s strict tenets made her question Christianity and ultimately convert to Judaism. Himsel’s writing has appeared in The New York Times and Jewish Week. Her book is listed in 23 Best New Memoirs (bookauthority.org).

On Tuesday, January 28, return to the Hilton at 7:00 p.m. for an exciting non-fiction event showcasing two entertainment media specialists. Ken Sutak’s Cinema Judaica: The Epic Cycle 1950-1972 is the stunning sequel to Cinema Judaica: The War Years 1939-1949. It is illustrated with more than 400 four-color, high-definition images of Jewish heroines, heroes and history (biblical Holocaust and Israel foun­dation) taken from the breathtaking movie poster art of the post-war cycle of spectacular, epic films. Sutak has also produced museum exhibits and is a donor of the Cinema Judaica Collection at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Elizabeth Weitzman’s Renegade Women in Film & TV blends stunning illustrations, fascinating biographical profiles and exclusive interviews with icons like Barbra Streisand, Rita Moreno and Sigourney Weaver to celebrate the accomplishments of 50 extraordinary women. More names? Lucille Ball, Oprah Winfrey and Nora Ephron. Weitzman was named one of the top film critics in New York by The Hollywood Reporter.

This year, the Evy Lipp People of the Book Cultural Event will be part of the Jewish Book Festival. Be at Temple Shalom on Wednesday, February 5 at 7:30 p.m. to hear psychotherapist Lori Gottlieb talk about her book Maybe You Should Talk to Someone. Gottlieb invites us into her world as both clinician and patient, examining the truths and fictions we tell ourselves and others as we teeter on the tightrope between love and desire, meaning and mortality, guilt and redemption, terror and courage, hope and change. The book is a disarmingly funny and illuminating account of our own mysterious lives and our power to transform them. The author is well known for her many television appearances and contributions to such periodicals as The New York Times and The Atlantic’s weekly “Dear Therapist” column.

Also at Temple Shalom, on Wednesday, February 26 at 1:00 p.m., is a multifaceted program that begins with Bob Mankoff’s Have I Got a Cartoon for You. The cartoon and humor editor for Esquire and former New Yorker cartoon editor has put together his favorite Jewish cartoons. He explains the importance of the cartoon in the vibrant history of Jewish humor and plumbs Jewish thought, wisdom and shtick for humorous insights. “It might be strange,” says Mankoff, “that the People of the Book became the People of the Joke.” Jewish culture is more broadly explored in The Newish Jewish Encyclopedia by Stephanie Butnick, Liel Leibovitz and Mark Oppenheimer (Butnick and Oppenheimer will present at the festival). The authors host Tablet magazine’s wildly popular Unorthodox podcast. Their book is an edifying, entertaining and thoroughly modern introduction to Judaism, an alphabetical encyclopedia of short entries featuring an exhibition of divergent voices.

On Wednesday, March 4 at 1:00 p.m., the Jewish Congregation of Marco Island will be the venue for two Holocaust-related non-fiction books. Jack Fairweather, former Baghdad and Persian Gulf bureau chief for the Daily Telegraph and former correspondent for The Washington Post, discusses his book The Volunteer: One Man, an Underground Army and the Secret Mission to Destroy Auschwitz. A Polish resistance fighter infiltrates the camp to sabotage it from within. He attempts to warn the Allies about the Nazis’ plan for a “final solution” before it’s too late. Jack J. Hersch’s Death March Escape: The Remarkable Story of a Man who Twice Escaped the Nazi Holocaust tells the story of 18-year-old Dave Hersch’s year in Mauthausen Concentration Camp, his two escapes at the end of the war, and his son Jack’s journey back to Mauthausen decades later. After a year slaving in Mauthausen’s granite mine, Dave was put on a death march. Weighing 80 pounds and suffering from several diseases, he found the strength to escape, but was quickly returned to Mauthausen. Put on another death march, he escaped again.

On Wednesday, March 11 at 7:30 p.m., Temple Shalom hosts the final session of the Jewish Book Festival. Josh Frank’s Giraffes on Horseback Salad: Salvador Dali, the Marx Brothers, and the Strangest Movie Never Made is a re-creation of the lost-and-found script for the film in the form of a graphic novel. The book honors the would-be film by reflecting its gorgeous, full-color, cinematic, surreal glory. It is the story of two unlikely friends: a Jewish superstar film icon and a Spanish painter – and the movie that could have been. This is Mr. Frank’s fourth book and second illustrated novel. The event will include a multimedia presentation with film clips and photos, live music and songs.

For a complete schedule of events, ticket information, venue locations, contributing sponsors, author bios and book synopses, visit http://www.jewishbookfestival.org. For questions and general information, call 239.263.4205 or email fedstar18@gmail.com.

 

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Real and fake terrorists bring Israel-based TV cooking competition mayhem and edgy humor

The Two-Plate Solution: A Novel of Culinary Mayhem in the Middle East, by Jeff Oliver. Bancroft Press. 224 pages. Hardcover $25.00.

Do you like something zany? Something that risks going out of bounds? Something that mixes hilarity with an acute awareness of our addiction to so-called reality television and social media? It’s here at last in Jeff Oliver’s tongue-in-cheek fantasy. Come to the playground Israeli city of Eilat and witness the filming of Natural Dish-aster season five. How do ever-pressured producers and staff keep the ratings up? By mixing the ridiculous with the sublime.  

The cast of character is a mind-boggling mix of media-savvy chefs, production staffers at various levels of the power pyramid, Israelis connected to the production as security liaisons, Islamic terrorists, and actors pretending to be Islamic terrorists. Sure enough, the real thing takes over.

The Grand Sheba Excelsior, home of the production (and not yet open to the public), is the scene of several crimes against sobriety.

Sexual appetites are as much on display as foodies lusting for taste sensations. The competition for climbing the executive ladder of the production company is as cutthroat as any kitchen rivalry.

Perhaps only Jeff Oliver could dream up the possibility of a cooking challenge like “baking bread while running through the desert almost getting murdered by slave owners.”

As the aficionados of cooking competitions know only too well, the televised production often offsets the action with the voices of the contestants as they are interviewed before or after that action. Oliver has a lot of fun with this, interspersing his main action with slices of interviews that reveal his characters’ attitudes.

He also has a lot of fun with puns and improbabilities. One of the competitive teams, “Team Mis En Bouche,” prepares a “deconstructed Seder plate” that includes a Palestinian touch to suggest “a time of racial harmony, without walls, and Arabs were one with the Jews.” It doesn’t matter that one of the characters, Al-Asari, comments: “That interpretation of history is insane.” Or does it?

Jeff Oliver

The dialogue among these reasonably well-defined characters is catchy and fast-paced throughout, though sometimes a bit off-color. Oliver has an ear for language, both scripted and spontaneous, and it serves him and his readers well. Indeed, there are so many characters that is astonishing how sharply individualized they are. Catchy names and heavily underscored traits help the cause.

The character through whom Oliver gets the most mileage in revealing the enormous levels of stress and insecurity that haunts this industry is Genevieve Jennings, an executive whose position and future seem in jeopardy. Manic fear and ambition collide in her personality, but she finds a way of coming through. She gets the job done largely on her own terms. But why is she labeled with her last name in a female group including Sara, Ruti, Sharon, and Tanya?

While much of the author’s satiric direction is quickly understood, leaving the book’s structure to be basically a “can you top this” stream of frenzied ingenuity, there are enough refreshing surprises to keep readers turning pages.

One of these is the introduction of Ruchama – The Halva Queen of Eilat – who so impresses the production staff that she is invited to become a contest judge. Taking advantage of her respected skills and knowledge, the chefs compete for an unexpected prize by conjuring the most satisfactory and unusual halva recipe. And why not? Even the ones with savory features stand a chance.

Friendship, romance, and rivalry are the umbrellas under which the many and diverse relationships may be found. And, indeed, relationships undergo changes in this ultimately hopeful adventure.

Oliver knows that settling the Arab-Israeli conflict is no joke, but he chooses to pretend, and invite his readers to pretend, that it is. Or that the answer might be found through humorous exploration. The punning title begins the process. You’ll have to make your own journey to discover how it ends.

About the Author:

Jeff Oliver is Vice President of Current Production at Bravo and a former executive at the Food Network, where he developed the hit series Cutthroat Kitchen and worked on other such epic culinary hits as Worst Cooks in America and The Culinary Adventures of Baron Ambrosia. He is the author of the acclaimed debut novel Failure to Thrive. Jeff lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with his wife, Liz Blazer, and son.

Meet Jeff on Thursday, November 29 at 11:30 p.m. at the Hilton Naples, where be speaking at a special luncheon session of the Greater Naples Jewish Book Festival. For more info, check out www.jewishbookfestival.org

The review appears in the November 2018 Federation Star (Jewish Federation of Greater Naples). It is also found in several local editions of Florida Weekly.

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“Promised Land: A Novel of Israel,” by Martin Fletcher

Thomas Dunne Books / St. Martin’s Press. 416 pages. Hardcover $28.99.

Martin Fletcher’s Promised Land is a literary triumph of near-contemporary historical fiction that is magnetic, surprising, and should be read and enjoyed for decades to come. The scope of the book runs from 1950, shortly after Israel’s establishment as a modern nation, to 1967, a time of its most severe testing.  

Fletcher deals in wars: the wars amongst the Jewish citizenly, the wars with Israel’s neighbors, and the wars within an extended family that contains Egyptian Jews exiled (fortunately) to the Jewish state.

And there is the aftermath of war, too, expressed through the sons of Holocaust victims, the elder of whom reached freedom in the United States before settling in Israel, and the younger son — emotionally wounded — who was incarcerated, tortured, and barely escaped with his life.

For all of its impression of compactness, Promised Land is a novel of generations, reminiscent of the Old Testament’s presentation of Jewish families to whom, as the story goes, the Creator conditionally gave the original promised land. What would seem more biblical than warring brothers?

When they were still children, Peter Berg was put on a train that took him west, the initial stage of a journey that led to safety with an American family. He grew up with their children. Arie, then called Aren, was somewhat later put on a train that took him, his parents, and his sisters to the concentration camps. Aren alone survived, but at great cost to his psyche.

Martin Fletcher – Credit Chelsea Dee

Miraculously, the brothers are reunited in 1947. Peter, who had been in the U.S. Army, is already a founding agent of the young CIA. Learning of his brother’s survival, he searches for him in Palestine. Aren Berg is now named Arie ben Nesher, and Peter Berg decides to become Peter Nesher, transferring his allegiance to the cause of Jewish nationhood.

Peter becomes a leader in matters of Israeli security, and Arie becomes a prominent entrepreneur who enjoys showing off his wealth. Along the way, another family enters their lives, a family of Jewish-Egyptian refugees whose glory is their beautiful, intelligent daughter Tamara.

The time markers move along: 1950, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1956, and so on into the 1960s, with the author carefully developing his characters and his portrait of the burgeoning Israeli nation, along with reminders of the constant menace of its nearby Arab-Islamic neighbors. . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears in the Washington Independent Review of Books, click here:  Promised Land.

Martin Fletcher appears on the January 9 program of the Greater Naples Jewish Book Festival. See GNJBF

 

 

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Comedy superstar headlines Greater Naples Jewish Film Festival

When You Lie About Your Age, the Terrorists Win (Villard, 2009) and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Crying (Quirk, Books, 2014).

Carol Leifer

Carol Leifer’s stories bring tonic laughter and wacky wisdom.

As she does in her classic stand-up routines, Carol Leifer talks about herself as a way of talking about all of us, certainly the female spectrum of all of us. The chapters of these two books, books which are different in several ways, are either chapters in her own life or observational chapters about what goes on around her. Sometimes abrasive, sometimes sensitive, but always funny and wise.

In When You Life About Your Age, the Terrorists Win, a good deal of the focus has to do with turning forty and what follows from that time marker through another decade or so.

The perspective is feminist, Lesbian, and Jewish all braided into one brainy package. 

It is not about her career, but in a way it is very much a part of her career. You can hear her voice bringing her material to an audience – all of us.

The title of the second chapter says it well: 40 Things I Know at 50 Because 50 is the New Forty.

Enjoy family stories about growing up, mom and dad, exploring and enhancing her Jewish identity, discovering and acting on her Lesbian inclinations, and the family she creates with her partner and their adopted son. The stories explore the tension that we all share between the way we’d like things to be and the way they are: our appearance, our values, surviving our mistakes, our health, and our relationships – including relationships with pets.

Considering the need for better quality breast implants, devices she would never use, she shouts out in the safety of her thoughts: “Why am I fighting for your fake tits when you’re not bringing anything to my table?”

Carol wonders about the women she meets who are a generation or two younger than herself. She doesn’t see them carrying the torch as she and her contemporaries carried through the earlier decades of the Women’s Movement.

She wonders about her “quid pro quo” attitude toward gift-giving. Is getting even what it’s all about? Is it just a family or “Jewish” thing? And how did a classic gift, the “chafing dish,” get its name? Should it be treated with Vaseline before use?

Have we become “lazy-ass weenies,” she asks, needing “comfort grips” on our tooth brushes and pens? What’s that all about? 

Carol’s experiences in her various doctors’ offices will bring knowing smiles from her readers. But when they get to the part about a mammogram, when the radiology tech says that the doctor wants “a few more films of your left breast,” readers will know we’ve slid off the comic table for a page or two. Luckily all turned out well. What tremendous emotional resonance is in that vignette.

Ultimately, this earlier book is a celebration of aging. Carol helps us all celebrate together.

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Crying, published in a small page format, is also a memoir, and it covers some of the same thematic concerns. This time, however, Carol plunges into her career history as both a hugely successful stand-up comedian and brilliant television comedy writer. Guess what? Carol has found a way to make this self-help book applicable to almost any career that one might wish to enter. And it’s not just about breaking in, but about staying and rising to the top.

While she draws examples from her own experiences – and these are all terrifically entertaining stories – she extracts the transferable lessons in a way that make sense to anyone aspiring to get started in the world of work, to change directions, or to reach a higher level of achievement.

Carol underscores the need for constructive attitude building that leads to positive action plans. She explores the value of making and keeping useful connections. She insists that consistently treating others well will pay off, while treating them poorly is likely to come back to haunt you and block your path. She shows how you can rebound from a negative experience and often transform it into something unexpectedly positive.

It doesn’t hurt that we get to encounter models of successful professional performers whom we think we already know: Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David, Bette Midler, David Letterman Jay Leno, and Frank Sinatra are only a small handful of the many show business celebrities with whom Carol has worked and who have helped shape her own expertise about climbing the ladder of success and not falling off. Her rules for the road are in themselves quite a ride. Laughs are everywhere.

An extra added ingredient in this book is the inclusion of dozens of photographs.

Well known for her stand-up specials on TV and her award-winning contributions as a writer to such television series as Seinfeld, Saturday Night Live, and Modern Family, Carol Leifer will be joining the staff for the upcoming season of Curb Your Enthusiasm as a Writer/Producer.

Come to the Hilton Naples to laugh and learn when trailblazer Carol Leifer leads off the Greater Naples Jewish Book Festival on October 17 at 7:30 p. m.  Schedule and ordering Information is available online at http://www.jewishbookfestival.org. You can also send email to fedstar18@gmail.com or call the Federation office at 239.263.4205.

This review appears in the October 2018 Federation Star (Jewish Federation of Greater Naples) and also in the Naples Florida Weekly. See Leifer

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GREATER NAPLES JEWISH BOOK FESTIVAL 2018-2019


 

BEGINNING THIS MONTH AND CONCLUDING in April, the fourth annual Greater Naples Jewish Book Festival offers a series of events likely to surpass the stellar achievements of its first three years. A project of the Jewish Federation of Greater Naples in cooperation with the Jewish Book Council, the festival brings 25 authors to 16 events at several venues. As in past year, several events feature two authors matched by a common theme or genre; others will showcase a solo presenter. Here’s the fall lineup:

¦ 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 17, at the Hilton Naples: Comedy writer and performer Carol Leifer – Television comedy was an exclusive all-boys club for years — until Ms. Leifer came along, blazing a trail for funny women everywhere. From “Late Night with David Letterman” and “Saturday Night Live” to “Seinfeld” and “Modern Family,” Ms. Leifer has written for and/or performed on some of the best TV comedies of all time. Her memoir, “How to Succeed in Business without Really Crying,” charts her extraordinary three-decade journey through show business. An earlier title, “When You Lie About Your Age, the Terrorists Win: Reflections on Looking in the Mirror,” will also be available for purchase and author signing. Light snacks and beverages included.

TOBOLOWSKY

TOBOLOWSKY

¦ 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 30, at Temple Shalom, Naples: Actor and storyteller Stephen Tobolowsky, back by popular demand – USA Today listed Mr. Tobolowsky as the ninth most frequently seen actor in movies, having appeared in more than 200 films and TV shows. He is also the consummate storyteller, warm, funny and profound. This year’s festivalgoers will enjoy hearing more tales from his life and his two books, “My Adventures with God” and “The Dangerous Anima ls Club.”

¦ 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 5, at the Hilton Naples: Jean Chatzky and Dr. Michael Roizen – Two of the world’s leading experts will explain the vital link between health and wealth, sharing an actionable plan to add years to your life and dollars to your bank account. The financial editor for NBC’s “Today Show,” Ms. Chatzky is an award-winning personal finance journalist, bestselling author and AARP personal finance ambassador. Dr. Roizen, chief wellness officer for the Cleveland Clinic and frequent guest on “The Dr. Oz Show,” is the coauthor of seven New York Times bestsellers. A copy of their book, “Age-Proof: Living Longer Without Running Out of Money or Breaking a Hip,” is included in the ticket price. Light snacks and beverages will be served.

CHATZKY

CHATZKY

¦ 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 29, at the Hilton Naples: Jeff Oliver, author of “The Two-Plate Solution” – Mr. Oliver’s wacky novel takes a team of chefs through a TV cooking competition set in Israel. The show’s producers put the chefs into culinary competition against fake “terrorists” — but then actual terrorists invade the set. What’s going on? Mystery and romance join hysteria in an adventure cooked up by the former Food Network executive who invented the hit series “Cutthroat Kitchen” and knows reality TV from the inside. Lunch is included in the ticket price.

ROIZEN

ROIZEN

¦ 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 18, at the Hilton Naples: Jamie Bernstein, the oldest daughter of composer/conductor Leonard Bernstein – Ms. Bernstein will share insights from “Famous Father Girl: A Memoir of Growing Up Bernstein,” her intoxicating meditation on a complex and sometimes troubled man, the family he raised and the music he composed – music that is an unforgettable part of modern American culture. The author shares her family’s relationships with other cultural icons like Mike Nichols and Jerome Robbins. A singer will join Ms. Bernstein to perform some of the legendary composer’s works.

Light snacks and beverages included.

 

¦ 10 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 19, at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Greater Naples: Brunch with author TBA.

The festival continues in January as follows:

¦ 1 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 9, at Temple Shalom: Two authors whose books are set in Israel – Izzy Ezagui’s “Disarmed” follows the aftermath of the loss of his arm in a 2009 mortar attack and is a story of determination that focuses on his long and torturous rehabilitation. Martin Fletcher was an NBC correspondent in Israel for 26 years and has won almost every award in TV journalism. His novel “Promised Land” is set in the early years of the new Jewish state, when two brothers reunite.

¦ 1 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 16, at Temple Shalom: Two nonfiction narratives – Stephen Flatow’s “A Father’s Story” recounts the author’s successful struggle to bring Iran, the funder of his daughter’s terrorist murder, to accountability. Gregory Wallance’s “The Woman Who Fought an Empire” tells the story of Sarah Aaronsohn’s heroic leadership of a Middle East spy ring aimed at saving Palestinian Jews from possible genocide.

¦ 1 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 24, at the Sugden Community Theatre: The inside story on the making and astounding success of the classic film “The Graduate” – Beverly Gray’s “Seduced by Mrs. Robinson” tells the story of how a film made from an obscure novel became an iconic hit and influenced future filmmaking. This event will include a screening of the film and a presentation by Ms. Gray, a film industry veteran and entertainment journalist. What makes “The Graduate” a Jewish film? Come and find out.

¦ 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 31, at the Hilton Naples: Comedy tonight! – Several members of the local community, chosen from auditions, will perform comedy routines with Jewish themes. After an intermission with drinks and snacks, author and professor Jeremy Dauber will discuss his book “Jewish Comedy: A Serious History.”

¦ 1 p.m. Monday, Feb. 18, at the Naples Conference Center: Two nonfiction studies – Ariel Burger’s “Witness: Lessons from Elie Wiesel’s Classroom” offers a provocative and inspiring look at a Jewish icon who was also his decades-long friend and mentor. Yvette Manessis Corporon’s “Something Beautiful Happened” tells the story of how people of the small Greek island of Erikousa hid a Jewish family from the Nazis during WWII. The author, decades later, found the man’s descendants in Israel.

¦ 1 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 27, at the Jewish Congregation of Marco Island; and 1 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, at Temple Shalom: Jenna Blum and Alyson Richman – Ms. Blum’s “The Lost Family” features a husband devastated by grief he cannot voice, a frustrated wife competing with a ghost she cannot banish and a daughter sensitive to family pain. The repercussions of the survivors’ Holocaust tragedies are brilliantly portrayed. Ms. Richman’s “The Secret of Clouds” is told from the perspective of a young mother and the devoted teacher who befriends her son. Spanning two countries and several decades, it examines what it means to live life with a full heart.

¦ 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 6, at the Naples Conference Center: A day of fiction – From 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Carol Zoref (“Barren Island”) and Moriel Rothman- Zecher (“Sadness Is a White Bird”) will discuss their new works. Ms. Zoref’s book traces several generations of a Jewish immigrant family living on an island near Brooklyn, N.Y. Ms. Rothman-Zecher’s lyrical debut novel explores a young Israeli’s relationship with two Palestinian siblings. Grab a quick lunch (or bring a brown bag) and settle back in from 1:30- 4:30 p.m. to hear from Mark Sarvas (“Memento Park”) and Elyssa Friedland (“The Intermission”). Mr. Sarvas narrates the story of a Hungarian family’s painting that was looted during WWII. Ms. Friedland presents alternating husband/ wife perspectives to illustrate how shallow our knowledge can be about those we love most

¦ 1 p.m. Wednesday, March 27, at Temple Shalom: Rachel Kadish and Tova Mirvis – In “The Weight of Ink,” historical fiction author Ms. Kadish provides an interwoven tale of two women set in London of the 1660s and the early 21st century. The women are linked by a document for which one was the scribe and the other is summoned to assess many centuries later. In “The Book of Separation,” Ms. Mirvis explores the tensions in her own life as a child in a tight-knit Orthodox family whose doubts eventually lead her, in her 40s, to separate from her marriage and from her Orthodox religious community. How can you enter a new way of living and remain close to those who believe differently?

¦ 1 p.m. Monday, April 8, at Beth Tikvah: Two nonfiction writers, both relatives of Naples residents: David Litt, at 24, became one of the youngest White House speechwriters ever. He also became President Obama’s go-to writer for comedy. Mr. Litt will discuss his “Thanks, Obama: My Hopey, Changey White House Years.” In “The End of Old Age,” Marc Agronin, director of the memory center and research program at Miami Jewish Health, helps readers rethink the traditional view of old age as solely a time of loss and decline. Instead, he sees the aging process as a developmental force bringing unique strengths, creativity and opportunity. ¦

>> What: 25 authors, 16 events Oct. 17-April 8

>> Where: Various venues in Naples and Marco Island

>> Tickets, author bios and book synopses: www.jewishbookfestival.org.

>> Questions: 263-4205 or fedstar18@gmail.com

— Phil Jason is co- chair of the Greater Naples Jewish Book Festival.

Published in Naples Florida Weekly on October 4, 2018. Also in Bonita Springs and Fort Myers editions.  See Greater Naples Jewish Book Festival and scroll to pp. C20-21. First appeared in September 2018 Federation Star.

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Collier County Jewish Book Festival goes from strength to strength

By Phil Jason, Jewish Book Festival co-chair

This season, the third annual Collier County Jewish Book Festival will build upon the successes of its first two years, continuing this superb contribution to the cultural life of our community. A project of the Jewish Federation of Collier County in cooperation with the Jewish Book Council, the Festival will offer 11 book events at several venues, with a total of 18 authors visiting from November 2017 into April 2018.

Five of the Festival events will feature a dynamic solo presenter. Another five will feature two authors matched by a common theme. The authors sharing the bill will not co-present or share the stage, but provide back-to-back presentations. Each speaker will give a 30- to 45-minute talk followed by 15-20 minutes of Q&A plus book-signing time. There will be a short break between presentations. One event will showcase the writing talents of three debut novelists. Each author will speak for approximately 25 minutes, followed by a Q&A session with the three authors on a panel.

Dorff

On Thursday, November 16 at 7:00 p.m. at the Hilton Naples, meet Steve Dorff, author of I Wrote That One Too…a Life in Songwriting from Willie to Whitney. This witty biography includes anecdotes about stars who have recorded Steve’s songs, many of them Top 10 hits. Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion, Ray Charles and Garth Brooks are among the stellar cast. Steve will perform many of his best-known songs and share the stories behind them. Refreshments provided.

Wednesday, December 6 at 11:30 a.m. brings another solo presentation at the Hilton. Eminent actor Stephen Tobolowsky will discuss his memoir, My Adventures with God, a series of vignettes, at once humorous and profound, that review his Texas childhood, his adventures of the heart, and his struggles with matters of faith aided by encounters with the Torah and the Talmud. You’ve seen this top-drawer character actor in Mississippi Burning, Glee, Groundhog Day and Memento. Tobolowsky, who has been in more than 100 movies and over 200 television shows, has become a legendary storyteller. The event price includes a luncheon and a copy of the book.

Tobolowsku

On Sunday, December 10 at 7:00 p.m., return to the Hilton for Alexandra Silber’s After Anatevka – A Novel Inspired by “Fiddler on the Roof.” What happens to the characters invented by Sholem Aleichem and brought to the stage (and screen) after the curtain falls? It takes an actress like Alexandra Silber, who knows the play from the inside, to imagine what comes next. She does so in a sweeping historical novel. Silber has played Tzeitel in the play’s most recent Broadway revival, and Hodel in London’s West End. Alexandra will blend musical stylings with spoken words from her book in a theatre-like setting. Refreshments provided.

On Monday, January 8 at 1:00 p.m., the Naples Conference Center is the venue for history. In his Angels in the Sky, Robert Gandt relates “How a Band of Volunteer Airmen Saved the New State of Israel.” It’s a suspenseful and upbeat story tracing these courageous volunteers from their various home countries as they moved themselves and the needed equipment to the nascent Jewish state. This is popular history at its best, drawing upon first-person interviews and extensive archival research. It’s David-and-Goliath all over again. Gandt is paired with Bryan Mark Rigg, author of The Rabbi Saved by Hitler’s Soldiers. Amid the chaos and hell of the emerging Holocaust, a small group of German soldiers shepherded Rebbe Joseph Isaac Schneersohn and his Hasidic followers out of Poland on a dangerous and circuitous path to America. You will be surprised to learn about the Wehrmacht soldier who led them.

Silber

On Wednesday, January 24 at 1:00 p.m. at Temple Shalom, meet Pam Jenoff (The Orphan’s Tale) and Gavriel Savit (Anna and the Swallow Man). Both of these inventive novels touch upon the Holocaust in unique ways. Jenoff’s, based on true stories, tells of a German circus that becomes the home and refuge of two young women. Teenage Noa, disgraced by her pregnancy, is forced to give up her baby, but she rescues another – a Jewish child – from a boxcar destined for a concentration camp. Astrid, Jewish and a professional trapeze artist, is already headlining the circus, but must teach Noa the necessary skills to fit in. Their unstable relationship is magnetically portrayed. Savit imagines Krakow in 1939. Young Anna, her father taken by the Nazis, meets a mysterious, somewhat magical fellow whom she follows through the most dangerous situations. This startling novel will entrance readers of all ages – especially if they are interested in European Jewish history. 

Stop by the Hilton on Monday, January 29 at 1:00 p.m. and you are likely to go away laughing. Multi-talented sitcom writer Susan Silver will talk about Hot Pants in Hollywood: Sex, Secrets & Sitcoms. She promises that the book is funny and sexy, so let’s see if she keeps her promise. Tales of the Mary Tyler Moore Show, Newhart and Maude can’t be anything but riotous. But who can tell the tale of Joan Rivers? No one better than her biographer, Leslie Bennetts, author of Last Girl Before Freeway. The story of the trailblazing comedian’s battle to break down barriers for women is not all laughs, but there should be enough of them to balance out the darker moments in her subject’s life as ambition and insecurity collide. After all, Rivers made people laugh for 60 years.

Family-focused memoir is the theme on Wednesday, February 14 at 1:00 p.m. at Temple Shalom. Playwright and film producer Peter Gethers’ My Mother’s Kitchen tells the heartwarming story of his determination to bring his aging mother’s friends and loved ones to the table one last time for a feast featuring her favorite dishes. This desire springs from Peter’s growing closeness to his mother and his desire to hear about her colorful past and her kitchen secrets. Actress Annabelle Gurwitch’s Wherever You Go, There They Are describes the family she tried to escape and the ones she joined by accident or on purpose, including her southern ancestors, the sisterhood, and an adult summer camp for vegans. She trades one crazy family for several. Annabelle has appeared on episodes of Seinfeld, Murphy Brown and Dexter, and she formerly hosted Dinner and a Movie on TBS. 

On Monday, February 26 at 1:00 p.m. at the Naples Conference Center, three authors will discuss their new works and their careers. Meet Jane Healey (The Saturday Evening Girls Club), Sana Krasikov (The Patriots) and Ellen Umansky (The Fortunate Ones) as they make individual presentations and then interact with one another. The title of Healey’s book refers to a group of four young immigrant women who meet with others to escape hectic home lives in Boston’s North End during the early 1900s. Krasikov’s novel follows a young woman who leaves her middle-class Brooklyn Jewish family during the depression expecting a better life in Stalin’s USSR. What she discovers is not what she expects. Umansky’s book is set in 1939 Vienna, from which Rose Zimmer’s parents try to send her to safety via the Kindertransport. The search for a missing painting and the consequences of that search lead to unexpected revelations.

On Wednesday, March 7 at 1:00 p.m. at Temple Shalom there will be a love and relationships session with Marilyn Simon Rothstein’s Lift and Separate and Renee Rosen’s Windy City Blues. Rothstein creates Marcy, a Jewish mother of three grown children, whose husband of 33 years leaves her for a fitting model he met at his brassiere empire. How she rebounds from this setback will keep you reading. Rosen’s riveting story, set in 1950s and ’60s Chicago, tells of a young Jewish Polish immigrant, and a black blues guitarist who left the south to play in the burgeoning Chicago music scene, who risk threats of violence in an era in American history that frowned on mixed-race couples. Their story of forbidden romance is weaved into the history of Chess Records and the birth of the blues and rock ’n’ roll in Chicago.

Friday, March 16 at 1:00 p.m. brings five-time Emmy Award-winner Alan Zweibel to the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Greater Naples. A writer for Saturday Night Live and Curb Your Enthusiasm, his novel The Other Shulman won the Thurber Prize for American Humor in 2006. He collaborated with Billy Crystal on the Tony Award-winning play 700 Sundays. His latest project is the Passover Haggadah parody For This We Left Egypt? – co-written with Dave Barry and Adam Mansbach. Light food and refreshments provided. And laughs!

The Festival closes on Monday, April 9 at 2:30 p.m. at Beth Tikvah Synagogue with Abigail Pogrebin, who will talk about My Jewish Year. As a character in her own book, Abigail is presented as a somewhat rebellious family member who feels her Jewish life has not been as rich as it might have been. So she embarks on an entire year of research, observance, and writing about every ritual, fast and festival in one Jewish year.

Zweibel

Festival sponsors include: Florida Weekly, Hilton Naples, U.S. Bank, Barnes & Noble Waterside Shops, Steinway Piano Gallery, Women’s Cultural Alliance, JFCS of SWFL, TheatreZone, John R. Wood Properties, JNF, Senior Housing Solutions, AJC West Coast, Beth Tikvah, Collier/Lee Chapter of Hadassah, Clive Daniel Home, FIDF Miami Chapter, Holocaust Museum & Education Center of SWFL, Temple Shalom Sisterhood, Dr. Barrett Ross Ginsberg and Naples Jewish Congregation.

A complete schedule of events, ticket information, venue locations, author bios and book synopses is available at http://www.jewishbookfestival.org. For more information or to order tickets by phone, call Renee’ at the Jewish Federation of Collier County at 239.263.4205.

Note: This article appeared in the October 26, 2017 Naples Florida Weekly.  See CCJBF 2018

 

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2nd annual Jewish book festival will delight Greater Naples area

nazititaniccoverThis winter, the second annual Collier County Jewish Book Festival will strive to top its highly successful inaugural edition, continuing this outstanding contribution to the cultural life of our community. A project of the Jewish Federation of Collier County in cooperation with the Jewish Book Council, the Festival will offer 12 book events at several venues, with a total of 20 authors visiting through the winter season.

karolinastwins_fc

With five exceptions, each of the Festival events will feature at least two authors matched by a common theme. Three of those exceptions are food-related events. The others guarantee food for thought. At the multi-author events, the authors sharing the bill will not co-present or share the stage, but provide back-to-back presentations. Each speaker will give a 30- to 45-minute talk followed by 15-20 minutes of Q&A plus book-signing time. There will be a short break between presentations.

For a complete schedule of events, ticket information, venue locations, author bios and book synopses, visit www.jewishbookfestival.org. For questions and general information, call 239.263.4205 or email fedstar18@gmail.com.

jbf-logo-blue

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SLEUTHFEST MYSTERY WRITERS CONFERENCE 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact:               Joanne Sinchuk  murdermb@gate.net 561-279-7790

Victoria Landis  victoria@landisdesignresource.com 561-716-3481

Mystery Writers of America’s Florida Chapter Announces Sleuthfest 2017 Writers Conference:

[See separate post for Fall Sleuthfest.]

SleuthFest 2017 Writers Conference Will Take Place February 23-26, 2017  in Boca Raton Florida

BOCA RATON, Florida – Mystery Writers of America’s Florida Chapter is pleased to announce dates for Sleuthfest 2017 Writers Conference. SleuthFest will take place February 23-26, 2017 at the Embassy Suites by Hilton in Boca Raton, Florida.

One of the country’s premier conferences for writers, Sleuthfest is an intensive four day conference featuring writing workshops, social events, and pitch sessions.  SleuthFest includes four tracks of workshops, presentations, and panels on the craft of writing, business, traditional and self-publishing, marketing, and forensics. In addition, top literary agents and editors will be available to hear pitches from aspiring writers, offer troubleshooting sessions, and manuscript critiques.

David Baldacci

David Baldacci

The 2017 SleuthFest Writers Conference features a host of luminaries, best-selling authors, and industry insiders, including Keynote Speaker David Baldacci; Forensic Guest of Honor Dr. Vincent Di Maio, legendary publisher Neil Nyren, and special guest authors, including Jeff Lindsay, Reed Farrel Coleman, SJ Rozan, Joe Lansdale, and Jane Cleland.

A preeminent event for writers in all genres, SleuthFest attracts writers from around the world. Filled with networking opportunities, social events, and programming designed to appeal to a wide variety of writers, SleuthFest provides a warm, welcoming atmosphere where writers can learn from the pros—and learn the secrets of a successful career as a writer.  Moreover, SleuthFest affords writers a unique opportunity to connect with industry insiders, writers and publishing professionals.  Past conferences have featured such Keynote presenters and Guests of Honor including Sue Grafton, Robert B. Parker, Dennis Lehane, James W. Hall, Dr. Henry Lee, Dr. Michael Baden, Robert Crais, Brad Meltzer, Lisa Scottoline, and Linda Fairstein, Valerie Plame, and others.

To Register:  www.sleuthfest.com. Space is limited. For more information please contact SleuthFest 2017 Co-chairs: Joanne Sinchuk  murdermb@gate.net  561-279-7790 or Victoria Landis  victoria@landisdesignresource.com 561-716-3481

 

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Fall Sleuthfest 2016 coming soon

SleuthFest on Saturday

SLEUTHFEST ON SATURDAY, October 8, 2016

Note: This is not the annual Sleuthfest (coming in February 2017), but a special addition to a monthly meeting). See http://sleuthfest.com/ for details on the annual Sleuthfest.

http://mwaflorida.org/       Mark your calendars for Saturday, October 8, 2016, in Venice, Florida. A crackerjack team will launch your writing career into orbit. (Jupiter? Mars? The sky’s the limit!) But hurry because space is limited by our venue.

Where: Ramada Venice Hotel Venezia, 425 US Highway 41 Bypass N, Venice, FL 34285 (Room reservations 844-211-5710. Tell them you’re with Mystery Writers of America and get our special rate of $89.)

What: Sixteen powerful sessions designed to accelerate your career as an author. Lunch and mid-afternoon snack are included in your SOS registration fee. Book signing to follow the event. (Consignments will be accepted. Sales will be handled by Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore.)

When: Check-in begins at 8 AM/ Sessions start at 8:30 AM/Final session ends at 6 PM/ Book signing ends at 6:30 PM

How much: $125 for members/$135 for non-members.

Details: go to http://mwaflorida.org/

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Florida Heritage Book Festival and Writer’s Conference 2016

 SEPTEMBER 15-17

http://fhbookfest.com/

PO Box 4011
St. Augustine, FL 32085-4011
info@fhbookfest.com

Friday, Sept. 16 offers a day of workshops dedicated to the working writer committed to improving his or her craft through face-to-face guidance by writing professionals. Whether you’re a veteran or an emerging talent looking for that spark of inspiration and feedback on your writing, the FHBF Writers Conference can help you.

Two sessions run concurrently in each time slot.

Friday Writers Conference Schedule

9:00                                                     Michael Morris                        Joe Gisondi

10:00                                                   John Dufresne                         Brad & Darlyn Kuhn

11-12:30                                              Lunch & Keynote by Susanna Daniel

12:30                                                   Susanna Daniel Signing

1:00                                                     Roy Peter Clark                      Jennie Jarvis

2:00                                                     Terry Griffin                           Cecilia Milanes

3:00                                                     Peter Meinke                           John Henry Fleming

4:00                                                     Robin Lippincott

5:00-5:30                                           Book Signings

Lecture Titles & Descriptions

Michael Morris: “Creating Characters Who Stand the Test of Time”

The workshop will focus on character development, capturing oral history and research for fiction, with an emphasis on the historical genre.

Joe Gisondi:Finding Bigfoot & Developing Scenes”

Gisondi, author of Monster Trek: The Obsessive Search for Bigfoot and a professor of journalism, traveled to eight locations across the country, trekking into swamps, mountains, state parks, and remote woods with people in search of bigfoot as well as fame, fortune, adventure, and shared camaraderie. In this session, he’ll show you how to develop scenes before, during and after you’ve spent time in a locale through research, interviews and observations.

John Dufresne: “How to let the necessity of plot guide your writing.”

Brad & Darlyn Kuhn: “Bookstores & Beyond: Marketing in the Age of Amazon”

Learn how to brand yourself and sell your work from two writers who make a living at it.

 Susanna Daniel: “My Fictional Floridians: Point of View and Narrative Shape”

An author’s choice of point of view not only helms a narrative, but determines how that narrative will be imagined by the reader and how it will make the reader feel. Susanna Daniel will discuss how point of view shapes character, structure, and language in each of her three novels, and how to access the most vivid, astute, and compelling point of view in your own work.

Roy Peter Clark:  “Writing Tools:  50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer”

Based upon a book by that title, Roy Peter Clark will reveal the secrets of the writing process, from nuts and bolts to special effects to blueprints for stories to useful habits. These tools are proven to spark an immediate improvement in your prose.

 Jennie Jarvis:  “Crafting the Character Arc”

Many writers think that, just because they have their basic structure in place, their stories are destined to succeed. The problem with many narratives, however, can often come in those places between the plot points. While many books on the craft of writing state that characters need to be three dimensional and change, a beginning writer isn’t always sure how to turn these rather conceptual ideas into something a bit more concrete. Join award winning author and professor Jennie Jarvis as she details a step-by-step practical guide for beginning writers to use in order to ensure they create characters both dynamic and engaging.

Terrell Griffin: “From Self-Published Author to Number One National Best Seller: The Art and Craft of Writing a Mystery Novel”

Cecilia Milanes:  “Our American Lives: Fact/Fiction/Film and Craft”

Peter Meinke:  “The Writing Life:  Habits, Attitude, Luck and Poems”

Join Florida Poet Laureate Peter Meinke as he reads various poems “about” writing, talks about his writing habits, and describes his experiences during a long career.

John Henry Fleming: “Storybrain: What Recent Discoveries in Neuroscience Mean for Fiction Writers”

For the first time, thanks to recent scientific developments, we’re getting a real-time look at how the brain responds to stories. The results are fascinating and surprising; what do they mean for fiction writers? How might our new understanding of the brain influence the craft of fiction? In this session, you’ll learn new ways of thinking about your stories and gain craft advice to help you create a vivid and meaningful experience in the minds of your readers.

Robin Lippincott: “A Good Title is Not Hard to Find”

As a teacher of fiction writing for many years, it has been my experience that a lot of writers aren’t very good at titling their work, and yet the significance of a compelling title that fits cannot be underestimated. In this lecture, I’ll examine why titles are so important, and also some guidelines by which to avoid bad titles, as well as how to create effective and meaningful titles. Along the way, we’ll look at some good (and even great) examples, as well as some bad ones.

For Book Festival dimension and registration, click on link given above. 

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