Community Briefs

While cities such as Detroit and St. Louis were holding major Jewish book festivals year after year, drawing celebrity authors such as Saul Bellow and Philip Roth, observers here asked, Why isn’t there a Jewish book festival in Los Angeles?

Seville Porush and her colleagues at the Jewish Community Centers of Greater Los Angeles decided to change all that last year, and proceeded to create a book festival from scratch.

They formed a committee, polled existing festival directors and decided what they didn’t want in a book fair. “Many festivals emphasized selling books, while we wanted to emphasize transmitting Jewish culture,” Porush says. She was rewarded when more than 5,000 participants turned out to last year’s fair.

This year, “People of the Book: The Jewish Book Festival” is back, Nov. 14-22, bigger and better than before. Porush and the JCCs have put together a veritable literary feast.

You can catch Rich Cohen talking about his book, “Tough Jews,” which outlines the personalities and bloody deeds of criminals such as Meyer Lansky.

You can hear Thomas Cahill speaking of his tome, “The Gifts of the Jews”; Rabbi Naomi Levy on “To Begin Again,” her book about faith and loss; and Rochelle Krich on her Orthodox potboiler, “Fertile Ground,” a tale of murder inside a posh Brentwood fertility clinic.

Also among the some 40 speakers will be talk-show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger and Rabbi Stewart Vogel, co-authors of “The Ten Commandments: The Significance of God’s Laws in Everyday Life.”

There will be a family storytelling day at My Jewish Discovery Place Children’s Museum and even a screening of an “X Files” episode involving a golem, with author Howard Gordon on hand for the Q and A.

One hub of the festival will be the Bernard Milken Jewish Community Campus in West Hills, where the lobby is being transformed into a bookstore, with hundreds of titles provided by Barnes & Noble. Watercolor landscapes of the Galilee and the Negev, Dorothy Rice’s travelogue of her trip to Israel (the artist will be on hand for a book signing Nov. 15), will be on display in the boardroom. Also on Nov. 15, the West Valley JCC will house CyberFest, featuring a wide range of computer hardware and software and Judaic Internet web sites. A multicultural day will spotlight authors who have been published in Hebrew, Russian, Farsi and Spanish.

“We want people to become aware of the wealth of Jewish literature that is out there, and is coming out every day,” Porush says.

For festival tickets and information, call (818) 464-3353. To volunteer, call (818) 587-3277.

A family storyelling day is part of festival events. Last year’s festival attracted more than 5,000 participants. Painting by Max Liebermann, “Portrait of the Artist’s Wife and Granddaughter,” 1926 from “Jewish Art,” 1995.

Schedule of Events

Saturday, Nov. 14

Reception: 7:00 p.m.

Program: 8:00 p.m.

Dvorah Menashe Telushkin

“Master of Dreams: Anecdotes and Tales of Isaac Bashevis Singer”

West Valley JCC

Sunday, Nov. 15

10:00 a.m.

Shira Schmidt

“Old Wine, New Flasks: Reflections on Science and Jewish Tradition”

(slide show)

Valley Cities JCC

10:00 a.m.-noon

Character Breakfast

Lori Hartz

Live storybook characters & storytelling (ages 3 to 8)

West Valley JCC

11:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.


Computer hardware, software and Internet demonstrations

West Valley JCC

4:00-6:00 p.m.

Howard Gordon

“The Golem”

Screening and discussion of “X-Files” episode with screenwriter

West Valley JCC

5:00-6:30 p.m.

Pajama party with storyteller Amy Koss

Storytelling (ages 3 to 8)

Hollywood-Los Feliz JCC

6:30-8:00 p.m.

Pajama party and storytelling (ages 3-8)

Bay Cities JCC

7:30 p.m.

Carol Orsborn

“Return From Exile”

Westside JCC

7:30 p.m.

Rich Cohen

“Tough Jews”

Valley Cities JCC

Monday, Nov. 16

1:00 p.m.

Faye Levy

Jewish cooking

North Valley JCC

7:30 p.m.

Joan Nathan

“Jewish Cooking in America”

Stephen S. Wise Temple

Tuesday, Nov. 17

10:00 a.m.-Noon

Jeffrey and Craig Weiss

“I Am My Brother’s Keeper”

West Valley JCC

7:30 p.m.

Rabbis Edward Feinstein, Steven Carr Reuben, Chaim Seidler-Feller, Dr. Elliot Dorff

Moderator: Gladys Sturman

Preserving Judaism in the next millennium

(panel discussion)

Stephen S. Wise Temple

7:30 p.m.

Mystery Night:

Janice Steinberg

“Death in a City of Mystics”

Rochelle Krich

“Fertile Ground”

Temple Emanuel

7:30 p.m.

Jerry Bobrow, Bea Gordon, Bobbi Yanke

Selecting and Preparing for a Career

West Valley JCC

6:30-8:00 p.m.

Phyllis Rose Eisenberg

Bedtime stories for children (ages 6 to 8)

Valley Cities JCC

Wednesday, Nov. 18

1:00 p.m.

Carol Diament

“Jewish Women Living the Challenge”

North Valley JCC

7:30 p.m.

Thomas Cahill

“The Gifts of the Jews”

West Valley JCC

7:45 p.m.

Dr. Paul Krivonos

Are Teens Being Censored by Society?

West Valley JCC

Thursday, Nov. 19

11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

Lunch and Learn program

Dr. Ron Wolfson

“First Fruit: A Whizin Anthology of Jewish Family Education”

Kol Tikvah

7:30 p.m.

Dr. Laura Schlessinger and Rabbi Stewart Vogel

“The Ten Commandments: The Significance of God’s Laws in Everyday Life”

Temple Aliyah&’009;

7:00 p.m.

Janet Bode with Rabbi Edward Feinstein

“Food Fight: A Guide to Eating Disorders for Preteens and Their Families”

West Valley JCC

Friday, Nov. 20

1:00-2:30 p.m.

Rabbi Naomi Levy

“To Begin Again”

West Valley JCC

Saturday, Nov. 21

8:00 p.m.

Jonathan Kirsch

“Moses: A Life”

West Valley JCC

7:00 p.m.

Rabbi Harold Schulweis, Florence Weinberger, Malgert Cohen, Sam Applebaum, Richard Grosslight, Sherman Pearl

Poetry readings on the Jewish life cycle

Westside JCC

Sunday, Nov. 22

1:00-4:00 p.m.

Jewish Family Storytelling Festival

Storytelling and related activities

My Jewish Discovery Place

2:00 p.m.

Stan Mack

“The Story of the Jews”

Valley Cities JCC

2:00 p.m.

Multicultural Programs

Nouri Kharrazi (Farsi)

“Tattooed Arms — Punctured Souls”

Dr. Zvia Ambar (Hebrew)

Stress Management

Dr. Andrea Labinger (Spanish)

Translator of “Musicians and Watchmakers” by Alicia Steimberg

Marina Genchikmakher (Russian)


West Valley JCC

2:30-3:30 p.m.

Maralyn Soifer

Creative writing and poetry workshop for children (ages 8-11)

Conejo Valley JCC

7:30 p.m.

Dr. Sam Kunin

“Circumcision: Its Place in Judaism Past and Present”

with Rabbi Brad Artson

“It’s A Mitzvah”

Valley Cities JCC

All events are subject to change. For additional information, contact the festival hot line at (818) 464-3353.


Bay Cities JCC: 2601 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica

Conejo Valley JCC: 5004 Lewis Road, Agoura Hills

Hollywood-Los Feliz JCC: 1110 Bates Ave., Los Angeles

Kol Tikvah: 20400 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills

My Jewish Discovery Place: 5870 West Olympic Blvd. Los Angeles

North Valley JCC: 16601 Rinaldi St., Granada Hills

Stephen S. Wise Temple: 15500 Stephen S. Wise Dr., Los Angeles

Temple Aliyah: 6025 Valley Circle Blvd., Woodland Hills

Temple Emanuel: 8844 Burton Way, Beverly Hills

Valley Cities JCC: 13164 Burbank Blvd. Sherman Oaks

West Valley JCC: 22622 Vanowen St. West Hills

Westside JCC: 5870 West Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles