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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2018 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


September 11, 2015  RSS feed
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Tampa Jewish book fest to feature conversations with authors Oct. 18-27

Jewish Press

One of the featured authors will be Joshua Braff, a former Bay area resident, who will discuss his new novel about fatherhood in the 21st century. The book is set in St. Petersburg. One of the featured authors will be Joshua Braff, a former Bay area resident, who will discuss his new novel about fatherhood in the 21st century. The book is set in St. Petersburg. In celebration of its 10th year, Tampa’s Jewish book festival has a new name - the Festival of Books & Conversations – but remains true to its mission of bringing in a wide array of fun and intellectually stimulating books by Jewish authors.

At each of the festival events, which run from Oct. 18-27, book lovers will get to meet and talk with the featured authors and can purchase and get their books signed by the author. Nationally known, prizewinning authors, as well as two local authors and one author who until recently lived here, are among seven writers who are spotlighted in this year’s festival.

“The one formerly local author, Joshua Braff, (author of The Daddy Diaries) is very popular and was very hard to get for the festival. But then it turned out he was returning to the area for a visit during our festival and we were able to book him,” said Tampa Jewish Community Center Cultural Arts Director Brandy Gold.

Featured authors in the Festival of Books & Conversations were selected from approximately 250 authors of new books represented by the Jewish Book Council in New York City. The Council annually selects the top new books containing a Jewish theme or written by a Jewish author, as a means of supporting and promoting Jewish literature. This year, Gold said, not only are all the authors in the Tampa festival Jewish, but their stories are too.

The featured authors were selected by the local book festival committee, led by Debbie Doliner and Barbara Manners.

A schedule of related “Bookend” activities, in conjunction with various area organiztions, will take place both before and after the festival and a lineup of Sip & Skype events – where readers can Skype with authors – will run from January through May next year.

All Festival of Books & Conversations events will be held at the Tampa Jewish Community Center, on the Cohn Campus, 13009 Community Campus Drive, except for an Oct. 27 luncheon event at Maggiano’s Restaurant in the Westshore Mall. All events are open to the public.

Sarah Wildman, author of Paper Love, Searching for the Girl My Grandfather Left Behind, will be on hand Sunday, Oct. 18 at 10:30 a.m. for a champagne brunch. Years after her grandfather’s death, Wildman stumbled upon a box of his letters from a woman he had loved but left behind in Europe on the eve of the Nazi annexation of Austria. This book elegantly journals her journey to find out what happened to this woman, her grandfather’s triumphant escape and how this history fit within her own life. Wildman is a reporter whose stories have appeared in The New York Times, Slate, The New Yorker, New Republic and is the recipient of the Peter R. Weitz Prize. She lives in Washington, DC.

Tickets are $10.

* * *

Eddie Shapiro, author of Nothing Like a Dame, Conversations with the Great Women of Musical Theater, will offer a glimpse into the world of Broadway on Sunday, Oct. 18 at 7 p.m. Shapiro, a freelance writer and theater journalist, presents a collection of exclusive interviews with 20 of the greatest leading women of Broadway, all of whom have won at least one Tony Award. Shapiro interviewed the likes of Elaine Stritch, Angela Lansbury, Chita Rivera, Carol Channing, Audra McDonald, Idina Menzel, and Kristin Chenoweth. Congregation Kol Ami’s Cantor Beth Schlossberg will provide a musical interlude.

Tickets are $12 and include one complimentary cocktail, hors d’oeuvres and desserts.


Lynda Lippman-Lockhart, author of The Laundry Room, will be here on Tuesday, Oct. 20 at 7 p.m. for coffee and conversation. Lippman-Lockhart is a local author whose book relates the story of Israel’s Ayalon Institute. There, at the end of the British occupation in the late 1940s, a community of young Israelis ran a clandestine factory which supplied ammunition to Israeli troops.

Tickets are $5.

* * *

Dan Ephron, author of Killing A King, The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and The Remaking of Israel, will take part in “A Conversation: Contemporary Israel” on Wednesday, Oct. 21 at 6:30 p.m. The program include a kosher Israeli-style dinner buffet. Ephron, who has served as the Jerusalem bureau chief for Newsweek and The Daily Beast, believes that the assassina- tion of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin by Orthodox Jew Yigal Amir, 20 years ago this November, remains the single-most consequential event in the country’s recent history. His book relates the parallel stories of Rabin and Amir over the two years leading up to the assassination, as one plots political deals he hopes will lead to peace and the other plots murder.

Reservations are requested. Tickets are $10.

* * *

Barbara Post- Askin, author of Reflections of Liberty, A Memoir, will be on hand for a continental breakfast that includes coffee and conversation on Thursday, Oct. 22 at 10 a.m. A resident of Tampa, Post-Askin, wrote her life story, at age 82. She reveals the courage of her immigrant relatives and of growing up in America during the Great Depression and World War II.

Tickets are $5.

Judith Viorst, author of Wait For Me and Other Poems About the Irritations and Consolations of a Long Marriage, will speak Tuesday, Oct. 27 at 11:30 a.m. at a luncheon at Maggiano’s Restaurant in Westshore Mall. Viorst is a nationally known writer of children’s books, including the beloved Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, science books, adult fiction and nonfiction, musicals and poetry for children and adults. Married for 55 years, her latest book casts an eye on the peeves and pleasures of a long marriage and what lies beyond.

Tickets are $18 and include a family-style Italian luncheon and cash bar; advance reservations requested.

* * *

Jewish Genetics: Also on Tuesday, Oct. 27 there will be a free festival event at 7 p.m. that does not spotlight one author, but features presentations by experts on the topic “Jewish Genetics: What’s in Your Genes?”

The Young Adult Division of the Tampa JCC & Federation invites the public to a conversation about how Jewish heritage can affect your health. Sharsheret’s Florida Regional Director Briana Schwartz will discuss “What’s Jewish about Breast Cancer?”

Moffitt Cancer Center will give a presentation on who may seek genetic testing and why, and the Victor Center will give a presentation on the importance of pre-conceptive testing in the Jewish community, with Dr. Arelis Martir-Negron and Deborah Wasserman, MS. Screening for preconception Jewish genetic diseases will be available following the presentation. There will be no cancer genetic testing available on premises.

Festival of Books & Conversations reservations can be made and tickets can be purchased at or at the door, although reservations are appreciated, and the luncheon requires advance reservations.

Guests at festival events “do not need to be book lovers or readers, nor do they need to read the featured book in advance,” Gold said. “These are compelling, entertaining and fun events celebrating Jewish authors and stories about Jews – just come and enjoy, and support our Jewish community in the process.”

A festival bookstore will be open at the Tampa JCC throughout the Festival of Books & Conversations. Store hours will be at least 1 hour before and 1 hour after each festival event; remaining hours will be listed at The store will carry books written by the festival authors as well as $1-$2 unedited or pre-published copies of books from the Jewish Book Council.

Bookend events

Both before and after the Festival of Books & Conversations, festival organizers are partnering with community organizations in promoting area “Bookend” events, including:

Rabbi Deborah R. Prinz, author of On the Chocolate Trail: A Delicious Adventure Connecting Jews, Religions, History, Travel, Rituals and Recipes to the Magic of Cacao, will serve as scholar-in-residence on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 16-17, at Congregation Beth Shalom, 706 Bryan Road, Brandon.

Alan Lelchuk, author of Searching for Wallenberg, will give a free evening lecture on Wednesday, Nov. 4, on the USF Tampa Campus (time and location to be determined).

The world remembers Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg as saving thousands of Jews in Budapest before being arrested by the Soviets in 1945. More than 65 years later, mysteries about his disappearance and fate persist.

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, author of Not in God’s Name, will give a live broadcast via the 92nd Street Y in New York City to a gathering at the Tampa JCC on Sunday, Nov. 8 at 7:30 p.m. Rabbi Sacks, emeritus chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations in Great Britain, will explain how to understand and confront religious violence. Tickets are $5

Neville Frankel, author of Bloodlines, will speak Monday, Nov. 16 at noon at Congregation Beth Israel, 1115 E. Del Webb Blvd., Sun City Center. Frankel’s book is historical fiction set in South Africa’s apartheid. Tickets are $10 and include a box lunch. Contact Beth Israel at (813) 634- 2590 for more information.

The Gemunder Family Foundation is the Jewish Books & Conversations Presenting Sponsor.

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