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2017-10-06 digital edition

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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.


October 6, 2017  RSS feed
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Text: T T T

Jewish book fest to showcase Jewish authors, celebrate Jewish themes

These books by local authors will be featured. These books by local authors will be featured. Tampa’s Festival of Jewish Books & Conversations, will feature both nationally known authors and local writers who have published books on diverse topics including spiritual connections, our relationship with food and some unbelievable yet true stories.

The book fest opens on Thursday, Oct. 26, and runs through Sunday, Oct. 29, with an “All-Day of Authors” event from 10:30 a.m. through 8 p.m.

All festival events are open to the entire Tampa Bay community.

“Guests to book festival events do not need to be book lovers or readers, nor do they need to read the book being discussed,” said Brandy Gold, Tampa JCCs cultural arts director. “Every year our Jewish Book Festival Committee, led by Debbie Doliner and Barbara Manners, select exciting authors covering amazing topics, providing for fascinating conversations. Each event is presented in a compelling, entertaining and fun way. Always, we celebrate Jewish themes, authors and literature.”

Stephen Tobolowsky Stephen Tobolowsky Reservations are required for the Friday luncheon and are strongly encouraged for the other events. To purchase tickets or for more information, visit: All event programs will conclude with a book signing by the featured authors.

Opening night

The festival’s opening night will feature Stephen Tobolowsky, author of My Adventures with God, at the Tampa JCC on the Maureen & Douglas Cohn Jewish Community Campus, 13009 Community Campus Drive, on Oct. 26 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 and include cocktails and an hors d’oeuvres buffet.

A quintessential character actor, Tobolowsky has appeared in more than 100 movies and 200 TV shows, including unforgettable roles in Mississippi Burning, Groundhog Day and Glee. He turned the lens on himself when he debuted a serial podcast of personal stories, The Tobolowsky Files, which became a cult phenomenon for his witty, introspective storytelling.

Stephanie Arnold Stephanie Arnold My Adventures With God is a funny, autobiographical collection that tells of a boy growing up in the wilds of Texas, finding and losing love, losing and finding himself – told through the prism of the Torah and Talmud, mixed with insights from science, and refined through a child’s sense of wonder. It includes catastrophe and triumph and Tobolowsky’s evolving relationship with the mystery that is God.

Friday luncheon

Iris Ruth Pastor Iris Ruth Pastor Stephanie Arnold, author of 37 Seconds – Dying Revealed Heaven’s Help, A Mother’s Journey, will be featured at a luncheon on Friday, Oct. 27. Arnold began receiving mysterious but strong premonitions that she would die during the delivery of her second child. Nobody believed her, but Arnold flat lined and died on the operating table for 37 seconds, leaving everyone she had told in disbelief. She had suffered a rare and often fatal condition called an amniotic fluid embolism (AFE). Arnold’s story is filled with documentation and medical witnesses. Even a doctor told her that he could give her a medical explanation but he recommended that she “go spiritual on this one.” Arnold’s life was plenty dramatic during her 27 years as a TV producer, but it paled in comparison to the life-and-death drama that unfolded, which altered her life and career. Her national bestseller has captivated the world with numerous translations and has seen her often in national media. A portion of each book sold will support AFE research.

Peter Gethers Peter Gethers The luncheon and program begins at 11:30 a.m. at Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant, 4110 W. Boy Scout Blvd., Tampa. Cost to attend is $36. Reservations are required and are limited to the first 90 responses.

Morning to night

On Sunday, Oct. 29, author presentations will take place from morning through night at the Bryan Glazer Family JCC, 522 N. Howard Ave., Tampa. Tickets can be purchased separately for each event or an all-day pass will be available at a discounted price of $45. The pass includes a morning nosh, deli lunch and a dinner meal.

Here is the lineup:

• Iris Ruth Pastor of Tampa, author of Tales of a Bulimic Babe – Simple Wisdom to Live the Life You Crave kicks things off at 10:30 a.m. Tickets are $5 and include coffee and morning nosh.

Scott Wachtler Scott Wachtler Pastor says that “by day, I was a seemingly normal Jewish wife and mother of five … until 9 p.m. nightly, when the demons descended and I became a raging, out-of-control food addict.” For 46 years, Pastor battled bulimia. And five years ago, she beat it. This is Pastor’s story of hope and healing, a book with useful tidbits of information tucked inside on overcoming those barriers and roadblocks that prevent us all from living our lives to the fullest.

Pastor is an author, blogger (Huffington Post) and newspaper columnist including for the Jewish Press.

• Peter Gethers, author of My Mother’s Kitchen – Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and the Meaning of Life, will speak at noon. Tickets are $15 and include a deli lunch buffet.

Donnie Kanter Winokur Donnie Kanter Winokur Gethers’ family ran the famous “Ratner’s” Jewish dairy restaurant in New York City. He wanted to give his dying mother a gift: a feast featuring all of her favorite dishes. The problem was, although he knew a lot about good food and drink, he didn’t really know how to cook. This book is his story of embarking on an often hilarious and always touching culinary journey that will allow him to bring his mother’s friends and loved ones to the table one last time. Gethers’ mother discovered a passion for cooking in her 50s and was a friend to many famous chefs including Wolfgang Puck, Nancy Silverton and Julia Child. Gethers is author of the bestselling trilogy about his extraordinary cat, Norton, including The Cat Who Went to Paris. He also works as a screenwriter, playwright, book editor and film/TV producer.

Bill Sefekar Bill Sefekar • Local Author Scott Wachtler will be on hand at 1:30 p.m. to discuss his book, True Crime Experience. Tickets are $5.

The book is about four teenage boys who go out to an abandoned sewer facility in the woods near Oldsmar. They were in search of pot, but there never were pot plants. It was a setup planned by two of the boys who were plotting a murder. One of the boys, now an adult having served nearly 25 years in prison, tells Wachtler his version of the story. It’s a story describing how a popular teen with a bright future came to make a deadly decision that changed countless lives. Wachtler was a journalist in the Boston area for many years before moving to Tampa and has written for numerous national publications.

Glenn Frankel Glenn Frankel • Author Donnie Kanter Winokur, an award-winning writer, international speaker and human rights advocate, will give a presentation at 3 p.m. about her book, Chancer: How One Good Boy Saved Another – A Memoir of Family, Hope and a Service Dog. Tickets are $5.

Winokur and her rabbi husband never imagined their heartwrenching struggle after adopting two infants from Russia. Her fairy tale of becoming a mother collapses under the weight of her son’s battle with fetal alcohol syndrome and its crushing effects on her marriage and family. Desperate, she turns to an untested, fourpawed solution: a golden retriever service dog named Chancer..

Accompanying Winkour’s presentation will be local families who have been helped by service dogs; and service dogs from Southeastern Guide Dogs.

Local author Bill Sefekar will talk at 4:30 p.m. about his book, American Dreamer: A Look Into the Life of My Father, Joe Baby. Tickets are $5.

Sefekar spent years working with his father, reviewing his personal journey, writings and memorabilia before he passed away in 2014 at the age of 97. The story features love, courage, humanity and faith, all percolating from an immigrant World War II Bronze Star hero.

• Glenn Frankel, author of High Noon, The Hollywood Blacklist and the Making of An American Classic, will speak at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 and include a 5:30 p.m. pre-pro- gram dinner buffet and a post-program showing of the film High Noon.

One of Hollywood’s most enduring classics, High Noon was a low-budget Western written and produced by two sons of Jewish immigrants and directed by a Jewish man from Vienna. What history has mostly overlooked, until now, is that it was written and filmed during the height of the Red Scare and the Hollywood blacklist. Jews were the main targets of the Red hunters and Jewish studio heads and community leaders faced a crisis of conscience. The book describes the film’s journey, including the Jewish screenwriter who faced a subpoena to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee during the film shoot, the terrible choices he weighed and the response of his friends, business partners and the Jewish community.

Frankel worked for the Washington Post in London, South Africa and Jerusalem, where he won the 1989 Pulitzer Price for International Reporting. He has taught journalism at Stanford and the University of Texas, is a past National Jewish Book Award recipient and a past finalist for the LA Times’ Book Prize.

* * *

Featured authors in the Jewish Festival of Books & Conversations are primarily selected from the approximately 250 authors of new books represented each year by the Jewish Book Council, based in New York City. The Council annually select the top new books containing a Jewish theme or written by a Jewish author, as a means of supporting and promoting Jewish literature.

A Jewish Festival Book Store will be open at the JCC on the Cohn Campus throughout the festival. All books being featured in the Festival will be available at the store, as will $1-$5 unedited or pre-published versions of books received from the Jewish Book Council.

The Jewish Book Festival will continue its Book & Conversations with a series of book discussion/ wine-tasting Sip & Skype programs in 2018.

The Gemunder Family Foundation is the Jewish Books & Conversations presenting sponsor. Other sponsorships can be obtained by contacting Michelle Gallagher at (813) 729-1687 or For more information about the 2017-18 Jewish Book Festival, contact Gold at (813)769-4725;

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