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JBC Author Series

Jewish Book Council is the longest-running organization devoted exclusively to the support and celebration of Jewish literature. 
For over seventy years, they have used literature to bring people together for meaningful discussions around Jewish life, identity, and culture. As a part of the JBC network, we are thrilled to welcome authors from far and wide to our community here in Port Washington, to share their teachings with us throughout the year. 

Below you will find our JBC Author Events
from 5783 / 2022-2023.

To view the 5782 / 2021-2022 events, click here.
To view the 5781 / 2020-2021 events, click here.

Click on a book cover to learn more, to purchase the book,
or to watch the archived event. 





Shannon Sarna
Thursday, September 22 at 12:00 PM


Modern Jewish Baker: Challah, Babka, Bagels & More is an essential cookbook for beginner bakers, or those looking for a new take on Jewish breads and pastry. Sarna, editor of the popular food blog The Nosher, pulls from her Jewish and Italian roots to provide a new perspective on classic Jewish baked goods. She combines traditional recipes with interesting flavor profiles, many of which are not often found in Jewish baking. The results are sweet and savory goods that are part familiar, part unexpected, and fully delicious.

The cookbook is divided into sections building off of seven basic recipes: challah, babka, bagels, rugelach, hamantaschen, pita bread, and matzah. Sarna, acknowledging that baking is as much about precision — type of flour, rise times, proportion of ingredients — as it is about intuition, provides the baker with a combination of strict instruction and loose guidelines for technique. 

Once the basic recipes have been mastered, Sarna’s creative variations on toppings and fillings — Pesto and Goat Cheese Stuffed Challah, Onion Jam Babka, and Pesto Parmesan Rugelach, to name a few — are just a starting place for inspiration, and what sets this cookbook apart from similar ones. Make-ahead strategies and suggestions for using leftovers are a nice nod to the modernization of the baking process.

Recipes are accompanied by step-by-step instructional photos for braiding, folding and shaping the various doughs, ensuring that the food’s visual presentation is as good as the flavor. The shiny loaves come out of the oven looking like they came straight from the bakery. A clean, easy to read lay­out and beautiful photography by Veronica Sage McAvoy complete the book.

Sarna provides the reader with the confidence and creative inspiration to improvise on their own. With this book as a guide, and a few simple ingredients and tools, any­one can confidently try their hand at being a modern Jewish baker.

Click here* to purchase Modern Jewish Baker: Challah, Babka, Bagels & More
*For each purchase using the link above, the synagogue receives a small commission.

Shannon Sarna is founding editor of The Nosher, the widest-reaching website dedicated to Jewish food, which is part of the 70 Faces Media group. Shannon grew up in upstate New York immersed in performance and music as well as surrounded by diverse culinary experiences: Her Sicilian American mother loved to bake, her Ashkenazi Jewish father loved to experiment, and her grandfather was a food chemist who patented Tang, among other products. Her writing and recipes have been featured in Bake from Scratch MagazineTaste of Home MagazineParade MagazineFood52The KitchnTablet MagazineJTA NewsNew Jersey Monthly MagazineVine­pair, and Modern Loss. She graduated from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, with a degree in comparative government and Spanish language and literature and lives in South Orange, New Jersey, with her husband, three children, two rescue dogs, and a bunny named S’mores. Her first cookbook, Modern Jewish Baker: Challah, Babka, Bagels & More, was released in September 2017 by Countryman Press.
Website | Twitter | Facebook


Tom Dugan
Wednesday, October 26 at 7:30 PM

Hosted by Chaverim


Simon Wiesenthal was a Jewish Holocaust survivor who became internationally famous for relentlessly pursuing and bringing nearly 1,100 Nazi war criminals to justice. He is best known for his role in capturing Adolf Eichmann, the architect of the Final Solution.

This award-winning one-man play, now available in book form, begins on the day of his retirement when Simon Wiesenthal invites one last group of students into his office. With warmth, wit, and surprising humor, the famed ​“Nazi Hunter” recounts how he tracked down history’s most notorious killers, warning his young friends that although progress has been made since WWII, the human savage still lurks just below this wafer-thin veil of civilization. Author Tom Dugan captures the essence of this extraordinary man in the context of Holocaust history as well as the legacy he left behind.

The book includes the entire off-Broadway production playscript of this riveting drama and a complete study guide, production photographs, and book club questions.

Click here* to purchase Wiesenthal
*For each purchase using the link above, the synagogue receives a small commission.

For the past twenty years, Tom Dugan was dubbed by critics ​“A National Treasure.” Dugan’s one-man plays have thrilled audiences and have been the subject of many PBS programs throughout North America. Now available in bookform, Wiesenthal was honored with multiple awards and nominations (N.Y. Drama Desk, N.Y. Outer Critics Circle, L.A. Ovation, L.A. Drama Critics Circle.) Website | Facebook


Daniel Levin
Thursday, November 3 at 7:00 PM


Amnon Weinstein, the renowned Israeli luthier (violin maker) who was trained by three of the most revered Italian luthiers of the twentieth century, had a vision many years ago to restore violins that survived the concentration camps and ghettos of World War II, even when their owners often did not. His “Violins of Hope” project may be one of the most creative, effective, moving, and magnificent approaches to understanding the Holocaust and how one heals from such pain and loss.

Daniel Levin is the first photographer to depict Amnon’s workshop in Tel Aviv, his one-of-a-kind collection of violins that survived the Holocaust, and his artful process for restoring them. Through hauntingly beautiful photographs and compelling text, Violins and Hope becomes both an artful rendering of a very special man and a revelation of the ethereal, as we see how Amnon fulfills his dream of transforming tragedy into triumph in the most incisive and powerful way imaginable: bringing violins of the Holocaust back to life. Under Levin’s care, the ambiance and idiosyncrasies of Amnon’s workshop come alive, and the photographer’s uncanny ability to celebrate both place and process through the beauty of light is nothing short of remarkable.

Amnon has already restored eighty-six violins to their highest playable condition, and they have been used in acclaimed performances by symphonies to packed concert halls throughout the world, beginning in Istanbul in 2001. Purposefully, Amnon makes certain that young violinists as well as the world’s most famous virtuosos perform on his restored violins. In doing so, it’s as if the past owners of the violins come back to life and fill our minds and bodies and hearts with joy and remembrance.

The book’s foreword is written by Austrian-born Franz Welser-Möst, Music Director of the Cleveland Orchestra since 2002 and one of the most acclaimed conductors of the twenty-first century.

The book concludes with the author’s interview with Assi Bielski Weinstein, Amnon’s wife and the daughter of Asael Bielski, the famous partisan fighter who, along with his brothers, saved 1,247 Jews in Belarus during World War II. Assi talks about the history of violins in Jewish life and during the Holocaust, the Bielski partisans, and the enduring legacy of the “Violins of Hope” project.

Click here* to purchase Violins and Hope From the Holocaust to Symphony Hall
*For each purchase using the link above, the synagogue receives a small commission.

Daniel Levin is a contemporary artist, photographer, professor, and author. He holds an MFA in Visual Art from the Vermont College of Fine Art, and a BFA in Documentary Photography from the Rochester Institute of Technology. No matter the medium, his works primarily address his societal concerns, his interest in how history relates to today, and his search for kindness. Website


Lisa Barr
Wednesday, November 16 at 12:00 PM on Zoom

After talking her way into a job with Dan Mansfield, the leading investigative reporter in Chicago, rising young journalist Jules Roth is given an unusual--and very secret--assignment. Dan needs her to locate a painting stolen by the Nazis more than 75 years earlier: legendary Expressionist artist Ernst Engel's most famous work, Woman on Fire. World-renowned shoe designer Ellis Baum wants this portrait of a beautiful, mysterious woman for deeply personal reasons, and has enlisted Dan's help to find it. But Jules doesn't have much time; the famous designer is dying.

Meanwhile, in Europe, provocative and powerful Margaux de Laurent also searches for the painting. Heir to her art collector family's millions, Margaux is a cunning gallerist who gets everything she wants. The only thing standing in her way is Jules. Yet the passionate and determined Jules has unexpected resources of her own, including Adam Baum, Ellis's grandson. A recovering addict and brilliant artist in his own right, Adam was once in Margaux's clutches. He knows how ruthless she is, and he'll do anything to help Jules locate the painting before Margaux gets to it first.

Click here* to purchase Woman on Fire
*For each purchase using the link above, the synagogue receives a small commission.

Lisa Barr is the New York Times best­selling author of Woman on Fire, The Unbreakables and the historical thriller Fugitive Colors, a suspenseful tale of stolen art, love, lust, deception and revenge on the ​“eve” of WWII. The novel won the IPPY gold medal for ​“Best Literary Fiction 2014” and first prize at The Hollywood Film Festival (Opus Magnum Discovery Award). In addition, Lisa served as an editor for The Jerusalem Post, managing editor of Today’s Chicago Woman, managing editor of Moment magazine, and as an editor/reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times and has been featured on Good Morning America and Today. In exciting book news: Actress Sharon Stone is set to produce and star in the film adaptation of Woman On Fire.  Website | Twitter


Nomi M. Stolzenberg & David N. Myers
Thursday, December 1 at 7:30 PM via Zoom


Nomi M. Stolzenberg and David N. Myers have written a heavily researched, readable, and exceedingly interesting history of Kiryas Joel, the Satmar Hasidic community established in 1977 with­in the boundaries of upstate Monroe, New York. It was named for Joel Teitelbaum, its beloved leader, who sought to establish a community of true believers who would live, study, pray, and procreate in a Torah-true environment bereft of modern temptations.

Teitelbaum died in 1979, and Kiryas Joel has flourished beyond even his most fervent expectations, but not, as American Shtetl argues, in a manner that he would have always welcomed. KJ has grown from a few hundred residents to nearly twenty-five thousand today, and town authorities anticipate its population will increase to nearly seven­ty-five thousand by 2035. This phenomenal growth is due to an exceptionally high birth rate, combined with the migration of Satmar devotees attracted by its excessively insular and rigorous religious lifestyle. Although not the first, KJ is unquestionably the most significant Jewish utopian community in America, and it is, as the title of this book implies, not merely a shtetl but an American shtetl, and its history is ​“an especially fascinating manifestation of American identity politics.”

American Shtetl also provides a detailed analysis of the various legal battles that accompanied the growth of KJ and often led to violent confrontations. These instances mostly involved church-state issues and control over the town’s religious institutions. Some town residents feared that involvement in the secular legal system would undermine Teitelbaum’s hallowed goal of isolating the town’s residents from the non-Jewish world. Other dissidents in the town took an opposite approach. They accused the town’s leadership of seeking to create a ​“theocracy.” This legal history of KJ is fascinating and thought-provoking.

American Shtetl is the second book on Satmar Hasidim in America recently published by a distinguished university press; the other is Nathaniel Deutsch and Michael Casper’s superb A Fortress in Brooklyn: Race, Real Estate, and the Making of Hasidic Williamsburg (Yale University Press, 2021). These two volumes are part of a popular and scholarly fascination with Hasidic Jews in general and the Satmar community in particular. A plethora of television shows, movies, and books have appeared analyzing Hasidic drop-outs, as well as the ability of Hasidic groups to flourish despite the social, economic, and cultural threats to their way of life that they confront daily. How, one might ask, have the Satmar Hasidim and other such groups not succumbed to assimilation? American Shtetl provides many thought-provoking answers to this question.

Click here* to purchase American Shtetl: The Making of Kiryas Joel, a Hasidic Village in Upstate New York
*Use code SHTL for 30% off your purchase.



Nomi M. Stolzenberg holds the Nathan and Lilly Shapell Chair at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law. She has written widely on law and religion. Twitter




David N. Myers holds the Sady and Ludwig Kahn Chair in Jewish History at the University of California, Los Angeles. His many books include Jewish History: A Very Short Introduction. Website | Twitter


Faith Kramer
Tuesday, January 10 at 7:30 PM via Zoom

Hosted by Sisterhood


52 Shabbats: Friday Night Dinners Inspired by a Global Jewish Kitchen invites every­one to honor Shabbat with a special meal on Friday evenings. It has more than 90 modern recipes (including many vegetarian options) that add flavor and meaning to the Shabbat or holiday table. Let 52 Shabbats be your guide if you have ever thought about starting, sharing, or expanding your celebration of Shabbat, or just adding to your Jewish food repertoire with dishes such as Pomegranate Molasses Brisket, Matzah Ball and Pozole Soup, Falafel Crust Pizza with Feta and Herbs, Sweet-and-Tart Silan-Roasted Carrots with Lentils, and Mango and Cardamom Mini Cheesecakes. The book’s many essays and stories also explore Shabbat traditions, the Jewish calendar, and the symbolism of foods in Judaism, offer descriptions of Jewish communities around the world, and investigate the global Jewish pantry. Kramer’s cookbook won gold in the Foreword Reviews Indies Book Award for 2021 in the cookbook category.

Click here* to purchase 52 Shabbats: Friday Night Dinners Inspired by a Global Jewish Kitchen
*For each purchase using the link above, the synagogue receives a small commission.


Faith Kramer learned to love Shabbat from her grandmother, who was a terrible cook, and how to improvise recipes from her mother, who was a fearless one. Now Kramer is a writer, recipe developer, and speaker on Jewish food­ways. She is cooking columnist for j., the Jewish News of Northern California, and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Website | Twitter | Facebook



Meg Waite Clayton
Wednesday, March 15 at 12:00 PM via Zoom

Wealthy, beautiful Naneé was born with a spirit of adventure. For her, learning to fly is freedom. When German tanks roll across the border and into Paris, this woman with an adorable dog and a generous heart joins the resistance. Known as the Postmistress because she delivers information to those in hiding, Naneé uses her charms and skill to house the hunted and deliver them to safety.

Photographer Edouard Moss has escaped Germany with his young daughter only to be interned in a French labor camp. His life collides with Nanée’s in this sweeping tale of romance and danger set in a world aflame with personal and political passion.

Inspired by the real life Chicago heiress Mary Jayne Gold, who worked with American journalist Varian Fry to smuggle artists and intellectuals out of France, The Postmistress of Paris is the haunting story of an indomitable woman whose strength, bravery, and love is a beacon of hope in a time of terror.

Click here* to purchase The Postmistress of Paris
*For each purchase using the link above, the synagogue receives a small commission.

Meg Waite Clayton is the New York Times best­selling author of eight novels, including the forthcoming The Postmistress of Paris and the National Jewish Book Award finalist The Last Train to London (publishing in 20 languages). A graduate of the University of Michigan law school, Meg’s short works have appeared in major newspapers and magazines and on public radio. 
Website | Twitter | Facebook



Sat, June 15 2024 9 Sivan 5784