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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. 

You can see our upcoming events below. Click here to view our past events. 

Upcoming Events

Daniel Sokatch
Monday, December 13 at 7:30 PM via Zoom
Offered as part of our "Courageous Conversations" Four-Part Workshop

Register Here

Can We Talk about Israel? is a supremely nuanced discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, past and present. It is broad in scope yet detailed in analysis, thought-provoking for the well-informed yet accessible for the new learner. It is an important and needed addition to the books on the subject. 

Sokatch is remarkably deft at holding multiple competing narratives at once. The detailed prose moves quickly, beginning with succinct explanations of Israel’s history,from ancient to present. Sokatch simultaneously describes the Zionist joy upon receipt of the Balfour Declaration, and why Palestinians felt so betrayed by the British dismissal of Hussein-McMahon promises. In the same breath, Sokatch summarizes why the Zionists accepted the Peel Commission proposal and the Palestinians rejected it, honoring and clarifying both sides. When revisiting the destruction of the village of Suba (Tzuba), Sokatch takes the reader on a quick journey beneath the soil to reveal why the Palestinians of Suba mourn the loss of their home, and why the Israelis who then founded Palmach Tzuba see themselves as reclaiming land lost almost two thousand years ago. Sokatch’s discus­sion of the assassination of Rabin is similarly nuanced, painting a complex picture of how Rabin’s hopes and Yigal Amir’s fears (stoked by others) collided in tragedy. 

As the CEO of the New Israel Fund, Sokatch’s agenda is quite clear, and he shares that stance up front. He runs an organization with a goal of advancing Israel as a liberal democracy, and ensuring complete equality for all inhabitants. He believes that ​“the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is, essentially, a struggle between…‘righteous victims.’” The book is not overly slanted for or against Israel, Israelis, or Palestinians. Sokatch poses critical questions, and strives to give honor to why different peoples hold different memories about historical events, or feel differently about possible solutions to contemporary challenges. 

Sokatch does not shy away from assessing difficult subjects. Some readers might appreciate his willingness to dive into the debate about the term ​“apartheid,” Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions as a concept versus BDS as a movement, and the potential apocalyptic risks of Israel’s strong support from the evangelical community which influences Israeli policy and Jewish activity regarding the Temple Mount. Others might criticize Sokatch for being ​“too left” because of the content choices, yet the book does not read as such. The subjects are controversial, but the arguments are well crafted and supported, leaving nothing out, and also much room for discourse. The illustrations by Christopher Nox­on highlight key stories and capture their emotions. The side notes throughout, coupled with the extensive glossary and bibliography at the end, provide ample opportunities for continued study. 

If you’re looking for a detailed, nuanced conversation about Israel, this is the book for you. It is an important addi­tion to the existing lexicon, with a fresh and honest voice, a critical eye, careful attention to detail, great concern for the humans at the heart of the story, and the resolve that one should not give up hope for a peaceful resolution (or resolutions), somehow, someday. 

Click here* to purchase Can We Talk about Israel?: A Guide for the Curious, Confused, and Conflicted
*For each purchase using the link above, the synagogue receives a small commission.


Daniel Sokatch is the Chief Executive Officer of the New Israel Fund (NIF). He served as the Executive Director of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties, and as the founding Executive Director of the Los Angeles-based Progressive Jewish Alliance. Sokatch has an MA from the Fletch­er School at Tufts University, a JD from Boston College Law School, and a BA from Brandeis University.


Harold Koplewicz
Thursday, January 13 at 8:00 PM
Offered as part of our "Raising a Mensch" Four-Part Workshop

Register Here

In The Scaffold Effect, world-renowned child psychiatrist and founding member of the non-profit Child Mind Institute, Harold Koplewicz, introduces the powerful and clinically tested idea that the deliberate buildup and then gradual loosening of parental support (like scaffolding on a building) is the single most effective way to encourage kids to climb higher, try new things, grow from mistakes, and develop character and strength. Drawing on Dr. Koplewicz’s decades of clinical and personal experience, this book is a compassionate, street-smart, and essential guide for the ages.

Click here* to purchase The Scaffold Effect: Raising Resilient, Self-Reliant, and Secure Kids in an Age of Anxiety
*For each purchase using the link above, the synagogue receives a small commission.

Harold S. Koplewicz, MD, is one of the nation’s leading child and adolescent psychiatrists. The founding president and medical director of the Child Mind Institute in New York City and San Mateo, California, he has been repeatedly named in America’s Top Doctors, Best Doctors in America, and New York Magazine​’s Best Doctors in New York. He has appeared on many national television shows and he is quoted regularly in The New York TimesUSA Today, and The Wall Street Journal. He lives with his wife in New York City. Find out more on his website.


Marc Bookman
Thursday, January 27 at 7:30 PM
Offered as part of our "Courageous Conversations" Four-Part Workshop

Register Here

As Ruth Bader Ginsburg has noted, people who are well represented at trial rarely get the death penalty. But as Marc Bookman shows in a dozen brilliant essays, the problems with capital punishment run far deeper than just bad representation. Exploring prosecutorial misconduct, racist judges and jurors, drunken lawyering, and executing the innocent and the mentally ill, these essays demonstrate that precious few people on trial for their lives get the fair trial the Constitution demands.

Today, death penalty cases continue to capture the hearts, minds, and blasts of progressives of all stripes‚ including the rich and famous (see Kim Kardashian’s advocacy)‚ but few people with first­hand knowledge of America’s ​“injustice system” have the literary chops to bring death penalty sto­ries to life.

Enter Marc Bookman. With a voice that is both literary and journalistic, the veteran capital defense lawyer and seven-time Best American Essays’ notable author exposes the dark absurdities and fatal inanities that undermine the logic of the death penalty wherever it still exists.

Click here* to purchase A Descending Spiral: Exposing the Death Penalty in 12 Essays
*For each purchase using the link above, the synagogue receives a small commission.


Marc Bookman is the executive director of the Atlantic Center for Capital Representation, a nonprofit that provides services for those facing possible execution. Before that he spent many years in the Homicide Unit of the Defender Association of Philadelphia. He has published essays in The AtlanticMother JonesVICE, and Slate. He lives in Philadelphia. Find out more on his website.


Lisa Gold­berg, Mere­lyn Frank Chalmers, & Natanya Eskin
Monday, January 31 at 8:00 PM on Zoom
Offered as part of our "My Plate Overfloweth" Four-Part Workshop

Register Here

An apricot rugelach that sealed a marriage proposal. Sufganiyotthat evoke Sunday morning strolls on the water’s edge in Port Melbourne. A Ben & Jerry’s – inspired charoset ice cream. Every sweet has a story in the Monday Morning Cooking Club’s fourth output, Now for Something Sweet. 

“There’s something about the Jewish community and cake,” the women of MMCC write in the introduction. In their newest collection of crowd-sourced heirloom recipes — this time strictly dessert — the Australian ​“Sisterhood” appears to be in search of just what that ​“something” is.

Something Sweet, like past MMCC works, strikes at the heart of what Jewish diasporic cuisine is — both far-reaching and intimate. It’s also their brand’s charm. The recipes span continents, generations, and, of course, flavors. But the stories have connective tissue: passion and poignancy. More than anything, reading Something Sweet is like being invited into a warm kitchen and told cherished family lore.

Although the book features dishes that might be complex for the beginning baker, it also includes helpful resources on the basics. The ​“Kitchen Notes” section offers a primer on measurements, equipment, ingredients and technique, while the sections on how to bake cake, pastry, and other staples advise novices and anyone needing a refresher with succinct explanations and some­times step-by-step photo guides.

The chiffon section stands out as a highlight. It’s hard not to smile when reading MMCC member Merelyn Frank describing a poppy seed chiffon made ​“famous all over Perth” by her late mother, Yolan. Frank reveals that it was even occasionally smuggled by airplane to friends in France. The prized recipe, long kept secret, is here. There’s also a note­worthy you-won’t‑believe-it’s‑kosher-for-Passover Nut Chiffon, which utilizes matzo meal and potato flour.

Don’t worry. Anyone trying chiffon for the first time can consult the ​“How to Chiffon” section.

Fans of Shavuot should rejoice, too. The sweet cheese section is filled with creations perfect for the Jewish calendar’s dairy festival. From a polenta-crusted Romanian loaf to an apricot-studded kolac (Czech-style pastry), everything here is worth trying. The South African cheesecake, an old MMCC favorite from The Food, the Stories, the Sisterhood, is tweaked in this section to glorious perfection.

We’re living in a moment when communities everywhere are exploring and reimagining what connection means. That’s what the ​“Sisterhood” does through the universal language of food. Right when we all needed it, the Monday Morning Cooking Club has delivered something special — or rather, Something Sweet. 

Click here* to purchase Now for Something Sweet
*For each purchase using the link above, the synagogue receives a small commission.

The sisterhood is comprised of Lisa Goldberg, Merelyn Frank Chalmers, Natanya and Jacqui Israel from Sydney’s Jewish community. They think of themselves as their own little melting pot, which is reflected in their heart-warming and gorgeous books. They live in Sydney, Australia, but come from different backgrounds. Merelyn comes from Perth, with Hungarian heritage. Jacqui started her life on the Sydney north shore with an English background. Lisa is from Melbourne, of Polish stock. Natanya is a Sydney girl with Shanghai/Russian roots. More ideas, more cooking and more love!

In 2006 it all began when they started to meet every Monday morning – to chop and stir, mince and roll, roast and bake, fry and boil. They tasted and ate, laughed and debated, argued and agreed. They culled and vetted, tested and re-tested, and argued and laughed some more. The end result – a curated and fine-tuned collection of brilliant heirloom recipes and stories to share with the world and pass on to the next generation. Over a chopping board and hot stove, with many cups of tea and the odd piece of cake, a unique bond began to form. They started out as a group of individuals and are now a sisterhood. They want to continue to collect, test, curate, share and preserve those treasured recipes from the older generation for their own generation, and for the future.


Corey Rosen
Wednesday, February 9 at 7:30 PM
Offered as part of our "Let's Create" Four-Part Workshop

Register Here

We’ve all got stories to tell, but how do you make your story the best story? In Your Story, Well Told, Moth veteran and master teacher, Corey Rosen, inspires you to get on stage and tell your story. Using the best story­telling techniques from improvisational theatre, Rosen designs an accessible guide for all ages and skill levels. Crafted to help ordinary people tell extraordinary stories, this laugh-out-loud hand­book covers everything from how to tell a good story to going off-script.

The best story­telling uses improvisation to enthrall, entertain, and keep audiences on edge. Laugh along with tales of performance triumphs (and disasters) and explore ways to tell your story with confidence and spontaneity. From brainstorming and development to performance and memorization techniques, you’ll learn how to tell a good story with:
 — A variety of structures and editing approaches that bring out your best story
 — Broadly-tested improv exercises to stimulate creativity without feeling foolish
 — Quick and easy lessons on building stories to tell

Click here* to purchase Your Story, Well Told: Creative Strategies to Develop and Perform Stories that Wow an Audience
*For each purchase using the link above, the synagogue receives a small commission.

Corey Rosen is an author and sto­ry­teller who lives in San Fran­cis­co. He is a reg­u­lar host of The Moth Sto­ryS­lam series in the Bay Area. His sto­ries have been fea­tured on The Moth Radio Hour. Corey began his career writ­ing for Jim Hen­son Pro­duc­tions, Com­e­dy Cen­tral, and Lucas­film. His film cred­its (as a VFX Artist) include Iron ManGrind­houseTed, and sev­er­al Star Wars movies. Find out more on his website.


Suzanne Nossel
Thursday, March 3 at 7:30 PM
Offered as part of our "Courageous Conversations" Four-Part Workshop

Register Here

In an era where one tweet can launch or end your career, where free speech is invoked with great passion but limited understanding, where the First Amendment can be mistaken as a smoke­screen for hatred, learning to maneuver the rough and tumble terrain of public discourse has never been more urgent.

In Dare to Speak, leading free expression advocate Suzanne Nossel argues that we can and must uphold the rights of individuals to speak their minds, while also working assiduously to build a more equitable, inclusive public culture committed to dismantling racism and other forms of bigotry. Centered on 20 easy-to-grasp, practical principles, Nossel’s manifesto equips readers with essential tools to navigate today’s diverse, digitized, and deeply divided society with­out curbing free expression. Her examples include incidents involving antisemitic and anti-Israel speech on campus and her presentation addresses how Jewish communities can reconcile their commitment to combat hatred and defamation with robust protections for free speech – and why they should. Nossel advises readers how to use language conscientiously, defend the right to express unpopular views, and protest speech without silencing it, providing concrete guidance on how to reconcile these sometimes competing imperatives within universities, on social media, and in daily life. Replete with insightful arguments, colorful examples, and salient advice, Dare to Speak brings much-needed clarity to the raging debate over how whether free speech can survive intact in the twenty-first century. Suzanne Nossel is CEO of PEN America, the writers’ human rights organization devoted to defending free expression worldwide.

Click here* to purchase Dare to Speak: Defending Free Speech for All
*For each purchase using the link above, the synagogue receives a small commission.

Suzanne Nossel serves as the Chief Executive Officer of PEN America, the leading human rights and free expression organization. She is a leading voice on free expression issues in the United States and globally, writing and being interviewed frequently for national and international media outlets. Her prior career spanned government service and leadership roles in the corporate and non­profit sectors. She has served as the Chief Operating Officer of Human Rights Watch and as Executive Director of Amnesty International USA. During the first term of the Obama Administration, Nossel served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations, where she led U.S. engagement in the United Nations and multilateral institutions, on human rights and humanitarian issues. Nossel coined the term ​“Smart Power,” which was the title of a 2004 article she published in Foreign Affairs Magazine and later became the theme of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s tenure in office. Nossel is a magna cum laude graduate of both Harvard College and Harvard Law School. Find out more on her website.



Tue, December 7 2021 3 Tevet 5782