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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

Vanessa L Ochs
Tuesday, March 9 at 8:00 PM via Zoom

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"And you shall tell your son on that day..." This simple command in Exodus has led to more than five thousand versions of the Passover story. Ochs recounts its life beginning with various mentions in the Bible and ending with the profusion of Haggadot today; these variations reflect the geographical spread of Jewish communities, the diversity of practice, and historic events. For anyone interested in the emergence and complex evolution of the Haggadah, this biography offers a trove of information in engaging and inviting language. 

From the biblical mentions of the original Passover, to centers of Jewish learning consolidating texts into a recognizable Haggadah in the eleventh century, to the question of how to memorialize the Holocaust within the Haggadah when creating postwar Haggadot, The Passover Haggadah: A Biography asks the question of why we keep revising the Haggadah after centuries of use. In the closing of the biography, Ochs critiques the flaws and the value of the Haggadah and concludes that the final pages of its life are yet to be written. 

Click here* to purchase The Passover Haggadah: A Biography
*For a 30% discount on your purchase, use code OCHS upon checkout.

Rabbi Vanessa L. Ochs is a professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia and an ordained rabbi. Her books include Inventing Jewish Ritual, which won a National Jewish Book Award; Sarah Laughed: Modern Lessons from the Wisdom and Stories of Biblical Women; and Words on Fire: One Woman's Journey into the Sacred. She lives in Charlottesville, Virginia. 

Hilary Levey Friedman
Thursday, March 25 at 8:00 PM via Zoom

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In Here She Is, Hilary Levey Friedman reveals the surprising ways pageants have been an empowering feminist tradition. She traces the role of pageants in many of the feminist movement's signature achievements, including bringing women into the public sphere, helping them become leaders in business and politics, providing increased educational opportunities, and giving them a voice in the age of #MeToo. Using her unique perspective as a NOW state president, daughter to Miss America 1970, sometimes pageant judge, and scholar, Friedman explores how pageants became so deeply embedded in American life — from their origins as a P.T. Barnum spectacle at the birth of the suffrage movement through today. She looks at how pageantry has morphed into culture everywhere from The Bachelor to Cheer and specialized contests. Friedman also acknowledges the damaging and unrealistic expectations pageants place on women in society and discusses the controversies. Presenting a more complex narrative than what's been previously portrayed, Here She Is shows that as American women continue to evolve, so too will beauty pageants.  

Click here* to purchase Here She Is: The Complicated Reign of the Beauty Pageant in America
*For each purchase using the link above, the synagogue receives a small commission.

Hilary Levey Friedman is a sociologist at Brown University, where she has taught a popular course title Beauty Pageants in American Society. She is a leading researcher in pageantry, merging her mother's past experiences as Miss America 1970 with her interests as a glitz-and-glamour-loving sometime pageant judge, and a mentor to Miss America 2018. Friedman also serves as the president of the Rhode Island chapter of the National Organization for Women. Her first book, Playing to Win, focused on children's competitive afterschool activities. 

Abby Chava Stein
Tuesday, April 6 at 8:00 PM via Zoom

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Abby Stein was raised in a Hasidic Jewish community in Brooklyn, isolated in a culture that lives according to the laws and practices of eighteenth-century Eastern Europe, speaking only Yiddish and Hebrew and shunning modern life. Stein was born as the first son in a dynastic rabbinical family, poised to become a leader of the next generation of Hasidic Jews.

But Abby felt certain at a young age that she was a girl. She suppressed her desire for a new body while looking for answers wherever she could find them, from forbidden religious texts to smuggled secular examinations of faith. Finally, she orchestrated a personal exodus from ultra-Orthodox manhood to mainstream femininity – a radical choice that forced her to leave her home, her family, her way of life.

Powerful in the truths it reveals about biology, culture, faith, and identity, Becoming Eve poses the enduring question: How far will you go to become the person you were meant to be?

Click here* to purchase Becoming Eve: My Journey from Ultra-Orthodox Rabbi to Transgender Woman
*For each purchase using the link above, the synagogue receives a small commission.

Abby Stein is the tenth-generation descendant of the Baal Shem Tov, the founder of the Hasidic movement. In 2015, Stein came out as a woman, and she now works as a trans activist. In 2019, she served on the steering committee for the Women's March in Washington, DC, and she was named by the Jewish Week as one of the "36 Under 36" Jews who are affecting change in the world. She lives in New York City.

Jason B. Rosenthal
Thursday, April 22 at 8:00 PM via Zoom

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An inspiring memoir of life, love, loss and new beginnings by the widower of bestselling children's author and filmmaker, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, whose last act of love before her death was setting the stage for her husband's life without her in a column in The New York Times. On March 3, 2017, Amy Krouse Rosenthal penned an op-ed piece for The New York Times's "Modern Love" column – "You May Want to Marry My Husband." It appeared ten days before her death from ovarian cancer. A heartbreaking, wry, brutally honest, and creative play on a personal ad – in which a dying wife encouraged her husband to go on and find happiness after her demise – the column quickly went viral, reaching more than five million people worldwide.

In My Wife Said You May Want to Marry Me, Jason describes what came next: his commitment to respecting Amy's wish even as he struggled with her loss. Surveying his life before, with, and after Amy, Jason ruminates on love, the pain of watching a loved one suffer, and what it means to heal – how he and their three children, despite their profound sorrow, went on. Jason's emotional journey offers insights on dying and death and the excruciating pain of losing a soulmate, and illuminates the lessons he learned. As he reflects on Amy's gift to him – a fresh start to fill his empty space with a new story  Jason describes how he continues to honor Amy's life and her last wish and how he seeks to appreciate every day and live in the moment while trying to help others coping with loss. 

Click here* to purchase My Wife Said You May Want to Marry Me: A Memoir
*For each purchase using the link above, the synagogue receives a small commission.

Jason Rosenthal is a lawyer and the executive director of a nonprofit organization created in his late wife's name, the Amy Krouse Rosenthal Foundation, which funds child literacy programs and ovarian cancer research. His Ted Talk "The Journey Through Loss and Grief" has been viewed over 1.4 million times since June 2018. He lives in Chicago and is a doting father to his and Amy's three children. 

Judy Batalion
Tuesday, April 27 at 8:00 PM via Zoom

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One of the most important stories of World War II, already optioned by Steven Spielberg for a major motion picture: a spectacular, searing history that brings to light the extraordinary accomplishments of brave Jewish women who became resistance fighters – a group of unknown heroes whose exploits have never been chronicled in full, until now. Witnesses to the brutal murder of their families and neighbors and the violent destruction of their communities, a cadre of Jewish women in Poland – some still in their teens – helped transform the Jewish youth groups into resistance cells to fight the Nazis.

With courage, guile, and nerves of steel, these "ghetto girls" paid off Gestapo guards, hid revolvers in loaves of bread and jars of marmalade, and helped build systems of underground bunkers. They flirted with German soldiers; bribed them with wine, whisky, and home cooking; used their Aryan looks to seduce them; and shot and killed them. They bombed German train lines and blew up a town's water supply. They also nursed the sick and taught children. Powerful and inspiring, featuring twenty black-and-white photographs, The Light of Days is an unforgettable true tale of war, the fight for freedom, exceptional bravery, female friendship, and survival in the face of staggering odds. 

Click here* to purchase The Light of Days: The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler's Ghettos
*For each purchase using the link above, the synagogue receives a small commission.

Judy Batalion is the author of White Walls: A Memoir About MotherhoodDaughterhood and The Mess in Between. She has written for The New York TimesVogueThe Washington Post, and many other publications. Prior to her writing career, she was an academic, and is fluent in both Yiddish and Hebrew. Born and raised in Montréal, she now lives in New York with her husband and children.

Thu, March 4 2021 20 Adar 5781