JCC Book Fest – Not a Mystery, Nor Fictional Tale; a Success from First Page to Last!

By Ellen Goldstein

This year, the JCC saw record attendance at its 2017-18 Book Fest and Visiting Author Series and there is still have one event remaining! The series kicked off with National Jewish Book Award winner, Lauren Belfer with And After the Fire, a deeply researched, compelling work of historical fiction which resonates with emotion and immediacy. Not only was it a terrific read, Ms. Belfer was thoroughly enchanting, informative and articulate about the research process she undertook to write her third novel. She credited her 9th grade English teacher, Ruth Greenberger, who had retired to Santa Fe from Buffalo, and was at the event.

Next in our line-up, the gifted young novelist Tova Mirvis presented the process for writing her very personal story, The Book of Separation: A Memoir. In it she tells her story as a 40-year old Orthodox woman, who leaves behind the rigors of her faith and her marriage to follow her true inner compass.  The audience was captivated throughout her presentation, then engaged her in a lengthy Q&A where she bravely answered all questions with thoughtfulness and candor.

Jeremy Dauber traced the origins of Jewish comedy from biblical times to the age of Twitter in his non-fiction book Jewish Comedy, A Serious History. It is an academic tome from the Columbia University professor of Yiddish language, literature and culture but make no mistake, Dauber delighted the audience with the near-perfect timing of a seasoned comedian as he told beloved jokes demonstrating what he calls the seven strands of Jewish comedy.

The fourth of five visiting authors, Bruce Henderson, spoke about the genesis for, and the research done on his latest nonfiction little-known saga of the Ritchie Boys, young German Jews, who fled Nazi Germany in the 1930’s and returned at enormous personal risk as members of the U.S. Army to play a key role in the Allied victory.

Henderson told tales of the brave young men of Sons and Soldiers and some of their surviving family members to a record-breaking audience of 150 people and in another JCC Book Fest first, all his books sold out immediately following the event as folks were anxious to get on line to meet and chat with the author as he signed their books.

Save the date now for the fifth and final visiting author presentation on Sunday, January 14, 2018. None other than Joan Nathan, the “Queen of American Jewish Cooking” will schmooze about her latest, gorgeously illustrated cookbook, King Solomon’s Table at “Nosh Talk” at the first ABQ NoshFest at Embassy Suites. Books are available now at the JCC in time for a great Hanukkah gift.  They will also be sold at the event. Tickets are available by calling (505) 348-4518 or by visiting

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