The 12th Annual Hyman S. & Freda Bernstein Jewish Literary Festival, presented by the Washington DC Jewish Community Center’s Morris Cafritz Center for the Arts, will celebrate the year’s best in Jewish writing. The festival features a selection of authors who have received national recognition for their works, including rave reviews from publications including The Washington Post and The New York Times. The Festival runs from October 17–27, 2010. A full list of events and descriptions can be found at washingtondcjcc.org/litfest.

The works selected for presentation during this year’s Festival will appeal to book-lovers with diverse interests including history, humor, fiction, politics, children’s stories and many more. The Festival opens on Sunday, October 17, with stagings of various authors’ works on the theme of Jewish immigration around the world, adapted and directed by Derek Goldman, Artistic Director of the Davis Performing Arts Center at Georgetown University. Festival highlights include: outspoken and hilarious comedian, Sarah Silverman, who will discuss her new book, The Bedwetter; bestselling author Allegra Goodman of The Cookbook Collector; an LGBT program with Miryam Kabakov, editor of and contributing author to Keep Your Wives Away from Them: Orthodox Women, Unorthodox Desires; and the Washington, DC premiere of Sayed Kashua: Forever Scared, a documentary about the award-winning Arab-Israeli author and screenwriter. Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, author of the critically acclaimed novel 36 Arguments for the Existence of God, will be closing the Festival on October 27 in conversation with Ron Charles of The Washington Post. 

Calendar of Events

Sunday, October 17 | Opening Night | Washington DCJCC 

7:30 pm          Strangers in a Strange Land ($25/$20 Members/Seniors/Under 25)

Enjoy our Opening Night festivities with an exciting new staging of classic and contemporary works on the Jewish immigrant experience by leading director Derek Goldman. Performing works from Gary Shteyngart, Anzia Yezierska, Alfred Kazin, Dalia Sofer and others, we will explore what remains and what is changed when we adopt a new home. Followed by an Opening Night reception.

Sunday, October 17 | Children’s Program, suggested ages: 2-6 | Washington DCJCC 

10:30 am        Laurel Snyder | Baxter, the Pig Who Wanted to Be Kosher ($11/$9 per family)

This children’s event includes story time with the author, crafts, songs and ways to bring the messages of welcome, community and warmth into one’s home for Shabbat and other evenings.

Monday, October 18 | Library of Congress, Jefferson Building, Room LJ220

Noon               Michal Govrin | Hold on to the Sun (FREE)
Israeli author and poet Michal Govrin was named by Paris’ Salon du Livre as one of the most influential international writers of the past thirty years, and is also a recipient of Israel’s Kugel Literary Prize. Govrin’s newest work, a collection of fiction and autobiographical stories, spans her life as a writer and explores sudden fractures in the flow of reality that reveal the mystical moments of revelation underlying daily life. 

Monday, October 18 | Film Screening | Washington DCJCC

7:30 pm          Screening of Sayed Kashua: Forever Scared ($10/$9 Members/Seniors/Under 25)

Award-winning author and screenwriter Sayed Kashua always feels like he doesn’t belong. The Jews don’t like him because he’s an Arab and the Arabs think he’s a collaborator with the Jews. This documentary film follows Kashua through upheavals that change his life and that of his family, creating an intimate portrait of an artist who pays a heavy price for the choices he makes. The DC premier of Sayed Kashua: Forever Scared will be followed by one episode of Kashua’s groundbreaking Israeli television series Arab Labor (Avoda Aravit).

Tuesday, October 19 | Washington DCJCC

7:30 pm          Ruth Franklin | A Thousand Darknesses: Lies and Truth in Holocaust Fiction ($11/$9 Members/Seniors/Under 25)

What is the difference between writing a novel about the Holocaust and fabricating a memoir about it? Do narratives about the Holocaust have a special obligation to be “truthful” and faithful to historical fact? From works by Elie Wiesel and Primo Levi, to Stephen Spielberg’s Schindler’s List and Jonathan Safran Foer’s postmodernist family history Everything is Illuminated, Franklin muses about the role imagination plays in the creation of any literary work and argues for fiction as an equally vital vehicle for understanding the Holocaust.

Wednesday, October 20 Kurlander Program for Gay and Lesbian Outreach and

             Engagement (GLOE)| Washington DCJCC

7:30 pm          Miryam Kabakov | Keep Your Wives Away From Them: Orthodox Women, Unorthodox Desires ($11/$9 Members/Seniors/Under 25)

Reconciling religion with queerness is an enormous challenge—especially when you’re an Orthodox Jew. In this groundbreaking new anthology, Kabakov brings together first-person accounts of lesbians that run the entire spectrum of experience, from those posing as straight to maintain marriages with men, to women who are pushing the boundaries of the most liberal of observant Jewish communities. Contributing authors share personal stories of how their Judaism coexists with life outside the closet.

Thursday, October 21 Bernard Wexler Lecture on Jewish History | Washington DCJCC

7:30 pm          Samuel Heilman | The Rebbe: The Life and Afterlife of Menachem Mendel     Schneerson (FREE)

This powerful biography, co-authored with Menachem Friedman, tells how one man revitalized a Hasidic community on the verge of collapse and was swept away by his beliefs. The authors, while avoiding hagiography, track Schneerson’s life and reveal how his messianic convictions ripened. They examine what happened after his death, and how there are many of his followers who still see him as the Messiah himself.

Friday, October 22 | Milton Covensky Fund | Embassy of Argentina, 1600 New Hampshire
Noon               Judith Freidenberg | The Invention of the Jewish Gaucho: Villa Clara and  

the Construction of Argentine Identity (FREE)

By the mid-twentieth century, Eastern European Jews had become one of Argentina’s largest minorities. Some represented a wave of immigration begun two generations before; many of them settled in the province of Entre Ríos and founded an agricultural colony, merging native cowboy identities and homeland memories.

Saturday, October 23 | EntryPointDC | Washington DCJCC

7:30 pm          Sarah Silverman | The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee ($25/$20 Members/Seniors/Under 25/$50 VIP)

From the outrageously filthy and oddly innocent comedian Sarah Silverman comes a memoir—her first book—that is at once shockingly personal, surprisingly poignant and still pee-in-your-pants funny. The Los Angeles Times says, “It’s irreverent, funny and sometimes winningly serious…Though Silverman’s book provides her customary shock-and-awe humor… it is Silverman’s honesty and vulnerability that are most surprising.”

Sunday, October 24 | Washington DCJCC

Noon               Joel Chasnoff | The 188th Crybaby Brigade: A Skinny Kid from Chicago    

Fights Hezbollah—A Memoir ($11/$9 Members/Seniors/Under 25)

Joel Chasnoff—Ivy League-educated, suburban-born stand-up comedian—sweats, grunts and rolls his eyes through a military tour in the Israeli Army. Surrounded by a platoon of mama’s boys and crybabies carrying loaded weapons, this admitted peace-loving, left-leaning, lactose-intolerant American Jew invites readers to share his journey from gung-ho, would-be warrior to disillusioned soldier. Light brunch will be served.

Sunday, October 24 | Washington DCJCC

7:30 pm          Allegra Goodman | The Cookbook Collector: A Novel ($11/$9 Members/Seniors/Under 25)

In this Sense and Sensibility for the digital age, National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestselling author Goodman vividly portrays two sisters, Emily and Jess—opposites in every way—and the men in their lives during the dot-com boom. The novel is about the substitutions we make when we can’t find what we’re looking for: reading cookbooks instead of cooking, speculating instead of creating, collecting instead of living.

Monday, October 25 | Washington DCJCC

7:30 pm          Jerry Muller | Capitalism and the Jews ($11/$9 Members/Seniors/Under 25)

The relationship of Jews to money is frequently the topic of speculation, humor and negative stereotypes, so often associated with bigotry that systematic exploration is regularly treated as taboo, or left to anti-Semitic ideologues. Beginning with historical links, Muller discusses the disproportionate success of Jews in capitalist economies, explores the most plausible explanations for this striking phenomenon and examines the remarkable range of Jewish responses to capitalism.

Tuesday, October 26 | Chaim Kempner Author Series | Washington DCJCC
7:30pm           Jessica Jiji | Sweet Dates in Basra ($11/$9 Members/Seniors/Under 25)

Inspired by her family’s Jewish roots in Iraq, Jiji’s tale is a poignant tribute to the lost traditions and cultural harmony of Iraq before World War II. The novel tells the story of Kathmiya, an Arab girl sent to work as a servant in the city of Basra. Kathmiya meets Shafiq, a Jewish boy who proves that religion is no barrier to friendship. When British warplanes begin bombing Iraq, the power of an unbreakable childhood bond and a transcendent love must overcome the fractures of a collapsing society.

Wednesday, October 27 | Closing Night | Gerald L. Bernstein Memorial Lecture |

             Washington DCJCC

7:30pm           Rebecca Newberger Goldstein | 36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A

Work of Fiction ($25/$20 Members/Seniors/Under 25)

In conversation with Ron Charles, Senior Editor of The Washington Post’s Book World

Goldstein’s captivating novel explores the rapture and torments of religious experience and plunges into the great debate of our day: the clash between faith and reason. After Cass Seltzer’s book becomes a surprise best seller, he’s dubbed “the atheist with a soul,” and becomes a celebrity. He wins over the stunning “goddess of game theory,” is reunited with a friend seeking immortality, and is haunted by reminders of the two people who ignited his passion to understand religion. Each encounter reinforces Cass’s theory that the religious impulse spills over into life at large. Followed by a Closing Night reception.

Tickets are available for purchase beginning September 15.  All events are general admission. Reserved seating is available for patrons with special needs.

For Festival passes or tickets for individual events, locations, and other information, please visit www.washingtondcjcc.org/litfest or call (202) 777-3251. Purchase of a Festival Pass will save patrons almost 40% on the cost of the entire Festival and guarantees admission to all events. Festival passes are $100, or $80 for members, seniors and those under 25.

About the Festival

The Hyman S. & Freda Bernstein Jewish Literary Festival, in Washington, DC, presents the year’s best in Jewish writing by both emerging and established writers from across the globe. An annual celebration of Jewish literature, the Festival features engaging author panels, readings, and talks for avid lovers of fiction, history, politics, humor, children’s stories, and much more. For more information, visit www.washingtondcjcc.org/litfest.
The Hyman S. & Freda Bernstein Jewish Literary Festival, October 17-27, is an annual event of Washington DCJCC’s Morris Cafritz Center for the Arts. The Washington DCJCC works to preserve and strengthen Jewish identity, heritage, tradition and values through a wide variety of social, cultural, recreational and educational programs and services. The 16th Street J is committed to welcoming everyone in the community; membership and activities are open to all. The Washington DCJCC is a beneficiary agency of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington and a designated agency of the United Way.


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