Of course we don’t have the usual harbingers of fall — red and gold leaves, wisps of chimney smoke, a chill in the air — but there is one unmistakable sign of it in South Florida; the cultural arts season at the Alper JCC.
The annual Berrin family Jewish Book Festival, led by literary and performing arts director Marcy Levitt, enters its 33rd year with the theme History, Mystery and Myths, Oct. 13-Dec. 5. The stellar line-up includes Rep. Debbi Wasserman Schultz, internationally renowned author Naomi Regan, director of the Washington Institute; director on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, Matthew Levitt and super-hero author Marc Nobleman.
For mystery buffs, Dara Horn’s novel, A Guide for the Perplexed, interweaves stories from Genesis, medieval philosophy and the digital frontier; Los Angeles attorney Marcia Clark, prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson trial, discusses Killer Ambition. For history enthusiasts, Allan Lichtman addresses the notion that Franklin Delano Roosevelt turned his back on the Jews in Hitler’s Europe. A Civil War Program highlights Drs. Jonathan Sarna, Pamela Nadell and Gary Zola discussing President Lincoln’s response to General Grant’s order to expel all Jews from territory under his command, and the film Jewish Soldiers in Blue and Gray.
Exciting bestselling debut authors include Helene Wecker (The Golem and the Jinni), Meg Wolitzer (The Interestings), Israeli screenwriter and director Shemi Zarhin (Avivia My Love, Noodles, Some Day) followed by the screening of his award-winning film The World is Funny and Jessica Soffer (Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots).
On Thursday, Nov. 7, the Women’s Day luncheon features social justice activist Letty Cottin Pogrebin, author, journalist and a founding editor of Ms. Magazine. With sensitivity, warmth and humor, Pogrebin’s stories of friendship in How to Be a Friend to a Friend Who’s Sick, is an invaluable guide for anyone hoping to rise to the challenges of this important and demanding passage of friendship.
The Festival’s opening day highlights four fascinating authors at 3 p.m.: Rabbi Solomon Schiff (Under the Yarmulke: Tales of Faith, Fun and Football); Photographer Sharon Socol (Plus One: An Outsider’s Journey into the World of Fashion); Steve Leibowitz (Devorah: The Covenant and The Scrolls Book 1) and Rochelle Weinstein (The Morning After).
Oct. 13 is also the kick-off date for the JCC’s visual arts season with Your Fortunate Eyes: Rudi Weissenstein Photography, in the Futernick Family Art Gallery at 1 p.m. Weissenstein immigrated to Palestine in 1936 and traveled through the country documenting immigration, settlements, civil unrest, parades, processions and urban life. His photographic record of the political, social, ideological and artistic essence of the period truly captures the development of the state. Weissenstein was the official photographer recording the Declaration of the State of Israel in 1948. The exhibit was curated by Ben Peter and Andreas Grau-Fuchs, Pri-Or PhotoHouse, Tel Aviv.
At 2 p.m., Life in Stills, a 2011 Israeli film by Tamar Tal, which earned the Ophir Award (Israeli Oscar) for Best Documentary, tells the story of Rudi Weissenstein’s widow, Miriam and her grandson, Ben, who together fight to save their Photo House and Rudi’s nearly one-million photography negatives that were destined for demolition. Despite the generation gap and many conflicts, Ben and Miriam embark on a heart-wrenching journey that requires love, courage, compassion and a dose of humor.
Log on to <alperjcc.org> for author appearances, art exhibits and upcoming performances. Watch your mail for the 2013 Book Festival brochure. For tickets, call 305-271- 9000, ext. 268.
So don’t fly off to points north (unless, of course, you do want to see those spectacular fall colors) because right at the Alper JCC world-renowned authors and great art are coming to you!