2020 Events

JCC Jewish Book Festival 2020  Jewish Book Festival 2020 Program…


Beckoned by the Light

Thursday, January 30 |  7:00pm in the Gallery
LINDA FRIMER/ DOT (in preparation for publication)

Linda Frimer“From the time I was a young child living in the wilderness town of Wells, BC, I have followed the light in creation and sought to immerse myself within it. I grew to understand that nature and culture rise inseparable in creation, and I devote my art to ennobling the sacred light within them both, as this light beckons me every day.” Linda’s memoir DOT is the art story of her life, still in the process of being prepared for publication. She will read from the manuscript and showcase some of the publisher’s design elements going into the making of her book.

A Vancouver painter and writer, LINDA FRIMER has spent her life expressing the innate unity in all of life’s forms. She has become a champion of environmental and health issues, a cultural and community facilitator for the release of trauma through creativity, and a teacher.

Sponsor and Patron Reception

Saturday, February 8, 6:00–7:00pm
In the Norman & Annette Rothstein Theatre lobby

Book Festival patrons ($180+) are invited to join a gathering of Festival authors and special guests in a wine and cheese reception.

For information on becoming a patron of the JCC Jewish Book Festival please call Dana Camil Hewitt 604-257-5156.


The Betty Averbach Foundation Author Series

Saturday, February 8, 7:30pm in the NRT
In conversation with LISA CHRISTIANSEN

Buy Tickets or by phone 604-257-5111   |   $24


Gary Shteyngart

“Incredibly smart, incredibly funny, incredibly tragic, and therefore incredibly human.”– Nathan Hill

“Like a twisted hybrid of Dostoevsky and Ali G… with Lake Success, Shteyngart manages to satirize identity politics and vulture capitalism while tenderly probing the intricacies of love and parenthood. For all its snark, the novel is devastatingly poignant – and finally hopeful.” – O: The Oprah Magazine

When his dream of the perfect marriage, the perfect son, and the perfect life implodes, a self-made Wall Street millionaire takes a cross-country bus trip in search of his college sweetheart and ideals of youth. In this biting, emotionally resonant novel very much of our times, two imperfect, brilliantly realized characters navigate the Shteyngartian chaos of their own making.

GARY SHTEYNGART is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels Super Sad True Love Story, Absurdistan, and The Russian Debutante’s Handbook. His memoir, Little Failure, was named one of the best books of 2014 and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

LISA CHRISTIANSEN is a CBC reporter and radio personality.

FOR KIDS Ages 3–6

Sunday February 9 |  10:00–11:00am
ALEX FRANKEL SCHORR / From Neigh to Zebra

It is so full of brilliant visuals and musicality all focused on complex ethics yet appropriate for children. A daunting task that she has met with delight.” – Lynn Szabo

The book is a colorful, whimsical read about a horse that falls in love with a zebra. Since their love is taboo, the horse tries to find some stripes while the zebra tries to get rid of hers. They eventually succeed but still don’t match! The story is an allegory for mixed-race marriage or gay marriage and serves to promote discussions on acceptance and diversity.

ALEX FRANKEL SCHORR is an award-winning researcher and innovator whose most recent endeavour is understanding the most effective ways in which to instill empathy in children.


Sunday February 9 |  11:00am-12:00pm
ANNE ANDREW, PhD / What They Don’t Teach in Prenatal Class: The Key to Raising Trouble-Free Kids & Teens
Free childminding provided. To register please contact mirella@jccgv.bc.ca

A profound and authentic book that can change your life. Because Anne Andrew had the courage to see her child’s behavior problems as ‘cries for love,’ they became opportunities for growth for both her and her child.” – Peggy O’Mara

Anne Andrew wrote this book because of her experience as the mother of a troubled teenager. In seeking a way to help her daughter, she learned valuable insights she wished she’d known when her children were young. The book offers practical strategies that will help raise a kinder, happier, generation.

ANNE ANDREW, PhD is the former principal of Temple Sholom Religious School where she worked for over twenty years. She runs workshops for parents online and in person, and has contributed to numerous podcasts including Peter Anthony Holder’s The Stuph File and Bill Adams’ Cool Dad Rules.


Sunday February 9 |  11:00am-12:30pm 

Buy Tickets or by phone 604-257-5111   |   $18

Rabbi LAURA DUHAN-KAPLAN / The Infinity Inside: Jewish Spiritual Practice Through a Multi-Faith Lens

What is spiritual? What is religious?
What counts as practice?
These questions are foundational to individual and communal quests for connection. In this beautifully instructive and personal book, Rabbi Duhan-Kaplan inspires us to find our own way along the transformative path of awakening and belonging. She explores spiritual practices from various faith traditions before diving deep into the wisdom, practices, and poetry from Jewish tradition.

Rabbi LAURA DUHAN-KAPLAN is Director of Inter-Religious Studies at the Vancouver School of Theology at UBC and author of Family Pictures: A Philosopher Explores the Familiar.

Rabbi SHMUEL YESHAYAHU and DANIEL FRIEDMANN / An MBA from Heaven: Biblical Wisdom Applied to the Business World

The book brings together business and spirituality in a cohesive and engaging narrative to answer the big questions that preoccupy employers and employees. Biblical stories are interwoven with real business stories to illustrate many lessons that apply to other life situations.

Rabbi SHMUEL YESHAYAHU was born in Israel and has been a Rabbi in Vancouver at the Ohel Yaakov Community Kollel since 2000. He has been providing mentoring, counseling, religious services and classes, as well as developing and leading Jewish programming for unaffiliated young adults.

DANIEL FRIEDMANN (MASc., P.Eng) is chairman of Carbon Engineering. For 20 years he was CEO of MDA, the world’s largest communications satellite manufacturer and Canada’s largest aerospace company. He has also written several books on the confluence of science and religion.


Sunday February 9 |  12:00-2:00pm


Sunday, February 9 | 12:30–1:30pm
Also at White Rock/South Surrey Jewish Community Centre at 4:00pm
GILA GREEN / White Zion and No Entry

Buy Tickets or by phone 604-257-5111   |   $16


Gila Green paints in all the colours/hues of the Jewish palette. These gritty yet shimmering stories are rich in intimate details, peopled with a cast of heart wrenching characters at once familiar and unique.”

White Zion is a novel in stories taking readers into the worlds of 19th century Yemen, pre-State Israel, modern Israel and modern Canada. You will hear the voices of a young boy marveling at Israel’s first air force on his own roof, the cry of a newly married woman helpless to defend herself against her new husband’s desires, the anger of the heroine’s uncle as he reveals startling secrets about his marriage and the fall-out after generations of war.

In No Entry (a YA novel), Canadian teenager Yael Amar, signs on to an elephant conservation program and ends up coming face to face with violence, greed, and murder and the taste of a very real danger for all of us: elephant extinction. The story takes place in South Africa’s famous, breathtaking Kruger National Park.

Born in Ottawa, GILA GREEN is a writer, editor and EFL teacher currently living in Israel. A daughter of a Yemenite-Israeli father and Ashkenazi-Canadian mother, Gila often writes about everyday people tackling immigration, racism, alienation, romance, poverty, terrorism, and surviving. She writes novels, short stories, flash fiction, poetry, essays and young adult fiction.


Sunday, February 9 |  1:30–2:30pm
Department for Diaspora Affairs of WZO and Canadian Zionist Federation present:
FeminIsrael – The Changing Roles of Female Authors in Zionism and in Israel
Lecturer: OR ADI

The session will review the changing roles of female authors in Zionist history and in Israel today. The lives and achievements of key female role models, past and present, will be discussed.
Participants will examine various Israeli authors’ books and discuss how minorities and mainstream groups respond to dilemmas.

OR ADI is the US East Coast Director of The Department for Diaspora Affairs of World Zionist Organization. She is a former Shlicha to Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Prior to her work at the Department for Diaspora Affairs in the World Zionist Organization, she worked as a training coordinator in the Debate Company in Israel. Or Adi earned her BA in International Relations and Middle Eastern Studies from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.


Sunday, February 9 | 2:00–3:00pm
Also at Burquest Jewish Community Association at 5:00pm
NORMAN RAVVIN / The Girl Who Stole Everything
In conversation with MICHAEL SCHWARTZ

Buy Tickets or by phone 604-257-5111   |   $16

Bouncing between a stolen house in a Polish shtetl and a pop bottle on Vancouver’s East Side, the book is a fresh and telling portrait of the relationship between prewar Polish shtetl life and Jewish lives today. In these old and new worlds a mystery lurks, and Ravvin lovingly recovers the past of both. A novel of city life, music-making, and the repercussions of large and small crimes.

NORMAN RAVVIN is a writer, critic and teacher.  His novels, stories and journalistic writing have won prizes in Alberta, Ontario and Quebec. He lives in Montreal where he teaches Jewish literature and history at Concordia University. For thirteen years he held the university’s Chair in Canadian Jewish Studies.

MICHAEL SCHWARTZ is the Director of Community Engagement of the Jewish Museum & Archives of British Columbia.



Sunday, February 9 |  3:00–4:00pm
GITA ARIAN BAACK, PhD / The Inheritors: Moving Forward from Generational Trauma

Buy Tickets or by phone 604-257-5111   |   $16

The Inheritors is a timely book on generational trauma that helps readers move forward from the unrelenting sense of sadness, loss and betrayal. Inherited trauma affects us, consciously or unconsciously, engendering thoughts and feelings about devastating events that happened when we were very young or before we were born. The Inheritors also addresses the descendants of perpetrators, collaborators and bystanders who may feel guilt and shame or anger and hate. Dr. Baack believes that the untold and unprocessed stories by this group represent the inherent cause for the perpetuation of hatred, racism and violence.

GITA ARIAN BAACK, PhD is an Ottawa counsellor who has been consulting and coaching individuals and organizations for over 30 years. She recently founded the “Centre for Transformational Dialogue” to help individuals and communities that have inherited devastating legacies. Dr. Baack’s work has helped descendants of Holocaust survivors, Indigenous people, African Americans, Asian and other communities struggling with the aftereffects of trauma.


Sunday February 9

4:00–5:00pm At White Rock South Surrey JCC  by donation
GILA GREEN / White Zion

5:00–6:00pm At Burquest Jewish Community Association  by donation
NORMAN RAVVIN / The Girl Who Stole Everything


Sunday, February 9 |  4:00–5:00pm
At THE POLYGON GALLERY, 101 Carrie Cates Court, North Vancouver

TERRY KURGAN / Everyone Is Present: Essays on Photography, Memory and Family
Winner of The Sunday Times Alan Paton Award for Non-Fiction (South Africa)
Recently announced finalist for the 2019 National Jewish Books Awards (New York)

In conversation with LANCE BERELOWITZ

By donation

Terry KurganKurgan has achieved something rare in this book: a truly dynamic fusion of text and image.” – Ivan Vladislavic

Everyone is Present is Terry’s first work of creative non-fiction. The fact that the book has achieved this dual award recognition is testament to Terry’s ability to move between photographs and writing, to see how images and texts may be ‘read’ for insights about the world and about what it means to be human.

The richly satisfying essays are part memoir, part detective story, part investigative reportage, depicting her quest to unravel, through the few photos remaining, her family’s epic journey across Europe as they flee Nazi occupation, country by country, and then through the Middle East to India, until they finally reach Cape Town, South Africa.

TERRY KURGAN is an eminent South African artist and writer based in Johannesburg. Her innovative, often groundbreaking work has been described as having the unique capacity to combine high art with intimacy, tragedy and popular culture. She has exhibited and published widely in South Africa and internationally, and has received numerous fine art awards.

LANCE BERELOWITZ is a Vancouver urban planner, designer, writer and photographer.




Sunday, February 9 |  4:00–5:00pm
GOLDIE MORGENTALER – translator, editor
CHAVA ROSENFARB / Confessions of a Yiddish Writer and Other Essays

Buy Tickets or by phone 604-257-5111   |   $16

Original in perspective, range and tone, Confessions of a Yiddish Writer offers a powerful and remarkable presentation of Holocaust-related memoir and careful readings of key Yiddish and European writers. Rosenfarb addresses many of the key themes of 20th century history and Jewish daily life, in her wonderfully intimate and wry way. And she sets herself apart from the crowd on any number of familiar themes.”  – Norman Ravvin

CHAVA ROSENFARB (1923-2011) was one of the most prominent Yiddish novelists of the 20th century. Born in Poland, she survived the Lodz ghetto, Auschwitz, and Bergen-Belsen, immigrating to Canada in 1950 and settling in Montreal. Translated and edited by her daughter Goldie Morgentaler, the book is a compilation of the memoir and diary excerpts that formed the basis of Rosenfarb’s widely acclaimed fiction and her experiences as a survivor in the post-Holocaust world.

GOLDIE MORGENTALER is a Canadian Yiddish-to-English literary translator and a professor of English literature at the University of Lethbridge, Alberta.



Sunday, February 9 |  6:00–7:00pm
ANNA MEHLER PAPERNY / Hello I Want to Die Please Fix Me: Depression in the First Person

In conversation with NICOLE NOZICK

Buy Tickets or by phone 604-257-5111   |   $16

Anna Mehler PapernyA vibrant, compelling memoir from a remarkable young woman that bravely reveals the real-life havoc wrought by depression and the urgent search for solutions. Illuminating, completely engaging – it is essential reading for all.

In her early twenties, while outwardly thriving in her dream job and enjoying warm familial support and a strong social network, award-winning journalist Anna Mehler Paperny found herself trapped by feelings of failure and despair. Her first suicide attempt landed her in the ICU, followed by weeks of enforced detention that ran the gamut of horrifying, hilarious, and absurd. This was Anna’s entry into the
labyrinthine psychiatric care system responsible for providing care to millions of Canadians.

She reveals in courageously frank detail her own experiences with the pharmacological pitfalls and side effects of long-term treatment, and offers moving case studies of conversations with others, opening wide a window into how we treat (and fail to treat) the disease that accounts for more years swallowed up by disability than any other in the world.

ANNA MEHLER PAPERNY is an award-winning reporter for Reuters. She received an investigative journalism prize for her series Death Behind Bars, exploring Canada’s psychiatric prisons.

NICOLE NOZICK is the Executive Director of the Vancouver Writers Fest.




HAYA and NURIEL MOLCHO / Tel-Aviv: Food. People. Stories. A Culinary Journey With NENI

There are few people who can talk about meatballs for ten minutes while keeping an entire table under their spell. Haya Molcho counts among the few.

Tel Aviv is colourful, cosmopolitan and modern; a city full of contrasts, fragrances, stories and flavours. It is a vibrant melting pot of cultures, religions and delicious culinary traditions. Successful restaurateurs Haya Molcho and her four sons (the NENI team) take us on a journey to meet Tel Aviv’s local chefs and storytellers – from the epicures and the urban forager, to the magician and the survivor – capturing the special spirit of the city’s many cuisines and inhabitants. Haya revisits the recipes of her home town, re-creating the flavours of her childhood: knafeh, green shakshuka, sarma, Israeli paella, pickled lemons and much more.

Born in Tel Aviv, the chef has been infusing Vienna with the culinary traditions of her native Israel for many years and has opened additional restaurants in Berlin, Amsterdam, Paris and Marbella. NENI – founded in 2009 by the indefatigable Haya and her sons – has become the go-to restaurant in Vienna for eclectic Israeli and Middle Eastern cuisine. NENI is named for Haya’s four sons: Nuriel, Elior, Nadiv, and Ilan.

Dinner including wine: $136 (limited seating)

Enjoy an evening of masterful cooking and conversation with chefs Haya and Nuriel Molcho, hosted in the intimate open kitchen of a beautiful private residence. Address will be communicated to the ticket buyers. Haya and Nuriel will also be signing their book Tel-Aviv: Food. People. Stories.


Monday February 10  |  11:45am–1:00pm
LILIAN NATTEL / Girl at the Edge of Sky

Buy Tickets or by phone 604-257-5111
Presentation – $10  |  Presentation + Lunch – $25. Pre-order only, by noon Feb 5. To select entree option, contact Lisa Quay at 604-638-7283, lisa@jccgv.bc.ca


Nattel has brilliantly blended fact with fiction in this unique, thrilling, sometimes terrifying novel based on the life and death of Lily Litvyak, a female Soviet flying ace and fighter pilot shot down behind German lines in the World War II. Lily Litvyak is no one’s idea of a fighter pilot: a tiny, dimpled teenager with golden curls who lied about her age in order to fly. But in the crucible of the air war against the German invaders, she becomes that rare thing – a flying ace, glorified at home and around the world as the White Lily of Stalingrad. The real Lily disappeared in combat in August 1943, and the facts of her life are slim, but they have inspired Lilian Nattel’s indelible portrait of a courageous young woman driven by family secrets to become an unlikely war hero.

Born in Montreal and now living in Toronto, LILIAN NATTEL is bestselling author of The River Midnight, The Singing Fire and Web of Angels.



At Richmond Jewish Day School
Monday February 10 |  9:00–10:00am
ALEX FRANKEL SCHORR / From Neigh to Zebra

At King David High School
Monday February 10 |  10:15–11:15am 
JAMIE MICHAELS / Christie Pits


Monday February 10 |  6:00-7:00pm   By donation

Released by Signature Editions, this is her first book of poetry, poems of dislocation, cultural migration, rage, healing and transformation – poems that transform the vocabulary of science, its language and concepts. “Salt and Ashes is one of those rare collections that astounds with its intensity and depth of emotion, without once sacrificing intellectual discipline and rigour.” – Evelyn Lau

ADRIENNE DROBNIES is a Canadian poet and scientist living in Vancouver. A graduate of the SFU Writer’s Studio, her poetry has appeared in numerous Canadian literary magazines. She has worked at SFU and the Genome Sciences Centre and has spent most of her life in Toronto and Vancouver.

ALEX LESLIE / Vancouver for Beginners
In this collection, the nostalgia of place is dissected through the mapping of a city where readers are led past surrealist development proposals, post-apocalyptic postcards and childhood landmarks long gone. Vancouver for Beginners is a ghost story, an elegy, and a love song for a city that is both indecipherable and a microcosm of a world on fire.

ALEX LESLIE was born and lives in Vancouver. She is the author of two short story collections, We All Need to Eat, a finalist for the 2019 Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, and People Who Disappear. She has received a CBC Literary Award, a Gold National Magazine Award, and the 2015 Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ Emerging Writers.

LAURA ZACHARIN / Common Brown House Moths

In Common Brown House Moths, poems step back from the hurry, blur and ordinariness to take a closer look at the hazards of daily life. From her work as a doctor and everyday family life, first-time author Laura Zacharin considers themes of memory, change, illness, recovery and loss, sometimes with humour, always with stark honesty.

LAURA ZACHARIN is a Toronto-based physician and poet whose debut collection presented here has won the Marina Nemat Award for Poetry. In 2017 she attended the Emerging Writer’s Intensive at the Banff Centre. Her poetry has appeared in The Fiddlehead, CV2, and The Malahat Review.

ABBY WENER HERLIN is an educator, researcher, editor and poet teaching at UBC Department of Language and Literacy Education.


Monday February 10  |  7:30–8:30pm
ALEJANDRO FRID / Changing Tides: An Ecologist’s Journey to Make Peace with the Anthropocene

Buy Tickets or by phone 604-257-5111   |   $18

Alejandro FridSeamlessly blends impeccable science with Indigenous knowledge and offers a hopeful call to action to save our planet and ourselves. Beautifully written, poignant and mind-expanding, this outstanding book deserves a broad global audience so that we can begin right now to find our way back to our place in nature.” – Mark Bekoff

In seeking the answers to the big existential questions, Frid draws from the complex practices for resource management that the First Nations have developed over the centuries and which epitomize sustainability. Ultimately, he argues, merging scientific perspective with Indigenous knowledge might just help us change the story we tell ourselves about who we are and where we could go.

ALEJANDRO FRID is the author of A World for My Daughter, an ecologist for First Nations of BC’s Central Coast and is adjunct faculty at the University of Victoria.


Also at the Richmond Public Library (through the Dayson Collection) Part of the Adaptation to Climate Change series, May 2020


At Vancouver Talmud Torah
Tuesday February 11 |  9:00–10:00am   FREE
ALEX FRANKEL SCHORR / From Neigh to Zebra


Tuesday February 11 |  2:00–3:00pm
RHEA TREGEBOV / Rue des Rosiers

Buy Tickets or by phone 604-257-5111   |   $10


A young Canadian woman’s search for her own identity brings her to Paris in 1982, and face to face with the terror of an age-old enemy. Sarah is the youngest of the three Levine sisters. At twenty-five, she is rudderless, caught in a paralysis which keeps her from seizing her own life.

Tregebov deftly portrays the rough edges of the sisters’ attempts at closeness. She masterfully depicts episodes of emotional explosion as well as tender reconciliation.” – Mordechai Ben-Dat

When Sarah is fired from her Toronto job, a chance stay in Paris opens her up to new direction and purpose. But when she reads “death to the Jews” on the wall above her local Métro station, shadows from childhood rise again. As her path crosses that of Laila, a young woman living in an exile remote from the luxuries of 1980s Paris, Sarah stumbles towards an act of terrorism that may realize her greatest fears.

RHEA TREGEBOV is the author of fiction, poetry and children’s picture books. Her first novel, The Knife Sharpener’s Bell, won the J.I. Segal Award and was shortlisted for the Kobzar Award. Tregebov was born in Saskatoon and raised in Winnipeg and did graduate work in literature at Cornell and Boston Universities. After working in Toronto for many years as a freelance author and editor, she taught in the UBC Creative Writing Program between 2004-2017.



Tuesday February 11 |  6:00–7:00pm
HEIDI J. S. TWOREK / News from Germany: The Competition to Control World Communications, 1900-1945

Buy Tickets or by phone 604-257-5111   |   $18

To control information is to control the world. This innovative history reveals how, across two devastating wars, Germany attempted to build a powerful communication empire—and how the Nazis manipulated the news to rise to dominance in Europe and further their global agenda.

Information warfare may seem like a new feature of our contemporary digital world. But it was just as crucial a century ago, when the great powers competed to control and expand their empires. Tworek reveals how for nearly fifty years, across three different political regimes, Germany tried to control world communications—and nearly succeeded. Communications networks became a crucial battleground for interwar domestic democracy and international influence everywhere from Latin America to East Asia. The Nazi mastery of global propaganda by the 1930s was built on decades of Germany’s obsession with the news.

News from Germany is not a story about Germany alone. It reveals how news became a form of international power and how communications changed the course of history.

HEIDI J. S. TWOREK is Assistant Professor of History at UBC and a non-resident fellow at both the German Marshall Fund of the US and the Canadian Global Affairs Institute and is Project Coordinator of the United Nations History Project.



Tuesday February 11  |  8:00pm (doors open at 7:15)   
DANIEL KALLA / We All Fall Down

Buy Tickets or by phone 604-257-5111   |   $20

From bestselling author Daniel Kalla comes the thriller that everyone is dying to read…This riveting new novel, set between modern day and medieval plague-ridden Italy, weaves together a compelling historical account, a medical and political drama, timely social insights, and a page turning race-against-the clock.

A superbly written suspense novel, completely believable in its frightening premise and masterful in execution. Kalla inherits the mantle of Michael Crichton. Much more than a medical thriller, We All Fall Down is both a vivid history lesson and a heart-pounding warning.” – Steven Hartov

Elaborating on the themes of antisemitism, xenophobia, and religious intolerance within the book, we can learn how turbulent times – and health crises in particular – have historically fueled scapegoating, and still do today. Just imagine a group of book lovers, sitting together with the writer, hearing the story behind the story. We provide the venue, the author, the host and the nosh – you provide the discussion and can add the wine! Purchase your tickets in advance and we’ll reserve a table for you and your friends.

DANIEL KALLA is the internationally bestselling author of ten medical and historical thrillers. His books have been translated into eleven languages, and his Shanghai trilogy has been optioned for feature films. He practices emergency medicine in Vancouver.

MARSHA LEDERMAN is Western Arts correspondent for The Globe and Mail.




Wednesday February 12  |  2:00–3:00pm
GLORIA LEVI / Kissing an Old Dream Goodbye: A Memoir 1950-1959


When Gloria Levi was 19, she traveled to the new State of Israel—and her life changed forever. What was supposed to be a trip between university semesters turned into an enduring love affair with the man she met onboard the ship to Israel, and with the land of Israel itself. Told through the eyes of a young woman and mother, her memoir recounts the painful and poignant journey of a young family trying to integrate into Israeli society in the 1950s and her realization that her path to Israeli identity is both complex and multilayered.

A riveting read from beginning to end. Levi captures the struggles of a young woman striving for personal identity and family balance, with the backdrop of a similarly young country striving to find its identity. She writes with insight, humour, honesty and passion, in a book you won’t be able to put down.” — Mark L. Winston

GLORIA LEVI is a speaker, activist and author living in Vancouver. She is a gerontologist with over 30 years of experience, and a political activist who established Habitat for Humanity in the Lower Mainland.



Wednesday February 12  |  5:30–6:30pm
JAMIE MICHAELS (Illustrator Doug Fedrau) / Christie Pits
SARAH LEAVITT / Agness, Murderess
Moderator: IZZY LAIRD

Buy Tickets or by phone 604-257-5111   |   $18

There have been other histories of anti-Semitism in Toronto and Canada during the 1930s, but none as creative as Jamie Michaels’s Christie Pits… A significant and worthy literary achievement for readers of all ages.” – Allan Levine

Christie Pits tells the incredible true story of when young Jewish and Italian immigrants squared off against Nazi-inspired thugs on the streets of Toronto. This is the history of a gruff and unrecognizable Canada — one of ‘swastika clubs’ and public bigotry. The book won a Joe Shuster award, recognizing the importance of this history to the times that we live in.

JAMIE MICHAELS is a critically acclaimed comic book writer from Winnipeg. He works at the intersection of politics, history, and bubbles that go POW! When he’s not writing, Jamie divides his time between helicopter firefighting, cage fighting in Alaska, and being a mensch.

DOUG FEDRAU is a Winnipeg illustrator and graphic designer, best known for his talented line work. Doug is also a gifted teacher and charcoal artist.

Agnes, Murderess haunted me in a way only brilliant stories can. What a rich portrait of a mysterious and exceptional woman! Sarah Leavitt’s drawings are so delicate, fragile and beautiful that I feel for every single character in this book. I want to get them warm clothes and a bowl of soup.” – Anna Haifish

Gothic horror meets feminist history in this deceptively spare novel of a 19th century Scottish waif turned serial killer. Agnes, Murderess is Sarah Leavitt’s second graphic novel and is inspired by the bloody legend of Agnes McVee, roadhouse owner, madam and serial killer, who is said to have murdered more than 50 people in the Cariboo region of BC in the 19th century.

SARAH LEAVITT is the author of the graphic memoir Tangles: A Story About Alzheimer’s, My Mother, and Me, published in Canada, the US, UK, Germany, France, and Korea. It was a finalist for the Writers’ Trust Non-Fiction Prize, and is currently in development as a feature-length animation. Sarah teaches comics classes at UBC.

IZZY LAIRD is the director of Vancouver Comic Arts Festival.


Wednesday February 12  |  7:00pm / 8:00pm
MICHAEL DAVID LUKAS / Last Watchman of Old Cairo (interactive live video interview)
Winner of the 2019 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature

Buy Tickets or by phone 604-257-5111   |   $20

Michael David LukasLukas has given us an elegiac novel of Cairo with a bit of Berkeley thrown in. His prose is deeply evocative…but his greatest flair is in capturing the essence of that beautiful, haunted, shabby, beleaguered, yet still utterly sublime Middle Eastern city.” – Lucette Lagnado

Joseph, a literature student at Berkeley, is the son of a Jewish mother and a Muslim father. His family’s story is entwined with that of the British twin sisters Agnes and Margaret, who in 1897 depart their hallowed Cambridge halls on a mission to rescue sacred texts that have begun to disappear from the synagogue. Inspired by the discovery of the documents of the Cairo Geniza in the late 19th century, The Last Watchman of Old Cairo builds a contemporary tale with flourishes of mystery and current societal concerns.

MICHAEL DAVID LUKAS’s first novel The Oracle of Stamboul was a bestseller translated into more than a dozen languages. The Last Watchman of Old Cairo won the National Jewish Book Award and the Sami Rohr Prize. Michael lives in Oakland and teaches at San Francisco State University.

8:00pm FILM SCREENING From Cairo to the Cloud

Michelle Paymar’s brilliantly conceived and executed film will captivate the general public.” – Mark Cohen

The documentary – produced, directed, and filmed by award-winning filmmaker Michelle Paymar – tells the remarkable story of the Cairo Geniza, a vast treasure trove of manuscripts hidden for centuries in the sacred storeroom of an ancient synagogue in Cairo.

As a Jew raised in North America” wrote Michelle, “I was deeply aware of the Eastern European world of my ancestors, but had little knowledge of Jews in Islamic countries. Discovering the richness of Judeo-Arabic culture was truly a revelation.”

Michelle’s independent work has screened at festivals around the world and she has extensive credits as a director and writer of documentary and non-fiction TV programs for major broadcasters.



Thursday, February 13  |   6:00–7:00pm

TOMMY SCHNURMACHER / Makeup Tips from Auschwitz: How Vanity Saved my Mother’s Life

Buy Tickets or by phone 604-257-5111   |   $18

Tommy Schnurmacher has written a book that could change your life. It changed his. As a writer, Montreal media icon Schnurmacher is an intense force of nature, a seismic swell of visceral empathy, laser-sharp wit and courageous self-analysis. Now meet Olga. Auschwitz prisoner A-25057, aka Mom. A fearless, dramatic and unpredictable maverick. An original.

Exposing the souls of a family, Make-up Tips from Auschwitz is an addictive page-turner. The author’s voice resonates with an unsettling candour reminiscent of David Sedaris. Like the Oscar-winning film, Life is Beautiful, Schnurmacher revisits the Holocaust with rays of light in the darkness. Sparkling with chutzpah and charm, this is a story of a family’s cultural collision and delightful dysfunction where these newcomers from Hungary defy authority.

You will laugh out loud as you meet a cast of supporting characters who redefine eccentric: the 50-minute therapist, the psychic rabbi and a superstitious hypochondriac named Paris. Once you meet them, you will want to organize an intervention. Or at least a Passover Seder.

TOMMY SCHNURMACHER is a Montreal media icon, an award-winning broadcaster who was born in Budapest to parents who were Holocaust survivors. Over a 43-year period, he has been a film, TV and restaurant critic, a gossip columnist, a high-society reporter, a political pundit, a talk-radio host and even a psychic.



Thursday, February 13 |   7:30pm   in the NRT
JAMIE BERNSTEIN / Famous Father Girl: A Memoir of Growing Up Bernstein
Featuring live performances of Leonard Bernstein’s songs with:
Lindsay Warnock – voice
Arielle Ballance – piano
Doug Gorkoff – cello

Buy Tickets or by phone 604-257-5111   |   $20

In a deeply intimate and broadly evocative memoir, the eldest daughter of revered composer/conductor Leonard Bernstein offers a rare look at her father around the centennial of his birth.

Her book answers the question she is most often asked: “What was it like to have a father who was the most celebrated and multifaceted Jewish-American musician of the 20th century?” Short answer: not boring. Longer answer: her book.

Leonard Bernstein was an enormous celebrity during one of the headiest periods of American cultural life, as well as the most protean musician in 20th century America. But to his eldest daughter, he was above all the man in the scratchy brown bathrobe who smelled of cigarettes; the jokester and compulsive teacher who enthused about Beethoven and The Beatles; the insomniac whose 4am composing breaks involved spooning baby food out of the jar. He taught his daughter to love the world in all its beauty and complexity. In public and private, Lenny was larger than life.

Jamie’s memoir details her youth growing up in an atmosphere bursting with music, theatre and literature. Leonard Bernstein and her mother, pianist and actress Felicia Montealegre filled the house with a veritable who’s-who of friends in arts and letters, creating an ebullient atmosphere that turned Jamie into a lifelong cultural enthusiast.

The featured musicians will bring to life some of her father’s lyrical works, with an overarching social justice theme.

JAMIE BERNSTEIN is an author, narrator, and filmmaker who has transformed a lifetime of loving music into a career of sharing her knowledge and excitement with others.




Thursday, May 7 |  8:00pm – Zoom event
An Elle Magazine 2019 Best Book of the Year
In conversation with Jewish Book Festival director Dana Camil Hewitt.

Register   |   By donation
Or free with book purchase – no contact pick up, drop off or mailing of the book as soon as you register.

“A brilliant fable about the lure of lying and the lure of fame. The writing is wonderful.” – Joan Silber

From the award-winning author of Waking Lions, a provocative novel about how one mistake can have a thousand consequences. What do you do when a little white lie gets out of hand? Does it matter, if no one gets hurt? And if someone does, would you have the courage to reveal yourself in order to save them? These are the pointed questions that Israeli novelist Ayelet Gundar-Goshen investigates in The Liar.

As in her previous novel, Waking Lions — in which an Israeli neurosurgeon is blackmailed by the wife of the Eritrean refugee he accidentally killed in a hit-and-run — the author is more interested in examining the messy grey areas between right and wrong, good and bad, victim and perpetrator. Written with propulsive energy, dark humour, and deep insight, The Liar reveals the far-reaching consequences of even our smallest choices, and explores the hidden corners of human nature to reveal the liar, and the truth-teller, in all of us.

AYELET GUNDAR-GOSHEN is an Israeli clinical psychologist and award-winning author. Her first title One Night, Markovitch won the Sapir Prize for debut novels. Her second novel Waking Lions won the 2017 Jewish Quarterly-Wingate Prize, the French WIZO Prize (2017), and was included in New York Times’ 100 Notable Books of 2017.