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Festival Events & Schedule

St. Louis Jewish Book Festival Schedule

Fall Virtual Pass Raffle Tickets

2020 Pre-Festival Virtual Events

October 25, 7pm: Joan Lunden

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Joan Lunden
Why Did I Come into This Room: A Candid Conversation about Aging
Sunday, October 25,  7pm
Tickets: $18 (FREE with a Fall Virtual Pass)
Interviewed by Kay Quinn, Anchor, KSDK News

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In her most candid and revealing book yet, Why Did I Come into This Room: A Candid Conversation about Aging, acclaimed broadcast journalist and Baby Boomer, Joan Lunden delves into the various phases of aging that leave many feeling uncomfortable, confused, and on edge. In her hilarious book, Lunden takes the dull and depressing out of aging, replacing it with wit and humor. After all, laughing is better than crying—unless it makes you pee! Whether you’re in your 40s, 50s, 60s, or more, this book is full of helpful information to embrace—or at least prepare for—the inevitable.

Sponsored by St. Louis NORC and Eileen Schneider-Edelman

2020 Festival All-Virtual Lineup

Single tickets and all-access Fall Virtual Pass ($95) are on sale now! 

2020 Keynote - Sunday, November 1, 7pm: Barry Sonnenfeld

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Barry Sonnenfeld
Barry Sonnenfeld, Call Your Mother

Sunday, November 1, 7pm
Tickets: $30
Interviewed by Alan Zweibel

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Barry Sonnenfeld’s philosophy is, “Regret the Past. Fear the Present. Dread the Future.” Told in his unmistakable voice, Barry Sonnenfeld, Call Your Mother is a laugh-out-loud memoir. Constantly threatened with suicide by his over-protective mother, disillusioned by the father he worshiped, and abused by a demonic relative, Sonnenfeld somehow went on to become one of Hollywood’s most successful producers and directors. One of his most embarrassing moments occurred when he was a teenager attending his first rock concert. His mom had the PA announcer say, “Barry Sonnenfeld, call your mother.”

Film and television director Barry Sonnenfeld’s outrageous and hilarious memoir, Call Your Mother: Memoirs of a Neurotic Filmmaker traces his idiosyncratic upbringing in New York City, his breaking into film as a cinematographer with the Coen brothers, and his unexpected career as the director behind such huge film franchises as The Addams Family and Men in Black, as well as Get Shorty, “Pushing Daises”, and “A Series of Unfortunate Events.” Before making Men in Black, he considered doing a live-action film version of The Jetsons.

In addition to being an accomplished director in his own right, Mr. Sonnenfeld has worked as a cinematographer with many other well-known directors on their American classics, including with the Coen brothers on Blood Simple, Raising Arizona and Miller’s Crossing; with Danny DeVito on Throw Mama From the Train; with Penny Marshall on Big; and with Rob Reiner on When Harry Met Sally and Misery. 

About the Interviewer:

Interviewer Alan Zweibel is an original “Saturday Night Live” writer whom the New York Times says  has “earned a place in the pantheon of American pop culture.” Alan has won multiple Emmys and awards for his work in television which includes “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show” (which he cocreated & produced), “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “The Late Show with David Letterman.” His new memoir is called Laugh Lines: My Life Helping Funny People Be Funnier.

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Monday, November 2, 2pm: Johanna Silver

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Johanna Silver
Growing Weed in the Garden
Monday, November 2, 2pm
Tickets: $18
Interviewed by Larry Siffelman, Owner, Tastebuds Dispensary (opening January 2021)

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Buried deep in Talmudic literature are instructions for how to grow cannabis. From the former garden editor of Sunset magazine, Johanna Silver, Growing Weed in the Garden brings cannabis out of the dark, into the sunlight. This groundbreaking, comprehensive guide to incorporating weed into your garden leads you from seed or plant selection to harvest. Filled with gorgeous photographs of beautiful gardens, as well as step-by-step photography that shows how to dry, cure, and store cannabis, make tinctures and oils, and roll the perfect joint, this book provides all the
information you need to grow and enjoy cannabis. For both the stoned and sober, the new and seasoned gardener, Growing Weed in the Garden is the definitive guide to doing just that.

Sponsored by Kuhn Foundation

Monday, November 2, 7pm: Judy Gold

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Judy Gold
Yes, I Can Say That
Monday, November 2, 7pm

Tickets: $18pm
Interviewed by Jo Firestone, Comedian & Writer for “The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon”

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From award-winning comedian Judy Gold, Yes, I Can Say That explores the current assault on comedy which is undermining free speech and is seen as a fundamental attack against the integrity of the art. Comedians have long been under fire for using provocative, often taboo subjects to challenge mores and get a laugh. But in the age of social media, comedians are at greater risk of being silenced, enduring threats, shaming, and damaged careers because of angry, censorious electronic mobs. Gold writes, that as “truth tellers,” a comic’s observations are deliberately delivered
to entertain, provoke, and lead to an exchange of ideas. Judy Gold is an American standup comedian, actress, television writer, and producer. She won two Daytime Emmy Awards for her work as a writer and producer on “The Rosie O’Donnell Show”, and has starred in comedy specials on HBO, Comedy Central, and Logo. She is currently the host of the hit podcast “Kill Me Now.”

Sponsored by Robin & David Chervitz

Wednesday, November 4, 2pm: Alex George

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Alex George
The Paris Hours
Monday, November 4, 2pm

Tickets: $18
Interviewed by Mamta Chaudhry, author of Haunting Paris

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In glittering 1927 Paris, Josephine Baker dances with Ernest Hemingway, Maurice Ravel plays a lonely piano, and Gertrude Stein hosts her legendary salons. Yet alongside these creative geniuses, a quartet of ordinary men and women are forging their own extraordinary stories. The Paris Hours shows us that even the forgotten residents of Paris are as dazzling as the glorious city they inhabit. Alex George is a writer, a bookseller, a director of a literary festival, and a lawyer. He was born in England, received a law degree from Oxford University and worked for eight years as a corporate lawyer in London and Paris. He now lives in Columbia, Missouri, where he and his wife own an independent bookstore, Skylark Bookshop. His two previous novels, A Good American (a national and international best seller) and Setting Free The Kites received a variety of awards and recognition.

Sponsored by Margie Horowitz, Susan Nagarkatti and The Silk Foundation

Wednesday, November 4, 7pm: Sports Night with Jon Pessah & Ben Cohen

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Sports Night with Jon Pessah (Yogi: A Life Behind the Mask) & Ben Cohen (The Hot Hand)
Wednesday, November 4, 7pm
Tickets: $20
Moderated by Benjamin Hochman, Sports Columnist, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Jon Pessah
Yogi: A Life Behind the Mask is the first biography to cover the entire arc of Yogi Berra’s life, from his hardscrabble Depression-era childhood in St. Louis, through his reign as a Hall of Famer and Greatest Living Yankee, and up to his death at age 90 in 2015—just before Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Pessah pushes past existing accounts of Berra to create a poignant and revealing portrait, to take readers inside the triumphs and disappointments of a professional ballplayer. Jon Pessah is a founding editor of ESPN Magazine. He was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for editing and writing an examination into the role of racism in Major League Baseball. A 45-year veteran of sports and business journalism in newspapers and magazines, Pessah was Assistant Managing Editor/Sports at Newsday and Sports Editor at the Hartford Courant.

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Ben Cohen
How can you maximize success—and limit failure? Wall Street Journal reporter Ben Cohen brilliantly investigates the mystery and science of streaks in The Hot Hand. For decades, statisticians, social scientists, psychologists, and economists (among them Nobel Prize winners) have spent massive amounts of precious time thinking about whether streaks actually exist. After all, a substantial number of decisions that we make in our everyday lives are quietly rooted in this one question: If something happened before, will it happen again? Is there such a thing
as being in the zone? Can someone have a “hot hand”? Or is it simply a case of seeing patterns in randomness? Or, if streaks are possible, where can they be found? In The Hot Hand, Wall Street Journal reporter Ben Cohen offers an unfailingly entertaining and provocative investigation into these questions.

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Sponsored by Gail & David Berwald, Marie & Stuart Block, Gail Glaser, Howard Hearsh, Aurelia Konrad Charitable Foundation, Judi Scissors & Sam Broh and Stacy & Greg Siwak

Thursday, November 5, 2pm: Jill Wine-Banks

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Jill Wine-Banks
The Watergate Girl: My Fight for Truth and Justice Against a Criminal President
Thursday, November 5, 2pm
Tickets: $18
Interviewed by Susan E. Block, Attorney, Paule, Camazine and Blumenthal

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It was a time, much like today, when Americans feared for the future of their democracy and women stood up for equal treatment. At the crossroads of the Watergate scandal and the women’s movement stood a young lawyer named Jill Wine Volner (as she was then known), barely 30 years old and the only woman on the team that prosecuted the highest-ranking White House officials. Called “the mini-skirted lawyer” by the press, she fought to receive the respect accorded her male counterparts – and prevailed. In The Watergate Girl: My Fight for Truth and Justice Against a Criminal President, Jill Wine-Banks takes us inside this troubled time in American history, and it is impossible to read about the crimes of Richard Nixon and the people around him without drawing parallels to today’s headlines. At once a cautionary tale and an inspiration for those who believe in the power of justice and the rule of law, The Watergate Girl is a revelation about our country, our politics and who we are as a society.

Sponsored by Berger Memorial Chapel, Martha & Jim Bogart, Bob Germain & Bruce Glatter and Jean & Stan Margul

Thursday, November 5, 7pm: Ron Balson

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Ron Balson
Eli’s Promise
Thursday, November 5, 7pm

Tickets: $18
Interviewed by Brad A. Sandler, Immigration Lawyer and Partner at Stinson

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Ronald H. Balson returns to the Festival with Eli’s Promise, a captivating saga of the Holocaust and its aftermath spanning decades and continents. Taking place in three different historical eras—Nazi-occupied Poland, the American Zone of post-war Germany, and Chicago at the height of the Vietnam War—Balson’s latest novel explores the human cost of war, the mixed blessings of survival, and the enduring strength of family bonds. Powerful and emotional, Eli’s Promise is a novel centered on World War II and a husband’s quest for justice. Ron Balson’s work as a practicing trial attorney has taken him into courts across the United States and into international venues. Balson is a National Jewish Book Award winner and has been a finalist for the Harper Lee award for Legal Fiction, and a finalist for the Premio Bancarella Italian Literature Award.

Sponsored by Dana & Barry Sandweiss, Saul Brodsky Jewish Community Library and Gloria & Sandy Spitzer

Friday, November 6, 11am: Claire Saffitz

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Claire Saffitz
Dessert Person: Recipes and Guidance for Baking with Confidence
Friday, November 6, 11am

Tickets: $18
Interviewed by Jo Firestone, Comedian & Writer for “The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon”
Event includes a bake-along! Recipe will be emailed in advance.

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Claire Saffitz is a baking hero for a new generation. In Dessert Person: Recipes and Guidance for Baking with Confidence, fans will find Claire’s signature spin on sweet and savory recipes like Babkallah (a babka-Challah mashup), Apple and Concord Grape Crumble Pie, Strawberry-Cornmeal Layer Cake, Crispy Mushroom Galette and Malted Forever Brownies. She outlines the problems and solutions for each recipe–like what to do if your pie dough for Sour Cherry Pie cracks (patch it with dough or a quiche flour paste!)–as well as practical do’s and don’ts, skill level, prep and bake time, and foundational know-how. With Claire at your side, everyone can be a dessert person.

Sponsored by Al & Nancy Siwak and Harvey Kornblum Foundation

Friday, November 6, 2pm: David Marwell

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David Marwell
Mengele: Unmasking the Angel of Death
Friday, November 6, 2pm
Tickets: $18
Interviewed by Warren Rosenblum, PhD, History, Politics & International Relations, Webster University

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One of the most notorious war criminals of all time, Dr. Josef Mengele has come to symbolize both the evil of the Nazi regime and the failure of justice in the postwar world. Drawing on new scholarship and sources, historian David G. Marwell examines Mengele’s life and career in Mengele: Unmasking the Angel of Death. He focuses on Mengele’s university studies, which led to two PhDs and a promising career as a scientist; his wartime service in combat and at Auschwitz; and his postwar refuge in Germany and South America.

David G. Marwell, Ph.D. has had a distinguished career in public history. He spent nine years at the US Department of Justice, where he researched the investigation and prosecution of Nazi war criminals in the United States, as Chief of Investigative Research.

Sponsored by the St. Louis Holocaust Museum and Learning Center, Gloria Feldman & Family, in memory of Rubin Feldman, and Howard N. Lesser

Saturday, November 7, 7pm: Mystery Night with Sara Paretsky & Hank Phillippi Ryan

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Mystery Night: Sara Paretsky (Dead Land) & Hank Phillippi Ryan (The First to Lie)
Saturday, November 7, 7pm
Tickets: $20

Sara Paretsky
Sara Paretsky created the character of V.I. Warshawski in 1982, creating a believable investigator with the grit and smarts to tackle problems on the mean streets, thereby challenging a genre in which women typically were either vamps or victims. Her first novel, Indemnity Only, was followed by 19 more best-selling Warshawski novels. In Dead Land, Warshawski gets pulled into a clandestine money deal, finding herself in the path of some developers whose negotiating strategy is simple—they bulldoze or kill any obstacle in their way. She discovers a terrifying conspiracy stretching from Chicago’s parks to a cover-up in the American government’s interference in South American politics. Sara Paretsky’s books are published in 30 countries. A movie entitled “V.I. Warshawski” was released in 1991, starring Missouri’s own Kathleen Turner.

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Hank Phillippi Ryan
Hank Phillippi Ryan is a USA Today bestselling author of 12 thrillers, winning the most prestigious awards in the genre: five Agathas, three Anthonys, the Daphne, and the coveted Mary Higgins Clark Award. She is also on-air investigative reporter for Boston’s WHDH-TV, with 37 EMMYs and dozens more journalism honors. Book critics call her “a master of suspense.” Her previous novel, The Murder List, is an Agatha, Anthony, Macavity and Mary Higgins Clark Award nominee. Hank’s newest novel: The First to Lie. The Publishers Weekly starred review says “Stellar… Hank Phillippi Ryan could win a sixth Agatha with this one.

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Sponsored by Booksource, in memory of our founder, Sandy Jaffe

Sunday, November 8, 2pm: Liel Leibovitz

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Liel Leibovitz
Stan Lee: A Life in Comics
Sunday, November 8, 2pm
Tickets: $18

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From the prizewinning Jewish Lives series, a meditation on the deeply Jewish and surprisingly spiritual roots of Stan Lee and Marvel Comics. Few artists have had as much of an impact on American popular culture as Stan Lee. The characters he created—Spider-Man and Iron Man, the X-Men and the Fantastic Four—occupy Hollywood’s imagination and production schedules, generate billions at the box office, and come as close as anything we have to a shared American mythology. This illuminating biography, Stan Lee: A Life in Comics, focuses as much on Lee’s ideas as it does on his unlikely rise to stardom. It surveys his cultural and religious upbringing and draws surprising connections between celebrated comic book heroes and the ancient tales of the Bible, the Talmud, and Jewish mysticism. From close readings of Lee’s work to little-known anecdotes from Marvel’s history, the book paints a portrait of Lee that goes much deeper than one of his signature onscreen cameos.

Sponsored by Dr. Arthur Gale, Nancy & Ken Kranzberg, Rubin Family Foundation and Sh’ma Listen! Jewish Federation of St. Louis

Sunday, November 8, 7pm: Bruce Feiler

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Bruce Feiler
Life is in the Transitions
Sunday, November 8, 7pm
Tickets: $18
Interviewed by Sylvia Nissenboim (LCSW), certified Strategic Intervention Coach and Trainer

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Life is in the Transitions is a pioneering and timely study of how to navigate life’s biggest transitions with meaning, purpose, and skill. Feiler identifies a powerful new tool kit for navigating these pivotal times. Drawing on his extraordinary trove of insights, he lays out specific strategies each of us can use to reimagine and rebuild our lives, often stronger than before. Bruce Feiler is the author of 15 books, including six consecutive New York Times nonfiction best-sellers. Among the best-sellers is Council of Dads, a book that describes how he responded to a diagnosis of a rare cancer by asking a group of men to be present in the lives of his young daughters. The book was the subject of a TED Talk and inspired the NBC drama series ”Council of Dads.” Bruce writes the “This Life” column in the Sunday New York Times and is also the writer/presenter of the PBS miniseries “Walking the Bible and Sacred Journeys” with Bruce Feiler.

Sponsored by Myrtle & Bernard Kornblum’s Changing World Fund and Rabbi Carnie & Paulie Rose