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A Page from the Book Festival of the MJCCA

2019 September 18
by Susan Asher
From 2016 Miami Book Fair

Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist Dave Barry and New York Times bestselling author Adam Mansbach, authors of “A Field Guide to the Jewish People,” will be speaking and signing books at The Book Festival of the MJCCA Thursday, Sept. 26 at 7:30 p.m.

The New York Times called Barry the funniest man in America. He has written many New York Times bestselling humor books, including “Live Right, Best. State. Ever,” and “Find Happiness (Although Beer Is Much Faster).” Barry wrote a nationally syndicated humor column for the Miami Herald from 1983 to 2005. He has also written numerous humor books and comic novels.

Adam Mansbach is a novelist, screenwriter, cultural critic and humorist. He is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Go the F*** to Sleep, which has been translated into forty languages, named Time Magazine’s 2011 “Thing of the Year,” and sold over two million copies worldwide. 

The event will be held Thursday, Sept. 26 at 7:30 p.m. at the MJCCA (Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta – 5342 Tilly Mill Road, Dunwoody). Click here for tickets: $18-$35 and more information.

‘Our Town’ at Theatrical Outfit

2019 September 9
by Susan Asher

I don’t care if you’ve seen the classical Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Our Town” ten times or never, but if you want to see a great theatrical production, go see it at Theatrical Outfit.

The acting is so good, and Emily (Maggie Birgel) could not have made anyone feel so much or put so many viewers to tears.

Life in Grover’s Corners back in the early 1900s doesn’t appear to be much different from life in the mid 1900s. Neighbors knew one another, the milkman came regularly and people fell in love with the girl or boy next door.

In the three-act play, the stage manager sets the scene and provides the history of the small town of Grover’s Corner. It’s slow moving, but stay with it because the pace picks up in Acts 2 and 3.

Whether you’ve wondered about the meaning of life or never questioned it, you’ll discover it at “Our Town.” Written by Thornton Wilder, David Hyatt Crowe, “Our Town” runs in repertory with “The Laramie Project” through Sept. 29.

‘Five Guys Named Moe’ Features Music of Louis Jordan

2019 May 29
by Susan Asher
Above video is from the Tony Awards

The tunes of R&B pioneer Louis Jordan, whose slant on jazz paved the way for rock and roll in the ’50s, drive this musical tribute. Nomax is broke, his girl is gone, and he’s listening to the radio in the wee hours of the morning. Five guys – Big Moe, Four-Eyed Moe, Eat Moe, No Moe, and Little Moe – materialize and encourage Nomax to shake off the blues and live life to the fullest. Chart-topping tunes like “Is You Is, or Is You Ain’t My Baby,” “Let the Good Times Roll,” and “Knock Me a Kiss” put Nomax, and us, onto the road toward bliss.

Directed and choreographed by Thomas W. Jones II, with musical direction by S. Renee Clark, “Five Guys Named Moe” runs May 29 – June 30 at Theatrical Outfit.

Lawrence Flowers – Little Moe
Brandin Jay – Eat Moe
Sterling McClary* – Nomax
Omar Madden – Four-Eyed Moe
Eric Moore* – Big Moe
Eugene H. Russell IV – No Moe

‘Ride the Cyclone’ a Must See at the Alliance Theatre

2019 May 22
by Susan Asher

“Ride the Cyclone,” now in its final week at the Alliance Theatre, is one heck of a ride and a must-see musical. This carnival is not for the kiddies, but it will make your heart sing and laugh.

In the vein of a modern, risqué “Spoon River Anthology,” you’ll meet a deceased cast of characters who died riding the cyclone. Just one of them will be able to return to life.

The arcade fortune-teller machine, which appears to be from the early 1900s, holds a male potentate, The Amazing Karnak (Karl Hamilton) who tells the story of the Canadian high school chamber choir who died riding the cyclone. He gives the deceased characters a chance to come back to life by telling a story of their lives.

Ricky (Scott Redmond), who can only walk on crutches becomes a star-like rapper, garbed in purple and reminiscent of Prince. Ocean O’Connell Rosenberg (Tiffany Tatreau), the smartest girl in the class, exclaims her virtues above the others. Her best friend, Constance (Lillian Castillo), tells of her sexual escapades just before stepping onto the cyclone. The most memorable character, Noel (Kholby Wardell), the homosexual who dances like a Bob Fosse cabaret star and sings of his dream of being, “That F*cked Up Girl.”

It’s the final week of the show and one not to be missed. Fantastic acting by Castillo, Tatreau and Wardell.  Book, music and lyrics by Jacob Richamond and Brooke Maxwell, directed by Leora Morris, “Ride the Cyclone” runs through May 26 at the Alliance Theatre.

If you’re ready to ride the cyclone at a carnival, Get ready for the ride of your life. At this carnival, “Ride the Cyclone” is no kiddie ride.

In the vein of a modern, risqué musical “Spoon River Anthology,” you’ll meet a deceased cast of characters who died riding the cyclone, but just one of them will be able to return to life.

The man in the arcade fortune teller machine, appearing to be from the early 1900s, acting as the potentate, forewarns the cast of characters that they are going to die as will he soon thereafter. But each character has the chance to tell a story of their lives, the way it was or should have been.

There’s the cripple, Ricky (Scott Redmond) who becomes a star-like rapper, bringing Prince back to life; the smartest girl in the class, Ocean O’Connell Rosenberg (Tiffany Tatreau) who thinks only of herself and has a voice of gold, and the most memorable character, Noel (Kholby Wardell), who dances like a Bob Fosse cabaret star and dreams of being “that f*d-up girl.” The singing and performances are great. My guest and I both loved this show.

It’s the final week of the show and one not to be missed.  Book, musc and lyrics by Jacob Richamond and Brooke Maxwell, directed by Leora Morris, “Ride the Cyclone” runs through May 26 at the Alliance Theatre.

‘Native Gardens’ at Aurora Theatre Through June 2

2019 May 19
by Susan Asher
This is not the Aurora Theatre production but it is here to give you a taste of the play.

A neighborly friendship soon turns into a spat when Pablo and Tania Del Valle discover their property line extends beyond their fence into Virginia and Frank Butley’s yard, in the middle of his prized garden. The Del Valles are a professional young couple who have moved into a fixer-upper and need the fence moved to have enough space hold a party for Pablo’s law firm in their yard.

The semi-retired Butleys lean on the conservative side of life, politics and gardening, while the Del Valles are more liberal and prefer their native plants to Frank’s flowers. There are smart references to liberals and conservatives, yet playwright Karen Zacarias seems to, ahem, play both sides of the fence, so you never feel like she is biased one way.

“Native Gardens” is smart and funny. The cast consists of Carolyn Cook, Bart Hansard, Cristian Gonzales and Fedra Ramirez-Olivares. The show runs just under two hours with no intermission through June 2 at Aurora Theatre in Lawrenceville.

‘Cruel Intentions: The ’90s Musical’ at Cobb Energy Center May 15

2019 April 6
by Susan Asher

Based on the French novel, “Les Liasions Dangereuses,” and the classic cult film starring Reese Witherspoon, Ryan Phillipe and Sarah Michelle Geller, “Cruel Intentions: The ’90s Musical” pulls you into the manipulative world of Manhattan’s most dangerous liaisons: Sebastian Valmont and Kathryn Merteuil. Seduced by revenge and fueled by passion, the two diabolically charming step-siblings place a bet on whether or not Sebastian can deflower their incoming headmaster’s daughter, Annette Hargrove. As the two set out to destroy the innocent girl—and anyone who gets in their way—they find themselves entangled in a web of secrets, temptation, and the cruelest game of all: love.

Featuring hits by artists like Boyz II Men, Christina Aguilera, REM, *NSYNC, and, Britney Spears, Broadway World compares it to “a ’90s hit parade.”

“FUNNY and NOSTALGIA-FUELED. In this CRUEL INTENTIONS, high school schemers sing the BEST OF THE ’90S… the CHOICE LINES and the INSPIRED SOUNDTRACK HITS are all there in this enjoyable show!”
– The New York Times

For tickets to “Cruel Intentions: The ’90s Musical” Wednesday, May 15, visit the Cobb Energy Center.

‘Ever After’ at the Alliance Theatre

2019 February 7
by Susan Asher

“Ever After” is the second musical version of the Cinderella story the Alliance Theatre has produced in the last two years, and it’s as charming as the first, “Cinderella and Fella.” While it may be another timeless musical story– boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl — it’s sweet, entertaining and worth seeing.

Adapted from the movie of the same name starring Drew Barrymore as the Cinderella character, Danielle de Barbarac, “Ever After” is set in France during the Renaissance. For political reasons, the king and queen have promised their son, Prince Henry, to wed the princess of Spain. However, the prince wants to wed someone he loves, so his parents relent and give him a week to find someone.

Having lost her father, and years earlier her mother, Danielle lives as a servant to her stepmother and two step-sisters.  Danielle borrows a fancy dress and headdress from an artist to go to the palace to pay a debt for a friend where she unexpectantly meets the prince. Hiding her true identity and pretending to be of the noble court, she quickly scurries away before her secret is discovered.

Tunes feature nice harmonic melodies and Russian influences. The performers and singers are fit for a king, and so is this show. 

“Ever After” runs through Feb. 17 at the Alliance Theatre.

‘An Octoroon’ at Actor’s Express

2019 February 1
by Susan Asher

Guest Review by Akansha Sirohi

“An Octoroon” is a satirical approach to recreating the pre-civil war slavery
system in the United States. Playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins doesn’t disappoint when it comes to staging relatable stereotypes in his script. You will find yourself  laughing at some of the deep cultural references and racial biases narrated in the play. Despite these punches, An Octoroon fails to keep the audience entertained.
The play opens with a prologue reflecting the playwright’s idea and
complications of putting together a play on racism. Although the enactment of the white slave master and a Native American by Neal A. Ghant and Kyle
Brumley’s were loud, they added a twist to the parody. The comical
performances by Isake Akanke, Parris Sarter and Candy McLellan as slaves will  crack you up. However, An Octoroon with all its ironies tries and fails to make a point.

Written by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, directed by Donya K. Washington, “An Octoroon” runs at Actor’s Express through Feb. 24.

Book Festival of the MJCCA, 10/30–11/18

2018 September 5
by Susan Asher

27th Edition of the Book Festival of the MJCCA

October 30 – November 18, 2018

Tickets On Sale Now!


Prologue to the Book Festival Authors (Sep. 20 – Oct. 29, 2018):

Eli Saslow ∙ Mitch Albom ∙ Sally Field ∙ Ronen Bergman

Book Festival Headlining Authors Include (October 30 – November 18, 2018):

Academy Award-winning Actor and Author Tom Hanks  Former Senator Joe Lieberman

International Bestselling Novelist and Author of Big Little Lies Liane Moriarty

Host of NPR’s Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! Peter Sagal ∙ Tony Award-Winning Director Kenny Leon

Entrepreneur and Business Executive Michael Coles ∙ Former Diplomat and Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat  

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Presidential Historian Jon Meacham

NYT Bestselling Author and Columnist Anna Quindlen  Pulitzer Prize-Winning Editorial Cartoonist Mike Luckovich



October 30 – November 18, 2018, the Book Festival of the MJCCA will celebrate 27 years of bringing culture and conversation to the greater Atlanta community.

Book Festival of the MJCCA Co-Chairs

“We are thrilled about this year’s lineup,” said Book Festival Co-Chair Bea Grossman. “The 27th Edition of the Book Festival of the MJCCA features everyone from acclaimed actors to renowned political figures; from historians to award-winning novelists; to authors presenting award-winning cookbooks and riveting memoirs. We truly have something for everyone – book lover or not.”

“Included in our exciting lineup are some of Atlanta’s best local authors presenting their work,” explained Book Festival Co-Chair Susie Hyman. “Additionally, I am thrilled that we will bring back our ‘In Conversation’ interviews between authors and local journalists; as well as various events with book clubs from throughout the city.”



Prologue to the Book Festival of the MJCCA Author Events (Sept. 20 – Oct. 29):

  • ELI SASLOWRising Out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist

In Conversation with Allison Padilla-Goodman, Southeast Regional Director, Anti-Defamation League

Thursday, September 20, 7:30 pm – (Member: $15 / Community: $20)

From Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporter Eli Saslow comes the powerful story of how a prominent white supremacist changed his heart and mind. Rising Out of Hatred tells the intensely personal saga of one man who eventually disavowed everything he was taught to believe, at tremendous personal cost.


Saturday, October 13, 8:00 pm  (Member: $30*/Community: $35*) *includes hardcover copy of book      

Fifteen years ago, New York Times bestselling writer Mitch Albom published one of his most cherished books, the #1 bestseller, The Five People You Meet in Heaven. Now, in this long-awaited sequel, The Next Person You Meet in Heaven, he continues this beloved story.

Sunday, October 21, 7:30 pm – (Member: $35*/Community: $45* / Premier Tickets: $75**)

(*includes signed first edition copy of In Pieces. **Reserved VIP seating in front section of the venue behind patrons and sponsors (approximately 10 or more rows from the first row); signed first edition copy ofIn Pieces. PLEASE NOTE: Ms. Field will NOT be signing books; all books will be pre-signed.

One of the most celebrated, beloved, and enduring actors of our time, Sally Field has an infectious charm that has captivated the nation for more than five decades. With raw honesty and the humility and authenticity her fans have come to expect, Field brings readers behind-the-scenes for not only the highs and lows of her star-studded early career in Hollywood, but deep into the truth of her lifelong relationships.


  • RONEN BERGMANRise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassinations

In Conversation with Dov Wilker, Regional Director, American Jewish Committee

Monday, October 29, 7:30 pm (Fee: Member: $18/Community: $25)

The Talmud says: “If someone comes to kill you, rise up and kill him first.” This instinct to take every measure, even the most aggressive, to defend the Jewish people is hardwired into Israel’s DNA. Israeli investigative journalist and military analyst Ronen Bergman’s Rise and Kill First has been hailed by The New York Times as “an exceptional work, a humane book about an incendiary subject.”


27th Edition of the Book Festival of the MJCCA – Author Events (Oct. 30 – Nov. 18, 2018):


Tuesday, October 30, 7:30 pm – (Member $40* / Community $60* / Premier Ticket $80**)

*All ticket levels include a pre-signed, paperback copy of Uncommon Type. **Premier tickets include reserved VIP seating in front section of the venue behind patrons and sponsors (approximately 10 or more rows from the first row). PLEASE NOTE: Mr. Hanks will NOT be signing books.

Opening Night

A small-town newspaper columnist with old-fashioned views of the modern world. A World War II veteran grappling with his emotional and physical scars. A second-rate actor plunged into sudden stardom and a whirlwind press junket. Four friends traveling to the moon in a rocket ship built in the backyard. These are just some of the stories that two-time Oscar winner and iconic actor Tom Hanks captures in his first work of fiction: a collection of shorts that explore—with great affection, humor, and insight—the human condition in all its foibles. The stories are linked by one thing—a typewriter. Whimsical, witty, and moving,Uncommon Type establishes Hanks as a welcome and wonderful new voice in contemporary fiction.

With his son, Matt Lieberman, Lucius

In Conversation with David Lewis, David Lewis Productions

Saturday, November 3, 8:15 pm – (Member: $18 / Community: $25)

Drawing on the Bible and rabbinic literature, US politics and modern legal theory, Jewish humor and American folklore, former Senator Joe Lieberman follows the annual journey from Egypt to Sinai, illustrating that there can be no liberty without law, no freedom without justice.

Matt Lieberman, former headmaster of Greenfield Hebrew Academy (Atlanta Jewish Academy), appears with his father, discussing his debut novel, Lucius, an imaginative retelling of the Huckleberry Finn story with themes that are also rooted in the concept of slavery and freedom.

  • Sunday, November 4, 12:00 pm – (Member: $10 / Community: $15)

In Conversation with Catherine Lewis, Professor of History and Executive Director, Museum of History and Holocaust Education, Kennesaw State University

      America has long been criticized for refusing to give harbor to the Jews of Europe as Hitler and the Nazis closed in. Now a lauded Holocaust historian tells the extraordinary story of the War Refugee Board, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s little-known effort late in the war to save the Jews who remained.
    • RICK RICHMANRacing Against History

The stunning story of three powerful personalities, David Ben-Gurion, Vladimir Jabotinsky, and Chaim Weizmann—the leaders of the left, right, and center of Zionism — who sought to turn the tide of history in 1940.

  • Sunday, November 4, 3:30 pm – (Member: $15 / Community: $20)

In Conversation with Michael Morris, Owner and Publisher, Atlanta Jewish Times

On January 8, 2009, Izzy Ezagui–an American who had enlisted in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) at 19–lost his arm in a mortar attack on the border of the Gaza Strip. In this stirring and wryly humorous memoir, Izzy recounts his tortuous trek through rehabilitation to re-enlistment as a squad commander in the IDF where he became, famously, the world’s only one-armed Special Forces sharpshooter.

Famed Israeli photojournalist Ziv Koren was given exclusive access to the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), which resulted in an unfiltered view of Israel’s real war over its homeland — from covert attacks in Syria and the battle against terror to defending its borders.

Sunday, November 4, 7:30 pm – (Member: $18 / Community: $25)

For two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning, internationally syndicated political cartoonist, Mike Luckovich, a political cartoon is worth more than a thousand words to his readers–some of which he’ll say can’t be repeated in polite company! Almost 30 years of Luckovich’s storied career have been with the Atlanta Journal & Constitution.

In Conversation with Kim Severson, Pulitzer Prize-winning Journalist and Atlanta Bureau Chief for The New York Times

Monday, November 5, 12:00 pm – (Member: $15 / Community: $20)

A dessert reception featuring recipes from the book will follow the program.

At age 13, Dorie Greenspan burned down her parents’ kitchen. You could say she was just “warming up” to what would eventually be a wildly successful culinary career. Now, more than 40 years since she’s returned to cooking, two-time James Beard award winner Dorie Greenspan is a contributing editor to Bon Appétit and Parade magazines, and was inducted into the James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America.

In Conversation with Gail Evans, Former Executive Vice President, CNN and Bestselling Author

Monday, November 5, 7:30 pm – (Member: $15 / Community: $20)

When Norman Eisen, who served as the US Ambassador to the Czech Republic from 2011 to 2014, moved into the ambassador’s residence in Prague, returning to the land his mother had fled after the Holocaust, he was startled to discover swastikas hidden beneath the furniture. These symbols of Nazi Germany were remnants of the residence’s forgotten history, and evidence that we never live far from the past. Eisen weaves in the life of his own mother to demonstrate how those without power and privilege moved through history.

  • MIMI SWARTZ, Ticker

Tuesday, November 6, 12:00 pm – (Member: $10 / Community: $15)

Until post WWII, heart surgery did not exist. Ticker provides a riveting history of the pioneers who gave their all to the courageous process of cutting into the only organ humans cannot live without. Heart surgeons Michael DeBakey and Denton Cooley, whose feud dominated the dramatic beginnings of heart surgery. Christian Barnaard, who changed the world overnight by performing the first heart transplant. Inventor Robert Jarvik, whose artificial heart made patient Barney Clark a worldwide symbol of both the brilliant promise of technology and the devastating evils of experimentation run amuck. Part investigative journalism, part medical mystery, Ticker is a dazzling story of modern innovation, recounting 50 years of false starts, abysmal failures and miraculous triumphs, as told by Mimi Swartz, author and editor of Texas Monthly Magazine.

In Conversation with Susanne Katz, Director of Exhibitions, The William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum

Tuesday, November 6, 7:30 pm – (Member: $15 / Community: $ 20)

A multi-media presentation of Coupon’s work and a champagne reception will follow the program.

With 20 Time Magazine covers under his belt, including every president since Richard Nixon, famed portrait photographer William Coupon is considered one of the best in his field. He has photographed world leaders, including Yassar Arafat, Kofi Annan, and Prince Philip; musicians such as Mick Jagger, George Harrison, and Prince; and completed major advertising campaigns for Apple Computer, FedEx, and the Ford Motor Company. Portraits is a carefully curated collection of his body of work to date.

  • Wednesday, November 7, 12:00 pm – (Member: $10 / Community: $15)

In Conversation with Gail O’Neill, Journalist,

Seventy years after her grandmother helped hide a Jewish family on a Greek island during World War II, Yvette Manessis Corporon set out to track down their descendants—and eventually found them in Israel. Something Beautiful Happened is a beautifully written story about the power of faith, and the courage to stand up for what’s right in the face of great evil.


Bulletproof goes behind the headlines to tell the story of one of the most horrific family tragedies in recent times, one that begins with an ordinary marriage, but ends in the most unimaginable way. Morales explores the paths that we create to get back to ourselves in the face of unspeakable tragedy.

  • Wednesday, November 7, 7:30 pm – (Member: $15 / Community: $20)

In Conversation with Dana Barrett, TV & Radio Host, The Dana Barrett Show on Talk Radio 640 WGST

Award-winning journalist and National Magazine Award finalist Allison Yarrow tells the real story of women in the 1990s, exploring how they were maligned by the media, vilified by popular culture, and objectified in the marketplace.


    • EMMA GRAYA Girl’s Guide to Joining the Resistance

After Hillary Clinton’s defeat in the 2016 presidential election, many women wondered: How do you get involved? How do you stay engaged for the long term? Emma Gray, executive women’s editor at HuffPost, put on her journalist’s hat and set out to get answers to these questions from some of the most prominent thought leaders and activists of our time.


  • Thursday, November 8, 10:00 am – (Free and open to all)

Coffee and Susansnaps gourmet cookies will be served following the author presentation.

In Conversation with Rabbi Brian Glusman, Director of Outreach and Engagement, MJCCA

When 22-year-old Susan Stachler was diagnosed with cancer, her mother, Laura, was struck by déjà vu: the same illness that took her sister’s life was threatening to take her daughter, too. Devastated, Laura pledged to help her daughter through her debilitating treatments. When they discovered that her homemade ginger cookies soothed the side effects of chemo, the mother-daughter duo decided to open Susansnaps, a gourmet gingersnaps bakery in Sandy Springs, and began sharing their cookies with the world. The pair are also founders of the Susan Carver Foundation, which donates gifts to patients in metro-Atlanta hospitals and treatment centers. The Cookie Cure is about more than baked goods and cancer―it’s about fighting for your life and for your dreams.

Atlanta marketing exec, mom of two, and grieving widow-turned-philanthropist, Sally Mundell shares her journey of loss, discovery, and triumph as she channels the pain of losing her husband into the creation of The Packaged Good, a nonprofit on a mission to empower kids to give back. Mundell relays the lessons she learned along the way that helped her create something beautiful out of tragedy and forge a path of healing for herself and her daughters by giving to others. Sally’s personal story offers a healthy dose of inspiration for anyone struggling through a setback or loss.


Ruby Mundell, a 4th grader at Davis Academy, and Sally Mundell’s daughter, experienced the loss of her father, a dyslexia diagnosis, and bullying. She found that writing and art helped her find the healing, strength, and courage to move forward. In an effort to promote a message of kindness and resilience and help others going through hard times, Ruby was inspired to write a book. In it, she shares her personal stories of adversity and bravery, along with tools and tips for kids and parents to face life’s challenges head on and come out stronger.

  • Thursday, November 8, 12:30 pm – (Member: $10 / Community: $15)

In Conversation with Alison Law, Publicist and Consultant, Alison Law Communications; Host, Literary Atlanta Podcast

For many years, Martin Fletcher was best known as the NBC News Bureau Chief in Tel Aviv. However, in recent years, he has made a name for himself as an award-winning and bestselling novelist. Fletcher last appeared on our Book Festival stage with his international bestseller, Walking Israel. He returns with Promised Land, a sweeping saga of two brothers and the woman they love, a devastating love triangle set against the tumultuous founding of Israel.


After a string of New York Times bestselling suburban thrillers, including many with James Patterson, Andrew Gross has reinvented himself as a writer of historical thrillers. In his latest novel, Button Man, he delivers a stirring story of a Jewish family brought together in the dawn of the women’s garment business and torn apart by the birth of organized crime in New York City in the 1930s.

  • Kristallnacht Commemoration at the Besser Memorial Holocaust Garden

Thursday, November 8, 6:30 pm – (Free and open to all)

Please join Marlene and Abe Besser and Rabbi Brian Glusman at the beautiful Besser Holocaust Memorial Garden as we light the torches and pay tribute to those who lost their lives during one of the most horrific nights in Jewish history.

In Conversation with Daniel Pincus, AJC ACCESS Leader

Thursday, November 8, 7:30 pm – (Member: $15 / Community: $20)

Born in Yemen, Mohammed Al Samawi was a devout Muslim raised to think of Christians and Jews as his enemy. At 23, he secretly received a copy of the Bible, which cast doubt on everything he’d previously believed. After connecting with Jews and Christians on social media, Al Samawi became an activist, making it his mission to promote dialogue in Yemen. Then came the death threats: first on Facebook, then through terrifying anonymous phone calls. To protect himself and his family, Mohammed fled to Aden not knowing that the city was about to become the heart of a north-south civil war. As gunfire and grenades exploded throughout the city, Mohammed hid in the bathroom of his apartment and desperately appealed to his contacts on Facebook. Miraculously, a handful of people he barely knew responded. Over 13 days, four ordinary young Jews worked to save this young man and his family. The Fox Hunt reminds us that goodness and decency can triumph even in the darkest circumstances.


  • Friday, November 9, 12:00 pm – (Member: $10 / Community: $15)

In Conversation with Gail Cohn, Local Media Personality

Local criminal defense attorney Jason Sheffield will be the first to tell you that his riveting debut novel is based more in fact than in fiction. His lead character, Benjamin Scales, is also a defense attorney who owes it all to his mother. She dragged him through hell while clawing her way to the top of the male-dominated legal profession, sacrificing everything to build a life for herself and her son. Under her ferocious veneer, Carter Scales is a shattered and lonely woman, but a brilliant criminal defense attorney for the mafia. She and her son have been estranged for years, but when she is caught in flagrante delicto with her star client, the leader of the notorious Salucci Crime Family, Carter turns to the one person she thinks should always have her back. But why should he help her?


Local dermatologist Jamie Weisman’s captivating debut novel tells the story of an interfaith wedding in Atlanta. The bride is Elizabeth Gottlieb, a member of Atlanta’s wealthy Jewish elite. The groom, Hank Jackson, is not. The couple of the hour, however, is beside the point, because We Are Gathered belongs to its (adoring, envious, resentful, hilarious) guests. Balancing razor-sharp humor with a blunt vision of the fragility of our mortal bonds, Weisman skillfully constructs a world with a family that pulls in readers and carries them along until the very last page.

In Conversation with Mara Davis, Local Media Personality

Saturday, November 10, 8:00 pm – (Member: $18 / Community: $25)

Could 10 days at a health resort really change you forever? In #1 bestselling author Liane Moriarty’s latest page-turner, the first after her international bestseller and HBO hit series, Big Little Lies, nine perfect strangers are about to find out. Nine people gather at a remote health resort. But none of them could imagine just how challenging the next 10 days are going to be. Liane Moriarty’s Nine Perfect Strangers once again shows why she is a master of her craft.

  • Sunday, November 11, 12:00 pm – (Member: $10 / Community: $15)

This program will feature a film screening at 11:30 am of That Was Awesome!, a short film produced by the MJCCA in partnership with Dad’s Garage, starring actors with special needs from the MJCCA Spotlight Theatre.

In Conversation with Nadia Bilchik, CNN Editorial Producer

Hans Asperger, the pioneer of autism and Asperger syndrome in Nazi Vienna, has been celebrated for his compassionate defense of children with disabilities. But in this groundbreaking book, prize-winning historian Edith Sheffer exposes that Asperger was not only involved in the racial policies of Hitler’s Third Reich, he was complicit in the murder of children. In the first comprehensive history of the links between Asperger and Nazism, Sheffer uncovers how a diagnosis common today emerged from the atrocities of the Third Reich.

What kind of doctor puts his patients on display? As acclaimed journalist and magazine editor Dawn Raffel recounts, Dr. Couney figured out he could use incubators and careful nursing to keep previously doomed premature infants alive, all while make good money displaying these babies alongside sword swallowers, bearded ladies, and burlesque shows. How this turn-of-the-20th-century émigré became the savior to families with premature infants, known then as “weaklings” while ignoring the scorn of the medical establishment — is one of the most astounding stories of modern medicine. But who was this mysterious savior of tiny babies and what was the secret he carried with him throughout his life?

In Conversation with Holly Firfer, CNN Journalist

Sunday, November 11, 3:30 pm – (Member: $26* / Community: $32*) / All tickets include a paperback copy of the book)

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Miller’s Valley and Still Life with Bread Crumbs comes a provocative novel that explores what it means to be a mother, a wife, and a woman at a moment of reckoning. Some days Nora Nolan thinks that she and her husband lead a charmed life—and why not? New York City was once Nora’s dream destination, and her clannish dead-end block has become a safe harbor amid the urban craziness. The owners watch one another’s children grow up. They trade gossip and gripes, and they maneuver for the ultimate status symbol: a spot in the block’s small parking lot. Then one morning, Nora returns from her run to discover that a terrible incident has shaken the neighborhood, and the enviable dead-end block turns into a potent symbol of a divided city.

In Conversation with Greg Bluestein, Political Reporter, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Sunday, November 11, 7:30 pm – (Member: $18 / Community: $25)

Former Ambassador to the European Union Stuart Eizenstat was at Jimmy Carter’s side from his political rise in Georgia through four years in the White House, where he served as Chief Domestic Policy Adviser. Famous for the legal pads he took to every meeting, he draws on more than 5,000 pages of notes and 350 interviews of all the major figures of the time, to write this comprehensive history of an underappreciated president―and to give an intimate view on how the presidency works. Eizenstat reveals the grueling negotiations behind Carter’s peace between Israel and Egypt and how Carter made human rights a presidential imperative. He also details Carter’s many missteps, including the Iranian Hostage Crisis. Eizenstat shows first-hand where Carter succeeded, where he failed, and how he set up many successes of later presidents.

Monday, November 12, 10:00 am – (Free and open to all)

On October 8, 1978, a Canadian national by the name of William Dyson stepped off a plane at O’Hare International Airport and proceeded toward Customs and Immigration. Two days later, William Dyson ceased to exist. The identity was a KGB forgery, used to get one of their own―a young East German agent―into the United States. The plan succeeded, and the spy’s new identity was born: Jack Barsky. He would work undercover for the next decade, carrying out secret operations during the Cold War years until a surprising shift in his allegiance challenged everything he thought he believed. Now, in Deep Undercover, the former Soviet KGB agent tells his story of gut-wrenching choices, appalling betrayals, his turbulent inner world, and the secret life he lived for years without getting caught.

Monday, November 12, 12:30 pm – (Member: $10 / Community: $15)

Jenna Blum, the New York Times bestselling author of Those Who Save Us, creates a vivid portrait of marriage, family, and the haunting grief of World War II that spans three cinematic decades. In 1965 Manhattan, patrons flock to Masha’s to savor its brisket bourguignon and to admire its dashing owner and head chef Peter Rashkin. With his good looks and tragic past, Peter, a survivor of Auschwitz, is the most eligible bachelor in town. But terrible guilt over surviving the horrors of the Nazi death camp while his wife, Masha and two young daughters perished, consumes him. When he meets the beautiful June — 20 years his junior — the two begin a passionate, whirlwind courtship. When June becomes pregnant, Peter proposes, believing that beginning a new family with the woman he loves will allow him to let go of the horror of the past.

In Conversation with Virginia Shearer, Eleanor McDonald Storza Director of Education, High Museum of Art

Monday, November 12, 7:30 pm – (Member: $15 / Community: $20)

This program will feature a film screening of Sara Berman’s Closet by The New Yorker

Irreverent artist Maira Kalman, illustrator of the bestsellers The Principles of UncertaintyThe Elements of Style, and too many New Yorker covers to count, and her son, Alex Kalman, the designer, curator, and founder of Mmuseumm, combine their talents in this captivating family memoir. In the early 1950s, Maira’s mother, Jewish émigré Sara Berman arrived in the Bronx with her husband and two young daughters. At age 60, she left her husband after 38 years of marriage, packed a single suitcase, and moved into a studio apartment in Greenwich Village. Sara began establishing new rituals. According to the Kalmans: “in a burst of personal expression, she decided to wear only white.” Sara kept her belongings in an extraordinarily clean and organized closet, filled with elegant, minimalist, heavily starched, impeccably pressed and folded all-white clothing, including socks and undergarments, as well as carefully selected objects—from a potato grater to her signature perfume, Chanel No.19. Upon her death in 2004, her family decided to preserve its pristine contents, eventually recreating the closet in Alex’s Mmuseumm, and last year, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Inspired by the exhibit, this spectacular illustrated memoir, packed with family photographs, exclusive images, and Maira Kalman’s distinctive paintings, is an ode to Sara’s life, freedom, and re-invention.

In Conversation with Greg Changnon, Playwright and Former Book Club Columnist, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Tuesday, November 13, 12:00 pm – (Member: $10 / Community: $15)

If you knew the date of your death, how would you live your life? So begins The Immortalists – one of the year’s most talked about novels, appearing on virtually every “best of” list. It’s 1969 in New York City’s Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The four Gold children sneak out to hear their fortunes. The prophecies they hear inform their next five decades. At just 28 years old, novelist Benjamin has written a sweeping novel of remarkable ambition and depth that probes the line between destiny and choice, in this world and the next.

Tuesday, November 13, 7:30 pm – (Member: $15 / Community: $20)

In 2015, Russian hackers tunneled deep into the computer systems of the Democratic National Committee, and the subsequent leaks of the emails they stole may have changed the course of American democracy. But to see the DNC hacks as Trump-centric is to miss the bigger, more important story: Within that same year, the Russians not only broke into networks at the White House and the State Department, but placed implants in American electrical and nuclear plants that could give them the power to switch off vast swaths of the country. Moving from the White House Situation Room to the dens of Chinese government hackers, to the boardrooms of Silicon Valley, New York Times national security correspondent David Sanger reveals a world coming face-to-face with the perils of technological revolution. The Perfect Weapon is the dramatic story of how great and small powers alike slipped into a new era of constant sabotage, misinformation, and fear, in which everyone is a target.

  • Wednesday, November 14, 12:00 pm – (Member: $10 / Community: $15)

In Conversation with Adrianne Murchison, Journalist, AJC Northside Living Magazine

The Subway Girls is the charming story of two strong women, a generation apart, who find themselves up against the same eternal struggle to find an impossible balance between love, happiness, and ambition. In 1949, ambitious Charlotte’s dream of a career in advertising is shattered when her father demands she help with the family business. Meanwhile, Charlotte is swept into the glamorous world of the Miss Subways beauty contest, which promises irresistible opportunities with its Park Avenue luster and local fame status. But when her new friend―the intriguing fellow-participant Rose―does something unforgivable, Charlotte must make a heart-wrenching decision that will change the lives of those around her forever.


Not Our Kind is a compelling and thought-provoking novel set in postwar New York City, about two women—one Jewish, one an Anglo-Saxon protestant-–and the unexpected consequences of their meeting. A minor traffic accident brings together Eleanor Moskowitz and Patricia Bellamy. Their encounter seems fated: Eleanor needs a job. Patricia’s difficult 13-year-old daughter Margaux, recovering from polio, needs a private tutor. Though she feels out of place in the Bellamy’s Park Avenue milieu, Eleanor forms an instant bond with Margaux. When Eleanor meets Patricia’s bohemian brother, Tom, at the Bellamy’s summer home, the spark is instant and intense. Flushed with new romance, Eleanor begins to feel more comfortable with Patricia. As the summer wears on, the two women’s friendship grows—until one hot summer evening, a line is crossed, and both Eleanor and Patricia will have to make important decisions—choices that will reverberate through their lives.

In Conversation with Nadia Bilchik, CNN Editorial Producer

Wednesday, November 14, 7:30 pm – (Member: $15 / Community: $20)

As a progressive commentator on Fox News and now CNN, Sally Kohn has made a career out of bridging political differences and learning how to speak respectfully with people whose views she disagrees with. Her viral TED Talk on the need to practice emotional—rather than political—correctness sparked a new way of considering how often we amplify our differences and diminish our connections.
Kohn looks at the epidemic of hate all around us and how we can stop it. She introduces us to former terrorists and white supremacists, and even some of her own Twitter trolls, drawing surprising lessons. As Kohn discovers, “the opposite of hate is the beautiful and powerful reality of how we are all fundamentally linked and equal as human beings. The opposite of hate is connection.”

Thursday, November 15, 10:00 am – (Free and open to all)

Seventy-eight years young, self-proclaimed Southern Jewish American Princess and honored civil rights activist, Jocie, has a lot to say. And she details it all in this charming, often hilarious memoir that reveals a woman living a feminist’s life decades before anyone else. Born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination changed her life and sparked her role as an accidental activist. From Memphis to the State House to the White House, this book charts her journey through sacrifice, crazy situations, funny incidents, and even death. Along the way, she meets some incredible people and changes many lives.

  • Thursday, November 15, 12:30 pm – (Member: $10 / Community: $15)

In Conversation with John Lemley, Host and Producer of John Lemley’s City Cafe and High Tea, WMLB-AM, 1690

In the latest novel from Ronald H. Balson, internationally-bestselling author of Once We Were Brothers, an old friend calls Catherine Lockhart and Liam Taggart to his famous Italian restaurant to enlist their help. His aunt is being evicted from her home in the Tuscan hills by a powerful corporation claiming they own the deeds, even though she can produce her own set of deeds. Catherine and Liam’s only clue is a bound manuscript, handwritten entirely in German. Hidden in its pages is a story long-forgotten Ada Baumgarten. How is she connected to the conflicting land deeds of a small Italian villa? As they dig through the layers of lies, corruption, and human evil, Catherine and Liam uncover an unfinished story of heart, redemption, and hope―the ending of which is yet to be written.


Shtefan Brandt, adjutant to Colonel Erich Himmel of the Waffen SS, has made it through the war so far, in spite of his commander’s habit of bringing his staff into combat. Shtefan is a Mischling and one of the thousands of German citizens of Jewish descent who have avoided the death camps by concealing themselves in the German army. He is in love with Gabrielle, the colonel’s French mistress. Either of those facts could soon mean his end. Atmospheric and intense, The Soul of a Thief captures the turbulent emotional rush of those caught behind the lines of occupied France, where one false step could spell death.

Coles will be in conversation with Dr. Catherine M. Lewis, Assistant Vice President of Museums, Archives & Rare Books; Director of the Museum of History and Holocaust Education; and History Professor at Kennesaw State University

Thursday, November 15, 7:30 pm – (Member: $18 / Community: $25)

Michael J. Coles, co-founder of the Great American Cookie Company and the former CEO of Caribou Coffee, did not follow a conventional path into business. He does not have an Ivy League pedigree or an MBA from a top-ten business school. He grew up poor, starting work at the age of 13. He had many false starts and painful defeats, but Coles has a habit of defying expectations. His life and career have been about turning obstacles into opportunities, tragedies into triumphs, and poverty into philanthropy.

(move up a line) In Time to Get Tough, Coles explains how he started a $100-million company with only $8,000, overcame a near-fatal motorcycle accident, ran for the U.S. Congress, and set three transcontinental cycling world records.

In Conversation with Ligaya Figueras, Senior Editor, Food and Wine, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A buffet Shabbat lunch featuring recipes from Israeli Soul will be served.

Friday, November 16, 12:00 pm –Tickets:  $25

For their first major book since Zahav, Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook go straight to the food of the people—the great dishes that are the soul of Israeli cuisine. Usually served from hole-in-the-wall restaurants or market stalls, these specialties have been passed down for generations. The authors scoured cities like Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Haifa, finding meals in the hand like falafel and pita; grilled and roasted spice-rubbed meats; stuffed vegetables; chopped vegetable salads; and more. Solomonov has perfected and adapted every recipe for the home kitchen.

*This program is not included in the Series Pass.

In Conversation with Gail Evans, Former Executive Vice President, CNN

Saturday, November 17, 8:00 pm – (Member: $33* / Community: $ 38*) /* All tickets include a hardcover copy of the book

Pulitzer Prize–winning author Jon Meacham helps us understand the present moment in American politics by looking back at critical times in our history when hope overcame division and fear.
Our current climate of partisan fury is not new, and in The Soul of America, Meacham shows us how what Abraham Lincoln called the “better angels of our nature” have repeatedly won the day. Painting surprising portraits of Lincoln and other presidents, and illuminating influential citizen activists such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and civil rights pioneers Rosa Parks and John Lewis, Meacham outlines turning points in American history. In this inspiring book, Meacham reassures us that we have come through such darkness before as, time and again, Lincoln’s better angels have found a way to prevail.

In Conversation with Holly Firfer, CNN Journalist and President of True Colors Board of Directors

Sunday, November 18, 12:00 pm – (Member: $10 / Community: $15)

When Kenny Leon’s grandmother told him to “take you wherever you go,” she could hardly have anticipated that he would establish himself as one of Broadway’s most exciting and acclaimed directors. But through years of hard work, Leon would migrate from a small wooden house in rural Florida to the Tony Awards’ stage, where he would win Best Direction of a Play for his 2014 revival of A Raisin in the SunTake You Where You Go is an inspirational memoir that empowers you to be true to yourself as you navigate your own path.

Leon is Artistic Director of Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre in Atlanta. Prior to co-founding the True Colors Theatre Company, he served for 11 years as Artistic Director of the Alliance Theatre.


  • STEVE ISRAELBig Guns: A Novel
    Sunday, November 18, 3:30 pm –
     (Member: $10 / Community: $15)

From Steve Israel, former Long Island Congressman and head of the Democratic Campaign Committee the lines between fiction and non-fiction are often blurred. The congressman-turned-novelist, who writes in the style of Carl Hiaasen, brings us a comic tale about the mighty firearm industry, a small Long Island town, and Washington politics. When Chicago’s Mayor Michael Rodriguez starts a national campaign to ban handguns from America’s cities, towns, and villages. What ensues is a discomfiting, hilarious indictment of the state of American politics.

Sunday, November 18, 7:30 pm – (Member: $18 / Community: $ 25)

Peter Sagal, beloved host of NPR’s Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! and popular columnist for Runner’s World, shares lessons, stories, advice, and warnings gleaned from running the equivalent of once around Earth. At the verge of turning 40, Sagal—brainiac Harvard grad, short bald Jew, and a sedentary star of public radio—started running seriously. And much to his own surprise, he kept going, running 14 marathons and logging tens of thousands of miles on roads and paths all across America and the world, including the 2013 Boston Marathon, where he crossed the finish line moments before the bombings. The result is a funny, wise, and powerful meditation about running and life that will appeal to everyone – runners or not.

All events will be held at the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta (MJCCA), 5342 Tilly Mill Road, Dunwoody. Purchase tickets here.



‘The Book of Will’ at Theatrical Outfit

2018 August 26
by Susan Asher

L to R: Eliana Marianes, Suehyla El-Attar, Paul Hester,  Doyle Reynolds. Photo: Greg Mooney

“The Book of Will,” now playing at Theatrical Outfit, follows Shakespeare’s actors as they try to piece together the recently deceased bard’s plays into a folio. It may behoove viewers to know more than a little about the bard’s plays, and perhaps even a tad about the Abbot and Costello’s “Who’s on First?” routine, but even if you miss all the references, it’s OK because the actors in this cast are all superb. Special praise for Jeff McKerley, who had only days to prepare when another actor had to leave before the show opened, could not have been better opening weekend.

The plays author, Decatur native Laura Gunderson, is one of the most produced playwrights in the country and won the 2018 Harold and Mimi Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award for “The Book of Will.” Directed by David Crowe, “The Book of Will” runs through Sept. 9 at Theatrical Outfit.

Tom Key* – John Heminges
Doyle Reynolds – Henry Condell
George Contini* – Richard Burbage/William Jaggard/Horatio
Eliana Marianes – Alice Heminges/Susannah Shakespeare
William S. Murphey* – Ben Johnson/Barman 2/Sir Edward
Suehyla El-Attar* – Elizabeth/Emilia/Fruit Seller/Marcellus
Elisa Carlson* – Rebecca Heminges/Anne Hathaway
Kyle Brumley* – Ed Knight/Isaac Jaggard
Paul Hester* – Ralph Crane/Barman/Compositor/Francisco
Ryan Vo – Marcus/Boy Hamlet/Crier/Bernardo