The 33rd Annual JCC Jewish Book Festival  November 25–30, 2017

The 33rd Annual JCC Jewish Book Festival November 25–30, 2017


Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver & Other Lower Mainland Venues


Set aside the last week of November for an extended literary treat! The Cherie Smith JCC Jewish Book Festival (Nov 25-30, 2017) takes Vancouver by storm with an exciting roster of writers from across Canada, the US, and Israel. This popular cultural extravaganza attracts sought-after authors and a wide audience from across the Lower Mainland. Th e six days of the Festival are packed with inspiring and entertaining  literary events including unique meet-the-author opportunities, readings and panel discussions,  the annual book club event, writing workshops, children’s and youth authors, wellness and food subjects,  interdisciplinary and multi-media events  and two onsite bookstores – new and used, open throughout the week. The Festival offers something of interest for every age group and literary taste.


To kick things off, the Jewish Book Festival presents an exciting October 22 pre-fest event with award-winning author NATHAN ENGLANDER discussing Dinner at the Centre of the Earth, his latest political thriller unfolding in the highly charged territory of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Featured 2017 Festival authors will include: Opening Night Gala with award-winning novelist ALISON PICK in conversation about her brilliant and astonishing Strangers With the Same Dream. Set in the 1920s in the Middle East, this timely page-turner takes us to a lost time and place that still vividly haunts our present day; Israeli/American author RUBY NAMDAR, winner of the prestigious Sapir Prize for A Ruined House, “one of the most monumental works written in Hebrew in the last century”; award-winning author RACHEL KADISH headlining our annual Book Club Event with The Weight of Ink, a sophisticated work of historical fiction about women separated by centuriesactor and author GAVRIEL SAVIT whose YA (young adult) magical-realist novel Anna and the Swallow Man became an overnight success; PNINA GRANIRER, Vancouver painter who founded  Artists in our Midst and  has just published her memoir Light Within the Shadows; cheeky and energetic  DANA & JACOB ATTIAS, authors of The Jewlish Cookbook which evolved from the playful  social media hit cooking video series; local children and youth authors DAN BAR-EL, IRENE N. WATTS and KATHRYN E. SHOEMAKER presenting their latest books in school events; VPL writer-in-residence MIRIAM LIBICKI joining other graphic novel authors ORLI AUSLANDER and JONATHAN ROTSZTAIN in an evening dedicated to comics but not necessarily comedy; and ultimate character actor, raconteur and author STEPHEN TOBOLOWSKY will be closing a head-spinning festival  with My Adventures with God, where he humorously explores the idea that most people’s lives seem to fit into an Old Testament template.

“The Jewish Book Festival embraces everyone who loves the written word” says Festival Director, Dana Camil Hewitt. “While the nucleus of our festival is Jewish-themed, our speakers, events and audience all defy narrow categorization:  they challenge pre-conceptions about the meaning of our culture in the modern world and, with that, the festival expands its reach and becomes ever more inclusive. The emerging themes are universal: ancient as well as contemporary history stand out this year,  dystopian elements merge with magical realism, several actors/authors will take the stage in engaging events and, again, we are giving humour and food their honoured places.”


Mark your calendars now! Regular updates can be found on the website at www.jewishbookfestival.caThe JCC Jewish Book Festival program guide is available at select locations throughout the Lower Mainland after October 16, 2017.  Most events take place at the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver (950 West 41st Ave @ Oak).


Jewish Book Festival – 2017 Tip Sheet


The 33rd Annual Cherie Smith JCCGV Jewish Book Festival (November 25 – 30) brings together a marvellous collection of celebrated and entertaining authors and personalities in its six-day program. There is a wealth of enticing options and among them we’re spotlighting the following dozen special events – which are just too good to miss! For ticketed events, we recommend reserving in advance to ensure you get a seat.  Read on and enjoy our Festival Tip Sheet for 2017!


Full Festival information and tickets are available online at or by calling the Festival Box Office at 604.257.5111.  The Jewish Book Festival program guide is available at select locations throughout the Lower Mainland.  All events take place at the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver (950 West 41st Ave) unless otherwise noted.


For more information on any of the Festival events or to arrange interviews with any of the authors or presenters, please contact: Jodi Smith – JLS Entertainment (Festival publicist)

Tel: (604) 736.4939   Email: [email protected]



PRE-EVENT RECEPTION (Sponsors & Patrons)


Book Festival patrons ($180+) are invited to join a gathering of Festival authors and special guests in a wine & cheese reception.  (For information on becoming a patron of the Jewish Book Festival please call Dana Camil Hewitt at 604-257-5156.)


Saturday November 25 @ 6:00 – 7:00pm

Norman & Annette Rothstein Theatre, Lobby




ALISON PICK in conversation Strangers With the Same Dream

“Stunning. On one level, a fascinating novel about early Kibbutz life, but more deeply, this is thought-provoking fiction that asks important, relevant questions about ideology, privacy, equality, idealism, power, corruption and war.” —Miriam Toews

Strangers With the Same Dream is a brilliant, astonishing and timely page-turner, set in the 1920s in the Middle East. Award-winning novelist Alison Pick takes us to a lost time and place that still vividly haunts our present day.

The novel came out of her recent first trip to Israel, where she visited one of the original big kibbutzim. She found herself imagining the early days of the Zionist enterprise when so much was at stake for everyone involved, Arabs and Jews alike.  Writing with restrained power, she creates unforgettable characters who, isolated within their utopian dream, are haunted by ghosts, compromised by secrets, and finally, despite flashes of love and hope, worn down by hardship, human frailty, and the pull of violent confrontation.

ALISON PICK’s bestseller novel Far to Go was nominated for the Man Booker Prize, won the Canadian Jewish Award for Fiction, was named a “Top Ten of 2010” book by the Toronto Star and was published internationally to acclaim. Her memoir, Between Gods, was a Globe and Mail “Best Book” of 2014, and a national bestseller.

Saturday, November 25 @ 7:30 pm

Tickets $24

Norman & Annette Rothstein Theatre


STEPHEN TOBOLOWSKY – My Adventures with God

The ultimate character actor, Stephen has appeared in over 200 films and TV shows, including Mississippi Burning, Groundhog Day and Glee. He is also the consummate storyteller —warm, funny, and profound.

Tobolowsky returns to the written word with My Adventures with God, a humorous and introspective story collection of growing up, told through the prism of the Torah and Talmud, mixed with insights from science, and refined through a child’s sense of wonder. My Adventures with God shines a light into the life of one of America’s most beloved actors.

Thursday, November 30 @ 8:00 pm

Tickets $20


  • RUBY NAMDAR – The Ruined House

“An absolute masterpiece, one of the most monumental works written in Hebrew in the last century.” The Ruined House, winner of the Sapir Prize, Israel’s highest literary award, is set in Manhattan in the early 2000s and in the ancient Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

Completely mesmerizing and utterly hypnotic, The Ruined House is infused with biblical, Talmudic, and Kabbalistic imagery, a magical-realist novel as beautiful as it is unsettling.

Ruby Namdar was born in Jerusalem, and his first collection of short stories won The Ministry of Culture’s award for the best first publication. He currently lives in New York and teaches Jewish and Israeli literature.

Sunday, November 26 @ 7:30pm

Tickets $18



RACHEL KADISH – The Weight of Ink


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!

“The best kind of quest novel…full of suspense, surprises and characters we care passionately about.” Set in London of the 1660s and of the early twenty-first century, The Weight of Ink is the interwoven tale of two women of remarkable intellect: Ester Velasquez, an emigrant from Amsterdam who is permitted to scribe for a blind rabbi, just before the plague hits the city; and Helen Watt, an ailing historian with a love of Jewish history.

Electrifying and ambitious, The Weight of Ink is a sophisticated work of historical fiction about women separated by centuries, and the choices and sacrifices they must make to reconcile the life of the heart and mind.

Rachel Kadish is the award-winning author of the novels From a Sealed Room and
Tolstoy Lied: A Love Story.

The Festival’s popular annual Book Club event is sure to spice up your literary season!


Tuesday, November 28 @ 8:00pm (doors at 7:15pm)

Tickets $18

If your book club registers in advance, we’ll arrange group seating. Contact Dana Camil Hewitt to reserve a table (604) 257-5156 / [email protected]. You can order The Weight of Inkdirectly from the Jewish Book Festival at a 25% discount by calling (604) 257‐5111. Pick up at the JCC from Oct. 16.


DANA & JACOB ATTIAS – The Jewlish Cookbook

Only 6 months after their wedding, Dana and Jacob Attias created Jewlish, a video series with over 100 million views on social media. In The Jewlish Cookbook, a playful explosion of colour and flavour, they highlight the diversity of Jewish cuisine with recipes that span the world.

Having spent most of her life moving between London and Israel, Dana has both a cheeky British side and an outgoing Israeli side. As the lead site producer, Dana’s ability to transform ideas into reality is what made Jewlish an instant hit.
Jacob moved from Cleveland, Ohio to Israel where he found the two loves of his life, Dana and Israeli food. He was looking for a way to blend food into his digital media business, and so, Jewlish was born.

Wednesday, November 29 @ 8:00pm

Tickets $18


ORLI AUSLANDER – I Feel Bad. Every Day. About Everything

JONATHAN ROTSZTAIN – Self-Loving Jew Comics

MIRIAM LIBICKI – Toward a Hot Jew


Discover humorous yet profound explorations of Jewish identity from 3 graphic novel and comics authors.


This is a hilarious, unfiltered, and beautifully illustrated look at the infinite number of reasons the author experiences guilt, shame, regret, and self-reproach in daily life and that maybe—just maybe—some of us can relate to as well. Confronting her experience with dark humour and brutal honesty, Orli Auslander offers us many cringe-inducing moments!

Orli grew up in London and lived and worked in New York City before devoting herself full-time to creating art. She is married to the author Shalom Auslander and lives with her family in New York.

Originally published on , Jonathan Rotsztain’s Self-Loving Jew is a series of autobiographical visual essays claiming a secular, cultural Jewish identity, part of a larger in-progress graphic novel. It is an attempt to articulate some of the ambivalence North American Jewish millennials may feel about religious Judaism, identity and assimilation and accounts for the shift away from established Jewish institutions amongst younger Jewish people

Jonathan Rotsztain is a Toronto-based writer, cartoonist and graphic designer.

In her first collection of graphic essays, Miriam Libicki investigates what it means to be Jewish, dating from her time in the Israeli military to her tenure as an art professor. Toward a Hot Jew shows Libicki as a powerful witness to history. She manages to both draw and encompass every kind of Jew. From hot to awkward, Sephardi to Ashkenazi, Jewish comic artists to renowned Jewish philosophers and politicians, Libicki portrays an array of authentic Jewish people in several contexts of history.

Miriam Libicki is a Vancouver graphic novelist. Her memoir jobnik! has been a required text in over ten university courses, and her short comics have been widely published. She teaches cartooning and illustration at Emily Carr University of Art and Design and is currently the writer-in residence for the Vancouver Public Library.


Thursday, November 30 @ 6:00pm

Tickets $18



PNINA GRANIRER – Light Within the Shadows, A Painter’s Memoir


“The hackneyed phrase that ‘an image is worth one thousand words’ may well be true, but along with my paintings, now I need those thousand words to tell my stories.“

– Pnina Granirer


Light Within the Shadows: a painter’s memoir, is the story of Pnina Granirer’s life as a painter whose career spans almost sixty years. Conceived as a play in three acts, it unfolds from her hometown on the Danube River in Romania during the war and the Communist takeover, to art school in Jerusalem, Israel, followed by three years spent in the USA and finally arriving in Vancouver in 1965.

Granirer candidly shares her successes and failures, addressing issues of dislocation, ‘otherness,’ and the uprooted soul’s wish for permanency and belonging. Amidst the joys and restrictions of family life, Granirer created a large body of art, ignoring trends and searching for renewal and new ideas. With wry optimism and humour she openly discusses the politics and obstacles encountered by artists and gives an inside view of how art is forged and released into the world.


This art exhibit is a celebration of Pnina Granirer’s newly published book; it follows the written words, becoming a small retrospective of works featured in the book. Drawings, wood engravings and watercolours from her life in Jerusalem, Illinois, Montreal and Vancouver that have never been shown before, will give the viewer a deeper understanding of her beginnings as an artist.


PRE-FEST EVENT: Thursday, November 16 @ 6:00pm: Author Talk

(with the Zack Gallery at the JCC)

Opening Reception and Art Exhibit: 7:00-9:00pm   FREE




Based on the author’s personal experience as a child in the Warsaw Ghetto, The Mouth of Truth is a gripping tale of impossible choices, divided loyalties, unimaginable horrors. Batya, now a grown woman has been trying to live a normal Canadian life in oblivion of her terrible past. One day, a friend confronts her with a secret revelation about her father, which makes her question her family history and its legacy of guilt. As a wife and mother, unaware that she is suffering from a childhood trauma (post- traumatic stress disorder), Batya approaches a crisis brought on by series of events that trigger memories of her family’s dark past with which she must cope before she can feel love, find healing and peace.

Lillian Boraks -Nemetz was born in Warsaw, Poland, and is a child survivor of the Holocaust. She escaped from the Warsaw Ghetto and spent the remainder of the war in hiding under a false identity. Boraks-Nemetz is the author of the award-winning novel The Old Brown Suitcase as well as The Sunflower Diary and The Lenski File. She is a creative writing instructor at the UBC’s Writing Centre and often speaks to students about the consequences of racism, as a member of the Holocaust Centre’s Outreach Program.


Sunday, November 26 @ 2:00pm  FREE



MAX WALLACE – In The Name Of Humanity: The Secret Deal to End the Holocaust

DAVID LAYTON – The Dictator

Moderator: Helen Pinsky


The book draws on an explosive cache of recently declassified documents and an account from the

only living eyewitness to unravel a previously unknown mystery. Max Wallace uncovers an astounding story involving the secret negotiations of an unlikely trio – a former fascist President of Switzerland, a courageous Orthodox Jewish woman, and Himmler’s Finnish osteopath – to end the Holocaust, aided by clandestine Swedish and American intelligence efforts. He documents their efforts to deceive Himmler, who, as Germany’s defeat loomed, sought to enter an alliance with the West against the Soviet Union.

Max Wallace is a Holocaust historian and a veteran interviewer for Steven Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation, as well as a New York Times bestselling author.


The Dictator is centred on a little known historical event – the creation of an agricultural colony for Jewish refugees in the Dominican Republic by murderous dictator Rafael Trujillo during World War II. Layton’s story courses through the Anschluss in Vienna, a Swiss refugee camp and the details of this unexpected and seemingly generous offer. Told from the alternating perspectives of Karl who is 90 and descending into dementia and his son Aaron, and travelling from present-day Toronto to the postwar settlement of Jewish immigrants in the Dominican Republic, The Dictator is at turns funny, poignant and insightful. With a deft touch and a wonderful ability to show the humorous in the tragic, David Laytonhas created a novel that explores the relationship between fathers and sons, and how the events of the past translate down through generations.

Award-winning writer David Layton is the author of Motion Sickness, a memoir that was shortlisted for the Trillium Book Award, and the bestselling novel The Bird Factory. He teaches creative writing at the University of Toronto.


Monday, November 27 @ 8:00pm

Tickets $18




Local children and youth authors DAN BAR-EL, IRENE N. WATTS and KATHRYN E. SHOEMAKER and DEBORAH KATZ will be presenting their latest books in school events, libraries as well as the JCC.


DAN BAR-EL’s It’s Great Being a Dad, illustrated by GINA PERRY, is a hilarious story about imagination and the best parts about being a dad. DEBORAH KATZ’s Rare Is Everywhere takes readers on a journey through the animal kingdom, revealing that grasshoppers can be pink, tigers can be white, and lobsters can be blue. The book blends science with art and encourages children to recognize and accept differences in themselves and in others.


       Sunday, November 26, 10 am and 11 am at the JCC   – 2:00pm at the Richmond Public Library



       IRENE N. WATTS Seeking Refuge– A Graphic Novel (illustrated by KATHRYN E. SHOEMAKER)

The book captures Irene Watts’ experiences when she was sent to England from Germany on the Kindertransport at the age of seven. This was a military operation that saved almost 10,000 Jewish children during WWII. Then as today, the refugee experience takes its toll on those who flee their homes because of persecution.


IRENE N. WATTS has been a storyteller since the age of seven. She has written poems, plays, novels and non-fiction books. KATHRYN E. SHOEMAKER is the illustrator of more than 40 books for children. She teaches children’s literature at UBC.     




ROGER FRIE – Not in My Family: German Memory and Responsibility after the Holocaust

Winner of the 2017 Canadian Jewish Literary Award (in History)


Moderator: Abby Wener Herlin


In this extraordinary and highly absorbing book, Canadian author Roger Frie confronts an unspoken Nazi history in his German family. With remarkable courage, he seeks to transform his family narrative into an understanding of the Holocaust’s forbidding reality. The son of German postwar immigrants who were children during World War II, and with grandparents who were participants in the War, he uses the history of his family to explore the moral and psychological implications of memory against the backdrop of one of humanity’s darkest periods.

Roger Frie is a psychologist and philosopher educated in London and Cambridge. He is Professor of Education at Simon Fraser University, Affiliate Professor of Psychiatry at UBC and Faculty and Supervisor at the William Alanson White Institute of Psychiatry, Psychoanalysis, and Psychology in New York.


Claire Sicherman’s Imprint is a profound and courageous exploration of trauma, family, and the importance of breaking the silence and telling stories. When her son almost died at birth and her grandmother passed away, Claire’s body, which had always felt weighed down by unknown hurt, suddenly suffered from chronic health conditions. Her grief was so large it seemed to encompass more than her own lifetime, and she became determined to find out why. Claire grew up reading Anne Frank and watching Schindler’s List with almost no knowledge of the Holocaust’s impact on her specific family. Now a mother herself, Sicherman uses vignettes, epistolary style, and other unconventional forms to explore the intergenerational transmission of trauma, about the fact that genes can be altered and carry memories, which are then passed down—a genetic imprinting. A testimony of the connections between mind and body, the past and the present, Imprint is devastatingly beautiful—ultimately a story of love and survival.

Claire Sicherman is a graduate of The Humber School for Writers and Langara College. She is  a facilitator in a multi-generational writing group called Home Words Project. She lives on Salt Spring Island. Imprint is her first book.


Wednesday, November 29 @ 6:00pm

Tickets $18


  • GAVRIEL SAVIT – Anna and the Swallow Man

Winner of the Sydney Taylor Honor Book for Teen Readers Award

Gavriel Savit is a New York-based actor and writer who has performed worldwide. Anna and the Swallow Man is his first novel and won the Sydney Taylor Honor Book for Teen Readers award, and was optioned for film.

The book sits “at the intersection of magic realism and fairy tale” as well as that of ages and interests. Written as a YA novel, it is a truly ageless book “which should be read by anyone and everyone old enough to cook dinner unsupervised.” Young Anna is left alone in 1939 Krakow after her father is taken by the Germans. An impossibly mysterious, charismatic man takes her in and they try to survive the war as nomads.

Tuesday, November 28 @ 6:00 pm

Tickets $16



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