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Jewish Book & Arts Festival Celebrates 50 Years

The festival runs from October 22-November 5, 2022.

Jewish Book & Arts Festival Celebrates 50 Years

The Ann and Stephen Kaufman Jewish Book & Arts Festival, presented by the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center of Houston (the J), is celebrating its 50th year as one of Houston's leading cultural and literary events.

The tradition of connecting the community to prominent and emerging literary luminaries with its 2022 lineup of bestselling authors, celebrities, diplomats, debut novelists and parenting experts continues with a remarkable line-up.

The festival, which runs from October 22-November 5, 2022, kicks off on Saturday, October 22, at 8:00 p.m. at Congregation Beth Yeshurun, 4525 Beechnut, with Dan Grunfeld, son of former NBA star and executive Ernie Grunfeld. In his memoir, By the Grace of the Game: The Holocaust, a Basketball Legacy, and an Unprecedented American Dream, Grunfeld shares his family's history of surviving the Holocaust and using basketball as the common bond across generations. Acclaimed actor and star of Dirty Dancing, Jennifer Grey, will close the festival on Saturday, November 5 at 7:30 p.m. at Congregation Beth Israel, 5600 N. Braeswood, with her memoir, Out of the Corner. The daughter of Broadway royalty, Grey recounts her successes and struggles in Hollywood and shares how she reclaimed her sense of self with courage and resilience.

To build excitement for the festival, the J will welcome Emmy-award winning journalist, Jen Maxfield, to Houston on Thursday, September 15 at 7:30 p.m. to discuss her book More After the Break: A Reporter Returns to Ten Unforgettable News Stories. During this special sneak preview conversation at The Emery/Weiner School, 9825 Stella Link, Maxfield will share how the lives of her subjects have unfolded after the cameras stopped rolling.

The festival is led this year by J Board members, chair Lauren Kaufman Blachman and co-chair Marcy Laviage. "For this milestone program season, we will commemorate the past and the 50-year cultural impact on Houston and look toward the future, as we bring new talents to Houston and prepare to reopen Our New J in early 2023," said Kaufman Blachman. "It's an exciting time for the J and we have so many wonderful stories to share with our community."

Due to the construction of Our New J, a $50 million, 126,000 square foot, state-of-the-art renovation and expansion project, the Book Festival home base and Jack Lapin Bookstore will be housed at The Merfish Teen Center, 9000 S. Rice Avenue. Many of the larger programs will be hosted at alternate venues in partnership with other organizations throughout the city.

With a spotlight on Jewish authors and books with Jewish content, other festival events and standouts include former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk, author of Master of the Game: Henry Kissinger and the Art of Middle East Diplomacy, on Sunday, October 23 at 7 p.m. at Houston Congregation for Reform Judaism, 801 Bering Drive.

After a three-year hiatus, the festival will bring back Book Lovers Lunch on Monday, October 24 at 12:30 p.m. at the Merfish. In the Civil War historical fiction novel, The Thread Collectors, authors Shaunna Edwards and retuning author, Alyson Richman, share their story of two women - a black woman in New Orleans and a Jewish woman in New York whose lives converge unexpectedly as they risk everything for love.

On Saturday, October 29 at 7:30 p.m. the J will host an evening of conversations with three authors: blind activist and social scientist Arielle Silverman, author of Just Human: The Quest for Disability Wisdom, Respect and Inclusion, journalist Wayne Hoffman, author of The End of Her: Racing Against Alzheimer's to Solve a Murder, and Mallory Smith (presented by Diane Shader Smith), author of Salt in My Soul: An Unfinished Life; who will share incredible untold stories of courage, strength and resilience. As part of the evening, the audience will enjoy intimate conversations with the authors in small groups, Q&A and refreshments. This event will take place the Merfish.

B.A. Shapiro's novel, Metropolis, is the festival's Community Read, a shared literary experience for book clubs and individuals. The event will take place on Tuesday, November 1 at 7:30 p.m. at Congregation Brith Shalom, 4610 Bellaire Blvd.

Novelist Dara Horn will present a unique perspective on people's fascination with long-dead Jews and explores why living Jews are often ignored in her new book People Love Dead Jews: Reports from a Haunted Present, on Wednesday, November 2 at 7:30 p.m. at the Merfish.

Clinical social worker, Carla Naumburg returns to the Jewish Book & Arts Festival for two parenting talks on Thursday, November 3 at 7:30 p.m. at the Merfish and Friday, November 4 at

9 a.m. at the J's Ellen Boniuk Early Childhood School in West Houston, 1120 Dairy Ashford, to discuss her new book You are Not a Sh*tty Parent: How to Practice Self-Compassion and Give Yourself a Break. This accessible and humorous guide is designed to help readers break free of self-doubt and embrace their instincts on more effective and mindful parenting.

Younger audiences and their families will have the opportunity to make the world a better place through the spirit of Hanukkah during Oliver Lapin Family Day at the Merfish, on Sunday, October 23 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. The event will immerse children, ages 3-10, in a global celebration featuring three authors with children's stories from different cultures. Kids, of various age groups, will walk through the stories and enjoy several cultural experiences and activities to repair the world through good deeds.

The festival will also present, The Conductor, on Thursday, October 27 at 7:00 p.m. at Holocaust Museum Houston, 5401 Caroline. This film chronicling Marin Olsop, the world's first female conductor gives viewers a backstage pass to the artistry and energy of her performances - where music knows no boundaries.

For more information, including this year's full lineup, tickets and book sales, visit www.erjcchouston.org/book festival. Find us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using the hashtag #JHouBookFest.

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