St. Louis Jewish Book Festival and pre-Festival events


Wednesday, Sept. 3

7:30 p.m., Alan Morinis, With Heart in Mind: Mussar Teachings to Transform Your Life (in partnership with CAJE)

Here is a spiritual practice for developing a strong and open heart—drawn from Judaism’s Mussar tradition. Mussar draws from the vast storehouse of Jewish wisdom, law, revelation, and text and brings it right home in a way that is completely practical. Judaism teaches that Torah (the collective wisdom of the tradition) provides the blueprint for human experience—and so the more of it we acquire, the more we gain a clearer, truer perspective on life and learn how to navigate its pathways. The phrase “acquiring Torah” is code for the process of internalizing this wisdom to bring about a genuine transformation of the inner self.

New Mt. Sinai Cemetery advertisement

In short, accessible chapters, this book describes forty-eight methods through which we can acquire Torah—and turns them into a straightforward practice.

Tuesday, Oct. 7

  • 7 p.m., Lauren Oliver, Rooms (taking place at and in partnership with the St. Louis County Library)

The New York Times bestselling author of Before I Fall and the Delirium trilogy makes her brilliant adult debut with this mesmerizing story in the tradition of The Lovely Bones, Her Fearful Symmetry, and The Ocean at the End of the Lane—a tale of family, ghosts, secrets, and mystery, in which the lives of the living and the dead intersect in shocking, surprising, and moving ways.

Wealthy Richard Walker has just died, leaving behind his country house full of rooms packed with the detritus of a lifetime. His estranged family—bitter ex-wife Caroline, troubled teenage son Trenton, and unforgiving daughter Minna—have arrived for their inheritance. But the Walkers are not alone. 

Tuesday, Oct. 20

  • 7:30 p.m., Jay Grymes, Violins of Hope

A stirring testament to the strength of the human spirit and the power of music, Violins of Hope tells the remarkable stories of violins played by Jewish musicians during the Holocaust, and the Israeli violin maker dedicated to bringing these inspirational instruments back to life.

The violin has formed an important aspect of Jewish culture for centuries, both as a popular instrument with classical Jewish musicians and as a central factor of social life, as in the Klezmer tradition. But during the Holocaust, the violin assumed extraordinary roles within the Jewish community. 

Sunday Oct, Oct. 26

  • 11:00 a.m., Allen Salkin, From Scratch: Inside the Food Network (in partnership with Primetime Expo)

Big personalities, high drama—the extraordinary behind-the-scenes story of the Food Network, now about to celebrate its twentieth anniversary: the business, media, and cultural juggernaut that changed the way America thinks about food.

In October 1993, a tiny start-up called the Food Network debuted to little notice. Twenty years later, it is in 100 million homes, approaches a billion dollars a year in revenue, and features a galaxy of stars whose faces and names are as familiar to us as our own families.

ST. LOUIS JEWISH BOOK FESTIVAL EVENTS (additional events to be announced) 

Festival Kick-Off

Sunday, Nov. 2

  • 7 p.m., Theodore Bikel

Monday, Nov. 3

  • 7:30 p.m., Bob Mankoff, How About Never—Is Never Good for You?

A memoir in cartoons by the longtime cartoon editor of The New Yorker, Bob Mankoff. Mankoff allows us into the hallowed halls of The New Yorker to show us the soup-to-nuts process of cartoon creation, giving us a detailed look not only at his own work, but that of the other talented cartoonists who keep us laughing week after week. 

Tuesday, Nov. 4

  • 10:30 a.m., Fiction Panel: Thrillers

Andrew Gross, Everything to Lose 

A determined, down on her luck mother caring for her handicapped son becomes entangled in a murderous conspiracy to keep a twenty year old secret buried in this blistering thriller, set during the tragic aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, from Andrew Gross, the New York Times bestselling author of 15 Seconds and No Way Back.

Linda Fairstein, Terminal City

With her newest Alexandra Cooper novel, Terminal City,New York Times bestselling author Linda Fairstein delivers another breakneck thriller that captures the essence of New York City—its glamour, its possibilities, and its endless capacity for darkness.

Linda Fairstein is well-known for illuminating the dark histories in many of New York’s forgotten corners—and sometimes in the city’s most popular landmarks. In Terminal City, Fairstein turns her attention to one of New York’s most iconic structures—Grand Central Terminal.

  • 1 p.m., Joel Hoffman, The Bible’s Cutting Room Floor

The Bible you usually read is not the complete story. Some holy writings were left out for political or theological reasons, others simply because of the physical restrictions of ancient bookmaking technology. At times, the compilers of the Bible skipped information that they assumed everyone knew. Some passages were even omitted by accident.

In The Bible’s Cutting Room Floor, acclaimed author and translator Dr. Joel M. Hoffman gives us the stories and other texts that didn’t make it into the Bible even though they offer penetrating insight into the Bible and its teachings.

  • 7:30 p.m., The Unexpected: This Crazy Ride Called Life! 

Geralyn Lucas, Then Came Life: Living Life with Courage, Spirit, and Gratitude After Breast Cancer

The author of Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy dares all women who have had a stumble in life to harness their fighting spirit and stand back up with courage and optimism.


One mastectomy, two C-sections, three pant’s sizes, and lots of red lipstick later, Geralyn Lucas is dealing with the same issues as other women her age. Her miracle babies have grown into a typical tween with a fierce eye-roll for her mom’s failings and a tornado of a little boy who won’t play by his preschool’s rules. Her storybook romance with her husband has spiraled into couples therapy and her perfect-if-demanding corporate job as a TV producer has abandoned her for L.A. When she looks in the mirror at her hard-won wrinkles, all she wants is . . . Botox.

Lynn Sherr, Sally Ride: America’s First Woman in Space

The definitive biography of Sally Ride, America’s first woman in space, with exclusive insights from Ride’s family and partner, by the ABC reporter who covered NASA during its transformation from a test-pilot boys’ club to a more inclusive elite.

Sally Ride made history as the first American woman in space. A member of the first astronaut class to include women, she broke through a quarter-century of white male fighter jocks when NASA chose her for the seventh shuttle mission, cracking the celestial ceiling and inspiring several generations of women. 

Cindy Chupack (author/moderator), The Longest Date: Life as a Wife

The bestselling author of The Between Boyfriends Book and an award-winning writer for Sex and the City and Modern Family takes a hilarious, heartbreaking look at marriage

Cindy Chupack has spent much of her adult life writing about dating and relationships for several hit TV series and as a sex columnist for O, The Oprah Magazine. At the age of thirty-nine, she finally found The One—and a wealth of new material.

Marriage, Cindy discovered, was more of an adventure than she ever imagined, and in this collection of essays she deftly examines the comedy and cringe-worthy aspects of matrimony. Soulful yet self-deprecating, The Longest Date recounts her first marriage (he was gay) and the meeting of Husband No. 2, Ian.

Wednesday, Nov. 5

  • 10:30 a.m., Judith Fein, The Spoon from Minkowitz: A Bittersweet Roots Journey to Ancestral Lands

Award-winning international travel writer Judith Fein has the burning passion and unquenchable curiosity to dive beneath the surface and push past all obstacles to find the truth. In this case, the truth is the shrouded story about where she came from, what the Old World was like, and what remains of the places so many of our ancestors left behind when they came to America. With heart and humor, she takes us along with her as she treks through graveyards, has a private audience with the Gypsy Baron of Moldova, meets the last Jew standing, communes with the dead, quaffs cognac with Russians, wanders among ruins, and hears the call of the ancestors, driving her on.

  • 1 p.m., Mark Stein, American Panic: A History of Who Scares Us and Why

In American Panic New York Times bestselling author Mark Stein traces the history and consequences of American political panics through the years. Virtually every American, on one level or another, falls victim to the hype, intensity, and propaganda that accompanies political panic, regardless of their own personal affiliations. By highlighting the similarities between American political panics from the Salem witch hunt to present-day vehemence over issues such as Latino immigration, gay marriage, and the construction of mosques, Stein closely examines just what it is that causes us as a nation to overreact in the face of widespread and potentially profound change. This book also devotes chapters to African Americans, Native Americans, Catholics, Mormons, Jews, Chinese and Japanese peoples, Communists, Capitalists, women, and a highly turbulent but largely forgotten panic over Freemasons. 

  • 7:30 p.m., Fiction Panel: What’s the Truth?

Hesh Kestin, The Lie

To Dahlia Barr’s astonishment, the Israeli security establishment one day approaches her with a tantalizing proposition: Join us, and become the beleaguered nation’s arbiter on when to use the harshest of interrogation methods—what some would call torture. Dahlia is intrigued. She has no intention of permitting torture. Can she change the system from within? 

The Lie is a nail-biting thriller, pulsing with insight into the inner workings of Israel’s security apparatus. It is an unforgettable story of human beings on both sides of the terror equation whose lives turn out to share more in common than they—and the reader—could ever have imagined.

Hank Philiippi Ryan, Truth Be Told

Hank Phillippi Ryan, begins with tragedy: a middle-class family evicted from their suburban home. In digging up the facts on this heartbreaking story—and on other foreclosures— reporter Ryland soon learns the truth behind a big-bucks scheme and the surprising players who will stop at nothing, including murder, to keep their goal a secret. Turns out, there’s more than one way to rob a bank. 

Boston police detective Jake Brogan has a liar on his hands. A man has just confessed to the famous twenty-year-old Lilac Sunday killing, and while Jake’s colleagues take him at his word, Jake is not so sure. But he has personal reasons for hoping they’ve finally solved the cold case.

Thursday, Nov. 6

  • 10:30 a.m., Missouri’s Own Panel

Michael Kahn, Face Value

Kahn’s St. Louis attorney, Rachel Gold, works hard maintaining her law practice and raising her son as a single parent. When Sari Bashir, a young associate at one of the city’s major law firms, is found dead in the building’s parking garage, the police declare it a suicide and close the case. This does not sit well with Stanley Plotkin, a genius with Asperger’s syndrome who works in the mail room. Stanley has a hard time with social interactions since he cannot read facial expressions, but he uses a sophisticated facial-recognition program to help him communicate effectively. He is sure that Sari was murdered, and he asks Rachel to help him prove it.  

Cynthia Frohlichstein, The Peanut Butter Birthday Party

This is the follow-up children’s book to The Perils of the Peanut Butter Kid. The Kay family is back, as is Elmer, the main character. This time, the theme involves giving back. The Peanut Butter Birthday Party will feature once again, Peggy Collins as illustrator. 

Howard Levinson, The Tapping

The Tapping is an adrenaline-filled forensic crime story of murder, lust, and corruption driven by the lost souls of two murdered children. Readers will be riveted from the moment they are introduced to Morris Green, a detective and physician, a killer and a savior.  

Jane Henderson, Moderator

  • 7:30 p.m., Ballet Event

Friday, Nov. 7

  • 10:30 a.m., Carmel Chiswick, Judaism in Transition: How Economic Choices Shape Religious Tradition

In Judaism in Transition, Carmel U. Chiswick draws on her Jewish upbringing, her journey as a Jewish parent, and her perspective as an economist to consider how incentives affect the ways that mainstream American Jews have navigated and continue to manage the conflicting demands of everyday life and religious observance. Arguing that economics is a blind spot in our understanding of religion, Chiswick blends her personal experiences with economic analysis to illustrate the cost of Jewish participation—financially and, more importantly, in terms of time and effort.

Sunday, Nov. 9

  • 4 p.m., Symphony Concert
  • Marriott sponsor dinner to follow

Monday, Nov. 10

  • 10:30 a.m., David Greene, Midnight in Siberia: A Train Journey into the Heart of Russia

After two and a half years as NPR’s Moscow bureau chief, David Greene travels across the country—a 6,000- mile journey by rail, from Moscow to the Pacific port of Vladivostok—to speak with ordinary Russians about how their lives have changed in the post-Soviet years. Reaching beyond the headline-grabbing protests in Moscow, Greene speaks with a group of singing babushkas from Buranovo, a teenager hawking “space rocks” from last spring’s meteor shower in Chelyabinsk, and activists battling for environmental regulation in the pollution-choked town of Baikalsk. Through the stories of fellow travelers, Greene explores the challenges and opportunities facing the new Russia—a nation that boasts open elections and new-found prosperity yet still continues to endure oppression, corruption, and stark inequality.

  • 1 p.m., Josh Fattal, A Sliver of Light: Three Americans Imprisoned in Iran

In summer 2009, Shane Bauer, Joshua Fattal, and Sarah Shourd were hiking in Iraqi Kurdistan when they unknowingly crossed into Iran and were captured by a border patrol. Accused of espionage, the three Americans ultimately found themselves in Tehran’s infamous Evin Prison, where they discovered that pooling their strength of will and relying on each other were the only ways they could survive.

In this poignant memoir, “the hikers” finally tell their side of the story. They recount the deception that lured them into Iran in the first place and describe the psychological torment of interrogation and solitary confinement. 

  • 7:30 p.m., Kristallnacht Event with Steven Pressman, 50 Children: One Ordinary American Couple’s Extraordinary Rescue Mission into the Heart of Nazi Germany

The astonishing true story of how one American couple transported fifty Jewish children from Nazi-occupied Austria to America in 1939—the single largest group of unaccompanied refugee children allowed into the United States. 

Risking their own safety, Gilbert Kraus, a successful lawyer, and his stylish wife, Eleanor, traveled to Nazi-controlled Vienna and Berlin to save fifty Jewish children. Steven Pressman brought the Kraus’s rescue mission to life in his acclaimed HBO documentary, 50 Children. In this book, he expands upon the story related in the hour-long film, offering additional historical detail and context to offer a rich, full portrait of this ordinary couple and their extraordinary actions. 

Tuesday, Nov. 11

  • 10:30 a.m., Fiction Panel: Surprising Relationships

Alyson Richman, The Garden of Letters 

Garden of Letters captures the hope, suspense, and romance of an uncertain era, in an epic intertwining story of first love, great tragedy, and spectacular bravery.

Portofino, Italy, 1943. A young woman steps off a boat in a scenic coastal village. Although she knows how to disappear in a crowd, Elodie is too terrified to slip by the German officers while carrying her poorly forged identity papers. She is frozen until a man she’s never met before claims to know her. In desperate need of shelter, Elodie follows him back to his home on the cliffs of Portofino.

Lauren Grodstein, The Explanation for Everything

College professor Andy Waite is picking up the pieces of a shattered life. Between his research in evolutionary biology and caring for his young daughters, his days are reassurringly safe, if a bit lonely. But when Melissa Potter—charismatic, unpredictable, and devout—asks him to advise her study of intelligent design, he agrees. Suddenly, the world that Andy has fought to rebuild is rocked to its foundations.  

Ellen Futterman, Moderator

  • 1 p.m., Transitions Can Be Funny 

Annabelle Gurwitch, I See You Made an Effort: Compliments, Indignities, and Survival Stories from the Edge of 50

Actress and humorist Annabelle Gurwitch returns with I See You Made an Effort, a book of essays so wickedly funny it may make you forget your last birthday. Not one to shy away from the grisly realities of middle age, the “slyly subversive” (O, The Oprah Magazine) Gurwitch confronts the various indignities faced by femmes d’un certain age with candor, wit, and a healthy dose of hilarious self-deprecation. 

Michael Garlin, Powerful Questions to Help You Move Forward in Your Life

“Yeah, I was fat, I was unhealthy, but thank goodness I have always been handsome” writes Michael Garlin. In Powerful Questions, Garlin shares the story of his major health transition that reversed his type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and many other ailments. Powerful Questions takes 15 minutes to read and six months to a year to answer the questions that will help guide you through your own personal transitions. 

  • 7:30 p.m., From Toddlers to Teens

Dina Rose, It’s Not About the Broccoli: Three Habits to Teach Your Kids for a Lifetime of Healthy Eating

You already know how to give your kids healthy food. But the hard part is getting them to eat it. After years of research and working with parents, Dina Rose, discovered a powerful truth: When parents focus solely on nutrition, their kids—surprisingly—eat poorly. But when families shift their emphasis to behaviors – the skills and habits kids are taught—they learn to eat right.

Every child can learn to eat well—but only if you show them how to do it. Dr. Rose describes the three habits—proportion, variety, and moderation—all kids need to learn, and gives you clever, practical ways to teach these food skills. 

 Logan Levkoff: Got Teens?: The Doctor Moms’ Guide to Sexuality, Social Media and Other Adolescent Realities

In Got Teens?, the Doctor Moms combine their medical and psychological knowledge with their own personal experiences to address the most cringe-worthy and difficult questions that kids often ask their parents. Topics include body development, emotional changes, bullying, social media, substance abuse, and more—giving parents the confidence to tackle these subjects with authority and compassion. 

Aisha Sultan, Moderator

Wednesday, Nov. 12

  • 10:30 a.m., Carl Hoffman, Savage Harvest: A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism, and Michael Rockefeller’s Tragic Quest for Primitive Art

The mysterious disappearance of Michael Rockefeller in New Guinea in 1961 has kept the world and his powerful, influential family guessing for years. Now, Carl Hoffman uncovers startling new evidence that finally tells the full, astonishing story. 

Retracing Rockefeller’s steps, award-winning journalist Carl Hoffman traveled to the jungles of New Guinea, immersing himself in a world of headhunters and cannibals, secret spirits and customs, and getting to know generations of Asmat. Through exhaustive archival research, he uncovered never-before-seen original documents and located witnesses willing to speak publically after fifty years. 

  • 1 p.m., Rose Levy Beranbaum, The Baking Bible

Legendary baker Rose Levy Beranbaum is back with her most extensive “bible” yet. With all-new recipes for the best cakes, pies, tarts, cookies, candies, pastries, breads, and more, this magnum opus draws from Rose’s passion and expertise in every category of baking. As is to be expected from the woman who’s been called “the most meticulous cook who ever lived,” each sumptuous recipe is truly foolproof—with detail-oriented instructions that eliminate guesswork, “plan-aheads,” ingenious tips, and highlights for success. 

  • 7:30 p.m. Baseball Night

Al Clark, Called Out But Safe

If an umpire could steal the show in a Major League game, Al Clark might well have been the one to do it. Tough but fair, in his thirty years as a professional umpire he took on some of baseball’s great umpire baiters, such as Earl Weaver, Billy Martin, and Dick Williams, while ejecting any number of the game’s elite—once tearing a hamstring in the process. He was the first Jewish umpire in American League history, and probably the first to eject his own father from the officials’ dressing room. But whatever Clark was doing—officiating at Nolan Ryan’s three hundredth win, Cal Ripken’s record breaker, or the “earthquake” World Series of 1989, or braving a labor dispute, an anti-Semitic tirade by a Cy Young Award winner, or a legal imbroglio—it makes for a good story.

Kostya Kennedy, Pete Rose: An American Dillemma 

How do we evaluate the Hit King now, at a time when steroid cheats appear on the Hall of Fame ballot even as Rose is denied? What do we make of this happily unrepentant gambler, this shameless but beguiling showman whose postbaseball journey has led him to a curious reality show and to the streets of Cooperstown to hawk his signature, his story, himself? Best-selling author Kostya Kennedy delivers an evocative answer in his fascinating re-examination of Pete Rose’s life.

Myron Holtzman, The Cardinals of Cooperstown, Second Edition

The Cardinals of Cooperstown, Second Edition: Featuring Legends from the Cardinals, Browns, and Negro League Stars is like a new model of a classic car: a trusted name from the original version but with updated stories and features. Like its best-selling predecessor, the second edition serves as richly illustrated compendium of baseball immortals in profile. As an update, this book celebrates the newest inductees into baseball’s hallowed hall–managers Tony LaRussa and Joe Torre, an MVP Cardinal third baseman. Also highlighted are St. Louis Browns Hall of Famers, led by the legendary first baseman George Sisler, and enshrinees from the city’s Negro League teams, which included the great James ”Cool Papa” Bell.

Randy Karraker, Moderator

Thursday, Nov. 13

  • 1 p.m., Mitch Bard: Death to the Infidels: Radial Islam’s War Against the Jews

For more than a century, much of the attention given to the Middle East has focused on the Arab-Israeli conflict. The rise of a Palestinian offshoot of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic Resistance Movement, or Hamas, transformed the nature of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. According to Bard, the dispute, in the view of Hamas, is not over a division of Palestine, but rather about Jews ruling over Muslims and the presence of Jews on Islamic land. However, this Islamic-Jewish conflict is not simply confined to the Middle East. Muslim terrorist attacks have been directed at Jews all around the world, from Europe to Asia to Latin America.

  • 7:30 p.m., Tracey Davis, Sammy Davis Jr.: A Personal Journey with My Father

In this uniquely intimate volume, the entertainment legend’s story comes to life through rare family photos and a compelling narrative based on conversations between Sammy Davis Jr. and his daughter, Tracey Davis.

Dennis Owsley, Interviewer

Sunday, Nov. 16

  • 4 p.m., Children’s Special Event:

Mathew Klickstein, Slimed!: An Oral History of Nickelodeon’s Golden Years