Mandel JCC Jewish Book festival

Co-chairs Laura Simon, from left, Beth Rosenthal, Shelly Lewis, Mandel JCC Arts and Culture associate Leah Avner.

This year’s Mandel JCC Cleveland Jewish Book Festival, one of the premiere Jewish book festivals in the country, will once again feature a wide-ranging lineup.

Thirteen nationally acclaimed authors and six authors with local ties will discuss their books, an evening of comedy about the modern Jewish experience will be presented by the creators of the popular web-series “YidLife Crisis,” and the featured character from the illustrated children’s book “If You Give A Mouse a Cookie” will host a morning of snacks, family activities and the fostering of early literacy.

The 20th annual festival runs from Nov. 3 to Nov. 18.

The keynote event is at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 7, featuring Bob Mankoff, the cartoon and humor editor for Esquire. He has contributed more than 950 cartoons to The New Yorker over the last 45 years and he will discuss how his Jewish heritage helped him to become a successful cartoonist. He will also examine the place of cartoons in the vibrant history of Jewish humor.

The festival’s authors and their books were selected from more than 400 participants at a three-day Jewish Book Council Network showcase earlier in the year. The showcase attracts about 120 member organizations across North America, including JCCs, synagogues, Hillels, Jewish Federations and cultural centers.

This year’s featured writers include Ronald Balson, who will discuss his latest action-filled suspense novel in the Catherine Lockhart and Liam Taggert series. “The Girl From Berlin” takes the private investigator and lawyer to Tuscany, where they are drawn into a property dispute that unearths long-buried secrets.

In a work of fact that reads like fiction, Stephen Koch’s “Hitler’s Pawn: The Boy Assassin and the Holocaust” tells the story of a forgotten seventeen-year-old Jew who was blamed by the Nazis for Kristallnacht, the pogrom still seen as an initiating event of the Holocaust.

Margalit Fox’s “Conan Doyle for the Defense” relays the true story of a sensational British murder, a wrongfully imprisoned man, and the world’s most famous detective writer’s investigation.

Bestselling author Myla Goldberg’s “Feast Your Eyes,” offers descriptions of work in a posthumous show at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art about a young, ambitious woman who ventured into the city in the 1950s to become a photographer.

“Our second book festival, in 2000, featured Myla and her first published novel, “Bee Season,” said Leah Avner, JCC Arts & Culture Program and associate bookfest coordinator. “It is so good to have her back.”

Popular children’s book author Judith Viorst’s uses poetry, prose and comedy to candidly share the complicated joys and everyday tribulations that await us at the age of ninety. In “Nearing Ninety,” the author reminds readers nothing should be taken too seriously.

Yousef Bashir is a Palestinian-American from the Gaza Strip and an outspoken activist for peace in the Middle East. In “The Words of My Father – Love and Pain in Palestine,” he tells of his moral awakening after suffering a near-catastrophic injury during the second intifada, a fraught, ferocious and profound relationship between a son and his father, and two nations at odds with each other.

Angela Himsel’s “A River Could Be A Tree” tells the tale of the author’s journey to Israel to better understand the strict tenets of her Christian faith and her eventual conversion to Judaism.

Pamela Nadell’s “America’s Jewish Women” offers a groundbreaking history of how Jewish women maintained their identity and influenced social activism as they wrote themselves into American history.

Carla Naumburg – a clinical social worker – offers a practical and empathetic guide for those who want to be calmer and happier parents in her book, “How to Stop Losing Your Sh*t With Your Kids.”

Kirsten Fermaglich’s “A Rosenberg by Any Other Name” is an examination of the historical, cultural and sociological reasons behind the practice of Jewish name changing in the 20th century.

The first book from the daughter of Jewish science popularizer Carl Sagan and Christian writer/producer Ann Druyan, Sasha Sagan’s “For Small Creatures Such As We” is part memoir and part guidebook that celebrates all the marvels of life on Earth that require no faith in order to be believed.

Cleveland’s community of writers will be represented from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Nov. 17 when six local authors will be featured on a panel at the Mandel JCC and do a book signing.

In an epilogue event at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 4, Alana Newhouse, editor in chief of Tablet, a daily online magazine of Jewish news, ideas and culture will discuss “the 100 most Jewish foods.” Her book attempts to identify the most Jewish foods through a series of short essays by a range of renowned contributors.

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