Locals attend Jewish Book Council 2020 Virtual Annual Conference

August 13, 2020

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Ever wonder how the books and authors are chosen for the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater and the Simon Family JCC’s Lee and Bernard Jaffe Family Jewish Book Festival?

Last month, 20 community members, along with five staff professionals, took part in the Jewish Book Council’s virtual annual conference to help choose this upcoming year’s featured authors and books.

Over three long days in mid-July, conference “attendees” participated in eight 90-minute sessions via Zoom, where recently published authors were allotted two minutes to pitch their book and presentation skills.

Each session hosted up to 35 authors. To say it was a whirlwind is an understatement! Speed dating is the only analogy that comes to mind….Conference attendees were asked to grade each author on topic, presentation, and how they would fit into Tidewater’s Book Festival’s overall mission. At the end of each day, the 25 participants met to discuss the authors’ presentations, and the list was whittled down to the groups’ favorites.

The Book Festival Committee thoughtfully discussed more than 260 authors and books, resulting in a list of almost 60 to pursue.

The list included books and authors from every genre and walk of life. From cookbooks to self-healing, saying Kaddish to a beach read, dealing with anxiety and depression, to venturing onto a racetrack—all of which fit the Festival’s mission to educate and inspire through Jewish works of literature.

The staff then took over. Working through the Community Calendar, scheduling as many authors as feasible, and sending the authors requests—was a multi-day task. If the past is any gauge, the committee is optimistic that an exciting, full, Book Festival schedule that spans the programming year is in the offing.

Although this year’s Lee and Bernard Jaffe Family Jewish Book Festival will not look like festivals of the past, it will still offer a great variety of engaging speakers and books. The programming will be virtual, at least to start the programming year, which makes it possible to increase the number of authors that visit Tidewater, and provides the community with more opportunities to participate in the Jewish Book Council’s offerings.

To learn more about United Jewish Federation of Tidewater and Simon Family JCC’s Lee and Bernard Jaffe Family Jewish Book Festival, how to join the committee, or about other Arts + Ideas programs, contact Patty Shelanski, Arts + Ideas manager, at pshelanski@ujft.org or 757-452-3184.

- Patty Shelanski

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