Each year, the JCC presents a series of authors and speakers with the mission to educate, enlighten, and enrich the community. 

JCC Author & Speaker Series
Books may be purchased directly from the Twig Book Shop in the Pearl.


Stephanie Butnick & Liel Leibovitz: The Newish Jewish Encyclopedia

Thursday October 15th | 7pm

Named one of Library Journal’s Best Religion & Spirituality Books of 2019
An Unorthodox Guide to Everything Jewish

Hosts of the Unorthodox Podcast

Deeply knowing, highly entertaining, and just a little bit irreverent, this unputdownable encyclopedia of all things Jewish and Jew-ish covers culture, religion, history, habits, language, and more. Readers will refresh their knowledge of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, the artistry of Barbra Streisand, the significance of the Oslo Accords, the meaning of words like balaboosta,balaganbashert, and bageling. Understand all the major and minor holidays. Learn how the Jews invented Hollywood. Remind themselves why they need to read Hannah Arendt, watch Seinfeld, listen to Leonard Cohen. Even discover the secret of happiness (see “Latkes”). Includes hundreds of photos, charts, infographics, and illustrations. It’s a lot.

Stephanie But­nick is the deputy edi­tor of Tablet and has writ­ten for The New York Times and The Wall Street Jour­nal. She has a bach­e­lor’s degree in reli­gion from Duke and a mas­ter’s in reli­gious stud­ies from NYU. She lives in New York with her hus­band and their cat, Cat Stevens.

Liel Lei­bovitz is a senior writer for Tablet and the author of sev­er­al books, includ­ing, most recent­ly, A Bro­ken Hal­lelu­jah, a spir­i­tu­al biog­ra­phy of Leonard Cohen. He has a Ph.D. in video games from Colum­bia, a fact that makes his sev­en-year-old self very hap­py. He lives in New York with his wife and their two children.

To purchase a copy of the book and support your local book store please visit The Twig


Alexander Kriss: The Gaming Mind: A New Psychology of Videogames and the Power of Play

Wednesday November 18 | 7pm

Are videogames bad for us?

It’s the question on everyone’s mind, given teenagers’ captive attention to videogames and the media’s tendency to scapegoat them. It’s also—if you ask clinical psychologist Alexander Kriss—the wrong question.

In his therapy office, Kriss looks at videogames as a window into the mind. Is his patient Liz really “addicted” to Candy Crush—or is she evading a deeper problem? Why would aspiring model Patricia craft a hideous avatar named “Pat”? And when Jack immerses himself in Mass Effect, is he eroding his social skills—or honing them via relationship-building gameplay?

Weaving together Kriss’s personal history, patients’ experiences, and professional insight—and without shying away from complex subjects, such as online harassment—The Gaming Mind disrupts our assumptions about “gamers” and explores how gaming can be good for us. It offers guidance for parents, clinicians, and the rest of us to better understand the gaming mind. Like any mode of play, at their best, videogames reveal who we are—and what we want from our lives.

 To purchase a copy of the book and support your local book store please visit The Twig


Esther Safran Foer: I Want You to Know We're Still Here

Sunday November 22 | 7pm

A riveting memoir of family, the Holocaust, and the search for truth

Esther Safran Foer grew up in a home where the past was too terrible to speak of. The child of parents who were each the sole survivors of their respective families, for Esther the Holocaust loomed in the backdrop of daily life, felt but never discussed. The result was a childhood marked by painful silences and continued tragedy. Even as she built a successful career, married, and raised three children, Esther always felt herself searching.

So when Esther’s mother casually mentions an astonishing revelation—that her father had a previous wife and daughter, both killed in the Holocaust—Esther resolves to find out who they were, and how her father survived. Armed with only a black-and-white photo and a hand-drawn map, she travels to Ukraine, determined to find the shtetl where her father hid during the war. What she finds reshapes her identity and gives her the opportunity to finally mourn.

I Want You to Know We’re Still Here is the poignant and deeply moving story not only of Esther’s journey but of four generations living in the shadow of the Holocaust. They are four generations of survivors, storytellers, and memory keepers, determined not just to keep the past alive but to imbue the present with life and more life.

To purchase a copy of the book and support your local book store please visit The Twig

 The JCC's Author & Speaker series is presented through membership to the Jewish Book Council. The Twig Book Shop is the official book vendor for the 2020-21 season.

JBC                                                     Twig

To receive more information about our Author Series or any other Arts & Culture event, sign up for our Email Mailing List, or please contact Rosie Kimball at (210) 302-6828.

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This program is accessible to individuals that are differently abled. Find out more by clicking the image on the left.