Diane & Barry Wilen Jewish Book Festival

Our 2016-2017 Diane & Barry Wilen jewish book festival is here!

We are excited to present the 29th year of the Diane & Barry Wilen Jewish Book Festival! This year, we are bringing authors to the J from all over the country for your enjoyment. Reserve your seat today! Become a Patron of the Arts to receive special discounts & perks for all of the incredible parts of our 2016-2017 Cultural Arts season!


Robert P. Watson
Thursday, January 19, 2017 • 7:30 p.m.

The Nazi Titanic by Robert P. WatsonIt was one of the world’s worst maritime disasters, claiming more than three times as many lives as the Titanic catastrophe.  But the story of the sinking of the Cap Arcona has practically been lost from history. From 1927 and for years thereafter, the German luxury liner, sailed with over 1,300 affluent travelers per voyage. With the advent of World War II, the Cap Arcona was converted into a floating Nazi barracks then transformed again into a floating concentration camp. In 1945 The Royal Air Force performed a general air strike off Germany’s coast, attacking ships believed carrying SS leadership. The strike sunk several ships including the Cap Arcona, which was carrying close to 4,500 concentration camp prisoners. Only 350 survived. 

In The Nazi Titanic, Robert P. Watson, a prominent historian, political commentator and author of 36 books, gives this tragic episode in Holocaust history the attention it has always deserved. 

Cost: DPJCC Members - $12 • Community - $15

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Betsy Lerner
Tuesday, January 24, 2017 • 7:00 p.m.

The Bridge Ladies by Betsy LernerFor over 50 years, these five octogenarians gathered for lunch and bridge every Monday. As a child, Betsy Lerner was fascinated by their outfits, hairdos and accessories.  When circumstances take Lerner back to her hometown, she hopes to lessen the rift between her and her mother. She decides to learn bridge and get to know the ladies better—all women who came of age in the 1940s and ‘50s.  The Bridge Ladies is ultimately a heartwarming, funny memoir about the generational divide and “bridging” the gaps.  Betsy Lerner is an award-winning writer, poet, literary agent and blogger.

Cost: DPJCC Members - $12 • Community - $15

Note: This event takes place at the Stirling Road Library
3151 Stirling Road • Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312

Community Partner: The Friends of the Stirling Road Library

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Women in Literature Moderated by Lynda Levin
Schmooze • Shop • Nibble

Wednesday, February 8
11:00 a.m. - Boutique & Light Fare • Noon - Program

Modern Girls by Jennifer S. BrownModern Girls by Jennifer S. Brown

Readers are transported into New York City’s 1935 Jewish immigrant community where we meet Dottie Krasinsky, the epitome of a “modern girl” – with a steady beau, lots of friends and an eye on the latest fashions. After one careless night with a charismatic but unsuitable man, this “nice Jewish girl” finds herself pregnant, unwed and desperate.  Dottie’s mother Rose then finds herself pregnant with her fifth child. Mother and daughter must both wrestle with unthinkable choices, as they confront the changing world around them.

Leave Me by Gayle FormanLeave Me by Gayle Forman

In this powerful debut into adult fiction, Forman, author of the bestseller If I Stay, writes a provocative page-turner about Maribeth Klein, a 44-year-old wife, supermom of twins and New York magazine editor, who always puts her needs last.  Maribeth suffers a heart attack and has emergency surgery, but her recuperation hits a major snag as her family still persists with its usual daily demands. To save herself, Maribeth packs her bags and goes off the grid. Leave Me reveals that sometimes you must leave all you treasure to find your way back home. 

The Two-Family House by Lynda Cohen LoigmanThe Two-Family House by Lynda Cohen Loigman

In her debut novel set in 1947 Brooklyn, Loigman weaves an emotional story about a  multi-generational family who share a two-family house. Living so closely together, the two brothers, their wives and children have formed what they think is an impenetrable connection.  But, during one stormy winter’s night, the course of their lives is dramatically changed and those sacred bonds are tested by a shocking family secret that binds them for life, yet threatens to destroy all that they love.

Community Partner: Jewish Federation of Broward County Women’s Philanthropy

Cost: DPJCC Members & Community - $25

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Lilac Girls by Martha Hall KellyCommunity Read
with Martha Hall Kelly
Author of Lilac Girls
Wednesday, March 1 • 7:30 p.m.

Inspired by real people and actual events during World War II, Lilac Girls intertwines the stories of three women: New York socialite Caroline, Polish teen and resistance movement courier Kasia and ambitious German doctor Herta.  The lives of these three women are set on a collision course when the unthinkable happens and Kasia is sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women.  Their stories cross continents—from New York to Paris, Germany and Poland— as Caroline and Kasia strive to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten.

Community Partners: Broward Region Hadassah & Orloff Central Agency for Jewish Education

Cost: DPJCC Members - $12 • Community - $15

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Mother, Can You Not by Kate SiegelMy Crazy Jewish Mother
with Kate Siegel, author of Mother, Can You Not?
Wednesday, March 29 • 6:30 p.m.


Based on the wildly popular Instagram account, @CrazyJewishMom, Mother, Can You Not?  is Kate Siegel’s hilarious essay collection about life with the woman who redefined the term “helicopter mom.” Siegel’s mother drove her so crazy with dozens of texts each day that she decided to broadcast their hysterical conversations on Instagram.  She shares the laugh-out-loud stories behind the texts and pays tribute to her mother’s “no-holds-barred” brand of parenting, which makes for great entertainment.

We promise you’ll laugh, you’ll relate, and you’ll be grateful it’s not your mom setting up online dating profiles for you; or berating your significant other about “buying the cow”; or begging you to freeze your eggs before it’s too late.

The mother-daughter dynamic is a balancing act. Who else can proudly insist you’re perfect while making you question every career, fashion and relationship decision you have ever made?  We invite you to commiserate, roll your eyes and laugh lovingly at the lengths to which our mothers go to “better our lives.”

Cost: DPJCC Members & Community - $25

Community Partner: Jewish Federation of Broward County Women's Philanthropy

NOTE: Program takes place at the NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale,
1 East Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301

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And After The Fire by Lauren BelferLauren Belfer
Wednesday, April 5 | 7:30 p.m.

The evening's program will begin with musical selections from the Florida Youth Orchestra which provides music education to over 350 children from the tri-county area each year.

Lauren Belfer’s powerful and passionate novel, And After the Fire,  which is inspired by historical events, begs the questions: What if you stumbled upon a long-lost masterpiece — a mysterious choral masterpiece by Johann Sebastian Bach — that could potentially change the course of history? In search of the answer Belfer transports you through a multi-generational saga, that spans centuries and continents and interweaves the lives of two Jewish women, one European living in 18th century Berlin and one in present day America, and the mysterious choral masterpiece that changes both their lives. And After the Fire is a winner of the National Jewish Book Award!

Cost: DPJCC Members - $12 • Community - $15

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The JPS B'Nai Mitzvah Torah Commentary
Book Launch
BJPS B’nai Mitzvah Torah Commentary

With Rabbi Jeffrey K. Salkin
Wednesday, May 10 | 7:00 p.m.

For too many Jewish young people, their bar/bat mitzvah is the beginning of the end of their Jewish journeys. When students perceive the Torah as incomprehensible or irrelevant, many form the false impression that Judaism has nothing to say to them.

Enter the game-changer: the JPS B’nai Mitzvah Torah Commentary shows teens in their own language how Torah addresses the issues in their world. The conversational tone is inviting and dignified, concise  and substantial, direct and informative.  Jewish learning—for young people and adults—will never be the same. Rabbi Jeffrey K. Salkin serves as the senior rabbi of Temple Solel in Hollywood, Florida.

Community Partners:  Orloff Central Agency for Jewish Education; Temple Solel

Free Admission