Furloughed federal employees can get half-price tickets to Washington's Jewish Literary Festival events with authors including Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, whose timely book calls for solving America's problems.
For all its events through Oct. 16, the Hyman S. & Freda Bernstein Jewish Literary Festival of the D.C. Jewish Community Center (DCJCC) has greatly brought down the price for government employees affected by the shutdown.
So, they got comic relief as well as financial relief Oct. 8 by hearing Mark Cohen, author of "Overweight Sensation: The Life and Comedy of Allan Sherman".
When Sherman wrote and sang "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh" 50 years ago, Yiddish humor said hello to all American audiences. Yiddish humor remains as good as chicken soup for whatever ails you, like furlough frustration.
On Oct. 10, author Ben Urwand discusses his hotly controversial book "The Collaboration: Hollywood's Pact with Hitler". Urwand and his publisher Harvard University Press issued a statement Sept. 25 defending the book, after a lengthy critique by "The New Yorker" film critic David Denby, and harsh words by kin of Louis B. Mayer and other 1930s Hollywood execs whom the author accuses of having collaborated with the Nazis. Positive reviews have appeared in "The New York Times", "The Washington Post", "Tablet" Magazine, and "The Wall Street Journal", among others.
Urwand will be interviewed by Jenna Weissman Joselit, the Charles E. Smith Professor of Judaic Studies & Professor of History at The George Washington University, where she also directs its Program in Judaic Studies and its M.A. program in Jewish Cultural Arts. (Federal employees pay $6 instead of the full $12 for this event.)
On Oct. 12, Dan Savage, certainly no stranger to controversy, discusses his new book "American Savage: Insights, Slights, and Fights on Faith, Sex, Love, and Politics". He'll talk also about gay marriage, sex ed, the "gay agenda" and faith communities, and his "It Gets Better Project", that has greatly helped the LGBT community. (Federal employees pay $15 instead of $30 for this program.)
Here's a tidbit from his Oct. 2 "Savage Love" internationally-syndicated advice column: "Stop worrying about sounding like an 'absolute freak' and come out to your partner as the absolute freak that you are."
The very grand finale Oct. 16 is five-term Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Democratic National Committee chair, discussing her book "For the Next Generation: A Wake-Up Call to Solving Our Nation's Problems". The timing, and pricing, couldn't be better. (Federal employees pay $12.50 instead of $25.)
These are just a few of the remaining highlights of the festival, which opened Oct. 6 with literary master E.L. Doctorow ("Ragtime", "Billy Bathgate") discussing his next book "Andrew's Brain", and Walter Mosley talking about his latest (12th) Easy Rawlins mystery, "Little Green" Oct. 7.
"Andrew's Brain" is a radical trip into the mind of a man who inadvertently causes disasters. Perhaps Doctorow's Andrew, instead of our elected politicians, caused the government shutdown?
And how does Mosley fit into a Jewish lit fest? His mother, Ella Slatkin Mosley, was Jewish, and his father, Leroy, was black. One of the author's favorite Yiddish curses: "You should be like a chandelier—hanging and burning." One of my faves: "You should get planted and grow like an onion, with your head upside down."
With the government shut down, many feel the same way about Congress.
Several of the literary festival's events are free for all, including:
- Oct. 9 -- The Worlds of Sholem Aleichem: The Remarkable Life and Afterlife of the Man Who Created Tevye" by Jeremy Dauber. The first comprehensive biography Sholem Aleichem, a founding giant of modern Yiddish literature, was published Oct. 8. Dauber termed Aleichem "the inventor of modern Jewish humor". Aleichem's "Tevye the Dairyman" inspired "Fiddler on the Roof". Dauber said that there was a real dairyman named Tevye. "Sholem Aleichem through this guy was fantastic. Tevye was kind of annoyed that he was being used. But then he realized that this was a business opportunity -- people came to him to buy milk and cheese."
- Oct. 13 -- Local Author Fair: Discover a New Book, with a wine and cheese reception.
- Oct. 15 -- "State of Failure: Yasser Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas and the Unmaking of the Palestinian State" by Jonathan Schanzer. A Middle East expert, Schanzer maintains that the Palestinian Authority’s political dysfunction and corruption are the true threat -- not Israel -- to a Palestinian state. His prior book is "Hamas vs. Fatah."
One could say that the government shutdown represents an American state of failure.
For more info and tickets: Hyman S. & Freda Bernstein Jewish Literary Festival, http://washingtondcjcc.org/center-for-arts/literary/jewish-literary-festival/, Brochure. All events unless otherwise noted are at the D.C. Jewish Community Center, 1529 16th Street, N.W. at Q Street, N.W., Washington, D.C., 202-777-3251, or email@example.com.