All events will take place at the Contra Costa JCC (see directions) unless otherwise stated.

Walking Israel: A Personal Search for the Soul
of a Nation

Thursday, November 4, 7:30 p.m.

Martin Fletcher, considered by Anderson Cooper to be “the gold standard of war correspondents,” returns to our Festival with his latest book, Walking Israel: A Personal Search for the Soul of a Nation. For twenty-six years, Fletcher was NBC’s correspondent in Israel and fo Press Club awards, the Edward R. Murrow award for excellence several times, and five Emmies. During the past year, Fletcher journeyed along the coast from Lebanon to Gaza, observing facets of the region that are ignored in news reports yet tell a different but truer story.

Co-sponsor: Congregation B’nai Shalom

Underwritten by Carole and Donald Chaiken, and Jo-Ann and Arnold Jacobson

Comedy Hour with Jeff Applebaum

Saturday, November 6, 7:30 p.m.

After 19 years in California, this New York City native is finally learning to speak English. Jeff Applebaum recently made his national TV debut on CBS as a comedian on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Cast as Joey Bishop in the longrunning musical The Rat Pack is Back in San Francisco, Chicago and Las Vegas, he also appeared in The Pursuit of Happyness starring Will Smith. Join us for an evening of laughs!

Underwritten by Shoshana and Shalom Eliahu

Jews of the Pacific Coast: Reinventing Community on America’s Edge

Sunday, November 7, 1:00 p.m.

From the California Gold Rush to the population explosion in the 1980s Southwest, Jews have played a significant role in shaping the Pacific West. Through their cultural innovations, philanthropic institutions, and political leadership, western Jews created a distinctive identity. Ava Kahn will share personal stories and anecdotes that compare and contrast the nature of the Jewish experience in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and the small towns of the West.

Co-sponsor: Congregation B’nai Tikvah

Wickedly Delicious...!
Broadway’s David Burnham in Concert

Sunday, November 7, 3:30 p.m.

Recipient of the prestigious Helen Hayes Award for Best Actor in 2007, David Burnham has performed as Fiyero in the Broadway production of Wicked and Fabrizio in the Tony award-winning musical The Light in the Piazza. He first gained critical acclaim when he was chosen to replace Donny Osmond in the national tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. On film, David was the voice of the Prince in the Warner Bros. animated feature The King & I. As The San Francisco Chronicle boasted, “Burnham gives a joyously electric performance.” Join us for a not-to-be-missed afternoon concert! Post-concert reception in honor of Shoshana Eliahu for her many years of service to our East Bay community.

Chai Tea Afternoon with Joshua Braff, author of Peep Show

Monday, November 8, 3:00 p.m.

Our annual “chai” tea event features delicious homemade desserts and assorted brewed teas. This year, we will be joined by acclaimed author Joshua Braff (The Unthinkable Thoughts of Jacob Green). In his newest book, Peep Show, Braff takes us into the world of David Arbus, a high school senior who is offered two options by his divorced parents: embrace his mother’s Hassidic sect or go into his father’s line of work—running a porn theater in the heart of New York’s Times Square. Both entertaining as well as moving, Peep Show pulls back the curtains on two very different worlds.


Stand-Up! with Comedian Joel Chasnoff

Monday, November 8, 7:30 p.m.

In this hilarious stand-up comedy performance, Joel Chasnoff recounts his years as a combat soldier in the Israeli Army. His act is based on his book The 188th Crybaby Brigade: A Skinny Jewish Kid from Chicago Fights Hezbollah. He will take us into the barracks, over/under/and through political fences and face-to-face with the sometimes comical, sometimes poignant realities of life in the IDF. Chasnoff was the warm-up act for Jon Stewart of The Daily Show.


Underwritten by Bette and Stewart Schuster

Kosher Nation: Why More and More of America’s Food Answers to a Higher Authority

Tuesday, November 9, 10:00 a.m.

NEW PROGRAM… Details to follow.

Out on a Ledge

Tuesday, November 9, 7:30 p.m.
@ Temple Sinai

The story of Eva Libitzky, a Hasidic girl who survived the Lodz ghetto, Auschwitz, a slave labor camp, and Theresienstadt, will be the focus of our community-wide commemoration of Kristallnacht. Award-winning historian and co-author Fred Rosenbaum will present Eva’s compelling memoir. At the limit of human endurance, she lost her faith, but not her instincts, intelligence, or courage. Admission is free.

Co-sponsors: Holocaust Center of Northern California, JCRC / East Bay Region, Lehrhaus Judaica and Temple Sinai

Underwritten by the Tillie and Rene Molho Fund for Holocaust Remembrance of The Jewish Community Foundation

*New date & time*
Kosher Nation: Why More and More of America’s Food Answers to a Higher Authority

Wednesday, November 10, 10:00 a.m.

Sue Fishkoff, a regular contributor to The Jerusalem Post and Moment magazine, will present a captivating account of the Bible-based practice that has grown into a multi-billion dollar industry. Journeying from America to Shanghai, she discovers who produces Kosher food, who certifies it, and why 85% of the 11.2 million Americans who regularly buy Kosher are not even Jews—they are Muslims, Seventh-Day Adventists, vegetarians, people with food allergies, and consumers who want food that “answers to a Higher Authority.”


Siegel and Shuster’s Funnyman

Thursday, November 11, 7:30 p.m.

What do Superman, Jewish humor, Disney, and actor Danny Kaye have in common? U.C. Berkeley Professor Mel Gordon traces the origins of Jewish comedy in his latest book, Siegel and Shuster’s Funnyman. Funnyman was a comic strip character who, dressed in a clown suit and resembling Danny Kaye, fought criminals by cracking jokes and telling puns. Related to Superman through Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (who used their sense of Jewish history and culture to create both super heroes), Funnyman nearly made it to becoming the “lead” in a Disney film. Gordon’s book is more than an exploration of a 1940’s comic strip. It is a “springboard to a wider discussion of the history of Jewish humor, as well the ethnic origins of the Man of Steel.”

Co-sponsor: Diablo Valley Hadassah


BookTalk: Conversations with Local Authors

Friday, November 12, 10:00 a.m.

  • 10:00 a.m. - Noah Alper, author of Business Mensch.
  • 10:45 a.m. - Shoshana Eliahu, Adult Programs Director of the CCJCC and author of The Sand Soldiers, a novel about self-sacrifice and revenge in post WWII Israel
  • 11:30 p.m. - Dairy Lunch
  • Noon - Deborah Rose, award-winning children’s author (All the Seasons of the Year, The Rose Horse)
  • 12:45 p.m. - Cantor Linda Hirschhorn will read from her unpublished memoir about growing up in New York City.
  • 1:30 p.m. - Lisa Braver Moss, author of The Measure of His Grief

Admission includes a dairy lunch.

Co-sponsor: Temple Isaiah


Bible by the Bay

Sunday, November 14, 1:30 – 6:00 p.m.
Payable at Temple Isaiah on 11/14 or by visiting

This Bay Area signature event features keynote speaker Richard Freund, author of Digging Through the Bible: Understanding Biblical People, Places and Controversies Through Archaeology. Freund has been featured on NOVA, CNN and the History and Discovery Channels. Participants will also have the opportunity to attend Bible-related lectures including:

  • Digging Deeper: Where is the Real Mt. Sinai?
  • Trysts and Turns: Love Affairs Between Women and G-d in the Bible Singing the Bible
  • The Wisdom in the Wine: Its Use (and Abuse) in the Biblical World

Book Festival pass holders receive free admission to this program. For tickets and information, go to or call 510.845.6420.

Sponsors: Lehrhaus Judaica, Contra Costa JCC , Temple Isaiah and the Jewish Federation of the East Bay

When You Lie About Your Age, the Terrorists Win: Reflections on Looking in the Mirror

Thursday, November 18, 7:30 p.m.
@ Beth Chaim Congregation

Carol Leifer is an accomplished stand-up comedian and an Emmy-winning writer and producer for such shows as Seinfeld, The Larry Sanders Show, Saturday Night Live and The Academy Awards. She has starred in several of her own comedy specials on HBO, Showtime and Comedy Central. Carol has talked about her bestselling book on The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Late Show with David Letterman, The Today Show, Real Time with Bill Maher and Fresh Air with Terry Gross. Carol recently guest starred on this past season’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. She was one of the writers for this year’s Oscars and was also a member of the cast of NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice.

Co-sponsor: Beth Chaim Congregation

Underwritten by Betsy Fels Pottruck