BY LENNY STEINBERG
Even with what sometimes feel like seismic shifts in pivoting programming to a virtual platform, as they say, “the show must go on.” The world of programming is evolving around us, and most, if not all, are embracing this new digital world of virtual film festivals, author meet and greets, cooking demos, the list goes on. The Mittleman Jewish Community Center has embraced the realization that even when our programs begin to take place back on campus, most of our programs will be a hybrid model of in-person and virtual. In 2020 we foresee most of our arts and cultures events taking place online.
Each year we bring in authors writing about topics ranging from humor to fiction, Holocaust to Jewish identity. To decide who to invite, I attended the annual National Jewish Book Council Conference, which also went virtual this year.
The JBC refines a wide range of authors to just around 250 people for members to consider bringing to their communities. Some authors are critically acclaimed, some from around the world and some are releasing their first book. Some things changed with the virtual format, such as the typical opportunities to meet and chat with the authors at the end of each day, but they were still able to provide each author with a two-minute window to pitch themselves and their book to Jewish community programmers across the country. And now, after listening to almost 250 authors, I’m pleased to announce our fall lineup. The series began Sept. 15 with Talia Carner, author of The Third Daughter. It continues tonight, with one program each month through December.
Sept. 16, 1:30-2:30 pm: Janna Lopez – Me, My Selfie & Eye: A Midlife Conversation About Lost Identity, Grief, and Seeing Who You Are. “Who am I?” is perhaps the most asked question in midlife. This timely book that was written to connect, console and encourage anyone in the throes of midlife identity confusion. Janna Lopez, a Jewish author, explores through a practical, updated conversation the process of midlife upheaval. She cites grief as the main culprit, especially when everything we believed as true about ourselves becomes uncertain. A resident of Beaverton, her current passion is presenting to groups about the confusion of midlife identity. She was recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and serves to create awareness.
Oct. 13, 6-7 pm: Rachel Barenbaum – A Bend in the Stars. Grounded in history – and inspired by the solar eclipse of 1914 – A Bend in the Stars offers a heart-stopping account of modern science’s greatest race amidst the chaos of World War I, and a love story as epic as the railways crossing Russia. Rachel’s debut novel has been named a New York Times Summer Reading Selection and a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection.
Nov. 16, 6-7 pm: Myla Goldberg – Feast Your Eyes. The first novel in nearly a decade from Myla Goldberg, the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of Bee Season, is a compelling story about a female photographer grappling with ambition and motherhood, a balancing act familiar to women of every generation.
Dec. 7, 5:30-6:30 pm: Jonathan D. Sarna, editor – Cosella Wayne: Or, Will and Destiny. Published serially in the spiritualist journal Banner of Light in 1860, Cosella Wayne: Or, Will and Destiny, by Cora Wilburn, was the first coming-of-age novel, written and published in English by an American Jewish woman, to depict Jews in the United States. It transforms what we know about the history of early American Jewish literature. Jonathan Sarna, who introduces the volume, discovered Cosella Wayne while pursuing research at the Israel Institute for Advanced Studies in Jerusalem. This edition is supplemented with selections from Wilburn’s recently rediscovered diary. Together, these materials help to situate Cosella Wayne within the life and times of one of 19th-century American Jewry’s least known and yet most prolific female authors.
Cost is $5 per event. Register at oregonjcc.org/authorseries.
Lenny Steinberg is Arts and Culture Manager for the Mittleman Jewish Community Center.