People of the Book Festival in New Orleans

This year’s annual People of the Book Festival includes a revival of People of the Film. The week-long celebration of books and Jewish authors at the Uptown Jewish Community Center in New Orleans will include the revival of the New Orleans Jewish Film Festival, spearheaded in cooperation with Shir Chadash.

As a member of the Jewish Book Council, a group that supports over 150 book festivals throughout the United States, the JCC is given access to over 140 authors of books for all ages. Jewish religious school children from across the New Orleans area participate in the annual Bookmark Contest and winners receive “book bucks” to spend in the bookstore, which is the largest, most comprehensive Jewish book selection for all ages in the region.

The buildup began on Oct. 25 with Rodger Kamenetz presenting his latest work, Burnt Books, a dual biography of the venerated Hasidic storyteller Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav (great-grandson of the Ba’al Shem Tov, the founder of Hasidism), who was a religious mystic who reached out to secular Jews and the iconic modern master Franz Kafka, a secular artist fascinated by Jewish mysticism.

“Lunch and the Movies: The Great Revival of the New Orleans Jewish Film Festival” will take place on Nov. 14. Tickets are $5 per movie, which includes popcorn, soft drinks and snacks.

The 10:30 a.m. feature will be “Saviors in the Night,” directed by Ludi Boeken. The film is a riveting true story of a righteous gentile farmer who shelters a fellow veteran of World War I and his family for three years in the middle of Germany around 1943.

At noon there will be a barbecue lunch, which is $5 at the door. The 1 p.m. feature is “A Matter of Size”, directed by Sharon Maymon and Erez Tadmor. “Size” is a film of how four hefty Jewish boys become sumo wrestlers and learn to love themselves. This warm, poignant, funny film is the winner of the 2009 Ofir Award for Best Israeli Film and nominated for this year’s Academy Award for Best Foreign Film.

On Nov. 16 at 7:30 p.m., actors, comedians, writers and real-life married couple Annabelle Gurwitch and Jeff Kahn will be featured for an evening of comedy. They have written a memoir about their 13-year marriage, “You Say Tomato, I say Shut Up!” Gurwitch is former host of “Dinner and A Movie” on TBS, and Kahn is a former writer and Emmy winner for the Fox comedy, “The Ben Stiller Show.” They believe that in marriage, all you need is love — and a healthy dose of complaining, codependence, and Pinot Noir.

A $5 donation is suggested for the event. A book signing will follow the presentation.
The Nursery School Nosh will be Nov. 17 from 9 a.m. to noon. It is a book browsing event for preschoolers and their parents, featuring storytelling from PJ Library featured books. There is no charge.

Jeffrey Zaslow, the “Moving On” columnist for the Wall Street Journal, will be the guest for this year’s Booklover’s Luncheon, Nov. 18 at noon. He will discuss his latest book, “The Girls from Ames”, which chronicles the lives and friendship of 11 special girls from Ames, Iowa. He describes how the other girls — now women — help their Jewish friend with her Bat Mitzvah, how they have been there for each other through good and bad, and continue to this day. Zaslow is also the author of the New York Times bestseller “The Last Lecture”, written with Randy Pausch.

Tickets to the luncheon are $30 by Nov. 11, $35 afterward; or $20 for just the presentation. A book signing will follow the presentation.

On Nov. 21, world famous bestselling cookbook author Joan Nathan will close out the festival with the Books ‘n Brunch event. She will feature her newest cookbook, “Quiches, Kugels and Couscous.” Nathan is author of 10 cookbooks including the award winning “Jewish Cooking in America.”

“Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous” is about her summer in France learning all about Jewish French cooking, and telling stories about the people she met. There is traditional Jewish cooking, and the revered dishes are still respected, but tweaked with French finesse. After World War II, Sephardic cuisine from North African Jewish communities changed Jewish French cuisine forever.

Brunch will consist of recipes from “Quiche, Kugels, and Couscous” prepared by local chef Brack May. Reservations are $15 by Nov. 14, $20 afterward. The charge for presentation only is $10. A book signing will follow the presentation.

During the festival week, the JCC bookstore will be open, featuring an extensive selection of the latest and best in Jewish literature for children, young adults, and adults. Hours will be 9 a.m. to noon and 4 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, closing at 5 p.m. on Friday. The bookstore will also be open before and after all events, and is located in the Grant Boardroom. Octavia Books is providing books for the store, and is also stocking author books for the week.

In addition to the bookstore, the Art on the Avenue Festival Boutique will feature fabric art, glass, jewelry, photography, mixed media, and more by local New Orleans artists.