Unpacking the Book: Jewish Writers in Conversation

This spring, join Jewish Book Council for the second season of an exciting event series featuring incredible authors in a beautiful venue (find season one information and resources here and find information about the scholarship edition of this series here). 

Hosted at the Jewish Museum in New York City (1109 5th Avenue), Unpacking the Book: Jewish Writers in Conversation brings together some of the finest writers of the day for conversations around contemporary Jewish life and identity. These conversations are moderated by Bari Weiss, associate books editor at The Wall Street Journal. Additionally, each program is FREE and includes wine and refreshments, a book sale and signing, and the opportunity to visit the Jewish Museum galleries; however, space is limited and guests must REGISTER.**

More information about each conversation can be found by clicking the links below:

The Jewish Museum galleries will be open for Unpacking attendees from 6:00-7:00PM and guided tours of each featured exhibition (listed below) will be offered from 6:15-6:45PM. The conversation with the authors will begin at 7:00PM and will be followed by a reception, book sale, and signing.

Apostles and Apostates - February 23, 2016 | 6:00-8:30PM
Shulem Deen | Christopher Noxon | Sigal Samuel | Moderator: Bari Weiss
Featured exhibition: Unorthodox

Gefilte Fish on Fleek: The New Jewish Cuisine - March 29, 2016 | 6:00-8:30PM
Chef Rossi | Michael Solomonov | Michael W. Twitty | Niki Russ Federman | Moderator: Bari Weiss
Featured exhibition: Isaac Mizrahi: An Unruly History

Jewish Writers on the Front Lines - May 4, 2016 | 6:00-8:30PM
Elliot Ackerman | Matti Friedman | Moderator: Bari Weiss 
Featured exhibition: Culture and Continuity

Planning on attending all three programs? Become a JBC Circle member! Space is limited, so be sure to request membership early. JBC Circle members will receive the following:

Request JBC Circle membership here. (In the case of inclement weather, events will be rescheduled accordingly.)

A special thank you to the following sponsors for their support:


If you have any trouble registering, please contact the Jewish Book Council at events@jewishbooks.org or 212-201-2920.

**RSVP required to gain entry. Early arrival is suggested as space is limited. Entry is not guaranteed, unless you are a JBC Circle member.

Apostles and Apostates

February 23, 2016 | 6:00-8:30PM

Download this event's BOOK CLUB GUIDE

Hear from three authors with unorthodox perspectives on what it means to keep the faith—in God, in Judaism, with the Jewish people, and with oneself. Sometimes you need to go "off the derech" to find your real path. And sometimes...sometimes you get circumcised in your 40s.

Shulem Deen is the author of All Who Go Do Not Return, a memoir about growing up in and then leaving the Hasidic Jewish world. His work has appeared in The New Republic, Salon, Tablet Magazine, and The Forward, among others, and in 2015 he was listed in the Forward 50, an annual list of American Jews with outsized roles on political and social issues. He serves as a board member at Footsteps, a New York City-based organization that offers assistance and support to those who have left the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Christopher Noxon is an author, journalist, and illustrator. He’s the author of the novel Plus One and Rejuvenile: Kickball, Cartoons, Cupcakes, and the Reinvention of the American Grown Up. He has written for The New Yorker, Details, The New York Times Magazine, Los Angeles Magazine, and Salon; his illustrations have been featured on The Undo List and in Unscrolled: Writers and Artists Wrestle with the Torah. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, television writer/producer Jenji Kohan, and their three children.

Sigal Samuel is an award-winning fiction writer, journalist, essayist, and playwright. Currently opinion editor at the Forward, she has also published work in the Daily Beast, the Rumpus, BuzzFeed, and Electric Literature. She has appeared on NPR, BBC, and Huffington Post Live. Her six plays have been produced in theaters from Vancouver to New York. Sigal earned her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia. Originally from Montreal, she now lives and writes in Brooklyn. The Mystics of Mile End is her first novel.

Gefilte Fish on Fleek: The New Jewish Cuisine

March 29, 2016 | 6:00-8:30PM

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Free-range shwarma. Artisinal gefilte fish. Marijuana matzo balls. The golden age of Jewish food makes us wanna challah! Come meet three cutting-edge writers and chefs who are revolutionizing American Jewish cuisine.

As the owner and executive chef of The Raging Skillet, Chef Rossi has earned a reputation as the one to call when it's time to do things differently. The Raging Skillet has been described as a “rebel anti-caterer" by The New York Times and "the wildest thing this side of the Mason-Dixon line" by Zagat, and has been named one of The Knot’s Best Wedding Caterers for the past five years. Rossi has written for Bust, The Daily News, The New York Post, The Huffington Post, Time Out New York, and McSweeney's. She is the host of a long-running radio show called “Bite This,” and has been featured on The Food Network and NPR.

A 2011 James Beard Award winner for “Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic,” Chef Michael Solomonov is the co-owner and executive chef of Zahav, Philadelphia’s renowned modern Israeli restaurant. He also owns Percy Street Barbecue, Federal Donuts, and the recently opened Dizengoff (hummus and small salads) and Abe Fisher (small plates of Jewish food inspired by countries outside Israel), all in Philadelphia.

Michael W. Twitty, a food writer, independent scholar, culinary historian, and historical interpreter personally charged with preparing, preserving, and promoting African American foodways and its parent traditions in Africa and her Diaspora and its legacy in the food culture of the American South. 

Michael is a Judaic studies teacher from the Washington D.C. metropolitan area where interests include food culture, food history, Jewish cultural issues, African American history, and cultural politics. His book, The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African-American Culinary History in the Old South , will be published by HarperCollins in 2016.

Today, along with her cousin Josh Russ Tupper, Niki Russ Federman is the fourth generation to own and run Russ & Daughters’ landmark appetizing shop on East Houston Street, its online business, Russ & Daughters Cafe (restaurant on Orchard Street), Russ & Daughters at the Jewish Museum (kosher restaurant and takeout appetizing counter), and Russ & Daughters Bagels & Bakery (where they bake the most traditional bagels, bialys, babkas, and breads for all of their locations).

Jewish Writers on the Front Lines

May 4, 2016 | 6:00-8:30PM

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A century ago, the notion of a Jewish warrior would have seemed a contradiction in terms. No longer.
Come hear from two exceptional writers, who as soldiers in the American and Israeli armies, have witnessed—and translated for us—the absurdity, chaos and tragedy of modern warfare in the most volatile region in the world.

Elliot Ackerman served five tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan and is the recipient of the Silver Star, the Bronze Star for Valor, and the Purple Heart. A former White House Fellow, his essays and fiction have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New Republic, and Ecotone, among others. Green on Blue is his debut novel. He currently lives in Istanbul and writes on the Syrian Civil War.

Matti Friedman’s second nonfiction book, Pumpkinflowers: A Soldier's Story, will be published by Algonquin Books in May 2016. It tells the story of a group of young Israelis assigned to hold an isolated military outpost in Lebanon. His first book, The Aleppo Codex, won the 2014 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish literature, the American Library Association’s Sophie Brody Medal, and the Canadian Jewish Book Award for history, and was selected as one of Booklist’s top ten religion books of the year. His writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Tablet, and elsewhere. He was born in Toronto and lives in Jerusalem.