NET­WORK author Joel Chas­noff (The 188th Cry­ba­by Brigade: A Skin­ny Jew­ish Kid from Chica­go Fights Hezbol­lah) will be blog­ging for the JBC over the next month about his trav­els around the coun­try for Jew­ish Book Month. Be sure to check out his web­site to see if he’ll be vis­it­ing a city near you…maybe you’ll even end up in one of his posts! And, if you haven’t read his posts for the JBC/MJL Author Blog, you can find them all here.

Ter­rif­ic event last night at the Mia­mi Jew­ish Book Fes­ti­val.

About a hun­dred peo­ple showed up. The crowd was focused, asked great ques­tions, and was total­ly engaged, except for that one guy in the front row, a 90-plus-year-old man who brought his own oxy­gen tank and nod­ded off halfway through my introduction.

It was an old­er audi­ence – lots of six­ties and sev­en­ties, and old­er – and their ques­tions reflect­ed their demo­graph­ic. I’ve done a few of these book events now – DetroitColum­bus, and, last Sun­day, DC – and I’ve noticed a con­nec­tion between the gen­er­al age of the audi­ence and the ques­tions they ask.

Younger crowds, like the one in DC, ask ques­tions about my mil­i­tary ser­vice itself: Was it dif­fi­cult? Did I see action? Did I pull the trig­ger and/​or get shot?

Mid­dle-aged crowds, folks in their for­ties and fifties, are inter­est­ed in the back­sto­ry: What was my upbring­ing like? And what com­pelled a nice Jew­ish boy like me to join the Israeli Army in the first place?

And old­er crowds, like the one last night, always want to know one thing:

What did your par­ents say when you told them you were mov­ing to Israel to join the army?”

Last night, I answered that ques­tion the way I always do – with a short read­ing from the sec­ond chap­ter of my book, the chap­ter called Mr. Bay City High School”, in which I go to break­fast at an IHOP restau­rant with my father and tell him that I plan to join the IDF.

The read­ing always gets a laugh. But I always won­der if the audi­ence is laugh­ing at my father’s shock or my own naivety that I, the skin­ny Jew­ish kid from Chica­go, actu­al­ly think I might be a hero in the leg­endary Israeli Army.

Joel Chas­noff is the author of The 188th Cry­ba­by Brigade, a comedic mem­oir about his year as a com­bat sol­dier in the Israeli Army, pub­lished by Simon and Schus­ter. This fall, he’ll blog his book tour across Amer­i­ca for the Jew­ish Book Coun­cil. Vis­it Joel and read excerpts from his book at www​.joelchas​noff​.com.

Joel Chas­noff and Ben­ji Lovitt are Amer­i­can-born stand-up come­di­ans who now live in Israel, and are the authors of the Nation­al Jew­ish Book Award-win­ning Israel 201. They’ve per­formed com­e­dy at more than 2,000 Jew­ish events in 10 countries.