Fantastic Final Days of the Festival

Friday, November 8, 2019
Posted by: John Dreyfus, Chair of the Ann and Stephen Kaufman Jewish Book & Arts Festival

John DreyfusWoohoo!  I’m a blogger.

Last week, I sent out my first blog for the J. I also sent it to my immediate family, their two spouses, one fiancee, and one girlfriend. My daughter, Lisa, provided some millennial magic and posted it on her Instagram account. She was shocked to discover several of her friends and cousins asked if they could subscribe to my blog. So, I am beginning my new career as a blogger.  

The Hill to Die OnWhat should I blog about? The #jhoubookfest. Three remaining events are almost sold out: The Hill to Die On with Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone with Lori Gottlieb (where I will be moderating the event), and the film, Fiddler: Miracle of Miracles

I just re-read Lori Gottlieb’s list of career accomplishments: working at NBC, going to Med School, writing for just about every popular magazine, having a weekly column in the Atlantic, being on all the national morning talk shows, and writing a best selling book. Heck, my career peaked in 1973 as a pizza boy for Shakeys. Don’t be discouraged if you go online and find just a handful of tickets left. There should be tickets available at the door.  

I would like to share some of the highlights of the Book Festival. Unlike my beloved Astros during Games 6 and 7, Isaac Mizrahi hit it out of the park. I was surprised to hear that he was bored with designing collections and focusing most of his energy on his cabaret act at the Carlysle. Of course, Isaac would not have been Isaac without imploring the audience to “Buy the expletive book!”  

Tuesday night, we had two programs: Carla Naumburg with her book, How to Stop Losing Your Sh*t with your Kids and Jack Fairweather and Bev Saltzman Lewyn with their books, The Volunteer and On the Run in Nazi Berlin. I am proud that 115 young parents attended Carla Naumburg’s program, and we had a large crowd for Jack and Bev. Finally, Wednesday night’s Ask Dr. Ruth documentary was preceded by a personal message to our Houston audience from Dr. Ruth herself, who is still kicking those tiny legs in her tenth decade.  

If you have read this far (which would shock me), and you missed these programs, hopefully you are kicking yourself for not going (and hopefully your feet can reach the floor, unlike Dr. Ruth’s). Good news for you, there is so much more to come.

The Floating FeldmansMonday night at the Merfish features Elyssa Friedland’s The Floating Feldmans. In addition to her discussion about a dysfunctional family taking a cruise, there will be piña coladas and tropical music. Our own version of the Coppertone girl, co-chair Debbie Kaplan, will give a lei to all attendees. Once again, Debbie goes above and beyond for the Festival.

Everyone is invited to wear their cruise wear. Elyssa will select the best dressed cruise wear winners, and there will be prizes. Better yet, you might as well not dress in cruise wear, because I plan on winning the best dressed prize. And if the smell of cocoa butter offends you, don’t sit next to me.  

If your taste for sports has not been sufficiently quenched after the World Series, come hear Matthew Goodman discuss his book, The City Game, Monday night at the J. His book tells the story of the 1949 integrated City College Beavers who won both the NIT and NCAA tournaments. Their success was soon followed by their shocking downfall.  

The 100 Most Jewish FoodsFinally, preceding Closing Night, Ziggy Gruber, “the Deli Man” himself, and Laykie Donin will be preparing their favorite recipes inspired by The 100 Most Jewish Foods.  

Tickets are still available for the dinner, but should be purchased by Monday. Limited walk-up dinners will be available that night. 

Then join Alana Newhouse as she presents her book The 100 Most Jewish Foods: A Highly Debatable List.  Jews like to debate….who knew?

That is all I have. If any of you read the entire blog, grab me and tell me “I can’t believe I read the whole thing.” See you at the fest. 



Category: Arts and Culture