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Moderated by Tim Chupp, Professor of Physics and Biomedical Engineering, University of Michigan
Almost 70 years after his death, Albert Einstein’s genius continues to define our everyday lives and his enduring legacy has shaped him into a modern-day pop culture icon. Albert Einstein’s face is still one of the most recognizable in the world and he’s widely considered to be the first modern-day celebrity. While many of his discoveries continue to define our daily lives, it’s not just his genius that continues to shape our world. Today, more people know Einstein as an icon rather than a theorist — decades after his death, he’s a celebrity with a massive online following.
The Einstein Effect shows all the ways his influence is still with us today — in our systems and our culture. Interspersed between chapters on his long-lasting scientific legacy, author Benyamin Cohen (the mind behind Einstein’s Twitter account!) also tells the story of how Einstein became an unlikely social media figure and pop culture icon in the modern age.
Benyamin Cohen manages the official social media accounts of Albert Einstein. He is the News Director of the Forward. Cohen is also the author of My Jesus Year: A Rabbi’s Son Wanders the Bible Belt in Search of His Own Faith, named one of the best books of the year by Publishers Weekly and for which he received the Georgia Author of the Year award. He is based in Morgantown, West Virginia.
Moderated by Jonathan Trobe, MD, Professor Emeritus, Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences
Antisemitism is on the rise in America, in cities and rural areas, in red states and blue states, and in guises both subtle and terrifyingly overt. Rabbi Diana Fersko is used to having difficult conversations with members of her congregation about the issues they face — from the threat of violence to microaggressions and identity denial. In We Need to Talk About Antisemitism, she gives all of us the ultimate guide to modern antisemitism in its many forms.
Moderated by Jenny Traig
From Jennifer Rosner, National Jewish Book Award Finalist and author of The Yellow Bird Sings, comes a novel based on the true stories of children stolen in the wake of World War II.
Ana will never forget her mother’s face when she and her baby brother, Oskar, were sent out of their Polish ghetto and into the arms of a Christian friend. For Oskar, though, their new family is the only one he remembers. When a woman from a Jewish reclamation organization seizes them, believing she has their best interest at heart, Ana sees an opportunity to reconnect with her roots, while Oskar sees only the loss of the home he loves.
Roger grows up in a monastery in France, inventing stories and trading riddles with his best friend in a life of quiet concealment. When a relative seeks to retrieve him, the Church steals him across the Pyrenees before relinquishing him to family in Jerusalem.
When Jeff Bender’s child Courtney, who was assigned male at birth, asked for her first dress at one and a half years old, all Jeff saw was the smile and delight on his child’s face. Little did he know that he and his family were about to embark on a journey of learning, growth and acceptance that would include issues surrounding clothing, bathrooms, and sports teams.
Parenting in today’s world is challenging, but parenting a gender-nonconforming or gender-questioning child can be confusing as well. Jeff opens up about his family’s experiences with honesty and compassion, detailing the struggles and joys of parenting two gender-fluid children. Along with his own story, Jeff shares the viewpoints of other parents, grandparents, and even his own wife.
Twelve-year-old Abigail (she/her/hers) is so excited to spend her summer at Camp Quiltbag, an inclusive retreat for queer and trans kids. She can’t wait to find a community where she can be herself — and, she hopes, admit her crush on that one hot older actress to kids who will understand.
Thirteen-year-old Kai (e/em/eir) is not as excited. E just wants to hang out with eir best friend and eir parkour team. And e definitely does not want to think about the incident that left eir arm in a sling — the incident that also made Kai’s parents determined to send em somewhere e can feel like emself.
After a bit of a rocky start at camp, Abigail and Kai make a pact: If Kai helps Abigail make new friends, Abigail will help Kai’s cabin with the all-camp competition. But as they navigate a summer full of crushes, queer identity exploration, and more, they learn what’s really important. Camp Quiltbag is a heartfelt story full of the joy that comes from being and loving yourself.
Jeff Bender is the father to two of the most incredible kids in the world. He and his wife have been married since 2005 and reside in the St. Louis area. Jeff founded The Lion and The Owl, a company creating a community for LGBTQ+ youth to feel safe in while normalizing the idea of gender-neutral clothing. The Lion and the The Owl’s mission is to support and celebrate inclusivity and diversity among our youth through apparel, community, and education.
In Conversation with Efrat Lachter, University of Michigan Knight-Wallace Fellow and Correspondent, Channel 12 News
Teachers are the people Martin Fletcher met throughout his work as a news correspondent, often on the worst day of their lives. He watched as they picked up the pieces following personal tragedy and discovered the invaluable lesson of carrying on, no matter the circumstances.
Through intimate profiles, Martin Fletcher’s Teachers details the struggles of everyday people in extraordinary circumstances-war, revolution, natural disasters and yes, life. Fletcher’s writing is uplifting as he examines the truth of resilience despite hardship. These are the people he sought out in his international reporting, detailing their woes while celebrating their will to survive and recover.
Teachers offers a unique take on reporting, as it features a traveling photo exhibit that Fletcher created to accompany the book. Each chapter is paired with an extraordinary digital montage to illustrate the stories taken directly from his reporting from NBC news programs. At a time when news coverage is often dismissed as fake or biased, Teachers is a welcome reminder of the integrity, devotion and empathy that goes into true reporting of the world. As Tom Brokaw wrote, “Fletcher has a calling.”
Considered for decades the “gold standard of TV war correspondents” by Anderson Cooper, Martin Fletcher was an NBC News Correspondent and bureau chief in Tel Aviv for nearly thirty years. Fletcher has won five Emmys and a Columbia University DuPont Award — a Pulitzer for work in television — as well as awards from the Overseas Press Club and Royal Society of Television. Today, Fletcher’s work as an author is rapidly gaining an equally impressive reputation. He currently lives in Mexico and New York.
Efrat Lachter is an investigative correspondent for Israel’s Channel 12 News and the weekly newsmagazine “Friday Studio.” A recipient of the 2022 Shimon Peres Center for Peace Award, she has directed and produced more than 200 documentary segments on topics including human trafficking in Sudan and Israel, modern-day slavery in Malawi, orphans in Ukraine, internal political corruption in Israel, and a women-and-children-only village in the Kurd-controlled area of Syria. As the first female war correspondent in her newsroom, much of her work has illuminated the lives of women in conflict zones. Lachter studied political science and communications at Tel Aviv University and journalism at the Koteret School of Journalism in Tel Aviv. She previously worked as an investigative journalist for “Uvda,” Israel’s version of “60 Minutes.”
Moderated by Deborah Dash Moore, Professor of History, University of Michigan
Award-winning journalist Rebecca Clarren has been writing about the American West for more than twenty years. Her magazine pieces, for which she has won the Hillman Prize, appear in High Country News, The Nation, and Indian Country Today. Her debut novel, Kickdown, was shortlisted for the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction. An American Inheritance, her work of creative nonfiction, was awarded a Whiting Nonfiction Award. Her work is regularly supported by the Fund for Investigative Journalism. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and two kids.
Moderated by Lonnie Sussman
When Sylvie accepted an apparently anodyne assignment on cassoulet, France’s ancestral bean and meat stew, she could not have known that she was about to jump into a rabbit hole that would lead her miles away from her upper-crust childhood in Switzerland and force her to reckon with her identity and her own dramatic family history. Cassoulet Confessions, a poignant gourmand memoir, vacillates between generational family drama and Sylvie’s gastronomic training as the reader is engulfed in the simmering smells of the French kitchen, then suddenly thrown in the terrifying front seat of the family car.
Award-winning food and travel writer Sylvie Bigar was born in Geneva, Switzerland, and is based in New York City. Her writing has appeared widely, including in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Food & Wine, Forbes.com, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Edible, Departures, Travel + Leisure, and National Geographic Traveler. Bigar co-authored chef Daniel Boulud’s definitive Daniel: My French Cuisine, as well as Living Art: Style Your Home with Flowers, with floral artist and designer Olivier Giugni.
Reuse, recycle, renew, and rethink! Climb aboard the Topsy-Turvy Bus with Maddy and Jake as it travels around the country teaching communities the importance of taking care of the earth and creating a better, cleaner, healthier world.
Based on a real Topsy-Turvy Bus created by Hazon, the largest Jewish environmental organization in North America.
Toothy lives in Liam’s mouth next to his best friend Fang. He’s a good tooth — sparkly and strong, and he loves doing the floss.
One day, Toothy notices that he is loose and panics! Where will he go after he leaves his comfy spot next to Fang? After a crunchy apple seals the deal, Toothy is tucked under Liam’s pillow. When the Tooth Fairy appears, she takes Toothy to the Museum of Lost Teeth. It’s a more incredible place than Toothy could have ever imagined. It’s filled with new friends and fun activities like Tooth or Dare! Toothy finds a new home on the Firsts Floor, where first baby teeth are proudly displayed.
Moderated by Rabbi Eli Mayerfeld, CEO, Zekelman Holocaust Center
Richard Hurowitz is a writer and the founder and publisher of the Octavian Report. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, Times (UK), Los Angeles Times, Time, History Today and the Jerusalem Post, among other publications. Richard serves on the governing board of the Yale University Art Gallery and is a member of the Bretton Woods Committee and a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He was a co-founder and president of the Renew Democracy Initiative, an organization dedicated to defending liberal democracy. He received his BA in history from Yale University, graduating in three years, magna cum laude and with distinction and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Alpha Theta. He earned a JD from Columbia University School of Law, where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar and the editor-in-chief of the Columbia/VLA Journal of Law & the Arts.
Moderated by Rita Benn
In April 1944, Rudolf Vrba became one of the very first Jews to escape from Auschwitz and make his way to freedom—among only a tiny handful who ever pulled off that near-impossible feat. He did it to reveal the truth of the death camp to the world—and to warn the last Jews of Europe what fate awaited them. Against all odds, Vrba and his fellow escapee, Fred Wetzler, climbed mountains, crossed rivers, and narrowly missed German bullets until they had smuggled out the first full account of Auschwitz the world had ever seen—a forensically detailed report that eventually reached Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and the Pope.
And yet too few heeded the warning that Vrba had risked everything to deliver. Though Vrba helped save two hundred thousand Jewish lives, he never stopped believing it could have been so many more.
Moderated by Yaron Eliav, Associate Professor of Rabbinic Literature and Jewish History of Late Antiquity, University of Michigan
In 1863, a French senator arrived in Jerusalem hoping to unearth relics dating to biblical times. Digging deep underground, he discovered an ancient grave that, he claimed, belonged to an Old Testament queen. News of his find ricocheted around the world, evoking awe and envy alike, and inspiring others to explore Jerusalem’s storied past.
In the century and a half since the Frenchman broke ground, Jerusalem has drawn a global cast of fortune seekers and missionaries, archaeologists and zealots, all of them eager to extract the biblical past from beneath the city’s streets and shrines. Their efforts have had profound effects, not only on our understanding of Jerusalem’s history, but on its hotly disputed present. The quest to retrieve ancient Jewish heritage has sparked bloody riots and thwarted international peace agreements. It has served as a cudgel, a way to stake a claim to the most contested city on the planet. Today, the earth below Jerusalem remains a battleground in the struggle to control the city above.
Under Jerusalem takes readers into the tombs, tunnels, and trenches of the Holy City. It brings to life the indelible characters who have investigated this subterranean landscape. With clarity and verve, acclaimed journalist Andrew Lawler reveals how their pursuit has not only defined the conflict over modern Jerusalem, but could provide a map for two peoples and three faiths to peacefully coexist.
In Conversation with Chuck Newman
In Roaring Twenties New York City, when the nightclubs closed down, the in-crowd didn’t go home. Everyone went to Polly’s place, the “speakeasy with a harem” run by “The Female Al Capone,” as the newspapers dubbed her. Polly “Pearl” Adler (1900-1962) was a diminutive dynamo whose Manhattan brothels were more than oases of illicit sex, where men paid top-dollar for the company of her girls, they were also swinging salons where the culturati and high society partied with the elite of showbiz, politics and organized crime. Polly’s pals — luminaries like Joe DiMaggio, Frank Sinatra, Lucky Luciano, Duke Ellington, Dorothy Parker, Bugsy Siegel and Desi Arnaz – made the Jazz Age roar.
No one would’ve guessed that Pearl would become “the First Lady of the Underworld” when she arrived in America as a 13-year old Russian Jewish immigrant. But Polly’s life became a topsy-turvy Horatio Alger tale – a childhood that could be a story by Isaac Bashevis Singer, a wild ghetto adolescence out of a Henry Roth novel, blossoming into a glittering epic of parties and power worthy of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Then Polly wrote her own ending, penning a memoir that shocked the squares of the 1950s and sold over two million copies.
Applegate immerses the reader in Polly’s world and uses her rip-roaring life to unpack what made this era so corrupt, so glamorous and so transformational, showing how this riotous collision of high and low gave birth to modern American culture.
Debby Applegate is a historian whose first book, The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher, won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Book Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. She was a Sterling Fellow in American Studies at Yale University, where she earned her Ph.D., and now lives in New Haven, Connecticut where she continues to haunt the stacks of the Yale Library.
In Conversation with Robin Pollak
A Jewish American family saga set in St. Louis about the rise of its fashion retailing empire, and how it splits and ultimately devastates the family.
As the son of Max Feldman, the brilliant founder of the Fratelli Massimo chain, Josh Feldman has always known his destiny…working alongside his father during the last half of the 20th century and one day succeeding him, as promised by his father.
When the family becomes divided over the future of the business, Josh faces the fact that even the deepest family bonds and his father’s promises may have a shelf life.
Moderated by Lisa Molnar, Research Associate Professor, University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute
An extraordinary work of Jewish ethics, law, and tradition, the Talmud compels readers to engage with its abundance of ideas on how to live a good life. Full of folk legends, bawdy tales, and rabbinical back-and-forth over centuries, it is inspiring, demanding, confounding, and thousands of pages long. As Leibovitz enthusiastically explores in his new book, the Talmud is also humanity’s first self-help book, offering sage advice on an unparalleled scope of topics, including on how to deal with grief, how to choose your friends, and how to successfully communicate with your partner.
Weaving together psychology, philosophy, and history with a wide array of modern examples touching on everything from the creation of Weight Watchers to the lives of Billie Holiday and Aristotle, Leibovitz makes the Talmud’s insights reverberate for our modern age. Each chapter is focused on a fundamental human experience and illuminates how the Talmud speaks to daily existence. Giving readers an entertaining crash course in Jewish history and philosophy, Leibovitz shows how one of the world’s oldest books can, indeed, change your life.
Liel Leibovitz is the editor at large for Tablet Magazine and the host of several of its popular podcasts, including Unorthodox and Take One. He’s the author of several works of nonfiction, and a frequent contributor to publications like The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and others. A ninth-generation Israeli, he now lives in New York with his family.
Moderated by Shirlee Wyman Harris
This new anniversary edition of the Holocaust memoir of George Salton (then Lucjan Salzman), gives readers a personal and powerful account of his survival through one of the darkest periods in human and Jewish history. With his daughter and co-author Anna Salton Eisen, George shares a gripping narrative of his transformation from a Jewish eleven-year-old boy living happily in Tyczyn, Poland, with his family, to his experiences as a teenage victim of growing persecution, brutality, and imprisonment as the Nazis pursued the Final Solution.
Alone at age 14, George begins a three-year horror-filled odyssey as part of a Jewish slave labor group that will take him through ten concentration camps in Poland, Germany, and France. The authors recall not only the painful details of his survival, but also the tales of his fellow prisoners, a small group who became more than friends as they shared their meager rations, their fragile strength, and their waning hope. The memoir moves us as we behold the life-sustaining powers of friendship among this band of young prisoners.
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