From The Fonz to the Former First Lady
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From The Fonz to the Former First Lady

With the MJCCA Book Festival just a few weeks away, take a look at some of the big names and see the full schedule of authors.

When the 28th Book Festival of the MJCCA kicks off its two-week run Oct. 30, the Atlanta Jewish community will be treated to a lineup of authors that includes such big names as former First Lady and presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton and her daughter Chelsea, and Henry Winkler of “Happy Days” Fonz fame.

Similar to those, other headliners offer a mix of political, sports, news and TV celebs. Here are just a few: Nikki Haley, former U.S. ambassador to the U.N.; Jodi Kantor, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who broke the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment scandal; and former NFL star Akbar Gbajabiamila, co-host of “American Ninja Warrior.”

“We are thrilled about this year’s lineup,” said Book Festival co-chair Deena Profis. She said the festival runs the gamut “from acclaimed actors and renowned political figures to historians and award-winning novelists, to authors presenting award-winning cookbooks and riveting memoirs.”

Festival Director Pam Morton said the purpose of the festival is to educate, entertain and inspire “with as many diverse subjects as we can get in” for every age and interest. “I think we’ve done a really good job at that this year,” she said.

Among the subjects to be explored: Israel, the Holocaust, music, pop culture, food, politics from both sides of the aisle, and stories of resilience and overcoming adversity.

In all, there will be more than 45 authors at the Jewish book festival, believed to be the largest in the country, which runs through Nov. 18. About 90 percent of the authors are Jewish, Morton said.

“Included in our exciting lineup are some of Atlanta’s best local authors presenting their work,” said festival co-chair Susie Hyman.

Festival sponsors include the AJT, presenting local authors Perry Brickman, who exposed anti-Semitism in Emory University’s dental school, and Sherry Frank, former director of the American Jewish Committee and co-founder of its Atlanta Black-Jewish Coalition. The AJT also is sponsoring The New York Times op-ed writer-editor Bari Weiss.

More than 13,000 people from across the Southeast are expected to come to the MJCCA to listen to their favorite local, national, and international authors discuss their books.

Morton said she hopes attendees walk away knowing their next favorite author, “maybe someone they never heard of before.”

The lineup of headliners includes:

Opening Night
Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver
Alien Superstar
7: 30 p.m. Oct. 30 (Winkler’s 74th birthday)
In Conversation with Holly Firfer, CNN Journalist

New, out-of-this-world middle-grade series about a space alien who visits Hollywood as a tourist and becomes a star. Winkler is an Emmy Award-winning actor, writer, director, and producer who has created some of the most iconic TV roles, including the Fonz in “Happy Days” and Gene Cousineau in “Barry.” He will be celebrating his 74th birthday the day of his presentation. He was supposed to appear opening night of the festival in 2016, but his acting schedule got in the way, Morton said.

Co-author Oliver is a children’s book writer, and a writer and producer for TV and film. She is the executive director of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.


Akbar Gbajabiamila
Everyone Can Be a Ninja
3:30 p.m. Nov. 3
In Conversation with Mara Davis, local media personality

Each week, 6 million Americans tune in to the Emmy-nominated hit show “American Ninja Warrior” to watch everyday people take on extraordinary obstacles. Co-host Akbar Gbajabiamila is the son of Nigerian immigrants, one of seven siblings who grew up in South Central Los Angeles at the height of the L.A. riots. In his new book, Gbajabiamila draws inspiration from both the fierce competitors on his show and his own unlikely path to success to outline what it takes to become a modern-day ninja.

Morton said she expects the event to attract children, tying in with the MJCCA’s popular Ninja Warrior Camp. Local Ninja Warrior competitors, who train and film locally, will also be invited, she said.

Bari Weiss
How to Fight Anti-Semitism
8 p.m. Nov. 16
In Conversation with Dana Barrett, local media personality

On Oct. 27, 2018, the synagogue where The New York Times writer and editor Bari Weiss became a bat mitzvah was the site of the deadliest attack on Jews in America’s history. The massacre at Tree of Life in Pittsburgh came as a total shock. But to those who have been paying attention, it was only a more violent, extreme expression of the broader trend that has been sweeping Europe for the past two decades.

This timely book is an unnerving reminder that Jews must never lose their hard won instinct for danger, and a powerful case for renewing Jewish and liberal values to guide us through uncertainty, not just for the sake of America’s Jews, but for the sake of America.

Nikki R. Haley
With All Due Respect
7:30 p.m. Nov. 17

A revealing, dramatic, deeply personal book about the most significant events of our time, written by the former U.N. ambassador. In this book, Haley offers a first-hand perspective on major national and international matters, as well as a behind-the-scenes account of her tenure in the Trump administration.

Haley served as ambassador from 2017 through 2018. She previously served as governor of South Carolina from 2011 to 2017.

Closing Night
Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton
The Book of Gutsy Women
6:30 p.m. Nov. 18
In Conversation with Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice, president and dean, Morehouse School of Medicine

Inspired by women whose tenacity blazed the trail, the two global leaders lay out a vision for how these stories of persistence can galvanize women and men, boys and girls around the world. The book stems from a conversation the mom-daughter duo began when Chelsea was a young girl.

Clinton is the first woman in U.S. history to become the presidential nominee of a major political party. She served as the 67th secretary of state after nearly four decades in public service advocating on behalf of children and families as an attorney, First Lady, and U.S. senator.

Her daughter, Chelsea, is a champion for girls and women through her advocacy, writing, and work at the Clinton Foundation. She is also an adjunct assistant professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.


And here’s a peek at the complete book festival lineup:

Wednesday, October 30, 7:30 pm – (Member: $15 / Community: $75)
In Conversation with Holly Firfer, CNN Journalist

Saturday, November 2, 8 pm – (Member: $18 / Community: $25)
■ BEN MEZRICH, Bitcoin Billionaires: A True Story of Genius, Betrayal, and Redemption
In Conversation with Nadia Bilchik, CNN editorial producer and bestselling author

Sunday, November 3, 12 pm – (Member: $10 / Community: $15)
■ STEPHEN KOCH, Hitler’s Pawn
In Conversation with Dr. Catherine M. Lewis, professor of history, Kennesaw State University

Sunday, November 3, 3:30 pm – (Member: $10 / Community: $75)
■ AKBAR GBAJABIAMILA, Everyone Can Be a Ninja
In Conversation with Mara Davis, local media personality

Sunday, November 3, 7:30 pm – (Member: $35 / Community: $75)
■ ADAM RIPPON, Beautiful on the Outside
In Conversation with Holly Firfer, CNN journalist
Includes one hardcover copy of the book.

Monday, November 4, 12 pm – (Member: $10 / Community: $15)
■ HEATHER MORRIS, Cilka’s Journey: A Novel
In Conversation with Victoria Comella, freelance writer

Monday, November 4, 7:30 pm – (Member: $15 / Community: $20)
■ JULIE SALAMON, An Innocent Bystander: The Killing of Leon Klinghoffer
In Conversation with Gail Evans, former EVP, CNN; bestselling author

Tuesday, November 5, 12 pm – (Member: $10 / Community: $15)
■ ZOE FISHMAN, Invisible as Air: A Novel
■ EMILY LIEBERT, Pretty Revenge: A Novel
In Conversation with Lisa Shore, bestselling author

Tuesday, November 5, 7:30 pm – (Member: $18 / Community: $25)
In Conversation with Kim Severson, Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times bureau chief, Atlanta

Wednesday, November 6, 12:00 pm – (Member: $10 / Community: $15)
■ SHERRY FRANK, A Passion to Serve: Memoirs of a Jewish Activist
In Conversation with Gail Evans, former EVP, CNN; bestselling author
Includes a reception sponsored by the AJT.

Wednesday, November 6, 7:30 pm – (Member: $18 / Community: $25)
■ PAT MITCHELL, Becoming a Dangerous Woman
Thursday, November 7, 10 am – (Free and Open to the Community)
■ LYNN GARSON, Sex and the Single Grandma
■ ROBYN SPIZMAN, Loving Out Loud
In Conversation with Rabbi Brian Glusman, MJCCA

Thursday, November 7, 12:30 pm – (Member: $10 / Community: $15)
■ GILLIAN WALNES PERRY, The Legacy of Anne Frank
■ MEG WAITE CLAYTON, The Last Train to London: A Novel

Thursday, November 7, 6:30 pm – (Free and open to all)
Kristallnacht Commemoration at the Besser Memorial Holocaust Garden

Thursday, November 7, 7:30 pm – (Member: $15 / Community: $20)
■ BEV SALTZMAN LEWYN, On the Run in Nazi Berlin
In Conversation with Dr. Catherine M. Lewis, professor of history, Kennesaw State University

Friday, November 8, 12 pm – (Member: $15 / Community: $20)
■ TZIPORAH SALAMON, The Art of Dressing

Saturday, November 9, 8 pm – (Member / Community: $36)
■ PREET BHARARA, Doing Justice
In Conversation with Bill Nigut, executive producer, Political Rewind, Georgia Public Broadcasting
Includes one hardcover copy of the book.

Sunday, November 10, 12 pm – (Member: $10 / Community: $15)
■ CHRIS EDMONDS, No Surrender

Sunday, November 10, 3:30 pm – (Member: $15 / Community: $20)
■ ALICE HOFFMAN, The World That We Knew: A Novel
In Conversation with Greg Changnon, playwright and former columnist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Sunday, November 10, 7:30 pm – (Member / Community: $35)
■ JON DORENBOS, Life is Magic: My Inspiring Journey from Tragedy to Self-Discovery
In Conversation with Tom Sullivan, TV Host and Emcee
Includes one hardcover copy of the book.

Monday, November 11, 12 pm – (Member: $10 / Community: $15)
■ MELANIE BENJAMIN, Mistress of the Ritz: A Novel
■ JENNIFER CODY EPSTEIN, Wunderland: A Novel
In Conversation with Kate Whitman, vice president of author and Family Programs, Atlanta History Center

Monday, November 11, 7:30 pm – (Member: $15 / Community: $20)
■ JULIE SATOW, The Plaza: The Secret Life of America’s Most Famous Hotel
■ SHAWN LEVY, The Castle on Sunset: Life, Death, Love, Art, and Scandal at Hollywood’s Chateau Marmont

Tuesday, November 12, 12 pm – (Member: $10 / Community: $15)
■ MYLA GOLDBERG, Feast Your Eyes: A Novel
■ LISA BARR, The Unbreakables: A Novel
In Conversation with Jessica Handler, New York Times bestselling author

Tuesday, November 12, 7:30 pm – (Member: $15 / Community: $20)
■ CHER HUBSHER & DAWN HUBSHER, A Bond That Lasts Forever
In Conversation with Melissa Long, Journalist & Entrepreneur

Wednesday, November 13, 12 pm – (Member / Community: $25)
■ EINAT ADMONY, Shuk: From Market to Table, the Heart of Israeli Home Cooking
In Conversation with Ligaya Figueras, senior editor, Food and Dining, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Includes kosher lunch.

Wednesday, November 13, 7:30 pm – (Member: $15 / Community: $20)
■ BOB MANKOFF, Have I Got a Cartoon for You!

Thursday, November 14, 10 am – (Free and Open to the Community)
■ BRENT PEASE & KYLE PEASE, Beyond the Finish
■ ANDY LIPMAN, The CF Warrior Project

Thursday, November 14, 12:30 pm – (Member: $10 / Community: $15)
■ SARAH BLAKE, The Guest Book: A Novel
■ JILL SANTOPOLO, More Than Words: A Novel
In Conversation with Alison Law, publicist and consultant, Alison Law Communications; host, Literary Atlanta podcast

Thursday, November 14, 7:30 pm – (Member: $18 / Community: $25)
■ ABBY CHAVA STEIN, Becoming Eve
In Conversation with Rabbi Brian Glusman, MJCCA

Friday, November 15, 12 pm – (Member: $15 / Community: $20)
■ ADAM CHANDLER, Drive-Thru Dreams
■ STEPHEN SILVERMAN, The Amusement Park
In Conversation with Jimmy Baron, former Atlanta radio personality
Guests will enjoy popcorn, cotton candy, and other tasty treats!

Saturday, November 16, 8 pm – (Member / Community: $30)
■ BARI WEISS, How to Fight Anti-Semitism
In Conversation with Dana Barrett, local media personality
Includes one hardcover copy of the book.

Sunday, November 17, 12 pm – (Free and Open to the Community)
■ DANIEL OKRENT, The Guarded Gate

Sunday, November 17, 3:30 pm – (Member: $10 / Community: $15)
■ I.J. ROSENBERG, Conquered: The Inside Story of Atlanta United’s Magical Run
With Darren Eales, president, Atlanta United Soccer Club
In Conversation with Ashley Rose, sports broadcast journalist

Sunday, November 17, 7:30 pm – (Member / Community: $45)
■ NIKKI R. HALEY, With All Due Respect
Includes one hardcover copy of the book.

MONDAY, November 18, 6:30 pm – (Member / Community: $45)
In Conversation with Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice, President and Dean, Morehouse School of Medicine
Includes one hardcover copy of the book.

You can purchase tickets for individual events, or a series pass for access to most events. To purchase tickets and for more information, contact the MJCCA box office at 678-812-4002, e-mail, or visit online at

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