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Arts / Culture

Jewish Book Festival Brings 'Book Experiences' To Tampa

The Festival of Jewish Books & Conversation will take place at various locations throughout Tampa, October 25-November 3.
The Festival of Jewish Books & Conversation will take place at various locations throughout Tampa, October 25-November 3. COURTESY TAMPA JEWISH COMMUNITY CENTERS

Wanting to create something more engaging than your typical signing, organizers of the Festival of Jewish Books and Conversations are hosting interactive "book experiences."

While the festival, which runs from Friday through Nov. 3, was created to celebrate Jewish authors, not every book is focused on traditional Jewish themes.

Co-chair Debbie Doliner said their goal is to create compelling events centered on conversations that bring people together.

“Not only do we have an author who has a wonderful book to sell, but we also want to fill in with contextual things that make it more than just an author event, but more of an experience,” Doliner said.

The festival’s opener, Elyssa Friedland, will talk about "The Floating Feldmans," her novel about a family cruise gone wrong. Her discussion, Friday at 11:30 a.m., will include a buffet luncheon and cruise “accoutrements.” Attendees are encouraged to wear “cruise attire.”

The 10-day event will have conversations with Jewish authors from all genres, including a collection from former Esquire and New Yorker cartoonist Bob MankoffJamie Bernstein's memoir discussing life as composer Leonard Bernstein’s daughter, and a “Newish Jewish Encyclopedia” written by the hosts of Tablet magazine’s “Unorthodox” podcast.

But Doliner said it's not necessary to know the authors or have read the books to participate.

“Just come and enjoy and listen and engage in the conversation if you’re so inclined,” she said. “Bring your friends and don’t expect anything but a fun experience.”

The festival, which is being presented by Tampa Jewish Community Centers, takes place at various locations around Tampa, including the JCC on the Cohn campus, the Bryan Glazer Family JCC, the Carrollwood Country Club, and Barnes & Noble Carrollwood.

The JCC Preschool will also have two events specifically for children and families on Friday, Nov. 1: a sing-a-long with the writers of “Barnyard Bubbe’s Hanukah” and a reading from “Mimi’s Strategies,” a series of children’s books focused on problem-solving.

The festival will continue virtually through May with the Sip & Skype program. Once a month, an audience will be invited to talk to an author via Skype, with wine and snacks provided.

For event details and tickets, visit their website.