The 28th Annual Jewish Book Month Speaker Series will be held at the Jewish Community Center of the North Shore.
by Shelley A. Sackett
MARBLEHEAD – Once again, culture vultures on the North Shore are in luck. From Oct. 12 until Nov. 29, the 28th Annual Jewish Community Center of the North Shore Jewish Book Month Speaker Series in Marblehead will treat locals to in-person conversations with seven authors and a virtual interview with another, and a catered lunch in memory of Susan Steigman, a former JCCNS staff member, longtime JBM committee member, and dedicated JCCNS volunteer.
JBM cochairs Sylvia Belkin and Patti McWeeney and their committee have selected a bang-up roster of eight non-fiction, mystery, memoir, historical fiction, and cookbook authors. Sharon and Howard Rich continue as longstanding cultural benefactors. Discounted ticket packages to all events are available at $165 for members and $180 for non-members.
Opening night features two-time Peabody Award-winning writer and CBS News “60 Minutes” producer Ira Rosen, who will talk about his revealing tell-tale memoir, “Ticking Clock: Behind the Scenes at 60 Minutes.” The book – dubbed “a 60 Minutes story on 60 Minutes itself” – details the intimate and untold stories of Rosen’s decades at America’s most iconic news show, including war room scenes of clashing producers, anchors, and correspondents like the legendary Mike Wallace. The Oct. 12 event at 7 p.m. at the JCCNS is $30 and includes a reception.
Letty Cottin Pogrebin, journalist, lecturer, social activist, a founding editor of Ms. magazine, and the author of 12 books, will speak about her latest, “Shanda: A Memoir of Shame and Secrecy.” Fears of shanda (shame or disgrace in Yiddish) and public humiliation and an overarching desire to fit in drove three generations of her immigrant family to lie and cover up long suppressed secrets. Pogrebin unmasks their hidden lives – including her own long suppressed secret – and showcases her family’s talent for reinvention in an engrossing and illuminating narrative. This writer will interview her on Zoom on Oct. 19, which can be seen by a live audience and also at home – both for $20.
Marblehead resident and best-selling author Eric Jay Dolin will speak about his latest book, “Rebels at Sea: Privateering in the American Revolution” on Oct. 27 at 7 p.m. at the JCCNS ($20 includes a reception). Dolin contends that privateers (aka pirates), thousands of whom tormented British ships, were critical to the war’s outcome. Abounding with tales of daring maneuvers and deadly encounters, Dolin’s book reveals the history of this critical period in the nation’s founding in a way rarely documented.
Two historical novels, set against the backdrop of World War II, bring life and romance to very different stories. Based on the true account of Coco Chanel’s war-time romance with a German spy and how that affair led to her arrest for treason following the liberation of Paris, author Gioia Diliberto, who will be interviewed by JCCNS past president Izzi Abrams, takes a closer look at Chanel, her powerful personality, and her activities during the occupation of France in “Coco at the Ritz.” (Nov. 2 at 7 p.m. at the Boston Yacht Club for $30.
Weina Randel’s “The Last Rose of Shanghai,” set in 1940 when the city was occupied by Japan, brings to life Shanghai’s history as a haven for Jewish refugees as well as its dynamic jazz scene, all through a heart-rending and timeless love story. (Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. at the JCCNS. $20 includes reception)
In partnership with the Consulate General of Israel to New England, chef and restaurateur Avi Shemtov will talk about “The Simcha Cookbook,” which celebrates the traditions of Shemtov’s Turkish-Israeli heritage and recreates the delectable dishes those familiar with his Sharon restaurant have come to cherish. The event, in memory of Susan Steigman, is on Nov. 13 at 11 a.m. at the JCCNS. $30 includes lunch.
Beloved bestselling writer B.A. Shapiro will speak about her masterful novel of psychological suspense, “Metropolis,” on Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. at the JCCNS ($20 includes a reception). In her latest, Shapiro follows a cast of six intriguing characters with no obvious ties to each other except they all store goods at the same warehouse in Cambridge. After a fatal accident, their precariously balanced lives are torn apart in this page-turning mystery.
Closing the series is “The Imposter’s War,” a riveting narrative about intrigue and espionage by Mark Arsenault. Arsenault has covered national politics, gambling, and worked on Spotlight Team investigations as a staff reporter for the Boston Globe, which won a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing. In his first nonfiction book, he tells the stranger-than-fiction story of the efforts of John Rathom, the Australian-born editor of the scrappy Providence Journal, to shift American attitudes toward involvement in World War I after Germany spent the modern equivalent of $1 billion to infiltrate American media, industry, and government in the hopes of undermining the supply chain of Allied forces. Without the ceaseless activity of this editor, America may have remained committed to its position of neutrality. Yet, Rathom was not even his real name! Arsenault asks and answers the question: who was this great, beloved, and ultimately tragic imposter? (Nov. 29 at 7 p.m. at the JCCNS. $20 includes a reception.)
The Jewish Community Center of the North Shore is located at 4 Community Road, Marblehead. For more information and to buy tickets, go to
All books can be purchased through Copperdog Books in Beverly at copperdogbooks.com/jewish-book-month