Celebrate Jewish Book Month


Tuesday, Oct. 26 -Tuesday, Nov. 30, various dates and times

Livestreamed from cities around the world

The Jewish Public Library (JPL) has announced the return of its annual Jewish Book Month(JBM), from October 26 to November 30. Far from being only about books, this entertaining and thought-provoking series of eleven multilingual, eclectic events brings together some of today’s top literary minds in interviews and inspiring lectures, along with film, workshops, concerts, and Russian dance & culture. Insightful Q&A sessions follow most presentations. These one-time livestreamed events take place in various cities around the world, with the option of attending the Russian performance in person. Highlights include this year’s keynote speakers David Grossman, Colum McCann, Steven Pinker, and Valérie Zenatti. Certain events are available in French. Jewish Book Month is celebrated every November. Honouring works that contain Jewish content first started at the Boston Public Library in 1925; JPL sponsored the first comprehensive book exhibit in the Montreal Jewish community in 1944.

For Eddie Paul, JPL’s Senior Director of Library & Learning Services, Jewish Book Month is about the resilience of the book and the exchange of ideas in which books hold sway, “JBM is first and foremost a month in which writers and ideas from all reaches of the human experience converge,” he said. “The events confer special importance on the current zeitgeist because of their diversity, their scope and their willingness to invite open discussion; the lifeblood of the Jewish Public Library.”

One time only livestreamed events; the power of the written word

This year’s award-winning line-up reflects the polyglot character of JPL’s institutional history and identity. Speaking from Israel, JBM Keynote event An Evening with David Grossman: More Than I Love My Life, is inspired by the true story of acclaimed author Grossman’s long-time confidante, a woman held at the notorious Goli Otok (the ‘Adriatic Alcatraz’) in the 1950s, with simultaneous French translation (Nov. 7); from Massachusetts Steven Pinker continues his exploration on the genealogy of reason with insight and humour in this Montreal launch of his new work, Rationality (Nov. 17); live from France, Valerie Zenatti is a Francophone author grounded in the European and Middle Eastern romantic traditions in conversation with Chantal Ringuet (Nov. 14); and direct from Ireland, author Colum McCann is in conversation with Anne Lagacé Dowson about his lauded novel Apeirogon, the real-life story of two fathers–one Palestinian, one Israeli–who have both lost daughters to conflict in the Holy Land (Nov. 3).

McCann is honoured to be part of JPL’s Jewish Book Month, “I like people who like books; they are smart and adventurous and generally have something to talk about,” he offered.  “The conflict is not an easy place into which we step. The message of Rami and Bassam, the two central figures of my novel—that we do not need to love each other, or even like each other, but we must understand one another—is something that can be applied universally.”

Diverse events continue with new documentary, Love It Was Not by Maya Sarfaty, about a taboo romance at Auschwitz between a Jewish prisoner and her SS captor, in Hebrew, English and German with English subtitles (Tues. Oct. 26); Danny Robas singing in Hebrew from Israel, In Friendship Together (Oct. 30); from New Jersey, Jeffrey Shandler’s Yiddish: Biography of a Language, a revealing and multifaceted history about the mother-tongue of JPL’s early founders (Nov. 10); the 16th annual Evening of Russian Culture- Our Hearts Are Holding Hands features poets, musicians, vocalists and dancers bringing famous Russian bard Bulat Okudzhava to life, in English and Russian. Tickets available to watch live in person at the Segal Centre or livestreamed (Nov. 13); and from California and New York, Chanie Ehrentreu, host of The Boss Maidel Podcast, is in conversation with author Fiona Davis in the new series, Boss Maidel Conversations with Female Writers (Nov. 30).

High-calibre workshops cover The Jargon of Hegemony: cultural appropriation and repatriation with the book talk, Contested Heritage: Jewish Cultural Property after 1945 with Caroline Jessen, and rare book workshop Repatriating the Orphans: The Provenance of the JPL’s Rare Book Collection, with Nicole Beaudry and  Eddie Paul (Nov. 11), and rare book workshop, Missing Inks: Jewish Texts in Controversial Contexts with librarians Nicole Beaudry, Eddie Stone and Eddie Paul featuring volumes from JPL’s oldest collection dating back to 1481, focusing on texts whose backstories were controversial and fraught with intrigue (Nov. 24).  

Post JBM treat—charismatic Sephardi Cantor Daniel Benlolo performs the concert, A Glimmer of Light – A tribute to Jewish composers showcasing songs from artists including Leonard Cohen, Neil Diamond, Samy Elmaghribi, Billy Joel, Carole King, Enrico Macias, Simon and Garfunkel, and Theodore Bikel, on Dec. 12.

The Jewish Public Library remains unique among Montreal’s and the world’s Jewish institutions. Open to all, the library, including archives and children’s library, is a hub for Jewish culture, lifelong learning, literature, and cultural programming, cultivating imagination, and promoting literacy, dialogue and creativity. Jewish Book Month is just one of their ongoing, year-round activities.

Jewish Public Library’s Jewish Book Month, October 26 – November 30, 2021

Complete program, dates, tickets: Jewish Book Month

Tickets: FREE-$18 depending on event

For further information: (514) 345-2627 info@jplmontreal.org