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Literatour Brings noted Authors to Springfield

Layout 1SPRINGFIELD – November is Jewish Book Month and in Springfield that means it’s time for Literatour, the 2013 Springfield Jewish Book Festival.  This year Literatour, which will run from Oct. 22 through Dec. 4, features 10 authors whose works span comical, intriguing, political genres.  Each visiting author will be available to sign books. The Literatour Book Store, located off the JCC lobby, will include the best in children’s literature and the newest Jewish book titles with a special section  dedicated to Jewish and Kosher cooking.


Tuesday, Oct. 22, 7 p.m.

Bob Alper, author of Thanks. I Needed That. And Other Stories of the Spirit

Alper is a rabbi, stand-up comic and inspirational story-teller. His 32 warm, touching stories evoke laughter and tears.

Sinai Temple, 1100 Dickinson St.

Cost: JCC and Sinai Temple Members FREE; General Public $5


Thursday, Oct. 24, 7 p.m.

Lori Rotskoff, author of When We Were, Free To Be: Looking Back at a Children’s Classic and the Difference it Made

In this lively collection, 32 contributors explore the creation and legacy of the classic children’s record, book and television special Free to Be…You and Me.

Springfield JCC, 1160 Dickinson St.

Cost: JCC Members FREE; General Public $5


Tuesday, Oct. 29, 7 p.m.

Larry Tye, author of Superman: The High-Flying History of America’s Most Enduring Hero

Superman turned 75 this year. Discover evidence that suggests this man of steel was Jewish.

Springfield JCC, 1160 Dickinson St.

Cost: JCC Members FREE; General Public $5


Sunday, Nov. 3, 9:30 a.m.

Leslie Hager, illustrator & Joel Cohen, author of My Fantastic Awesome Funny Fun Day at School

Breakfast, story and colored pencil drawing like an illustrator. Oriellah repeatedly replies “No” when Daddy asks if fantastically funny things happened at school.  Finally, Oriellah verbally illustrates her day, fueled by gusto and imagination.

Springfield JCC, 1160 Dickinson St.

Cost: JCC Members FREE; General Public $5


Tuesday, Nov. 5, 7 p.m.

Lawrence Malkin, author of The War Within: Israel’s Ultra-Orthodox Threat to Democracy and the Nation

A lively and trenchant exploration of the battle between church and state in modern Israel, where the majority of Haredim (Orthodox) are unemployable yet wholly dependent on government largesse.

Springfield JCC, 1160 Dickinson St.

Cost: JCC Members FREE; General Public $5


Tuesday, Nov. 12, 7 p.m.

Ronald Balson, author of Once We Were Brothers: A Novel

Ben Solomon is convinced that respected civic leader Elliot Rosenzweig is really Otto Piatek, a once-abandoned child raised by Solomon’s family who then betrayed them during the Nazi occupation.

Springfield JCC, 1160 Dickinson St.

Cost: JCC Members FREE; General Public $5


Wednesday,  Nov. 13, 7 p.m.

Mitchell Bard, author of After Anatevka: Tevye in Palestine

Tevye must adjust to the secular lifestyle on a kibbutz and struggle with the conflict between the kibbutzniks’ “religion” of labor and his own Jewish beliefs.

Springfield JCC, 1160 Dickinson St.

Cost: JCC Members FREE; General Public $5


Tuesday, Nov. 19, 7 p.m.

Maryanne O’Hara, author of Cascade: A Novel

In a small Western Mass town about to be flooded to create a reservoir, a newly married artist faces anti-Semitism and an impossible choice between passion and promises.


Cost: JCC Members FREE; General Public $5


Thursday, Nov. 21, noon

Letty Cottin Progrebin, author of How To Be a Friend To a Friend Who’s Sick

Readers are reminded of empathy through warm, humorous advice interwoven with boldly candid stories. Bring dairy lunch.

Temple Beth El, 979 Dickinson St.

Cost: JCC and Temple Beth El Members FREE; General Public $5


Wednesday, Dec. 4,

1 p.m.

Mark Cohen, author of Overweight Sensation: The Life and Comedy of Allan Sherman. Allan Sherman’s Jewish song parodies (and hit songs like “Hello Muddah,

Hello Fadduh!”) won him extraordinary fame and also led Jewish comedy out of ethnic enclaves and into the American mainstream.

Springfield JCC, 1160 Dickinson St., Cost: JCC Members FREE; General Public $5


Literatour is sponsored by Glenmeadow, Sinai Temple, the Springfield Jewish Community Center, Temple Beth El and Holiday Inn Springfield/Enfield The Official Hotel of Literatour. The Literatour Book Store is located off the lobby of the Springfield JCC, Neal Webber Building 1160 Dickinson St. Book Store Hours: Oct. 22 – Nov. 14, Weekdays, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., Open during all author events, and available by appointment, call (413) 739-4715 or stop by the JCC front desk. For more information, visit www.springfieldjcc.org



The Worcester JCC presents its Author Series 2013-2014,  monthly literary events featuring an eclectic line-up

of both emerging and prominent authors. The events are free and open to the public and dessert receptions follow lectures and book signings.

For more information and to RSVP, contact Nancy Greenberg at (508) 756-7109, ext. 232 or email ngreenberg@worcesterjcc.org


This year’s authors are:


Larry Tye, Superman,

Oct. 10, 7 p.m. (at Congregation Beth Israel)


Deborah Fineblum,

Memoir Workbook,

Oct. 21, 2 p.m. (at The Willows)


Mark Cohen, The Life and

Comedy of Allan Sherman,

Dec. 4, 7 p.m. (at Worcester JCC)


Jeffrey Salkin,

The Hidden Legacy of Abraham,

Jan. 12, 10 a.m. (at TES – May St. Campus)


Naomi Schaefer Riley,

’Til Faith Do Us Part,

Feb. 5, 7 p.m.(at Worcester JCC)


Carla Kaplan,

The White Women of the Black Renaissance,

Feb. 12, 1 p.m. (at Worcester Senior Center)


Hallie Ephron

There Was an Old Woman

March 5, 7 p.m. (at Worcester JCC)


Thomas Doherty

Hollywood and Hitler

March 18, 7 p.m. (at Worcester JCC)


Maryanne O’Hara

Cascade, and BA Shapiro, The Art Forger,

April 1, 7 p.m. (at Worcester JCC)


Michael Lowenthal, The Paternity Test,

May 20, 7 p.m. (at TES – Salisbury St. Campus)


“Superman” Biography Looks at

SuperHero’s Jewish roots

By Stacey Dresner

Is “Superman” Jewish? Larry Tye thinks so.

His book, “Superman: The High-Flying History of America’s Most Enduring Hero,” is a “biography” of the Man of Steel and those who created him.

Tye will be featured at both the Worcester JCC Author Series on Thursday,  Oct. 10, at 7 p.m. at BI and at Literatour, the Jewish Book Festival of the Springfield Jewish Community Center on Tuesday, Oct. 29, at 7 p.m.

Tye runs the Boston-based Health Coverage Fellowship, which is designed to help the media do a better job covering critical health care issues. From 1986 to 2001, he was a reporter at the Boston Globe, where his primary beat was medicine. He also served as the Globe’s environmental reporter, roving national writer, investigative reporter, and sports writer. His books include  Home Lands: Portraits of the New Jewish Diaspora and Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend, a past New York Times bestseller and winner of the Casey Award and the Seymour Medal – as best baseball book of 2009.

Tye, who has spoken about his book Superman and the superhero’s connection to Judaism at countless synagogues and Jewish book festivals around the country, recently talked to the Jewish Ledger in advance of his two appearances in Massachusetts in October.


Q: Your book is a biography of Superman?

A: A biography with a fictional character means …looking at how the character has evolved, and the truth is, he has evolved more than the fruit fly. Superman came alive in 1938 and that was when America was in the middle of a great depression and he was just we needed then — a butt-kicking, New Deal liberal who tracked down wife-beaters and slum lords.

In the 40s when we were going to war, Superman helped take us to war. He was what Uncle Sam used to sell everything from war bonds to newspaper drives. In the 50s we were looking for Red under every bed and so was Superman. In every generation, everything from his hairstyle to the way he dressed, to even most recently the fact that he quit the Daily Planet and became a blogger – it all evolved to seemingly give us precisely the hero that we needed at that moment in history. And yet what never changed, and what I think was the key to success, is that he was always the hero of the light. We had a dark hero in Batman, we had a fraught and anxious hero in Spiderman, and Superman was what I think Americans want more often than not, which is a hero that instinctively knows the difference between right and wrong. So the biography was partly looking at what happened to Superman; it also looked at who his creators were and what they had done to strike lightning with this character 75 years ago that looked like it would go no where, but has gone everywhere.

It was looking at over the years the people who have continued to write and draw him, to act him on television and the big screen, to edit him, to the corporate entities, and today it is Time Warner that owns him, and what they have done. So “biography” in the broadest sense means looking at everything there was that was instructive about this character.


Q: What made you want to write a book all about Superman?

A: The reason I got involved with the book in the first place was I was intrigued by why we as Americans embrace the heroes that we do and I thought if I looked at the longest-lived hero of the last century he could tell us not just something about himself but about us.


Q: Were you a fan of Superman and other comic book  heroes when you were a kid?

A: So, everything I just said was the serious reason I wrote the book. The other reason is that I wanted to be 10 years old again. I was a fan growing up of his comic books. I fell in love with Superman for real when George Reeves played him on TV.

In the series I was watching in the 1960s – and I think the best of the Superman onscreen. But yeah, it was all about reinventing my own feelings of having this incredible escape.


Q: Are you Jewish?

A: Yes, I am.


Q: How does Judaism play into this…What is Jewish about Superman?

A: Among my previous books, I had written a book about the Jewish Diaspora, and I was intrigued by the way Jews live around the world today and what I think is an often written-off or underplayed Diaspora which I think is every bit as being Jewish today in Israel.

I was intrigued by the fact that it was two Jews, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, who created Superman. I thought, “Geez, the fact that two Jews created him, two Jews published the creation, and the Jews were disproportionately involved in everything about his evolution and his movement into all of the various media – from TV and movies to cartoons and animated films – I thought that was what the Jewish story was. What I began to see as I looked into Superman more was that character himself was Jewish. There was evidence that Jerry and Joe threw in everywhere, from the fact that when he came from the planet Krypton his name was Kal-El. As you know “El” is God and “Kal” or “Kol” is voice or vessel. I think they gave us a character that had a name like the voice or vessel of God; they gave us a character whose triangle he sort of stood on was “Truth, justice and the American way.” The Mishna talks about “Truth, Justice and Peace,” which is what, hopefully, the American Way ought to be, whether it is or not.

The story of Superman’s coming here from the planet Krypton has always been seen as a Christ story: a God-like figure in a faraway world sends his first born son down to show mankind it can be better than it thought it could be. I thought a more compelling metaphor was that parents, desperate to save their first born, float him out into Outer Space where he is adopted in the middle of the American West by two of the most consummate Gentiles you would ever meet – John and Martha Kent. They raise him as their own and realize they have an exceptional child. The story of Superman coming to Earth struck me as a story straight out of Exodus and the story of Moses. The story of the destruction of the planet that he left behind is the story of Genesis. My most fun piece of evidence is that any name that ends in “man” is one of two things. It is either a superhero or a Jew, or in this case both.




Rabbi Bob Alper

will speak at Sinai Temple in

Springfield on Oct. 22



Mitchell Bard will speak

at the Springfiled JCC

on Wednesday,

November 13


Larry Tye will speak at both Literatour and the Worcester JCC Author Series

Bea Loevy named recipient of Federation 2015 Rose Award  
USA Triathlon Foundation Supports Worcester JCC’s Triathlon Camp
Gary Rosen is running unopposed for 2nd term

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