This fall, we celebrate ten years of bringing top-notch Jewish cultural arts programming to the regional Denver community through the Neustadt JAAMM Fest (Jewish Arts, Authors, Movies, and Music). But did you know that we’ve been sharing Jewish books with the community for the last half-century? At last year’s JAAMM Fest, we celebrated fifty years of Jewish books at the JCC Denver! Book lovers, rejoice, for this year’s upcoming JAAMM Fest will continue to offer the best and the brightest of Jewish literature and non-fiction for all ages and interests. 

JAAMM Fest grew out of the long-standing tradition of celebrating Jewish Book Month, which is the month preceding Hanukkah, by bringing an expansive list of Jewish books to the community. All kinds of books – fiction, non-fiction, children’s books, cookbooks, self-help, poetry, graphic novels: at one point, as many as 1,500 titles were on display at the Leah Cohen Book Fair!

To honor this tradition and identify which gems of Jewish books to bring to you, I (our MACC Festivals Director) alongside Steve Wilson, the MACC’s Executive Artistic Director, and Kathy Neustadt, our incredible JAAMM Festival benefactor and chair of the MACC Board of Directors, set out for New York City and attended the Jewish Book Council (JBC) Network Conference. We schmoozed with literary programmers from JCC’s all over North America, attended informative panels and discussions about Jewish arts programming, and listened to over 200 authors pitch us their books. We’ve made our offers…and you’ll have to stay tuned later this summer to discover who’s coming to JAAMM!

Another way we are honoring our literary roots is through our JAAMM Bookstore: a curated selection vetted by our smart and dedicated core group of literary volunteers of around 50 titles that you’ll want to share with your friends and family. Whether you’re looking for a Hanukkah gift for your children or grandchildren, or want to treat yourself to some of the latest award-winning Jewish literature, I know you’ll find something that you’ll love!

Are you interested in participating as a JAAMM reader?

We have an entire library of this year’s Jewish Book Council titles to check out, and who knows – your favorite book might make the cut! Whether you’re looking for a juicy poolside read, a pop-culture biography, the latest historical fiction, or a plethora of non-fiction titles, feel free to check out books all summer long. Our JBC library is located behind the MACC lobby bar – please be sure to sign the book out in the checkout binder so I know who to thank!

Keep reading to see what some of our readers have to say about the JAAMM book club!

“I have always been an avid reader for pleasure. Reading for JAAMM adds another level to reading. It’s reading with a purpose. Hopefully, if I share a great read with others they can be transported, entertained or learn something from a book I have read and recommended.” 

– Sue Aaronson, MACC Board of Directors

“I have been fortunate to participate as a JAAMM reader for the past several years, ever since Ellen Beller signed me up to be on the committee! I most enjoy the opportunity to read and reflect upon a variety of books including new titles by familiar authors as well as volumes by new authors I haven’t encountered before, and then to discuss them with other readers.  My favorite so far this year is the prize-winning Waking Lions by Ayelet Gundar-Gosher. The book tackles themes as varied as privilege and otherness, a refugee crisis, and the everyday trials of family life made even more challenging when one person is keeping a profound secret.”

– Sue Parker Gerson, longtime JAAMM reader and community leader

“I am a retired elementary school librarian. I really enjoy children’s books, as they always have a message within a story. Sometimes, these messages are simply stated in a 32 page picture book. Sometimes, they are more described and implied, in a simple junior novel. Sometimes, the messages are multiple and intertwined, within the volumes of a complex series of novels for older children and even young adult readers. These books, no matter how simply written, or woven within many story elements always make me think. I find them more enjoyable to read than most adult novels. I really enjoy reading for the JAAMM Fest, as that way I get to see and review the latest offerings from Jewish publications. The best of both worlds, children’s books written with a Jewish message!”

– Sherrie Davidson, JAAMM Children’s Literary Committee

In closing, a salute from the wonderful Selma Sladek from “Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Festival of Jewish Books and Authors” for our 2016 JAAMM brochure:

“Here’s to the next half-century of celebrating Jewish Books and Authors – via a hardback or paperback book, online or via any new medium – as the ‘People of the Book’ continue to write, to read and to enjoy their literature.” 

JAAMM Fest will take place from October 26th – November 12th, and we can’t wait to share our amazing programs with you!

Amy Weiner, MACC Director of Festivals