Big Names Headline 2014 MJCCA Festival

Big Names Headline 2014 MJCCA Festival

By David Cohen

Managing Editor AJT

In November, more than 10,000 extra people will walk through the doors of the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta. Why? To attend the 23rd Edition of the Book Festival of the MJCCA.

This year, the longtime event will feature a diverse lineup of authors, including comedy legend Bob Saget, New York Times bestselling author Walter Isaacson, popular religious scholar Rabbi Joseph Telushkin and media personality Andy Cohen.

“It’s a different flavor this year,” said festival Co-Chair Marcy Bass, “We have three Pulitzer Prize winners; some great TV personalities; Mark Bittman from The New York Times; and Bob Saget, the great comedian. This Festival truly has something for everyone.”

With 250+ volunteers and 42 authors, this year’s edition of the Book Festival runs from Nov. 1-19 with events taking place at the MJCCA every day except Nov. 17 and 18. The festival concludes on Nov. 19.

Bob Saget’s Book “Dirty Daddy”

Events at this year’s festival were precisely planned by Bass and her Co-Chair Susan Tourial to be interactive and thought-provoking. Director Pam Morton says this isn’t your typical book festival.

“One of the things that we pride ourselves on is that we ask our authors not to read from their book.” said Morton, “We like to build an interactive program around the book. A lot of authors have great multimedia presentations and many of them are in conversation with local personalities. It’s not just a static event that’s boring and flat. It’s a great way to interact with some of your favorite authors.”

Among the 42 authors presenting at the festival are some big names. Bob Saget kicks off the event on Nov. 1, followed by a roster that includes Anna Quindlen, Walter Isaacson (recently long-listed for the 2014 National Book Award), Dr. Eben Alexander, Dan Harris, Dr. Daniel Gordis, Ron Suskind, and Andy Cohen as well as local authors Ilana Danneman and former Atlanta Braves pitching coach Leo Mazzone.

The event is hosted by the MJCCA but members outside of the Jewish community make up a large percentage of the attendees and are highly encouraged to attend. The book festival, according to Tourial, is one of the largest of its kind anywhere in the south.

“We bring Atlanta one of the biggest cultural and literary arts events in the south.” She said, “Our impact is really different than other arts festivals because we are strictly concentrated on books and the authors as well as the content of the programs.”

A typical program at the MJCCA book festival includes a 45-minute to one-hour presentation by the author, often with a conversation moderated by a member of the community. There is then a question and answer session followed by a book signing where attendees can meet the authors. The festival begins on Nov. 1 at 8:15 PM and continues for more than two weeks.

This year’s book festival social action project benefits the Atlanta Coalition for Jewish Literacy, a local non-profit that provides tutors and books to Title One elementary schools. The community is asked to donate gently used, or new, secular children’s book beginning October 1 through the month of November.

See the full schedule and list of authors at



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