Jewish Bookfair features veteran actor, Alexanders mom


Allan Rich, who revived his acting career with roles in movies such as "Serpico," after being blacklisted in the 1950s and ’60s, will be at the JCC Jewish Book Fair Nov. 6 for a book signing and Nov. 7 for a free acting workshop.
Children’s author Judith Viorst will update her many fans about her most famous character, Alexander, at the bookfair Nov. 5 with a dinner and lecture.

A veteran character actor once blacklisted during the McCarthy era, and now a sought-after acting coach, and the children’s author whose most famous creation once had a terrible, awful, horrible day (but has lately seen great improvements) are among the highlighted authors who will appear during The JCC of Greater Columbus Jewish Bookfair, November 3-10.

The bookfair will also include a kosher wine tasting and a family PJ party.

All events take place at the JCC, 1125 College Ave., unless otherwise noted.

Allan Rich, the actor known for roles in "Serpico" and "Quiz Show," and author of "A Leap From the Method," will sign books at the JCC Nov. 6 at 7:30 p.m., and will also conduct a free acting workshop Nov. 7 at 2 p.m.

The workshop is billed as valuable not just for actors, but for anyone who works with the public and wants to enhance their ability to communicate effectively.

Rich was an up and coming Method-trained performer with several Broadway roles to his credit (he also performed for three years at Antioch College in Yellow Springs) when he was accused of having Communist sympathies for having served on a committee to free a black man wrongly accused of rape.

With his name on the blacklist, acting jobs disappeared for Rich. Ironically, the alleged communist became a successful capitalist during the 1960s as a stock broker and art dealer.

He returned to acting in 1973 with the role of the district attorney in "Serpico," opposite Al Pacino. Numerous television and movie roles followed, including the part of the NBC studio chief in "Quiz Show" and a judge in "Amistad."

Rich was also recruited to impart his years of study and experience to young performers such as Jamie Lee Curtis and Sharon Stone, and incorporated his organic approach to a more natural style of acting in his book.

Many readers of Judith Viorst’s most famous book might have wondered whatever became of Alexander after that famously bad day.

Fans will learn that Judith Viorst is his mother, and what happened to her passion for household neatness and orderliness, her deep devotion to schedules, her compulsive yearning to offer helpful advice when Alexander-now grown up, married, and the father of three-moves his family into his parent’s house.

Viorst will discuss the joys of multi-generational family living, and the unexpected opportunities to grow that life presents, even under the most unlikely circumstances, Nov. 5, at 7:30 p.m. Cost is $20 for the lecture and dinner at 6 p.m., or $6 for the lecture only.

Other events include:

•New Orleans Klezmer All Stars Music Celebration, Sunday, Nov. 4, 1:30 p.m., with a free family-style event. Klezmer is old-world Jewish roots music that encompasses Gypsy, Central European, Turkish, Greek and other folk elements. The New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars keeps the sound and energy of Klezmer while enjoying a noticeable New Orleans influence

•Arthur Blecher, "The New American Judaism," Sunday, Nov. 4, 7:30 p.m., $6. Rabbi and psychotherapist Arthur Blecher believes that the American Jewish community is flourishing amidst fears of dying out. His book presents a controversial and thought-provoking stance that intermarriage actually strengthens Judaism.

•Jon Entine, "Abraham’s Children: Race, Identity, and the DNA of The Chosen People," Nov. 6, 7:30pm, at Temple Beth Shalom in New Albany, $6. Best-selling author Jon Entine brings to life the profound human implications of the Age of Genetics. While illuminating one of today’s most controversial topics, Entine considers the connection between genetics and who we are, and specifically the question "Who is a Jew?"

•Ann Kirschner, "Sala’s Gift: My Mother’s Holocaust Story," Wednesday, Nov. 7, 7:30 p.m., $6. For nearly 50 years, Sala Kirschner kept a secret: She had survived five years as a slave in seven different Nazi work camps. Living in America after the war, she kept hidden more than 350 letters, photographs, and a diary without spilling her secret. Only in 1991, on the eve of heart surgery did she suddenly present them to Ann, her daughter, and offer to answer any questions.

In conjunction, "Letters to Sala – A Young Woman’s Life In Nazi Labor Camps," a visual arts exhibit, will be displayed, documenting the photographs, letters, and journals kept by Sala Kirschner during her five years in Nazi labor camps, Nov. 1-30 in the JCC lobby.

•Not Your Bubbe’s Maneshewitz, First Annual Kosher Wine Tasting, Thursday, Nov. 8, 7:30 p.m., $25 per person. Hosted by Sher Bliss. Explore the world of Kosher wine and broaden your horizons of red, white, dessert, and holiday wines. Explore cooking options and learn more about the sophistication available in today’s Kosher wines.

•Family PJ Party, Sunday, November 11, 4 p.m., at New Albany Public Library, JCC College Avenue, and Antrim Park. Free, but reservations are requested. Call the JCC at 231-2731. Join us for a comfy-cozy story time and bedtime snack. This family-style celebration of Jewish children’s books will help to reinforce daily family rituals related to reading and bedtime. This event is best suited for children age 6 and younger, but all family members are welcome. Each family takes home a complimentary book to continue the story at home.

•Robin Judd, "Contested Rituals: Circumcision, Kosher Butchering, and Jewish Political Life in Germany, 1843-1933," Monday, Nov. 12, 7 p.m., $6. Circumcision and kosher butchering may appear to be at the margins of Jewish history, but they are not. In relating these events and the controversies that raged during the intervening years, Judd explores the nature and escalation of the ritual debates as they transcended the boundaries of the local Jewish community to include non-Jews who sought to protect, restrict, or prohibit these rites.

•Nathan Englander, "The Ministry of Special Cases," Literature and History: A Dialogue about Nathan Englander’s "Ministry of Special Cases," featuring Nathan Englander and Professor Donna Guy, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 7:30 p.m., $20 for the lecture and dinner at 6 p.m., or $6 for lecture only. Nathan Englander, author of the novel "The Ministry of Special Cases," and Donna Guy, professor of history at Ohio State University and author of the scholarly monograph, "Sex and Danger in Buenos Aires: Prostitution, Family, and Nation in Argentina," will discuss the community of "white slaves" and Jewish prostitutes in Buenos Aires. –

•Carolivia Herron, "Always an Olivia," Wednesday, November 14, 7:30 p.m. $20 lecture and dinner at 6 p.m., $6 lecture only, and Thursday, Nov. 15, 10:30 a.m., at the Livingston Avenue branch of The Columbus Metropolitan Library. This multi-cultural tale, based on critically acclaimed Jewish African-American author Carolivia Herron’s own family history, will engage readers young and old.

•Sheldon Mike Young, "Toledoth: City of Generations," Thursday, Nov. 15, 11:30 a.m., $6. Set in a vibrant 14th century Jewish community in Spain, this historical novel tells the story of Saul Abandana and his two loves and foreshadows the Inquisition and Expulsion of the Jewish community some 150 years later.

•Alana Newhouse, "A Living Lens," Thursday, Nov. 15, 7:30 p.m., $6. This  volume features classic photographs of the history one has learned to associate with the Forward-Lower East Side pushcarts, Yiddish theater, labor rallies-along with gems no one would expect.

All books are on sale at the JCC and are available for online ordering at their web site. For information, visit the JCC website at or call 231-2731.

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