Great storytelling runs deep in the Jewish DNA, from Sholem Aleichem to Philip Roth and Nora Ephron.
But you knew that. You’ve probably got your own list of favorites, men and women whose works have thrilled you, startled you, made you laugh out loud or sit silent in their life-changing presence. In that spirit, Read650 celebrates the unique humor, pathos and wisdom of Jewish storytelling with “Jew-ish: True Stories of Love, Latkes, and L’chaim,” a rich live program of five-minute, 650-word true stories of Jewish life and culture, written and delivered by a cast of fourteen essayists, memoirists, and novelists.
You may not have heard their names, but you’ve read their works in various guises, at a number of well-known places: you’ll hear original literary essays from Sally Koslow, the former editor-in-chief of McCall’s magazine, Ann Levin, former national news editor at The Associated Press and David Masello, executive editor at Milieu magazine, to name just a few.
The performance will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 15 at the Ossie Davis Theater in the New Rochelle Public Library. A minimum donation of $10 is suggested for the event which is sponsored by UJA Federation of New York and Westchester with support from the New Rochelle Council on the Arts, the New Rochelle Downtown Business Improvement District, and the Friends of the New Rochelle Public Library. The show will be followed by a Read650 book sale and catered reception of kosher food and wine (dietary laws observed).
Seating is limited, and admission is on a first-come, first-served basis, beginning thirty minutes prior to the program. Worldwide, the livestream can be viewed at facebook.com/Read650.
Read650 is a nonprofit literary forum promoting established and emerging writers through curated live and digital performances celebrating the spoken word five minutes—and 650 words—at a time. Read650 has hosted many sold-out live readings in New York City on a variety of topics, and has fast evolved into one of the nation’s most respected live literary forums. In addition to performances, Read650 publishes anthologies of its works and is developing plans for a podcast and publishing division. Read650.org
The cast of “Jew-ish: True Stories of Love, Latkes, and L’chaim”
Valerie Block, author of Was it Something I Said?, None of Your Business, and Don’t Make a Scene—comic novels set in present-day New York City—and Quid Pro Quo, a historical thriller about status anxiety, attended Barnard College and has an MFA from Columbia’s School of the Arts. She’s been a fellow at the Hawthornden International Retreat for Writers, and a visiting artist at the American Academy in Rome. She lives with her husband and son in Montclair, New Jersey, Her website is valerieblock.com
Edward M. Cohen’s novel, $250,000, was published by Putnam’s; his non-fiction books were published by Prima, Prentice-Hall, Limelight Editions, and SUNY Press. His novella, “A Visit to my Father with my Son,” was published by Eclectica, and his collection, “Before Stonewall,” won the 2019 AWST Press Book Award and will be published later this year.
Chaya Deitsch is the author of Here and There: Leaving Hasidism, Keeping My Family (2015, Schocken Books), a memoir that the New York Times called “a renunciation tinged with love” and “a minor feat of alchemy.” She has published articles in Salon and Barnard magazines. She graduated from Barnard College with a B.A. in English Literature and received her M.A. from Columbia University. She works as a financial writer in New York.
Lynn Edelson has attended Sarah Lawrence’s Writing Institute since 2011. In 2016, her essay, Heart Monitor, was chosen for NYC’s Listen to Your Mother Show. She has performed several times at Read650 events. A member of two extraordinary writing groups, she is mentored by Steve Lewis. Sometimes accused of writing poetry, Lynn is working on a collection of memoir stories. She and her family live in Brewster, New York.
Paula Fung lives in Rye, New York, with her husband, three daughters, and their dog, Boomer. She produces a show on public access television, Rye Views, and writes personal essays on the things she knows, including, in no particular order, cooking, sailing, and family life. Her work has been published at the blog Sailing Anarchy and Read650’s The Kids are Alright. She created and curates Writes & Bites in Rye, a reading salon.
Alexis Gold spent over twenty years on Wall Street, using her creative writing to analyze companies, primarily in the retail space. Following the closing of her last fund, she decided to stay at home with her three small children. Her writing offers a funny and brutally honest take on the life of a working mom in New York—unexpectedly turned stay-at-home suburban mom. She’s presented her work at Sarah Lawrence College and on Medium.com.
Lucy Iscaro has always been a writer, but only recently, since retiring from teaching, has she been able to devote herself to the craft. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Good Old Days magazine, Reflections, and the 2019 edition of Word Fountain. and online on boomercafe.com and Read650.org. She lives in White Plains, New York with her husband and dog who both encourage her work.
Sally Koslow, former editor-in-chief of McCall’s magazine, has written six books translated into fourteen languages. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Oxford University Press, Real Simple, O the Oprah Magazine, and More, among others. She’s spoken at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Society in France, at colleges, libraries, women’s clubs, synagogues, and Generation Women; she’s taught creative writing privately and at The Writing Institute of Sarah Lawrence College. Her website is sallykoslow.com.
Ann Levin was the national news editor at The Associated Press, where she worked for twenty years. Before that she reported for several newspapers, including the San Diego Tribune. She has also written for USA Today, AARP, The Forward and other publications and served as an editor for the UN Population Fund and Columbia University. She lives in New York City with her photographer husband, Stan Honda, she’s currently at work on a memoir. Her website is AnnElizabethLevin.com.
Betty MacDonald contributed to TMI’s What to Expect When you’re Not Expecting at Woodstock’s Bearsville Theatre. Her work appears in Get Out of My Crotch!, 80 Things to Do When You Turn 80, Better with Age and Open House. She has read at Spoken Word, in Kingston, New York, and at Read650. In 2019, she interpreted six roles at Catskill’s Bridge Theatre. For thirty years, Betty has honed her storytelling abilities at the Community Playback Theater. She hosts a monthly series, Words Carry Us, at Green Kill in Kingston, New York.
David Masello began his career as a nonfiction book editor at Simon and Schuster, then went on to hold senior editorial positions at many magazines, including Travel & Leisure, Art and Antiques, and Town and Country. He’s currently executive editor of Milieu, a magazine about design and architecture. He’s a widely published essayist and poet, with pieces appearing in the New York Times, Best American Essays, and numerous literary and art magazines. He’s the author of two books about art and architecture.
Ellen Nenner attended the High School of Music and Art, the Juilliard School of Music, Mount Holyoke College, and the New School for Social Research. Formerly a writer and editor at McKinsey & Company, Ellen has attended workshops at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and is a trustee at MasterVoices, where the human voice is considered the world’s most powerful instrument. She’s working on a book of essays.
Bruce Shenitz is a writer, editor, librarian, content strategist, and taxonomist—usually not at the same time. His reporting and essays have appeared in Out, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times magazine, Newsweek, and several anthologies. He is the editor of the essay anthology The Man I Might Become: Gay Men Write About Their Fathers, which won a Lambda Literary Award, and a selection of his work can be found at bruceshenitz.net.
Julie Stonberg is a clinical social worker and a former journalist and editor. She lives in suburban New York with her husband of twenty-five years and is a mom of two teenagers, one young adult, and an elderly Golden Retriever.