There have been many Jewish authors series over the years in the Chicago area at synagogues,community centers and public libraries. Some have been successful; others have not. So when I proposed to my cousins Lester and Ben Schlan five and half years ago, that I start a Jewish authors series at Max and Benny’s, the iconic restaurant/deli that they own in Northbrook, I thought that they might be a bit hesitant, given that people will be eating and the kitchen would be bustling with its attendant noises while the author is speaking. Yet they enthusiastically gave me the green light to get the series going.
I asked my friend, the distinguished author Marlene Targ Brill to kick it off with her recently published book on teen-age labor activist Annie Shapiro.That appearance was a success, the noise level and other obstacles were tolerable, and since then the series has continued to grow. At first, we did maybe four or five presentations a year; now we do one monthly. Before this year ends, our 2016 series attendance will exceed a thousand.
I’m even considering approaching Lester and Ben with the idea of special sandwich items named after some of our finest authors, past and present. How about the Philip Roth, a pastrami on challah bread, a sandwich that even Portnoy wouldn’t complain about?
Our next featured speaker is Barry ZeVan. who will be discussing his memoir My Life Among the Giants, on September 19. The presentation starts at 7:00 p.m. and most people come early to get good seats and eat before the program begins.