It used to be that every November, for many years, you could begin to count the days until Chanukah, like clockwork, with the arrival of the Robert E. Loup Jewish Community Center's Leah Cohen Festival of Jewish Books and Authors. But three years ago, the JCC's in-house Mizel Center for Arts and Culture expanded on a good idea - a huge Judaic-centric book sale supported by a series of author events - and turned the whole thing into an all-inclusive arts festival. It must have been a good idea, because this year's two-week JAAMM Festival (the acronym stands for Jewish Arts, Authors, Movies and Music) is bigger than ever, JAAMM-packed with books, world-class concerts, food, art and more. A full schedule and tickets for the fest, which begins tomorrow, are available at the JAAMM Festival website, but here are a few of our picks from the rich schedule of programming. Events are at the JCC, unless noted otherwise. ART: Splendor and Awe: The Visionary Midrash of Nahum HaLevi The main entry for the "art" part of JAAMM, this show features an artist, known professionally as Dr. Nathan Moskowitz, who is also a neurosurgeon at Shady Grove Hospital in Rockville, Maryland. His lush, colorful and mystical biblical narratives hint at "Midrashic" or deeper meanings in their imagery. On view through January 2, 2011, in the Singer Gallery.
BOOKS: The 44th Annual Leah Cohen Festival of Jewish Books and Authors Still a cornerstone of JAAMM, this is where it all started. Visit the book sale in the JCC's Boettcher Lobby from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Fridays and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays, beginning Sunday, to peruse an amazing selection books for all ages and tastes. Following are a few picks from the literary component:
Daniel Levin, The Last Ember Levin has popularly perfected the art of the archaeological thriller, in his book the Last Ember, the protagonists hunt down a 2,000-year-old religious artifact under a veil of intrigue, conspiracy and politics. Here the best-selling author speak at 7 p.m. November 14. Phillips Social Hall, $6 to $8.
Carol Leifer, When You Lie About Your Age, The Terrorists Win Leifer, who might be best known as a former writer for Seinfeld and Saturday Night Live (some say she also inspired the Seinfeld character, Elaine), won't be able to help from being funny during this book discussion/standup routine showcasing her autobiography in essay form. 7 p.m. November 11 in the Shwayder Theatre, $20. Louisa Shafia, Lucid Food: Cooking for an Eco-Conscious Life A perfect example of an event anyone - and particularly modern foodies - can enjoy, this book luncheon features dishes from Shafia's ethical and sustainable dishes . And you'll get both good eats and food for thought from her book, Lucid Food, which offers not only recipes, but advice on shopping and living in a new age. Noon, November 12, Phillips Social Hall, $20 includes lunch. Please RSVP by November 8.
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Yale Strom, David Tarras: The King of Klezmer Strom, an award-winning musician/author/filmmaker, discusses the life of David Tarras, a 20th-century musical genius often called the "Benny Goodman of Klezmer." A good opportunity to explore a delightful, unique and self-sufficient musical form. 4:30 p.m. November 14, Phillips Social Hall, $6 to $8.
FILM: The Klezmatics: On Holy Ground Yet another dip in the melting pot of klezmer, this 2009 documentary by Erik Greenberg Anjou follows one the genre's major modern interpreters, the Klezmatics, over a period of three years, during which they tour the U.S., as well as Poland, Berlin and Israel. This screening is being billed as a kickoff for the Mizel's annual Denver Jewish Film Festival in February, meaning attendees will most likely get a scoop on what's to come; a dessert reception follows the film. 6:30 p.m. November 14, Shwayder Theater, $10 to $12. MUSIC: The Jerusalem Quartet This award-winning international ensemble will perform works by Mozart, Kopytman and Brahms to kick off the JAAMM Festival in classic style tomorrow night, followed by a kosher dessert reception. 8 p.m. October 30, Temple Emanuel, 51 Grape Street, $25 to $40.
David Broza Broza, a renowned and multilingual Israeli guitarist/singer/songwriter will perform solo, swinging from flamenco to finger picking while fusing the cultures of Israel, England and Spain. According to buzz, this is the fest's don't-miss. 8 p.m. November 6, Newman Center, University of Denver, 2344 East Iliff Avenue, $27.50 to $47.50. Call 303-871-7720.
Paul Shapiro's Ribs and Brisket Revue If you like music and just wanna have fun, woodwind player and composer Paul Shapiro is your kind of guy. Shapiro and his six-piece Yiddish swing band will satisfy both joneses in one night. 7 p.m. November 13, Shwayder Theatre. $18. The fest also includes ongoing performances of The Chosen, based on the book by Chaim Potok; JAAMM Festival continues through November 14. Call 303-316-6360.